Symbiosis Meet the Team: No.3 Cheryl Ballantyne – Head of Project Management

Symbiosis Meet the Team: No.3 Cheryl Ballantyne – Head of Project Management

This week we are pleased to introduce the next in the series of our Meet the Team segment with meeting Symbiosis’ Head of Project Management, Cheryl Ballentyne.

1. Introduction – overview of role, experience and expertise.

I have worked in the industry for over 18 years I am currently the Head of Project Management at Symbiosis, where I manage an experienced team of 4 PMs and an APM.  The team are responsible for managing the day-to-day running of the Manufacturing projects from Kick off to completion, delivering these within time, budget and scope. I also provide overall leadership and supervision to the team, this includes supporting them on various projects as well as managing the team’s growth and development. Additionally, I am involved in looking at process improvement within the PM processes as well as the wider Symbiosis processes.

2. What drives you to work in the aseptic fill-finish market?

I enjoy being part of the full process, seeing it from DS receipt to the sterile fill of the finished product.  I enjoy the client interaction, finding out about their products and I also like when the clients provide updates on how successful their clinical trial has been and whether the drug will be moving onto the next stage.  I always feed this back to the wider team as it makes the drug more relatable and not just a liquid/ powder but a drug that can be actually helping patients or improving their quality of life.

3. What brought you to Symbiosis?

I previously worked as a Project Manager for a CRO test house for many years overseeing release testing.  In this role I was also involved in overseeing cell bank manufacturing.  Following maternity leave I decided to move into a different role within clinical trials but found I missed the Project Management aspect of knowing everything that is going on.  I seen that Symbiosis were looking for a Project Manager overseeing manufacture fill / finish and this really appealed to me as I had some background knowledge on manufacturing but this role helped build on it.  Symbiosis was also a small company at the time and I got a good feeling from the interview and it seemed the right job for me.  I have never looked back.

4. What are your hopes and ambitions for the industry?

I would love to see more gene therapy products come through and be successful where one infusion could potentially lead to curing the disease. Definitely more focus on personalised medicines.

5. What are the biggest challenges that aseptic fill-finish manufacturers must overcome in 2023?

I think COVID put a spotlight on fill finish manufacturers and the demand for CDMOs are rapidly increasing alongside shorter timeframes.  I think it is critical to have proper planning/ co-ordination as there can be supply chain constraints, and shipping logistic challenges following Brexit.  Gene Therapy processes can be complicated and challenging whilst needing to ensure that they are aseptic.  Additionally, time and risk management are key factors along with regulatory compliance.

6. Finally, if you could give any advice to potential clients, what would it be?

Find a partner that is collaborative and trustworthy, where you can build on a good partnership as things don’t always go to plan but its about coming together, working through it and achieving the objectives.  I would also say its important to be clear on your expectations and availability of information as this will help with onboarding and understanding of any restrictions and impact they will have on the overall plan.

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