Cambridge Grand Challenges student Curtis Sharma worked with GSK on its ‘ Statistical Modelling of Supply Chain Networks’ project. His aims were to expand his data science skills, gain experience in a non-academic research role, and gain insights into the Pharmaceutical industry.

Curtis gave us a video interview and told us how the fellowship gave him the chance to improve his problem-solving ability. Here is some of the transcription:

“I chose to take up a placement with GSK GlaxoSmithKline. This placement mainly involved the statistical modeling of supply chain models in pharmaceutical manufacturing processes. The main reason I chose this placement is that I wanted to expand and improve my skills in data modelling and statistics in general, and this provided a good opportunity to do that.

The main findings were that I had to validate different statistical models using spreadsheets and dynamic models. What I needed to do was validate these models, so that they did what the model supplier said that they would do, so that these models of these processes could be implemented at GSK’s Ware facility in Hertfordshire. I produced regular reports, and during this time and at the end of six months, I was able to produce findings that impacted on the key decision whether to go ahead,

By Implementing this process at that facility, I would say during my placement I learned a lot of things. There was a lot of teamwork with different departments, internal and external team members, so there was a lot of collaboration and consulting going on. I was allowed considerable freedom in what I wanted to do and how I want to go about it. Although I did have guidance from my supervisors, there was a lot of problem-solving involved and this is always a complex procedure, in a field that I really knew very little about. I was able to really exercise some problem-solving skills and I would say create some new ones.

One of the advantages of undertaking a placement with a commercial organisation, compared to a policy-orientated institution, was to be able to work more independently. I quite enjoyed that I can work remotely a lot, although I did go into the research and development facility at Stevenage quite a few times for different reasons. I’ve now got quite a bit of understanding of business insights. We did have to use some business insights software and I saw how the processes in the supply chain, the manufacturing supply chain, fitted into these business insights.

I would definitely recommend a placement to any new starter student, and any student at all. There were challenges but nevertheless, I view it as having a very positive impact on my career perspectives for the future, and also as a person, so I would recommend it.”

Curtis Starma’s placement with GlaxoSmithKline took place between November 2019 and April 2020.

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