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ISPE Member Spotlight: Andria Thomas

ISPE Member Spotlight: Andria Thomas

The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter has won numerous ISPE Awards by virtue of their contributions to the pharmaceutical industry. They continue to have their finger on the pulse of the local industry and respond with innovative and educational programs. The Chapter’s Emerging Leaders Committee is especially active and plans monthly events while also helping new graduates become successful in the pharmaceutical industry.

Committee Chair Alice Rystov says the group’s success is due to its amazing volunteers. “There's never a shortage of people who want to volunteer and give back.” She says member  Andria Thomas is an example of one of the Chapter’s stellar volunteers. “Andria has been an example to the life sciences community since her time at Solano college, where she actually started the ISPE student chapter and acted as chapter president during her time there,” said Rystov. “Due to this, she was an easy fit for the emerging leaders group. She is consistently one of the first to volunteer to help with a practice interview, a resume review, or an event. In the recent months, she acted as a mentor to several others in the group. She is also working on a mentorship initiative within the Emerging Leaders community and acts as the professional lead for Solano College.”

Manufacturing Associate
BioMarin Pharmaceutical

Andria Thomas is a Manufacturing Associate with BioMarin Pharmaceutical. Originally from Los Gatos, California, Andria graduated from Solano College with a B.S. in Biomanufacturing.

Tell us about the mentorship initiative you are working on?

As a student member of ISPE while attending Solano College and in my current role as a member of the Emerging Leaders ISPE San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, I have been blessed to have many talented members who acted as mentors and were vested in my professional development. Having experienced the benefits of this type of relationship firsthand, it is important to me to pay this gift forward to young professionals seeking career development to ensure our industry continues to operate at the highest level possible, thereby ensuring outstanding patient care.

To pay this gift forward, I recently led the organization of the Emerging Leaders ISPE San Francisco Bay Area Chapter Mentor Meet and Greet virtual event with the assistance of my outstanding Emerging Leaders associates, Alice Rystov, Haley Moss, and AJ Guralas. We designed this event in a virtual platform to expose young professionals seeking mentorship to as many mentors with demonstrated mentorship experience as possible in a one-hour Zoom session with a breakout room format. To guarantee mentees obtained the maximum possible benefit from this event, we intentionally kept the mentee to mentor ratios low in an attempt to create a more intimate one-on-one environment. Our intention was to allow mentees to really get a sense of who the mentors were and whether or not they could form a true connection. I am very proud to say that 50% of our attendees were able to identify a mentor they felt would benefit them. We are looking forward to following up with them in the next few months to gauge the success of these mentorships!

I am also volunteering with ISPE on a community outreach initiative to organize career days for community college students majoring in STEM. We hope to assist them with career selection as well as to provide information on scholarships, internships, and potential long-term mentorships. We are very excited about this project and we are confident that this initiative will identify many bright, talented, and deserving young students who will have a major future impact on the pharma industry!

What made you decide to start a student chapter of ISPE at your college? How has ISPE helped you be a part of the pharmaceutical industry?

Heather Bennett gave a presentation to my cohort at Solano Community College on ISPE and the benefits that ISPE has to offer. At that time, I was pursuing my B.S. in Biomanufacturing. Many of the students, including myself, were anxious about finding employment after graduation. We knew that we had the talent, the education, and the drive to contribute to the pharma industry but what we lacked was the opportunity to make connections with key individuals in the pharma community to demonstrate these abilities. When Heather made mention of the supportive nature of the ISPE community and the many networking opportunities available, I immediately identified ISPE as an opportunity to form the connections we had been searching for and started the Solano Community College Chapter of ISPE!

I utilized ISPE and my position as the Solano Community College Chapter President to approach pharma professionals interested in giving back to their communities. These fantastic professionals volunteered their time to share their experiences with my fellow students and me and provided additional information on potential career paths that may be available to us. I also worked with Heather Bennett to gain the support of many outstanding ISPE members who graciously donated their time to come to many of our classes to provide insight pertaining to specific coursework as well as to attend advisory panels to share general advice on career development. It was through one of these events that I ultimately obtained an internship. This internship, as well as the leadership and organizational abilities I obtained through ISPE, were instrumental in the hiring decision made by my current employer, BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc.