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ISPE Member Spotlight: San Francisco Emerging Leaders Committee

ISPE Member Spotlight: San Francisco Emerging Leaders Committee

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. One of the things we do the most is resume reviews and practice interviews. We get a ton of requests to do things like this (from both young professionals and students), so the group actually handles the majority of these - I've been told they are immensely helpful.”

Nick Monteleone
Automation Engineer II
BioMarin Pharmaceutical

Nick Monteleone joined ISPE shortly after his graduation from the University of Colorado,  Boulder.

“Since joining the industry upon graduating, Nick has been nothing short of a star,” said Rystov. “During my time working with him at BioMarin, he has volunteered on several outreach initiatives, particularly making his mark at the student/intern level to make sure they had an industry contact they felt comfortable chatting with and asking advice from. He always volunteers to help with a practice interview, a resume review, or an event. In the recent months, he helped organize and lead a co-event with the San Diego and Los Angeles Emerging Leaders groups focused on helping students get a job during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, he is the Professional Lead for the University of California Berkeley student chapter and has done a stellar job keeping the students engaged and being a resource for them.”

What made you decide to join ISPE? Would you recommend others do the same?

I decided to join ISPE after joining BioMarin Pharmaceutical as an Automation Engineer, following earning a degree in Chemical & Biological Engineering at University of Colorado Boulder in 2018. Several of my coworkers and teammates were already ISPE members, and after going to a few events as a guest, I realized it was a great way for me to learn about the industry, especially in the early years of my career. ISPE has since been a place for me to meet others in biotech and learn about our field in an expanded perspective from what I see on a day-to-day basis at BioMarin. I’d absolutely recommend others to get involved as well! Since joining, I have been involved as an Emerging Leaders board member with the ISPE SF/Bay Area Chapter. This team has given me a further avenue to connect with other young professionals in the area and help others in our field to succeed. I would recommend others to get involved in a group or committee at your ISPE chapter as it can be a great way to further expand your network.

Tell me about the event you organized with the San Diego and Los Angeles chapters. What was some of the best advice to help students get a job during this unusual time?

This past April, I collaborated with our ISPE California Chapters to host a panel event called “Your Mic is Muted: How New Grads are Navigating the Job Market During COVID-19”. I planned and moderated the event and asked questions of our panelists about networking and finding employment during this time. The panel did an excellent job of giving some great tips on how to make the most of situation. Their tips included going to ISPE events, boosting your resume with trainings related to specific skills (including ISPE trainings), and scheduling informational interviews with people that are in a role that interests you. With folks being more connected over virtual platforms than ever before, a video coffee chat can be a great and easy way to build your network!

Ernest Kenneth Strehlow, Jr.
Validation Engineer II

Ernest (EJ) Strehlow has more than 5 years of experience as a Validation Engineer and Project Manager at Delta Project Management in San Francisco, California. He has led or helped lead numerous Qualification and Validation activities ranging from controlled temperature units to capital projects since graduating from San Francisco State University in 2019 with a BA in Biology.

“EJ combines his incredible talent for solving complex engineering issues with an extraordinary preparedness - there is no issue for which he does not have an almost immediate solution,” said Rystov. “In my tenure as Emerging Leaders Chair for ISPE San Francisco, we have been extraordinarily impactful because of EJ’s talent. Whether it was executing a brand-new outreach initiative, engaging with students as a mentor, or simply planning engaging events in the era of zoom fatigue, EJ was critical to ensuring that our group and chapter stayed ahead of the curve.”

What made you decide to mentor students? What do you enjoy about mentoring?

I decided that I wanted to mentor students when I realized that I was privileged with how I got my first job and how vital networking is to the job-searching community. Also, it's thrilling when the person you've been doing resume-building and interview prep with lands their first interview or gets their first job and building new relationships is another nice benefit.

Tell us about your favorite event you organized this past year?

My favorite event I organized this year was a "How to Get a Job during a Pandemic" webinar we held through Zoom last summer. At the time, no one knew when or if the pandemic was going to end, and we felt it was vital to get information from recruiters to candidates as quickly as possible. I really enjoyed this event because it was my idea, I organized it, and I was the moderator. To top it off, a lot of my colleagues from SFSU attended, allowing me to get valuable feedback for future events.