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Member Spotlight: Zen-Zen Yen

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Zen-Zen Yen is a highly active Young Professional in the ISPE D/A/CH Affiliate who also is engaged in the Affiliate’s Women in Pharma® initiatives and is serving as a Coach at the upcoming ISPE Student & Young Professional Hackathon at 2019 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo. We talked with Zen-Zen to learn more about her experiences with ISPE and what drives her to continually motivate others.

Zen-Zen Yen
Head of Engineering At Supply Center Grenzach
Bayer AG

How long have you been an ISPE Young Professional member? Any interesting things you can tell us about experiences you’ve had during that time?

I joined the ISPE Young Professionals community in 2016 after a random cold call. It was quite a surprising request, Robert Landertinger – whom I had never heard of or met before – asked if I would be interested in building a Young Professional community for the D/A/CH region. As I, at that point, was striving for meaningful connections with like-minded people I was immediately hooked on this idea. In the past 3 years, the development of the ISPE D/A/CH Young Professional group has been incredible and we continue to grow. We organized the first Hackathon at the ISPE Europe Annual Conference back in 2017, a Young Professional Symposium with over 100 participants in 2018, and we are currently focusing on building student chapters for local representation. All in all, it has been terrific to be a part of this development and I’m excited for the years to come.

You live and work in Germany and are a member of the ISPE D/A/CH Affiliate. What is the biopharmaceutical industry like in that region?

The D/A/CH region – especially Germany and Switzerland – is home to many big players in the pharmaceutical industry. Switzerland has been a leading hub for the biopharmaceutical industry for a long time. However, in recent years, Germany has also grown a top-tier cluster of large and small biotech enterprises with strong investments into research and development and high number of patent applications. A similar development is visible in Austria, where the pharmaceutical market has been growing over recent years. With my background in Biotechnology, I’m particularly thrilled to see the increasing shift of focus toward biopharmaceuticals.   

You are the key volunteer for D/A/CH for both Women in Pharma and Young Professionals (thank you!). And you are very active in both! Can you talk a little about what you enjoy from working with these groups?

Both Women in Pharma and Young Professionals are a passion of mine. I firmly believe that we can only strive if we work together to find the best solution. The collaboration and support I have experienced in both of these groups is incredible and I just love the “can do” spirit. To be able to work with like-minded people and to exchange experiences and ideas has not only been great fun but has also helped me develop a strong set of skills and a deep understanding of the industry.  

With the Young Professionals group, we have clearly established ourselves as a valuable contributor to the ISPE. The Women in Pharma has recently gained strong momentum with some fantastic events coming up. If anyone is interested in either of these groups, please get in touch with me and I will keep you posted.

You will be attending the Hackathon as a Coach for the Student and Young Professional participants. Can you share some thoughts on why you think this is important and what you expect for the Students and Young Professionals – and yourself – to get from it?

It has been quite a learning curve from our first Hackathon in 2017 (in Europe) to this year’s event (the first at ISPE Annual Meeting in the USA) and I’m thrilled to participate again this year. I really don’t want to give away too much, but the real-world application and the tailored challenges are really well thought out. The students and Young Professionals will work on best-in-class examples with guidance from experienced professionals from the industry and work together in international and cross-functional teams. Being able to fully immerse yourself in such a creative environment and the opportunity to pitch your solution to our judges will provide such great learning.