Andreas Meszner was one of the first employees at WuXi Biologics in Germany. There were just 13 operators in the team when he took over as Engineer Department Head of Manufacturing Operations in October 2020.
His mission was clear, but also full of challenges. The task was to make the site in Leverkusen ready for the filling of COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. This did not only comprise the set-up of manufacturing groups for formulation, filling, visual inspection and packaging, but also the creation of the support units for material management, GMP documentation management, production management and technical support, which are also part of the Manufacturing Operations department.
“From February to October 2021, our headcount rose by 1350 percent due to the COVID-19 vaccine filling activities. We turned into an operation with five shifts from scratch, at a site which had been designed as a dedicated facility for a certain drug,” Andreas recalls. “For our company, it was clear from the beginning and also our top priority to make our contribution to combating the pandemic situation and help the population in Germany and the European Union to return to their normal lives.”
“At the beginning, I was greeted by some of the colleagues with the sentence ‘welcome to mission impossible’,” Andreas adds with a certain pride. “But after nine months, we had already reached commercial production, having obtained the GMP license in July 2021. An incredible achievement of our company, which led to absolute amazement within my entire network. And I am referring to the entire staff in Germany and in China, because WE ALL are WuXi Biologics.”
There was not a lot of leisure time left for the 37-year-old father. And he also has been neglecting his hobby reading since then. “If I am reading something, it’s usually documentations, guidelines or emails,” Andreas says and adds with a smile: “If you have a tight deadline, you have to work along a list of priorities and constantly make calls between urgent and important. That’s not always easy. Luckily, my wife is always supporting me. She’s my heroine!”
Andreas gained many years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Since completing his degree in Pharmaceutical Business Management, he has already implemented several process facilities in clean rooms and realized 29 customer projects. The decision to join WuXi Biologics came from a desire to get to know something completely new.
“We are different, not only from an organizational point of view, but also in the execution of our processes. We’re fast, very fast, without neglecting quality. We combine formulation, filling and visual inspection for three departments in one just-in-time process. That’s really something!”, he explains.
He is particularly impressed by WuXi Biologics’ corporate culture. “We don’t stand for a top-down culture,” he stresses enthusiastically. “Of course we have to make decisions at management level, but others, younger ones, should do the same. Leadership for me is not about being the best, but about making others better. This is the culture we want to maintain, and it’s a gift for each of our employees, which actively promotes the development of our professionals and the build-up of our human resources.” He adds with a grin: “Development of skills never comes from comfort zones.”
In practical terms, this means that the PROUD values ownership and accountability are being lived. “These values fit our time and I defend them passionately,” says Andreas. “We have many young colleagues who still have little experience but are allowed to take on responsibility. It’s part of my duties to support them in developing themselves and in their learning experience. I want to be a good mentor and share what I was given at the beginning of my career.”