Meet the Team – Q&A with our Head of QA, Shona Ross
After working in various roles in pre-clinical and clinical research – including Study Director and Responsible Scientist for bioanalytical studies – Shona joined us in 2015 as an Associate. Since then, she has taken on several senior roles, before becoming our Head of Quality Assurance in 2021.
Here, Shona talks us through how she ended up in QA, her career highlights, and what makes her tick outside of Tower Mains.
What initially attracted you to a career in QA, and what do you enjoy the most?
I came to QA quite late, but I’ve always been detail oriented. I liked, and still do like, the oversight that QA affords of studies and trials as a whole. I was a Bioanalyst originally, so I knew I was a small part of the process, but I liked that greater understanding of whether products were making a difference or not. Having been involved in an investigation into potential fraud and misconduct in GLP and then offered an opportunity to set up a specific data integrity group in GMP I suppose I was always on track to “join the dark side” as my mother (a lab worker her whole career) puts it. I like knowing that, in whatever little way, I contribute to making the world a better place.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far?
Not sure I could pick one item. I’ve loved having the opportunity not just to audit globally but to help people get their systems ready for joining a regulatory programme so maybe that. We’ve had two clients that stick out where we’ve successfully worked through to enrolment in inspection / licencing programmes, one GLP and one GMP, and seeing the way the teams at both places felt in achieving that was wonderful
Do you have any tips for those wishing to progress in QA?
Go for it. It’s maybe not what you thought you were going to do when you were studying at university, completing lab books, and conducting testing but it makes a difference and the value we can bring not just in auditing but supporting remediation and quality improvement can provide a great feeling of achievement. But remember, we’re not some kind of paramilitary immovable force. I’ve seen QA people with rulers measuring margins and refusing to sign reports if they don’t agree they’re as they want.
What makes you tick outside of Tower Mains?
My family and the arts. I’m forever messing with these personality type tests that say you can either be scientific or artsy. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket or even draw in a straight line, but I love dance and theatre performances and am often to be found persuading people to come with me to shows they’ve never heard of or would never normally see. Festival time in Edinburgh is by far my favourite. My flat is filled with original paintings and pictures (nothing famous) which remind me of people and places and keep me grounded and calm.