Mark Crawley

Technical Director at Laleham Health and Beauty
Meet Mark Crawley, Technical Director at Laleham Health and Beauty, a contract manufacturer of cosmetic, medicinal and food supplement products.
What is your job title and what are the main characteristics of your day-to-day work?

My role is Technical Director and I am also the ‘Qualified Person’ in relation to medicines. I have managerial responsibility for all aspects of our product and packaging development, quality and compliance with a total personnel count of around 80 employees. As the Qualified Person I have responsibility for the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) and batch certification of the medicinal products we produce. Since I have responsibility for such a multi-disciplined group of personnel, a majority of which are science-based graduates, a large part of my day involves managing my teams to ensure they continually meet business, customer and regulatory expectations and requirements.

Do you use any area of science in your current job?
Yes, I'm a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Chartered Chemist and during the day there are numerous operational, formulation, safety, regulatory and quality 'challenges' coming at me from all directions where I need to rely on my theoretical and practical scientific knowledge and experience without actually realising that I’m doing it!
What other department/professions do you work with?

As a Company Director I work with all internal departments in relation to strategic direction and providing technical guidance. Additionally, I liaise with our customers and regulatory bodies who regularly inspect our factory, in particular in relation to GMP.

I was previously Chair of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists’ Scientific Programme committee with whom I was involved in organising three of their scientific symposia, and presently I am Chair of the CTPA GMP Working Group; all of these activities have provided me with valued contact with numerous colleagues from within the cosmetics industry.

Regardless of your job an essential skill is the ability to effectively communicate and engage in conversation with people at all levels in the work environment.
How would you summarise your career path so far?

Long! I left school at 18 and my first job was in a pharmaceutical quality control laboratory as an analytical chemist. During these early years I studied chemistry on day release basis. I strongly believe studying whilst working has many advantages. I quickly moved into a supervisory role, then various management roles and have been a Company Director for over ten years.

Did I plan this path? Definitely not. When leaving school I simply knew I liked, and seemed to be good at, science and mathematics.

What are the best things about your job?

Fundamentally it’s the variety of activities I undertake, being directly involved with the operational and technical aspects of our busy factories it’s both demanding and rewarding but never boring. However, one of my Qualified Person activities is to audit the factories that manufacture the materials used in the production of our medicinal products. I’m consequently very fortunate to visit factories all over the world where they use massive chemical production plants often spreading across many floors, a far cry from when I received my first chemistry set as a boy for Christmas, but still as rewarding.

Are there any specific skills essential to the job you do?

I think regardless of your job an essential skill is the ability to effectively communicate and engage in conversation with people at all levels in the work environment, without this you are very unlikely to succeed.

What qualifications are needed to do your job? Which of your qualifications do you find useful in your job?

The Qualified Person status has a specific set of educational, theoretical and practical knowledge requirements. However, equally as essential as Technical Director are the science-based qualifications, specifically chemistry and statistical mathematics.

In my current role it is important that I keep abreast of all new technology and forthcoming regulatory challenges to ensure our business remains both progressive and, more importantly, compliant. Unfortunately there isn’t a single qualification that covers this so it means continually spending my time reading relevant literature, standards and regulations, attending science-related symposia and training courses, and simply just absorbing information wherever possible. Inevitably it’s all useful in my job at some time you just never know when that might be!

Is there anything you wished you’d studied when younger that would be useful now?

How to play guitar, I was never going to become a world famous rock star just studying chemistry!

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