BioBuzz by Workforce Genetics

5 Questions with David Oliver, Associate Director, Business Development at PQE Group

“5 Questions With…” is a recurring BioBuzz series where we reach out to interesting people to share a little about themselves, their work, and maybe something completely unrelated. This week we welcome David Oliver, Associate Director, Business Development at PQE Group, a women-owned Contract Quality Organisation and Complete Quality Solution provider for GCP, GLP, GMP & GDP areas in the Life Science Industry.

David’s scientific background includes working in laboratories, where he gained experience in colon cancer and stem cell research, interning with biotech start-ups, and participating in several accelerator programs. In his PQE role, he works in business development to expand PQE Group’s presence in the US while actively supporting PQE clients. David joined PQE Group in 2020 as junior business development manager and was promoted to Associate Director in 01/2022. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Bridgewater College, and a Master’s of Science from Georgetown University in 2019.

1) Please introduce yourself to our audience by looking back at your education, training, and career.

Academically, I come from a biology/biotechnology background, having obtained my MS from Georgetown University back in 2019. My scientific background has primarily been focused in the lab space, gaining experience in colon cancer and stem cell research under professors Dr. Stephen Baron and Dr. Moshe Khurgel from Bridgewater College. During my time at Georgetown, I worked for a startup as an intern, and participated in several accelerator programs. This was the first time that I had been exposed to the business side of the pharmaceutical/life science industry, and I was immediately intrigued with how intertwined both fields — science and business — are.

Shortly after graduating from Georgetown, I began my career with PQE Group, where I started as a Junior Business Development Manager under my Senior Director (Now VP), Andrzej Zylicz. This was a very exciting time as the company was starting to invest more intensely in the US market, and our CEO, Gilda D’Incerti, and other global executives were dedicating more of their time into growing our business here.

As time has passed, I have been able to become more independent, which has allowed me to start managing my own team and add more value to the organization. This brings me to where I am now – after an intense first two years I hope that I can continue to grow the US business and market presence, but, more importantly, keep supporting our life science partners’ challenges and their road to compliance.

2) Having been with PQE Group for 2 years and recently earning a promotion in the past 6 months, what about PQE’s culture has made this job different from the others?

The culture at PQE is something that I have not experienced anywhere else. Being an Italian company, I think that the European values really shine from the top management down. Though we are in [arguably] one of the most corporate environments, the lifestyle at PQE is far from what I expected when I was first thinking of entering the pharmaceutical industry. Everyone at the company is very down to earth, and as cliché as it sounds, we work like one big family, and I have found some of my closest friends here at PQE.

The main goal at PQE is really to grow and help others, and to provide a working environment that not only is helping the world on a larger scale (quality/compliance in the life science space addresses that), but also ensuring that we are best using our capabilities to drive an efficient business while also maintaining a healthy work-life balance. One of my favorite quotes from our CEO is: “We are a for-profit company, where profit is not the main goal” – and this is something that I see reflected every day.

3) What made you shift from more of a hands-on research assistant role to a business development manager? Are there any similarities?

As many people who know me will tell you – I am a very engaged and passionate person. I like to collaborate with others and discuss ideas and solutions; this is something that I found hard to find with my head stuck in a lab hood doing wet lab research. After my internship experience, where I was participating in different accelerator programs, I learned how to pitch properly, how to leverage value propositions to generate compelling business cases, but most importantly, I learned how to connect with people and really get to the root causes of issues.

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My experience in the roles in both research and in the business development space gave me the freedom to decide how to solve the problems in front of me. Whether it was trying to understand how to induce locomotion in animal limbs after amputation to increase regeneration rates in the lab, or how to strategize with a client on how to run global Data Integrity remediations and leverage past projects to streamline processes in business, in both places my managers offered me the freedom and space to come up with my own solutions.

4) As the new associate director of BD, what are some things we can look forward to from PQE in the near future that also pique your interest?

I think that in the near future, what you can expect from PQE is our rapid growth. We are expecting to grow exponentially over upcoming years, in all areas of our company, from expanding the current teams supporting our pharma and medical device partners to exploring and entering new areas that we are currently exploring in R&D. I hope to be able to grow our business development team to help better support the market, my team, and my colleagues in any way that I can.

5) If you could go to any destination of choice for vacation, where would you go and why?

Wow – that’s a tough question! There are so many beautiful places to explore on this planet and I’d be delighted to have opportunities to visit so many of them.

Being with PQE Group has also enabled me to travel around the United States so I’ve been able to see more areas of this country than I had in the past – it’s a wonderful place and the differences among various states is pretty exciting to see first-hand.

However, to be specific regarding your question, I’d have to choose Bali! The idea of sitting on a tropical island beach halfway around the world, mojito in hand, appeals to me on so many levels – rest, relaxation, beauty, nature, fun, maybe some water sports – all rolled into one holiday. Hopefully, one day!