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UK Ventilator Challenge — Real Projects for a Real Impact

By: Bethany Angeliu, Associate Consultant

When I joined Veeva and the Consultant Development Program, within only a couple of months I was already sitting in front of our pharmaceutical and life sciences clients making suggestions and implementing requests on their delivered solutions with my project teams. My familiarity with Veeva Vault and my confidence as a consultant were both growing, and I was looking forward to traveling to each of my clients’ sites to collaborate on their projects.

Then the world started to realize the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we ceased to travel at all — making my job truly 100% remote. We continued to support our projects. We used our own experience with remote work to lead customers in what was, for some of them, a new and uncertain way of working.

Around this time, the Ventilator Challenge UK Consortium was formed to accelerate the production of ventilators to meet the anticipated national need due to COVID-19. Around the world, people recognized that shortages of this life-saving medical device could have dire consequences for the disease’s morbidity and force healthcare workers to make tough ethical decisions about choosing who would receive care. The consortium gathered industrial, technology, and engineering businesses from across aerospace, automotive, and medical sectors to collaborate and exponentially increase the production of medical ventilators for the United Kingdom.

To support these different companies and brand-new processes, Veeva Vault was identified as the key solution for a quality management system for the testing and assembly of these devices.

At Veeva, a team of experts familiar with Vault and its quality applications assembled quickly, and somehow I was thrown into the mix. Through the swirl of acronyms and constantly shifting requirements — after all, the process itself was evolving day by day and needed to be reflected in our solution — I started to understand my role in the project’s success and the contributions I could make.

Generally speaking, our fastest projects take about 8–12 weeks, with a lot of functionality coming pre-delivered, “out of the box”. By contrast, we were being challenged to deliver a custom solution to match the evolving process in the real world in 10 days. In so many ways, the project would be unlike anything any of us had worked on before: it asked us to come up with solutions from scratch using basic Vault functions to create complex configurations. It asked us to iterate constantly with updated customer requirements, often requiring massive overhauls and rework. It asked us to make personal sacrifices of our time on nights and weekends, especially trying to connect with teammates spanning several time zones.

I don’t think any of us hesitated to answer the call. We accepted that a temporary, high-intensity effort on our part would have a huge impact on the availability of more ventilators to COVID-19 patients, meeting the acute need brought on by the global pandemic. There simply wasn’t time to lose; as the project manager later said,

“We did not have the luxury of pondering and delaying decisions. Everything needed to be tackled almost instantaneously. This is a testament of Veeva’s (and employees at Veeva) doing the right thing and acting with speed.”

When our solution was finally moved to production, the consortium was already well on its way to producing more ventilators. With Vault, As of July 5th, the consortium had produced 13,437 ventilators in 12 weeks and delivered the devices to the NHS.

The project has, by far, been the coolest thing I’ve done at Veeva. Beyond having a very direct impact on a sustained global effort to fight COVID-19, I was working alongside experienced Veevans who encouraged me to tackle tasks as a full resource on the team. If I was ever unsure how to do something, I was able to reach out to a teammate at a moment’s notice and get the help I need. Often, we were able to learn together about the system from each other as we brainstormed solutions and shared our knowledge of Vault features and functions. I was a trusted partner to the team and the customer (even though I had only been at the company for a few months), at one point even presenting a recorded training directly to end-users. The requirements and timeline demanded a lot from us, but it was so much easier to do when being supported by my teammates and positive team culture.

Before the Ventilator Challenge Consortium UK was even formed and before the global pandemic, I joined the CDP for a few reasons, no one more important than the other. I became interested in consulting thanks to college coursework and internship experiences. After I had decided to pivot from being a biology major and a future career in life sciences. But near graduation, I was wary of the consulting profession and the high-stress, high-travel lifestyle popularly perceived as typical of that career. However, thanks to the persuasion of a friend and a very positive interviewing process (including meeting my future managers and co-workers), I began to see how much Veeva actually lived its stated Core Values and aligned to my own. Also, I would be able to “return to my roots” by working in a STEM field, as Veeva’s technologies enable companies to bring life-saving therapies to market. I was excited and hopeful that the CDP would be a good fit and I would do work with a meaningful impact. Now, almost a year later, the UK Ventilator Challenge is only one demonstration of a project where I was supported by Veeva’s environment to challenge myself while also delivering something with a real-world impact.

These days I’m back to “normal” projects — which still help our customers deliver therapies to patients in better, cheaper, and faster ways. I have a lot of pride as a Veevan knowing that all of us are working to make the world a better place, especially when so many of our customers are developing medicines and devices, including vaccines, to eventually enable the world to live in a post-COVID-19 era. My part in the UK Ventilator Challenge project will always stand out to me not only for the direct connection and impact on the world but for how much I’ve learned and grown from the experience. I’m carrying forward my learnings to my next projects and creating a ripple effect of new knowledge that makes each of us that much better. With my previous career track in HR, I didn’t imagine that my future would have much to do with life sciences after giving up my biology studies. Now I can confidently say that I am still — if not more — excited and hopeful about this chapter of my career in the CDP and with Veeva.




Building the enterprise cloud for life sciences

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