Charlottetown-based BioVectra leverages Maritime lifestyle as a powerful recruitment tool, bringing global skill set to local market
When the sun sets and his head hits the pillow, Srinivasulu Bandi has no trouble sleeping well. The Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island resident has a good job at a stable company, his two daughters are growing up in a safe community at a school just five minutes from his work, while his wife also has meaningful employment at the same business. A native of southern India, Bandi is employed as Director of Process Development and Technical Support, Biotech Division at BioVectra, based out of Charlottetown.
“It is a beautiful place and it is a nice place to raise the kids,” Bandi said of P.E.I. “I know what city life is like, leaving in the morning and not coming back home until night. But with a business like BioVectra in a place like Charlottetown, it is so much more flexible. You drop the kids off somewhere then it only takes another five or 10 minutes to get wherever else you are going.”
Bandi applied to BioVectra over nine years ago after he realized the growing company would be a perfect place to grow his professional resume. Working previously in South Korea, Bandi then relocated to Canada, joining the BioVectra team in 2008. His first posting at Bio- Vectra was as a scientist in the research and development team with a specialty in fermentation, one of the areas in the company where new members are currently needed. He was promoted to Manager of the Biotech Group in 2010, then promoted to Director in 2015.
Bandi has also added to his educational resume since moving to Atlantic Canada to complement his role at BioVectra. After completing his Masters and Ph. D at Andhra University in India, Bandi completed a Postdoc at the National Research Council of Canada in Halifax, a Postdoc at Dalhousie University, and an MBA from the University of Prince Edward Island.
“This company does a wide variety of business,” Bandi said. “It was the right fit, me and BioVectra. It is a comfortable life here and I am happy with what I am doing.”
With the biochemical engineering company growing exponentially the past few years, Bandi has some advice for the new recruits that are sure to be hired in the coming months. “Be passionate about your job and take ownership,” he said. “You will enjoy it.”
Passion is something that Pape O. Sine has no trouble injecting into his daily worklife. The native of Senegal has been a Buyer for Bio- Vectra since August of 2016.
“It is well beyond what I expected,” Sine said of his time so far with the company. “I was looking for a company that would let me really dive into what I wanted to do in my career and enhance my skills. I really appreciate the company culture where there is such a diverse workforce and teamwork is really promoted.”
Sine moved to Canada in 2008 to enrol in the University of Moncton in New Brunswick, where he graduated as the valedictorian of his Business Administration class. He then moved to P.E.I. for other work opportunities before joining the team at BioVectra.
“This company has people working here from all over the world and I really appreciated that as I felt I was not the only one from away,” Sine said. “If you started naming all the countries it would be unbelievable.”
Sine’s job sees him buying raw materials and consumables for the company from distributors all over the world but he still gets to set down the phone and bask in the East Coast lifestyle he has grown to love. Living in downtown Charlottetown, Sine often takes his bicycle to work enjoying the Confederation trail system through the city, and has also been able to further his own education since taking his position. Sine is balancing his job at BioVectra along with taking a Master of Business Administration at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown, where he has classes every second Friday and Saturday.
“BioVectra has been very supportive of me doing this to further my career,” Sine said. “It is a great work-life balance. When I wanted to do it I asked my supervisor and told him for me I think it is the right time. I felt I was in a company that I was comfortable enough to do both and BioVectra has proved me right. I still remember the day I got accepted, my coworkers and supervisor surprised me with a cake. There are a lot of opportunities to grow your career here.”
While Sine is a relative newcomer to BioVectra, Krista Affleck has been around for the long haul, joining BioVectra’s forerunner, Diagnostic Chemicals Ltd., over 15 years ago.
Affleck was fresh out of university with a young child to provide for and after having completed part of her U.P.E.I. studies at the company she decided it could be the kind of place she could build a life and family without leaving her home province.
Affleck has grown her family more than she imagined as she met her husband, Ankur Deshpande, at the company—they now have a oneyear- old daughter.
Since Affleck started, she has held seven different positions in the company, starting out in Quality Control and then moving on to the Analytical department where she has been for 10 years. She currently serves as Manager, Analytical Support and Development at the Hillstrom facility in Charlottetown, one of three in the provincial capital (BioVectra is also opening a new operation in Windsor, N.S.).
“There is opportunity to move up once you put in your time,” Affleck said. “Now we’re growing so much and so fast that the people who started out here entry level and now have experience are often the ones who are moving up to manager. Out of the vice-presidents, I think half of them moved up through the company so there are great examples there. There are lots of people who have advanced that way.” Kathleen Cullen is all too aware of the advancement opportunities available at BioVectra, which helped in her decision to settle in her native Charlottetown and join the company as a chemical engineer.
“I like that I am able to work on P.E.I.,” Cullen said. “My family is all here so that is huge and it’s great to get a job in my field at home. A lot of my classmates are working in Fort McMurray.”
Cullen said even though she has seen the company grow from 150 employees to over 300 in just her three-and-a-half years, BioVectra still has a small company feel to her.
“Anytime we have social events or anything it is really great. If I meet people from other departments, people are really welcoming and want to let you know what they do.”
Since joining BioVectra, Cullen has seen a change in her outlook to work and life. She likes the fact that the company will let you train and learn different skill sets apart from why you may have been originally hired.
“Since I have started here I have seen such growth in myself both professionally and personally. If you show initiative in anything or willingness to learn new skills they are very supportive of that.” Cullen recommends a move to the BioVectra team as a solid choice offering the East Coast lifestyle coupled with a global company.
“Come to BioVectra if you’re interested in a fast-paced environment that is always changing but is really innovative and cutting edge,” Cullen said. “I feel like this is a company that has strong growth in its future, we’re not just doing projects that have been hanging around for a couple of years.”