Joanne Harrison Qualified Person Journey

Having seen the QP role up close, Joanne  knew she wanted to become a QP. Here she tells us how she made the decision, the support she received from our team and her experiences as a fully qualified QP.



What made you become a QP?

As a production manager, I regularly worked with QPs which gave me a unique insight into the day-to-day responsibilities of the role – and alongside the high profile and pressure, it was the job satisfaction and sense of achievement that most appealed to me. So when the opportunity came up within my organisation to move into the quality department, I immediately asked to be sponsored through the QP training programme. Fortunately, I was given the go-ahead.



Why did you choose to do your training with RSSL rather than another provider?

The flexibility of the RSSL course was hugely important to me – not only in terms of the six-month module schedule, but also that fact that students are able to start at any point during the cycle rather than having to wait for an official course start date.


The relatively short 2-3 days devoted to completing each module was also a motivating factor; it meant less time away from the office and home, as well as fewer expenses and accommodation costs.



How would you describe your training experience with RSSL?

I found the RSSL team friendly and relaxed; they managed to balance detailed and challenging knowledge sharing, with thoughtful details such as making sure my favourite cake was available for lunch. The sessions themselves were interactive and informal which made for a positive learning environment. And I also met an interesting mix of people in diverse roles from companies of all different sizes, not just the big pharmaceutical giants, which was a welcome benefit.



How long did it take to become fully qualified?

I completed all 12 modules within 2 years (2011-13) and passed my VIVA the following July 2014.



What is the toughest part of your job?

Having to say “no” to people. When you are unable to release a batch, this decision will naturally have implications for the overall business, but my primary concern is product and patient safety – this has to come before everything.  So you do need a thick skin and it’s vital that you stand firmly behind decisions and remain consistent.



What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Knowing that I am responsible for releasing products that will prevent or cure diseases. In my previous role I was releasing seasonal flu vaccine which can literally save lives, and my current work with large animal vaccines is just as rewarding because I know healthy livestock have such a huge positive economic impact.



What has been your biggest challenge?

My VIVA – but don’t be put off! I found RSSL’s support invaluable in helping my preparation; I was able to attend full day 1 to 1 viva preparation sessions  where I could focus on my individual concerns and  I was able address those areas where I felt I was struggling.



What advice would you give to anyone wishing to take part in the RSSL QP programme?

First of all, don’t listen to those around you telling you there is only one provider; choose the QP programme that is right for you.  I qualified successfully first time and a lot quicker than some of my colleagues who went elsewhere.


Secondly, choose your timing to join the course wisely. I found it advantageous to go into the QP programme with significant experience already behind me, which enabled me to put what I learnt into context and get more out of it.


And on a practical note, write everything down in your working day that is relevant to a QP role.  This will prove incredibly valuable when you come to complete your VIVA application form as you will have a record of your achievements.


Take the next step to becoming a QP


Join our upcoming webinar, 'To QP or not to QP?' designed for aspiring QPs like you. Get a glimpse into a rewarding career, what it takes to succeed and your potential to impact the pharmaceutical and biotech industries.

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