Leaving a stable job and the comforts of your homeland to pursue a career on the other side of the world is not an easy decision that many would make. However, for Sarah Hamed – an engineer and a supervisor in Quality Assurance at SHL’s Taiwan quarters – tackling challenges and facing the unknown has always been key to growing as a person. “I always try to challenge myself. Had I stayed in Germany, I would have stayed the same person,” Sarah said.
Sarah joined SHL’s Engineering Solutions (ES) department around the beginning of 2018. A fairly new department then, ES has flourished into a strong team of about 30 people, focusing on the integration of electronics and smart technology into SHL’s injection devices. Tasked with supporting the establishment of the quality management system (QMS) for ES, Sarah has thrived in a work environment that upholds accountability and encourages strong team spirit in facing new challenges. “When I joined ES, I found myself among one of the best teams I’ve ever worked in,” Sarah explained, acknowledging the winning combination of high working standards and good relationships in the workplace. “I noticed what a difference it could make to work in a good environment with people who were so professional and skilled, yet warm and welcoming,” Sarah said.
Sarah grew up in Vaihingen an der Enz, a small town north of Stuttgart in southern Germany. She later went on to study medical engineering near Konstanz, another southern German town bordering Switzerland. Hence, it comes as no surprise that she landed a job at a medical technology company. “I was always interested in medicine,” Sarah said, “Although I had no intention of becoming a doctor, I found it very fascinating how medical devices could improve the quality of patient’s lives or restore body functions,” she continued.
Since ES’s research and development activities center around the digital empowerment of SHL’s medical devices, the requirements for design and development of its products follow highly stringent guidelines. Therefore, ES must implement a distinctive quality management system that aligns the department’s developments with legal and regulatory systems. This is where Sarah comes in. “The establishment of an individual QMS enables a certain degree of freedom for SHL to venture into digital technology, such as adding electronic features to our autoinjectors, building software implementations, or even designing new electronic devices.”
When ES began setting up its QMS, the goal was to go paperless and institute electronic-based operations. Now, the whole team benefits from this digitalized platform that offers faster document accessibility, unified documentation, and even electronic signatures. “Our engineers spent hours on the validation process for our QMS, poring over tons of documentation and building multiple configurations on an existing digital platform to ensure that our QMS complied with regulations. We are all quite proud of this digitalized quality management platform,” Sarah said.
“When I joined ES, I found myself among one of the best teams I’ve ever worked in. I noticed what a difference it could make to work in a good environment with good people.”
– Sarah Hamed, Supervisor of Engineering Solutions
According to Sarah, the biggest challenge in maintaining a successful QMS comes from “living the QMS.” “We set up a procedure and wrote down the assessment processes. Now, we need to see if they are applicable,” Sarah said, adding that “Living the QMS means using it in existing situations and making sure that it aligns with the project needs and what the engineers find useful.”
With the mindset of a fighter who seeks improvement consistently, Sarah frequently initiates dialogue with the engineers to advance the system. “Many unforeseeable issues occur during the quality assessment for a certain project when engineers begin applying the QMS. My job is to refine this system and make sure that the same errors don’t happen again,” Sarah said.
Outside the office, Sarah is an avid runner. Due to an asthma diagnosis at a young age, Sarah had to refrain from running outdoors too long in her early years. Now, Sarah finds running an average of more than 120 km per month nothing short of a breeze, occasionally challenging mountainous trails with an elevation gain of over 4000 m. “When I explored trail running in Taiwan, I was shocked at how fun the sport could actually be. It’s very different here,” she said. Sarah also enjoys taking on running challenges, such as finishing an ultramarathon – a running distance that exceeds the average marathon length of 42 km. Sarah’s record is currently 75 km.
A strong, goal-oriented mentality is a recurring theme whenever Sarah speaks, both during her work or during her spare time. “When I accepted this challenge at ES, I knew there was no turning back, just like my marathons. I need to reach the finish line, and I need to get there on time.” This is also Sarah’s mindset when she heads into the mountains for a 7-hour race with no one to lend a hand if anything goes wrong. The fighter mentality is as crucial in both situations. “Simply put, failing is not an option,” Sarah said.