When you arrive at Imperial College, you will immediately notice that there is much more to do than just follow lectures related to your studies. There are many social events, but also a wide range of formal events. The Imperial College Business School organises, for example, employer events on weeknights during which various companies give talks on their company or business they are involved in or on topics related to their business/company. For students of the Business School this is a great opportunity to gain more insight in the business world and to learn a bit more about possible future employers.
I have visited several of these employer events, because I believe that they have the potential to provide you with more information on what it possibly could be like working for a certain company. After all, there’s only so much you can learn from a website… I recommend you try to visit as much of these events you can, also the ones that might not appear to be interesting to you at first sight, because I’ve seen several examples of students entering a lecture thinking they would never want to work for such company, but leaving it with a whole different feeling.
And, more importantly, if you are at one of the events, do not hesitate to ask questions during or after the company presentation. If you are particularly interested in a certain company, for example, ask them if it is possible to visit their company for a day. We had a very inspiring talk end of October by Synergy Health given by their UK & Ireland Commercial Director, mr. Mark Botting, assisted by mrs. Fischer, Group Talent Manager. After hearing about their, to me very appealing, Graduate Scheme, I felt that I wanted to know (even) more about the company. So, after the presentation, I asked mr. Mark Botting if it was possible for me to visit Synergy in London. He asked me to e-mail him and forwarded my request to Dr. Arden. I arranged a meeting with her that took place last Wednesday (the 28th of November).
Before telling you about the visit, let me first inform you a bit about Synergy Health plc. itself. The company was set up in 1991 and currently “delivers a range of specialist outsourced services and products to healthcare providers and other clients concerned with health management. These services and products are aimed at supporting our customers to improve the quality and efficiency of their activities, whilst reducing risks to their patients and clients” (1). Over the years, Synergy has reached market leading positions in different areas, amongst which Hospital Sterilisation Services, Applied Sterilisation Technologies, Healthcare Solutions, (Pharmaceutical) Laboratory Services and Linen Management Services. Their vision is to “build a lasting reputation as the trusted experts in global health-related markets by differentiating our services and products through the way we work” (2).
I visited Synergy in the Royal London Hospital and received a tour by Dr. Arden, the General Manager for the Hospital Sterilisation Services. Synergy used to be located outside the hospital, but is nowadays located in the basement of the hospital. The visit began with a very informative presentation about not only Synergy Health, but also how the company functioned within the different healthcare systems. During this presentation, I noticed that although Synergy has already established a quite strong market position, they are very ambitious and aim to expand their business and are always looking for new opportunities to grow, which I thought was very interesting and good. Moreover, Dr. Arden told me a little bit more about the Graduate Scheme (4) and what individuals who completed the programme are doing within the company nowadays.
After the presentation, which took place in Dr. Arden’s office, it was time for a tour. This required me to wear shoe covers and a hair cover and some sort of medical gown. Although I looked like a smurf (it was all blue), I felt pretty cool, haha. The tour itself was very interesting, it is fascinating to see how many procedures and big machines are necessary to clean equipment used in operating theaters and dental practices. Moreover, I was very impressed how smooth the whole process went, Synergy has a turn around time of less than four hours, which is very quick if you bear in mind that each piece of equipment has to be absolutely spotless. To achieve this quick turnaround time, they use a very handy system with colored sheets and special barcodes, so that it is immediately clear where which tray of equipment needs to go. Another interesting fact was that they even used different air pressures in each room in order to use air flow to minimize the risk of bacteria moving from the ‘dirty’ room to the ‘clean’ room.
I was also impressed by the fact that Dr. Arden seemed to know all her employees and that they all knew (and liked) her. This is especially noteworthy if you consider the fact that not all employees spoke English (for this reason, they have also added colors and symbols to their target boards, so that everyone can understand them easily). Dr. Arden later told me that a good atmosphere is vital for such difficult cleaning work, because all employees need to be motivated and very focused at all times. Particularly when bearing in mind that there are very high penalties associated with any errors. Overall, I really enjoyed my visit and I am very grateful for the opportunity I had to gain more insight in Synergy Health.
I would like to end this post by recommending all of you to, if you find a particular company interesting, contact them! Ask for more information or for a visit or even just for a meeting over the phone. It is a great experience and a unique opportunity to learn more about a company. And, if it turns out afterwards you don’t like the company as much as you though, at least you tried and figured it out before hand (imagining finding this out two-weeks into your new position). Plus, if it turns out you love the company and decide to apply for a position, this can possibly strengthen your application.
Have a good weekend,