San Diego State University, M.S., Regulatory Affairs
Spend a few minutes with Faith Du and you’d never guess she spends her days pouring over medical device and drug treatment regulation manuals and procedures. The cheerful and compassionate San Diegan not only digs diving into regulatory affairs, but loves spending much of her time giving back to the community and causes around the world through organizations and her church. “(My job) aligns well with my passion to help people,” Faith explains. “No one really thinks of the person who makes sure medications and medical devices are safe, but I’m sure they’re glad people like my co-workers and I exist. It’s another way to contribute to making the world better.”
Faith admits she’s a “super nerd” who uses way too many Post-it notes and gladly participates in back-to-back meetings with people from all over the world, just as long as she can make time to escape to the beach afterwards. “One no-fail tactic I have is to reward myself after I’ve completed a milestone at work. It could be as simple as allowing myself time to sit on the beach — or maybe buying a new purse.”
Learn what you can, right where you’re at, and bloom where you’re planted.
How did you discover your current job?
I worked in the lab as a protein purification scientist (I know, super nerdy) while I was completing my master’s degree in regulatory affairs. During that time, I took a job at Life Technologies and at the new hire orientation I met Deanna Vella, a new hire in the regulatory affairs department. We exchanged information and had lunch a couple of times. After a few months, I left my lab job, since I had decided to finish my master’s degree as a full-time student.
A week before I graduated, I received a call from Deanna telling me there was an opening in the RA department. I think it was a miracle, because it’s so hard to find entry-level RA positions. I looked for jobs for at least three months before Deanna called and was contemplating a move to the Midwest for opportunities. The position with Thermo Fisher Scientific was a perfect fit for my skills and personality; not to mention the timing of the opportunity and the rapport I had built with Deanna. Networking is a powerful tool!
How do you organize your day?
I’m a color-coding, checklist-making kind of gal.
Many people consider this a “desk job.” What they don’t realize is that a big part of regulatory affairs is collaborating with others to find the best possible solutions. My days are filled with meetings with research scientists, people in marketing, lawyers and project managers. I usually start off my day like everyone else: answering emails. It then quickly turns into running from meeting to meeting, or in my case, global meetings at odd times of the day. It isn’t uncommon for me to have a 6 a.m. meeting with people from the other side of the country, or a 6 p.m. meeting with people on the other side of the world. My job is fast-paced so I use many checklists to make sure I have my bases covered. I also love, love, love using Post-its to make sure nothing gets forgotten.
What is it about your job that makes you feel it’s the right fit for you?
To be honest, I never grew up wanting to be in regulatory affairs. It was something I became interested in after I realized being in a lab for the rest of my life wasn’t something I wanted to do.
My passion is simple: I love people. I love going on mission trips with my church, encouraging others in hard times and sharing the love I feel God has given me. This is a far cry from reading the Code of Federal Regulations, but after visiting sick people in the hospital, assisting in housing placement for abused women and children, or counseling someone going through a grieving period, it feels good to read the CFR. My job is kind of like my escape from my passion.
What’s great about my job is that it allows me the flexibility to pursue my passion. My hours are so odd that they are flexible. Another reason why I feel my job is a right fit is that it aligns well with my passion to help people. No one really thinks of the person who makes sure medications and medical devices are safe, but I’m sure they’re glad people like my co-workers and I exist. It’s another way to contribute to making the world better.
What challenges keep you awake at night?
To be honest, nothing really keeps me up at night — aside from a Netflix marathon! I feel I have a good work/life balance. I have great support from coworkers, family, friends and my church family. Of course there are project deadlines that can get tricky, but I believe freaking out over things only makes things worse. (No sleepless nights for me!)
Is work/life balance ever a problem with you? If so, what is one no-fail tactic you use to create balance?
Work/life balance is so important! I recommend every woman take inventory of her work/life balance. Too much of one or the other isn’t good. I find that many people overdo it on the work side, to the point where they become resentful. It’s important to reward yourself after a job well done. One no-fail tactic I have is to reward myself after I’ve completed a milestone at work. It could be as simple as allowing myself time to sit on the beach — or maybe buying a new purse.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you’ve thought, “I made it!” What was it?
Yes. One day, I was driving down the Pacific Coast highway. I was coming from work and there was bumper-to-bumper traffic on the freeway. I decided to take the PCH as “the back road” home. Halfway home, I pulled over to the side of the road, got out of the car and walked on the beach. I felt on top of the world! I finished a long day full of meetings, made a progress on the project I was working on and I was still smiling. Work hard; play hard! That day I accomplished what I needed to do and I was enjoying my reward.
What are some of the rules you live by?
Love God, enjoy life and do the best you can to help others.
What qualities does it take for someone to be successful in your line of work?
Quick thinking is huge. In many cases, there isn’t much time to make a decision or answer a question. Each project has many moving parts with many hands involved. It’s important to be informed and make a solid decision during high-pressure situations. Communication skills are also essential. Regulatory affairs is a global role and I work with people all over the world. It’s important to be able to articulate ideas in a way that others can easily understand. Finally, strong ethical values and the willingness to stand up for them are required for success in this industry. Project team members have different priorities and concerns, depending on their role. It’s important for someone in regulatory affairs to think of public health and what may affect public safety.
What one piece of advice do you wish you could tell a 21-year-old version of yourself?
Life’s a cycle of seasons. Sometimes the sun won’t be shining and everything looks dark and gray, but remember: each season will pass. Learn what you can, right where you’re at, and bloom where you’re planted. When everything is going right, enjoy it, because that won’t last either. Remember it’s OK, though. It will come back around again. Learn what you can from that season so you can use it as encouragement for the dark seasons. There’s a time for everything!