Career Story: Office Manager For A Biotech Start-Up

Office Manager For A Biotech Start-Up

Job Title: Manager Of Office Administration

Type of Company: I work for a start-up biotechnology company that is taking a late stage compound through its clinical trials.

Education: AS, Business Management, Lasell Jr. College (Newton, MA) •• BA, Economics, UMass-Amherst ••

Previous Experience: I worked as an office manager at a clinical research organization (CRO) for seven years. Before that I worked at a pharmaceutical company for six years assisting the clinical department with facilities, office supplies and general administrative support. For three of those six years I supported the Administrative Manager of the company who oversaw the copy center, cafeteria, corporate travel, offsite meetings, and all administrative support staff.

Job Tasks: A typical day involves human resources activities, computer and technology support, vendor management and general office support.

We are an office of 20 employees and I am responsible for all Human Resources-related activities. This includes reviewing healthcare and dental benefits with an insurance broker and selecting the best plan for the company and its employees. We also review the short-term and long-term disability coverage as well as life insurance. We want to be certain that our employees receive benefits that are similar to "industry standards" so they will want to work for us without becoming so expensive that we cannot afford them. I also coordinate the payroll and work with our payroll service to write an employee handbook that employees can understand and follow. I also assist in the hiring of new employees by talking to the hiring manager, writing the job descriptions and orienting the new employees to the company. I process payroll. I also assist with hiring/firing decisions, exit interviews and conflict resolution with employees.

Since we are a small company we can not afford to hire someone to manage our computer systems and servers, so I am responsible for reviewing proposals and hiring the computer vendors and overseeing their work.

I sign off on all vendor invoices to be certain that the pricing is correct, that the service we received was adequate and that we got what we were billed for. I also coordinate all our facilities needs, from changing light bulbs to discussing employee safety with the landlord of the office building.

General office support includes updating our company web page using "Contribute" software, coordinating with our printer to produce business cards for our employees. I also assist with badges, mailing out holiday greeting cards, and managing the company contacts in a database.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that it is different every day. I may need to troubleshoot a computer problem with the computer vendor who can log on to our computers remotely or assist our CEO with a hiring decision. I also enjoy putting all the vendors in place and negotiating the best contract for the company. I get especial satisfaction from selecting a vendor who does his job well and in a timely, professional manner.

The worst part about my job is having to fire (terminate) employees who are not doing well at their jobs. They usually know there is a problem and just may not want to accept that this current job is not a good match for them.

Job Tips: When I majored in economics everyone asked,Are you going to be a banker?" I majored in Economics and minored in Political Science because I loved both subjects and I still do! If you focus your studies on what you enjoy, even if they don't exactly correlate with what you want to pursue, you will always do well. I've known art history majors who now travel the world writing for travel magazines or history and anthropology majors who own their own companies.

Additional Thoughts: Don't participate in office gossip. The minute you walk away... the conversation will turn to you.

"I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." -- Thomas Jefferson

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