This week, we sat down with Hannah Fifield, Operations Sr. Lead, and Constance Williams, Operations Manager, to learn more about their roles, their passion for collaborating with entrepreneurs, and their perspectives on the innovative NYC life sciences community.
Q: Can you share a little bit about your background and what led you to JLABS?
Before joining JLABS, I was a Business and Operations Manager in the beauty industry where I played a critical role in revenue generation, business development & mentorship, operations, marketing, human resources, and vendor relationships. Most recently, I played an integral role in the opening, build-out, and growth of the flagship location of a boutique salon and spa. I was also part of the management team of a luxury salon and spa where I assisted in all operational duties, business reporting and analysis, and led over 100 employees in generating record sales.
The beauty industry was exciting, but I wanted to work in a role that helped people in a different way. When I found the Business Operations Lead role, I jumped at the opportunity to apply. Knowing that I could be part of a team that has the potential to make a difference in oncology, mental health, pediatrics, and other areas of healthcare inspired me. I knew my work would be meaningful and purposeful.
I’ve spent the majority of my career working as a Research Scientist in the field of HIV Vaccine Development at the New York University Langone Medical Center and co-authored 54 papers in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Foundation, Duke University, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and others.
In 2014, I transitioned into the role of Research Laboratory Operations Manager for New York University Langone Health laboratories in the East and West Towers of the Alexandria Center for Life Sciences. I was responsible for directing all aspects of facilities management for laboratory and research operations, coordinating infrastructure support, overseeing, and directing laboratory resources. Additionally, I served as the liaison on collaborative efforts to support research with the Offices of Collaborative Science and Scientific Research.
In 2017, I was in search of a new opportunity and a mentor mentioned the availability of an Operations Manager position at JLABS @ NYC. It has been a great opportunity to utilize my scientific and operations background with the aim to help bring potential new innovative medical solutions to the market.
Q: How do your roles fit into the offerings/services provided to residents?
As the Business Operations Sr. Lead at JLABS @ NYC, I work closely with the residents on-site. I am often one of the first touch points of communication with new residents during the onboarding process.
Throughout their residency, I manage record-keeping, maintain financials, and day-to-day operations, and contribute to the overall long-term planning of operational goals.
My role involves overall site management, including accountability for regulatory compliance, security, budget development and management, customer relationship management, and administration of vendor agreements. I provide resident companies with support while focusing on JLABS excellence in the service delivery model and customer relationship management. I enable efficient operational workflows to ensure compliance related to Environmental Health and Safety and Standard Operating Procedures. I am also responsible for setting expectations and managing relationships with suppliers that assist with daily operations.
Q: Your job requires you to work closely with JLABS residents. How has your day-to-day changed since the outbreak of COVID-19? What have you learned from the residents during this difficult time?
HF: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been working on new ways aiming to improve the customer relationship virtually and continued to support the residents by answering questions about finances, trainings, and maintaining their files. The residents have shown an immense sense of gratitude and closeness during this difficult time. We are bound by a common thread, that we are all connected, experiencing this same work-life balance together. Wherever our residents may reside today, I am truly appreciative of their continued work toward the goal of helping and healing people.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, I worked with JLABS residents with the aim to safely pause their operations in the lab, expedited the shutdown of experiments, and relocated reagents and supplies. I am responsible for maintaining the shared cold storage equipment in which resident reagents are stored, overseeing the CO2 manifold supply and liquid nitrogen deliveries to the site. The Operations team performs regular walk-throughs of the site to review the proper functioning of JLABS and company-owned cold storage equipment and liquid nitrogen supplies. We maintain communications with residents to update them on the status of their equipment, delivery schedules, and access requests. The residents have shown an enhanced awareness of the community at JLABS and a sense of appreciation for the support that JLABS leadership has provided during this challenging time. The Operations team is grateful for the way residents have quickly pivoted to respond to these unusual times and worked seamlessly with us with the aim to promote safety and compliance in the labs.
Q: What do you think distinguishes JLABS and our residents from other incubators?
I think that the main offerings which distinguish JLABS from other incubators are the no-strings-attached model and JPALS, the JLABS Mentor Program, which supports our residents by providing access to a vast repository of knowledge and expertise which can help accelerate their growth. During this difficult time, I am inspired by the fast response of JLABS leadership, who reacted quickly to support our residents financially and provided clear and transparent guidelines for operations as the risk levels at the different sites have evolved. The main focus has always been the health and safety of residents, employees, and their families.
I completely agree with Connie. The JPAL mentorship program, access to the vast knowledge across the Johnson & Johnson network, and on-site services truly set JLABS apart. Residents can sign a lease and start working from day one.
To learn more about the JLABS @ NYC site, including an overview of our current and alumni residents, upcoming programming and more, please visit: https://jlabs.jnjinnovation.com/locations/jlabs-nyc