November 1, 2021, by Lee Mei Kee
Alumni Testimonial – Muhammad Shahrizal Bin Shaharudin (2016)
Muhammad Shahrizal Bin Shaharudin graduated with BSc (Hons) Biomedical Sciences in 2016. He is currently working as Senior Formulation Executive in Pharmaniaga Research Center.
What is your job scope and responsibilities?
As a Senior Formulation Executive in Pharmaniaga Research Center, my responsibility revolves around two main focus; lab-scale trials and commercial-scale manufacturing. Working in an R&D department allows me to be in charge of all drug manufacturing process ranging from upstream to downstream processes of oral solid dosages and liquid formulations. This becomes apparent when a new generic drug is to be introduced to the market or there is a need for drug reformulation. Once a drug has passed its lab trials, a bigger batch will be conducted in a commercial manufacturing plant in order to further investigate the product’s performance via stability studies.
To be honest, working with a research organization is not as tedious and mundane as some people might think. Each formulator is in charge of multiple projects (over-the-counter medicines and prescription drugs) which has the potential to be marketed locally and internationally provided that it has successfully gone through the necessary laboratory testing and clinical studies. As a project coordinator, I have to plan, delegate and liaise with multiple stakeholders and benefactors, ranging from the commercial manufacturing plant to the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).
What was your career path that led you to your current position? How has your degree prepared you for your career?
In truth, I had no specific career path when I started my degree in Biomedical Sciences but I was determined to land a career in the research field. Initially I had the intention to branch out towards molecular biology and pharmacogenetics since I was intrigued towards molecular cloning during my final year project. Although my current work has no relation to molecular biology whatsoever, my lab experience throughout my undergraduate years on the other hand proved to be very advantageous.
The journey I went through University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) has prepared me in various ways. It has equipped me with the necessary knowledge and practical skills that any undergraduate needs when they are looking for a position in any relevant research field. For example, the Molecular Basis of Medicine and Physiology and Pharmacology classes helped to me to understand the mechanism of action of a particular drug and how it affects the specific receptors in our body. In addition, the lab skills I gathered during the Final Year Project allowed me to familiarize with common lab ethics and practices especially during my early days of joining the pharmaceutical industry. Even the Journal Review classes assisted me to properly extract important information from research articles to generate a thorough formulation report. Ultimately, my work here allows me to practice what I learned from my undergraduate years almost on a daily basis.
What did you love most about your student life?
Student life mostly taught me how to prioritize between work and life. I was lucky to have met amazing individuals that emanate strong sense of leadership, positivity and team work which proved to be an anchor for me and made it much more bearable. There were never any shortage of friends during my time at UNM. Be it for casual hang-outs or late night study sessions, I have made acquaintance from people all over the world and we still keep in contact until today. The lecturers and teaching staffs were very supportive of our endeavors as they have immensely eased my journey throughout my degree. They have never turned me down when I asked for assistance and for that I will forever be grateful.
Do you have any advice for the future graduates?
There are a lot of qualities that make a perfect graduate but what we need today are the kind of graduates that are ready for the real world. With google at the tip of our fingers, some graduates tend to forget that it is not always the reliable source. What I would advise today’s graduate is that they have to be mentally strong. I have no doubt that they could endure 8 hours of daily working schedule but is it possible to go through that for an indefinite amount of time? To be mentally strong, one needs to have the correct mindset. As in we don’t work for the money, instead we do it for the sake of fulfilling our passion. That is why choosing the right career is important. Otherwise we would end up doing the same routine without giving our best performance. Future graduates should understand that we shouldn’t only just work for our sake but also for the betterment of the community.
Also a side note, future graduates should sharpen their soft skills. Most of them have the brains but unable to sell them. They have to express themselves proactively in order to break the barrier of self-confinement. Even an introvert has the need to express their feelings from time to time. Hence, try to be more vocal voicing out your opinion because one day, you may just find your inner confidence. Sometimes, all we need is just to sit down, have a cup of coffee and think about what we are striving for in life.