Quality Control, Animals, Mercedes, Spinach and More! Wait…what?

zara with catAs the official Quality Control (QC) Technician at Kingfisher International (KFI) I’ve come to realize the importance of my role – which is not only to make the company look cool with my spotless black Mercedes parked out in front that my boss lets people think is his, but is so much more! In fact, when I started this role I had to give a presentation to senior staff as to why my job was so important. This made me feel really good because I felt like I wouldn’t get fired easily – unless I get replaced, but when those thoughts cross my mind I just listen to Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable”.

So what is QC and why is it so important? Quality control is a set of processes intended to ensure that a manufactured product or performed service adheres to a defined set of quality criteria or meets the requirements of the client or customer.   Now you get what QC means right? Great.

My role requires me to pay close attention to detail and to dig deep into documentation to ensure there are no deviations from the protocol or standard operating procedures (SOPs). What I if told you that you just read the beginning of this sentence wrong. Now that you checked to see that you were in fact wrong, that is the kind of detail I look closer into. Just because something is documented doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s correct. For example, an animal care attendant feeds an animal and documents the necessary information as required – gold star, right? Hold your horses! Was the animal fed at the right time? Was it fed the correct quantity of food? Was it fed the correct type of food? I can actually keep going, but nobody wants that! There may be a deviation staring right at me and no one would know unless I do a thorough QC check of all paperwork. A deviation has the potential to affect the interpretation of study results, and that is undesirable when our main goal is to produce high-quality scientific research.

Currently I am the only QC here at KFI, thus I am responsible for reviewing many aspects of a study. If something is not documented, or not documented properly, I have the exciting job of chasing people down as to why it was incomplete and outlining an appropriate rectifying course of action. This duty is awesome because sometimes I feel like a cop going after a perpetrator; I even see the fear in peoples’ eyes when they see me coming – cue the lyrics to “Bad Cops”. Sometimes it’s actually quite amusing because even when I need to talk to coworkers regarding an unrelated topic, I’m like “Hey I-” and the immediate response I get is “What did I do now?!” or “I didn’t do it!” Now I just chuckle to myself and say “Never mind” rather than letting them know that I like their shirt or that they have a huge piece of spinach stuck in their teeth – whatever, I hope they run into a cute boy after work.

I review protocols and final study reports to make sure they are professional, true and accurate, reflective of data, and that there are no silly mistakes such as using the ‘find and replace’ function to replace the word ‘cat’ with ‘dog’ and getting words like “lodogion” or “dogegory”. In a report that goes to the Center for Veterinary Medicine (a branch of the Food and Drug Administration), silly mistakes like that would be dogastrophic!

Most of the time staff members are very good with paperwork which is why KFI has such a good reputation with professionalism and high quality of work. As QC, I take pride in knowing that I am an important part of this company and it’s very satisfying to know that after a Sponsor goes through study-associated paperwork the only mistake they can find is someone’s “5” looks like an “S”.

Coming from the oil industry to animal research was a complete and total change for me; those two things have nothing in common – absolutely nothing. Coming into this field, I had the mindset that many people usually have – that animal research is wrong and inhumane, but I came here with an open mind and realized that I was wrong. These animals are certainly cared for, loved, cried for, and on occasion have almost been kidnapped by employees. Okay, maybe not the last one but I’m sure it has crossed everyone’s mind at least once since these animals are just so darn cute! I’ve seen the love here because as QC, I monitor everything from the beginning to the end of a study.

In short, I am like a filter here at KFI; I make sure all paperwork, whether study-related or off-study is accurate, neat and legible, contemporaneous, original, attributable, and that the overall quality is up to KFI standards.

Oh and one last very important thing I wanted to mention, if you as a Sponsor or prospective Sponsor would like to come visit KFI for a tour, to watch our proficient staff in action, or to see our quality of work – just remember, the black Mercedes parked in the front belongs to me – not the boss.

Zara Bajwa, is a Quality Control Technician at Kingfisher International Inc.