From Designing Televisions and Telephones to Innovating With Autoinjectors

Michael Smith, Director of the Autoinjector development team in the UK, tells us how his desire for a new challenge led him to his rewarding role at Teva.

My career started in household electrical design and manufacturing, working with products such as fire alarms, telephones, and TVs. I then moved into medical devices and eventually, medicine and combination products.

The catalyst for moving industry was my desire for a new challenge. When designing TVs and phones, I didn’t see the benefit of what I was creating, so I didn’t connect with the end customer.

As soon as I moved into the medical devices space, I started visualizing the impact of my work. It became less about money and more about positively affecting people’s lives. I knew then that I wanted to do something in which I was more involved and with more purpose.

I did not give much thought to Teva and its products until six years ago, when I picked up a box of unbranded medicine in my cabinet. It sparked my interest and became more exciting when I started to look at the work Teva do and how many people’s lives they affect. They were focused on how to solve a problem, providing solutions to the end-user – which is what led me to them.

At Teva, I’m working on autoinjectors to improve how users administer their medication; making it far less complex. I’ve seen a lot of exciting breakthroughs since joining. For example, when I first joined Teva, combination products were something new. But over the last six years, we’ve really grown into this space with several successful product launches and we still drive innovation.

There are similarities between my previous industries and the pharmaceutical world, and there are differences too. The main one is the consumer experience; people are much more concerned about what a TV looks like. However in pharmaceuticals, our users want to know that the drug is safe and easy to use. So, it’s more about what the product we’re designing does; not how it looks.

There are a number of other R&D challenges too. The biggest one for me has been the strict regulations – much more so than household electrical design and manufacturing. If there is an issue with a TV or a phone, you will unlikely harm anyone. It’s very different with medicine and devices, the testing around this is so strict for the obvious safety reasons to ensure a safe and effective product.

Joining Teva has been a very challenging and educational experience; you can grow in ways you didn’t know were possible. I’ve loved working in engineering and product development fields, where every day is different, and that challenge doesn’t get old. You must work hard and be creative to overcome hurdles. Where some people see that as a challenge, we see it as the fun part!

To anyone unsure about changing industries and coming across to the pharmaceutical world, I’d say to them: jump in with both feet!

Find out more

Share this article: