Making a difference with mid-career switch

SINGAPORE - When Mr Mohamad Farhan Mohd Fadil was considering a career switch, the biopharmaceutical industry appealed to him because he felt producing medicine makes a difference in people's lives. The industry is still going strong during the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

So after 15 years in the Singapore Police Force where he was last a police academy course manager, he decided to make a bold move last year. Mr Farhan, 38, signed up for the Attach and Train Programme for Biologics Manufacturing.

After two months of training at Singapore Polytechnic, he is now about a year into an 18-month attachment as a manufacturing biotechnologist trainee at Roche Singapore Technical Operations (RSTO).

He is in the team supporting production of Lucentis, a medicine for patients with an eye disorder called wet age-related macular degeneration.

"There was a lot to read up on and digest because the biopharmaceutical industry is very strict on SOPs (standard operating procedures), but I have good colleagues to guide me and everyone works with a buddy," he said.

Although the training allowance represents a pay cut of about 30 per cent for him, and a permanent job is not guaranteed, Mr Farhan said he believes the career switch will lead him to better prospects.

The father of six-year-old twins added that his wife has been supportive and arranges her nursing shifts around his shifts.

"Hopefully I will be able to earn more in the future. And it's important to equip myself with new skills to stay relevant so that I can be in demand and have a better job," he said.


RSTO head of manufacturing Tracy Lo said that the firm has taken in 141 trainees so far through the programme, and hired 46 of the 89 trainees who have completed their on-the-job training.

"Embarking on the manpower programme... has enabled RSTO to build our talent pipeline and augment our talent acquisition strategy where we can expand our hiring pipeline beyond the conventional sources," she said.