Director Manufacturing, Amgen

Dec 07, 2020
Director Manufacturing, Amgen

An alum of the 2005 SMDP Biotech Scholar cohort, Charlene Rincon, PhD, is the Director, Manufacturing at Amgen. Charlene leads the team that assembles and packages all the drug product for clinical trials that take place in the US and the rest of the world.

What is the highest degree you have earned and what can you tell us about your academic path?

Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico where I earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez. I then moved to Atlanta, Georgia to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Georgia Tech. My research was focused on Biomaterials and I took classes in Biology and Biochemistry with the goal to one day work in the Biotechnology industry.

Where do you work now and what is your company about?

I currently work for Amgen, Inc. in Thousand Oaks, California. Amgen is a one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies. It is a values-based company deeply rooted in science and innovation to transform new ideas and discoveries into medicines for patients with serious illnesses in six therapeutic areas: cardiovascular disease, oncology, bone health, neuroscience, nephrology and inflammation.

How did you first learn about the company?

I learned about Amgen back in 2003 when the company announced it would invest in a biotechnology center for bulk manufacturing in Juncos, Puerto Rico. At that time, I was finishing my undergraduate work at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez and the pharmaceutical industry had a big presence on the Island. I was excited to learn that the world’s largest biotechnology company had an interest in creating a manufacturing plant in Puerto Rico and that one day I could potentially work there.

What do you like most about the company?

It’s mission. To serve patients. It is really rewarding to know that the medicines we make at Amgen have the power to restore health or save people’s lives.

What skills make you successful in your role and why did you choose this role?

Leadership is an essential skill when it comes to managing a diverse team. Understanding the team’s needs and goals is very important as well as sharing the “why behind the what” to ensure staff understands why we do the things we do and the importance behind it. Also, having a continuous improvement mindset and identifying opportunities to do things better is also important.

How do you define success?

Knowing that what I do and the role I play adds value to our patients. To know that we are improving the patients’ experience when they administer our medicines and taking a patient centric approach when developing our drugs is very fulfilling.

What's the most fulfilling aspect of your job?

Being so close to the patient and knowing that every packaging job we complete and ship is helping answer medical questions and giving hope to patients that are in need of treatment for the disease they are fighting.

What advice do you have for students and job seekers?

Do your best at everything you do and network! Meet people and build relationships. Don’t be shy to ask questions and do your homework. Learn about the trends and hot topics in the industry you are interested in (find classes that will guide you to the industries you may see yourself in the future). You may not know what you want to do but knowing what you don’t want to do is equally important.

What book did you read last?

Flash Foresight.