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Meet the Team: Interview with Jim O’Brien, Director of Commercial Operations, Medical Business Unit

Meet the Team: Interview with Jim O’Brien, Director of Commercial Operations, Medical Business Unit

For over 50 years, FUJIFILM Irvine Scientific has been dedicated to providing pioneering cell culture media products and services for the Life Science and Medical markets. As such, we have built a world-class team with a mission to empower customers to reach their goals, combining specialist knowledge and experience with a thorough understanding of the latest scientific data, typical workflows and regulatory demands.

We are highlighting initiatives and programs that our team has put into place to demonstrate our commitment to customers, supporting a culture that drives Quality, Innovation, and Service from our company to yours. As part of this, we think it is important to learn more about the people behind our name and what being a customer-focused leader means to them. To start, we sat down with Jim O’Brien, our Director of Commercial Operations, to discuss his career path to FUJIFILM Irvine Scientific, what motivates him in his role, and the challenges his team is overcoming to best support customers.

What is your role at FUJIFILM Irvine Scientific?

Within our Medical Business Unit, I lead the teams responsible for ensuring a seamless experience for our customers. The teams I manage include inventory management, sales operations and customer service.

What is your professional and academic background that has led you to this leadership role?

As far as a leadership role goes, for me, it started when I was younger playing competitive athletics in high school and college. That is really, where I learned many valuable lessons in teamwork, discipline and leadership. So that has definitely shaped or moulded me as I've come up through my career. I’m happy to have the opportunity to lead teams here at FUJIFILM Irvine Scientific.

I’ve been fortunate to have a really diverse career path, comprising of a broad range of operations and management roles across different industries. I worked at Maxim Integrated Products, now a subsidiary of Analog Devices, a big player in the semiconductor space. When I moved over to Aerospace, I worked for Woodward, and then Mason Controls, a TransDigm Group company. Both of those companies are integral suppliers to commercial and military platforms.

All work aside, what hobbies or interests do you pursue outside of work?

Top of the list, I spend a lot of time with family and friends. That is my main priority, probably not too different from a lot of people!

As I mentioned, I love sports. I like to play golf, but my golf game is in a perpetual state of ‘work in progress’. Saying that, I really do like travelling and playing new courses and have been fortunate enough to play a couple of courses in Scotland and Ireland, which was really fantastic – a highlight in my life.

I've always been a big baseball fan and played when I was in college. My team is the Los Angeles Dodgers, so I’m always rooting for them and will try going to a few games a year.

Obviously, a big part of my life is work, but yes, outside of that I focus my time on my family, friends, golf and baseball – a perfect balance!

How important is ensuring strong customer relations to both your role in particular, and to FUJIFILM Irvine Scientific as a whole?

This may be an obvious answer, but it is extremely important. Ensuring strong relationships with our customers is really central to everything that we do and customer centricity is integral to the broader FUJIFILM corporate ethos. However, our goal is not only to provide a seamless experience for our customers, but it has to be a trusted partner within the industry. Obviously trust takes a lot of time to build and it can be taken away pretty quickly, any misstep can erode that trust. The way I look at it, it is our responsibility to ensure that not only is trust earned, but also it is maintained. That is a big part of why our business division created a new campaign - #ALLIN campaign - announcing ourselves to the marketplace that we're here, we're ready to go, and committed to being a trusted partner our customers can turn to.

The past year or so has presented challenges. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were issues with the supply chain, not only in life sciences, but also across a variety of industries. In addition to this, we also went through an SAP migration – in my career I’ve gone through probably six ERP migrations. In a manufacturing environment, the ERP platform is central to everything so efficiency while everyone is learning the new systems and working out problems as they arise is key.

All those things together, is a perfect storm and it presented many challenges for us to work through and bring our service back to what our customer base expects; when they call, products are ready to go for shipment. This stability, trust, and confidence in consistent supply is what our customers rely on us for.

What steps is FUJIFILM Irvine Scientific taking to ensure the team is best supporting its customers?

For me, it starts with a commitment to open communication and teamwork. So execution in these areas is what is going to ensure that we have the products that our customers need, when they need them. For example, our inventory analysts will work with our planning team, our manufacturing team, quality control, quality assurance, sales and customer service to coordinate and communicate accurate dates to the field, which is super important. That flow of information is critical to supporting our customers.

In a nutshell, that is what we're really focused on, supporting our customers; ensuring we are working in concert, getting the information and the teamwork right.

What do you enjoy most about working for FUJIFILM Irvine Scientific, and how do you think it differs from other workplaces?

Building on the above point, to me, the teamwork has been so central to our ability to find success across all our business areas and that has been really great for me coming to work every day. The most fun part, seeing teamwork in action - not only the close relationships and the great communication between commercial operations and sales and marketing, but also with the teams from operations, manufacturing, QA, and supply chain. That is what I really love about commercial operations, we are a central hub and get a front row seat to all the different actions that each of those departments and functions have to perform, and help coordinate everything to best support the customers.

I really enjoy seeing how everybody works together to coalesce around a common objective, a common cause, a common mission to service our customers. We’re taking a lot of great steps in doing this, to ensure we best provide these solutions, because at the end of the day that is what we always strive to deliver - the best quality, innovation, and service in our industry. How our team comes together to problem solve and find solutions to these challenges; it gives me a lot of motivation to come into work.


We will be chatting with more of our team across a broad range of roles and departments, so stay tuned! To learn more about who we are, please subscribe to our mailing list and follow us on LinkedIn.

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