In 2019 Kalyn joined InVivo Biosystems, working in zebrafish husbandry. I recently sat down with Kalyn to discuss her day to day schedule, and to learn more about how she transitioned from starting as a part-time employee in the lab to managing InVivo’s 100+ projects. This article will discuss how Kalyn’s career has progressed, what her current role as project manager looks like, and how she remains organized.
Image 1. Kalyn Hubbard, Project Manager at InVivo Biosystems.
“There is no other place [like InVivo] where you can grow your career in such a way.”
Kalyn’s work has changed overtime as she transitioned from zebrafish husbandry to project management. She credits InVivo’s opportunities for growth as key in helping find her scientific specialty and says when “coming to InVivo, I figured out where I fit.” Her background is in salmon disease research, so she began in zebrafish husbandry. Slowly, she began to take on projects, eventually transitioning to PM of every project at InVivo. Kalyn mentioned that she’s “always been more inclined to the organizational and managerial side of research, and project management perfectly fits that niche.”
Typically, Kalyn’s day starts at 9am with team meetings. As a project manager, it’s imperative for her to be informed of project status. During these meetings she is informed of the custom services and transgenics teams’ progress, what their workload looks like, and if there are any roadblocks or delays with current projects. This takes around 30 minutes and sets the tone for the work she must complete that day.
After this Kalyn completes a subset of tasks depending on the day of the week and based on the projects she’s managing. The beginning of her week is spent facilitating shipments of C. elegans out of InVivo Biosystems’ facility and zebrafish from the University of Oregon. This entails helping shipment assembly, working on reports, and customer communication. In the latter half of the week, Kalyn is able to spend more of her time analyzing and tracking various aspects of the projects by making sure that the progress, expenses, revenue, and the timelines are all on track. Kalyn also participates in the weekly sales meeting, using her close communication with the project teams to brief other members of InVivo on their progress and capacity.
While the majority of Kalyn’s time is spent on measurable tasks such as helping make sure shipments are ready and analyzing projects, one of the most important tasks is managing team dynamics. Kalyn says that her experience as a project manager has made it clear to her that “seeing how people are doing really matters.” To do this, Kalyn likes to “get a beat on how the people are doing” by meeting with each team, and helping to facilitate strong team bonds .
An equally important aspect of Kalyn’s job, however, is client experience and satisfaction. This consists of meeting with clients or responding to client emails to ensure their projects are on time and within budget. These customer-interactions allow for project modifications to result in the best possible outcome. Client meetings are also important in building connections and strengthening relationships. They are key in the “the white glove experience that InVivo can provide [for] customer service.”
When Kalyn is not in company or client meetings, she analyzes project progress using Excel which contains her mastersheet with data of 300+ projects. She emphasizes that “The PM PERT (Project Management Evaluation Technique) is [her] baby, [as she] lives there most of the time.” Estimating progress requires looking at projects from various angles as it provides increased insight into what makes a project successful. She usually looks at a single project from six to seven different angles to get an idea of how long it will take and the tools needed to accomplish it within that time frame. A few of these angles include: percentage complete, project revenue, and months to deliver vs quoted timeline.
“InVivo has granted me the opportunity to make things my own.”
Kalyn manages a wide array of project types, ranging from transgenics to custom services. The zebrafish transgenic experiments are more expensive, time consuming, and require more husbandry. In contrast, the C. elegans projects have a much higher turnover rate. Moreover, Kalyn says that the custom projects, “range so broadly in scope, timeline, and expenses” that they are more difficult to operationalize. For example, one of the zebrafish projects that Kalyn has managed was a full build point mutation. This project takes about a year to complete, but has a straightforward process. The project begins with transgenic design and injection into wild-type embryos. The fish are raised for three months, and later the founder with the edit is found and propagated to create a stable line. The customer can then take the F2 homozygous embryos to complete their research.
“Coming to InVivo, I figured out where I fit”
When asked what skills are most important to her job, Kalyn named organization and tenacity, especially since becoming project manager. Keeping track of all 100+ projects requires seeking out and constantly double checking information along with progress. Kalyn cites Excel as her most frequently used software, saying that it allows her to keep all of the project data in one place, and gives a holistic view.
While working at InVivo has many benefits, Kalyn’s favorites are “the people and opportunities for growth.” The work environment is very encouraging and enjoyable, but what really speaks volumes is her transition from Lab Tech to Project Manager. “There is no other place [like InVivo] where you can grow your career in such a way.” This not only gives satisfaction from working, but also inspires one to keep learning. Working at InVivo has given Kalyn the opportunity to grow her career and find what best fits her niche. No day is the same, but it is certain that there will always be the chance to learn something new.
Image 2. Kalyn's desk (and work buddy!).
About the Author: Astha Nimavat
Astha is a marketing intern for InVivo Biosystems. She is going to start her second year at the University of California Berkeley where is she majoring in Molecular Cell Biology and Business Administration. In her time at school she has worked in research with DNA nanotechnology, participating in student run consulting, and made short films. Astha’s hobbies include tennis, film-making, and hiking.