By Meghan McKibbon
Lean Sigma Expert – Black Belt
“I loved Ryerson’s inclusive environment. I was able to meet so many people who shared my interest in science and we formed friendships that have carried through to this day.”
Tammy Gillett is a natural leader. With years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry and an eye for detail, Tammy is now in demand as a project manager and certified Lean Sigma black belt. At Ryerson, Tammy was captivated by Prof. Radchenko’s organic chemistry class and wrote her fourth year thesis on the Toxicity of Chemical Effluents in Fish. She graduated in 1987 from the Laboratory Science program with a wealth of practical and theoretical training.
Shortly after graduating, Tammy gained workplace experience as a quality-control inspector and production scheduler at a large food company. Her desire to work in the pharmaceutical industry led her to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) where she was hired to work in their research and development lab. Working for such a large company, she found many opportunities to move around and gain experience.
After a couple of years in research and development, Tammy shifted into the quality assurance clinical supplies unit where she was involved in the initial development of new drugs. A further move to the operations side of the company provided her with valuable insight into the process of production, audits and product releases. She became a Compliance Specialist where she worked to establish high quality standards for processes and systems. GSK subsequently promoted her to Product Release Manager to lead a team of professionals responsible for releasing products to the market.
Recognized for her outstanding organization and leadership, Tammy was selected for a position in operational excellence. Within this role she was involved in the Lean Sigma mentorship program. Her advanced training allowed her to help managers streamline their processes to improve cost, customer service and quality. Achieving black belt certification in the Lean Sigma program, Tammy mentored employees looking to achieve their yellow and green belt certification.
Her success as a Lean Sigma expert led to a position in project management; she was in charge of organizing and managing a high profile packaging line extension for GSK. Tammy coordinated several experienced project team members to consolidate packaging configurations and implement a robotic arm to increase the speed of the production line.
After successfully completing the project, Tammy left GSK, obtained her project management certification and used her skills to oversee the renovation of her house while working as an independent consultant for a research company. She now works as a quality and compliance project manager.
Even though her work today is off the bench, Tammy notes that her knowledge in chemistry is always needed; she is thankful for the abundance of lab work she received as a Ryerson student. “Having a strong background in science allows me to understand more about the projects I am involved in,” she says.
An accomplished leader and mentor, this Ryerson grad demonstrates just how expansive a career in science can be.
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