I didn’t really fit into the company I was in before, so firstly, I think to enjoy any role the people you work with are important. Realistically, I probably spend more time speaking with my colleagues than I do my own wife and kids, so having great colleagues definitely makes Scimcon enjoyable.
Secondly, the challenges within the role are exciting. Whenever you start a new contract – as we do regularly, supporting clients in pharma and biopharma – there is either an implementation project that needs carrying out, or an issue that needs resolving. Sometimes, the task at hand is not something I am directly familiar with or have the exact experience doing, but that makes it a challenge. And it’s the challenge that I enjoy.
In my prior role, we partnered with Scimcon on a number of projects. I had been involved in building a platform for our mutual client and when they needed to take the project forward, they needed someone to train, support, and project manage the implementation of the project software. It seemed a no-brainer for me to join the consultancy team at Scimcon, and to continue to support the project and the client to help them to progress. The transition into Scimcon was seamless, and I later moved from that initial project within the vaccines space onto a biotech company in the Netherlands, whom I have been supporting on e-systems.
My background helps me to bring people and team skills into play, so I am very suited to the Scimcon way of working, to support clients and to manage processes, SOPs, digital, and software projects for scientific companies. The client I am supporting currently was initially reluctant to appoint a lab informatics consultancy that was not local, and questions were raised as to whether or not we could perform the role from the UK without impacting the level of support we provide. As a test run, we were initially only working on a 3-month contract. Their processes are crucial to the business scale-up and growth, and our experience with other big pharma organisations has come into play helping them to navigate the decisions needed. I think we successfully demonstrated to them that it is feasible to be productive offering great support from the UK – so much so that the original 3-month project is now 30 months.
Every child has a hobby growing up, and of course in England, playing sports is probably one of the most popular activities. For me, football was my favourite pastime which evolved into more than just a hobby. It actually paved a pathway for all areas of my life.
What started out as a recreational game became a profession, as I left school at 16 to become a full-time football player, At 20, when my professional playing career finished, football again opened a window of opportunity to move to Southern California and coach football for 3 months. I returned 12 years later!
At 27, football again paid for my University education at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, where I was sponsored via a soccer scholarship to study Business and Finance. I had never even enjoyed school, never mind imagined studying at University, but football provided a unique opportunity that was too good to refuse.
During my senior year at University, while coaching football in Denver during the summer, I was introduced to my fiancé Sarah who had also – coincidentally – attended University in the USA on a football scholarship. She was almost in a parallel to me, only she was based in Florida while I was on the total opposite side of the country in California.
Sarah and I had our first child then returned to the UK shortly after, where we now have four sons – aged 10, 7, 5, and 1. Our 10 and 7-year-olds are, like their mum and dad, football-mad, so we spend our weekends travelling to watch them play. Our 5-year-old is starting to get the bug, and we are yet to see if football is something our youngest warms to, but I can’t see the apple falling too far from the tree.
I still spend every day at some sort of football activity. Both our older boys are at the football academies so they each have 3-4 days a week training and playing. Football remains our outside-of-work life, having brought us together all those years ago.
And with the skills I learned at university, studying business and finance, as well as the team skills associated with playing sport, I am well placed to bring team leadership to the Scimcon family, and to focus on the best tactics and teams to work on a winning side.
Southern California was my home for 12 years, and having attended University in San Diego, that would be my obvious choice. We have a lot of friends and happy memories there, and we love the area – and the food!
We made the decision to return to UK as a family when we had the boys, for the support network of close family and friends. As I have been working from home for so many years anyway, personally my life hardly changed. However, it was a terrible impact for the boys. For any young kids, that transitional age and loss of companionship has been a huge negative experience. Luckily, the boys are pretty resilient and seemed to have bounced back into the new normal without any issues.
Funnily enough, I am not really a techie! I use a PC and a phone, but not much else.
Even though I don’t spend a great deal of time on gadgets and gizmos, I love the knowledge and benefits you can see from technology. For example, having spent so many of my formative years playing and coaching football, I am now still involved with my sons and their training and I see the technology to hand, which was never available when I was playing in the US. It’s absolutely fascinating, and there’s two pieces of tech in particular that I’m seeing used regularly at my sons’ training and matches. One is a Veo sports camera, which follows the ball and records the play, the other is an APEX GPS tag. This handy piece of kit is worn in the back of my son’s shirt when he’s playing, and all the data collected throughout the match is recorded on a smartphone, recording metrics such as speed, average position, and provides an overall performance review.
It’s amazing to see two of my previously completely separate worlds – football and technology – coming together, and it is really interesting to see how this technology is enabling football. As a coach, it also allows me to see and read the data available, so that we can then determine what is needed to improve in a game.
Scimcon is not a technology company, it is a people company that helps to solve the technology challenges for our clients, whether they be implementation, process or project-related. I am happy that I am not a techie, but very much a team and a people-person who can always learn and bring new skills to the table.Meet Scimcon: Geoff Parker?
That’s an easy question, I love the constantly changing challenges that informatics consultancy throws up and helping customers and our own internal teams to creatively meet those challenges.
We help customers in pharma, biopharma, and clinical trials to identify and evaluate the goals and challenges ahead and use this to influence information system strategies. We assist with programme and project direction; vendor and product selection (of LIMS, SDMS, ELNs and ePRO solutions); and to drive successful software implementations.
The works is often equal parts frustrating, challenging, and exciting but as people who have been involved in this type of work will recognise, it is ultimately extremely rewarding.
I am somewhat cursed by having multiple passions to fit into my spare time. Being a keen mountain biker, avid photographer and relentless traveller does present some time-management dilemmas.
Photography is something I have been fascinated by since I was at school, and is something that I have picked up and put down intermittently since then. However, three years ago I was lucky enough to spend a week riding bikes with a professional photographer and this really inspired me to develop my skills and style. You can view some of my results of my photography journey on my portfolio site.
My addiction to mountain biking started when I moved to Scotland ten years ago, as there is some of the best riding in the world, right here. The mixture of physical demands, technical riding skills and the pure pleasure of being surrounded by forest and mountains has proved irresistible. Not that the abundance of local riding has stopped me traveling with my bike. Ten years of truly amazing riding has taken me to some of the best trails in Morocco, Nepal, USA, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Chile! Like most people, I am looking forward to when travel once again becomes possible, then maybe I can put my planned trips to Kyrgyzstan and Bhutan into action.
I’m not sure I can pick a favourite, as it depends on the activity involved. For a chilled afternoon walk drinking coffee, I would have to say San Francisco. Relaxed attitude, wide open streets and great culture make it a hard place to beat.
For mountain biking, it could be any of those places I mentioned above. My trip spending a week on HMS Gassten, a converted World War Two minesweeper, with a group of good friends riding high above the fjords in Norway deserves special mention. Also, I think Nepal’s Mustang Valley was a special trip. Amazing culture, fantastic people, and as for those mountains – they build them big over there!
The biggest difference is that I have been at home for the longest period in about 22 years! In the last 12 months, I have only managed to travel down to our office in Newmarket twice (from my home in Scotland). I would normally travel 2 or 3 weeks out of 4, so it has been a big change.
Distancing from family and friends has also been difficult, as it has for most. I have stayed in touch as much as possible with family and friends the same way anyone else has; telephone calls, meeting in car parks and standing 4 metres apart, in addition to several Zoom quizzes!
I have had a long fascination with technology, which of course in part has led to my role at Scimcon. We have obviously come a long way since I first became involved in technology. I started programming on home computers during the explosion of affordable devices in the UK during the early 1980s.
Everything has continued to stem from there, to a point where I’m now the co-founder of a scientific technology consultancy, using technology to drive change and deliver scientific value.
In terms of devices, I use pretty much anything you can imagine. I have electronic shifting on a couple of my bikes, and I have some amazing camera equipment that even five years ago would have been inconceivable.
I don’t think my use of technology in my everyday is too different to how I would use it at work. At Scimcon we try to use technology in a way that enhances people’s work lives, so that they can focus on what is important. If I look at technology in bikes and cameras, what excites me is the same thing – not the technology itself, but what it allows you to do.
For example, when I started photography at school, the process was incredibly different to how it is now. You tried different methods of taking photographs and would be left with a roll of film afterwards that if you were lucky, you’d get developed a week later. Of course, you could guarantee that you would get the photos back after all that time and wonder “what on earth was I trying to do?” Nowadays, we have digital cameras, so you take the photo, see the result, and if it does not work you can just try again instantly.
That’s exactly how we try to use technology at Scimcon. We don’t want technology to get in the way or slow down the result you want to achieve, we want it to enable you to do the work you are trying to do – whether that’s riding bikes, taking photographs, or integrating your LIMS to streamline your workflow.