Research models

Jo Finney

Project Services Supervisor


+ Customer advocacy
+ Customer success
+ Customer support

How long have you worked at Envigo?

It's been over four years since I began in June 2015. I am based primarily in Hillcrest, UK but I also run projects in Bresso, Italy.

Which department do you work in?

I manage a customer facing team in the Project Services department. The team provides a focal point of communication for our external and internal customers and operational staff in three service areas: Contract Breeding Service, Health Monitoring Service and Biological Products. We support our customers by providing them with a complete ‘end to end’ service; from creation of quotes and proposals, creation and management of technical documentation, collation and distribution of reportable data, and management of invoicing processes.

What are your individual responsibilities?

I always describe my role as being a ‘critical friend’ to the operational areas on the customers behalf, ensuring customer focus is at the forefront of everything we do. I work very closely with the project managers and operational leads to support the relationship between my team and the customer.

Where we have key accounts, I am more directly involved, leading customer team calls and project reviews. I also lead relevant continuous improvement projects and quality incidences for all service areas; investigation, root cause analysis, corrective/preventive actions, and creation of customer complaint responses. In addition, I participate in customer audits and business reviews, and attend relevant scientific seminars (e.g. LASA, IAT etc.) for learning opportunities and meeting with new customers.

What is an absolute ‘must have’ in your role?

A desire to help people is essential. Nobody has to encourage you to go the extra mile because you do it naturally; this is vital when dealing with customers, but also a fundamental aspect of being a people manager.

I would also say logical thinking is a must. A lot of the time in Services Projects we need to use our experiences and skills to reach an optimal solution. My day is split equally between working with operations and customers, and the experience I gained from the start of my career has been invaluable in this regard. Having ‘been there and done that’ in operations gives me an acute awareness of the challenges involved, and this experience gives me credibility with both operations and customers alike.

What are the best parts of your job?

I love all customer facing activities, even when sometimes we need to deal with an issue where something hasn’t gone perfectly to plan. I remember one time where we visited a customer to discuss things and talk through alternative solutions with them. The meeting ended with them requesting we provide them with a proposal for additional work! It just goes to show that if you’re open to have an honest conversation and don’t shy away from problems, it can lead to a better outcome for everyone.

The other part of my role, managing people, is also very rewarding. The opportunity to help people to develop and grow is amazing. I can honestly say I work with the best group of people.

Tell us about some of your achievements.

We identified an opportunity to be more closely connected with our customers. By listening carefully to them in order to really understand their needs, we have been able to stay better connected with them. I have been incredibly privileged to be in a position to encourage and facilitate this transformation. It really is great when someone from operations lectures you about doing the right thing for the customer; that’s how we all win!

More specifically, it has to be my first real contract breeding services (CBS) project.  It was a small project for a contract research company in the UK, with a defined 3 cohort delivery output. The initial studies went so well that a strategic alliance with a big Pharmaceutical company was forged. The project accelerated from that point and we are now in year 3. The last study that we supplied mice for achieved Proof of Mechanism. This secured the funding for Phase 2a, so we have now ramped up the colony production levels in preparation for the next phase. The Customer sent a lovely email thanking me for all my hard work and praising the fact that we never once missed or delayed any of the project deliverables. I cannot describe how wonderful it felt to share this email with all involved; I may be the point of contact for the customer but ultimately my job would be impossible without the fantastic support and hard work of the larger Services team.

Why science?

I have always loved animals; growing up I surrounded myself with numerous pets. I also loved science at school and continued to study science at college. My biology tutor opened my eyes to the possibility of a career in animal technology and encouraged me to apply for a summer job at a pharmaceutical company. I loved every minute of that summer job; the balance between caring for the animals and the technical work on the studies was a revelation to me. When I was offered a job there on completion of my course there was no looking back! I stayed there for 8 years. After taking a few years out to raise a family, I returned to the industry in 2006. Since 2015 my direction has changed from an operational role to focus more on the commercial side of the business.

What do you like doing outside work?

I have a busy family life outside of work, with 4 children (all boys!), and the Leicestershire/Derbyshire area where we live provides everything that my family needs and loves. The local schools and colleges we have access to are really good, and the variety of living in a rural area but only being a 30-minute drive from a city is perfect for us. We love the countryside and have a very outdoors lifestyle, with weekends and evenings spent walking dogs, riding bikes – or in my case horse riding.

If you have a question for Joanne, or you're interested in learning more about our research models and servicesplease contact us.