We are continuing our tour of the people who make Biosero the great company that it is. Today we’ll get to know Biosero’s Chief Operating Officer Andrea Salazar. She has built a career in navigating and managing operations, first for Mars missions before transitioning to lab automation. She earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from California State Polytechnic University and joined Biosero in 2010.
Q: What do you do at Biosero?
A: As Chief Operating Officer, I do a lot of things to make sure that Biosero runs efficiently. I handle overall operations including overseeing the integrations and project management teams, reviewing contracts, handling procurement, and managing the implementation of business systems for Biosero. Basically, I’m responsible for anything that needs a company-wide solution including the stock option plan we put in place so all team members can reap the benefits of Biosero’s success.
Q: How did you get on this career path?
A: I worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for 10 years as a subcontracts manager. In this role, I negotiated contacts between JPL and the companies that were building flight systems for us — for instance, I managed the parachute used on the Mars rover project. I would work closely with the engineers and the companies to make sure they were on budget and schedule.
Q: What brought you to Biosero?
A: I’m married to Biosero’s CEO and founder, Tom Gilman. I was working at the JPL in Pasadena when we got married and had our daughter. He was commuting back and forth to Biosero two hours away in San Diego. I truly enjoyed the work that I did at JPL but Biosero was growing rapidly and there was an opportunity for me to apply my skills and experience to an industry that supports life-changing research and development every day. I made the decision to join him at Biosero and move to San Diego. It would have been impossible to get Biosero where it is today with us being so far away. We’ve always taken the approach that we’re a team, and that mentality flows all the way through the company.
Q: What’s one thing you wish more people knew about laboratory automation?
A: I wish they embraced the possibilities as well as the limitations of automation. Our customers are talented and knowledgeable people in their fields, and they often have clear ideas about what they want out of their automation. Our team has worked in this space for a long time, and we have deep domain knowledge about automation. We can deliver systems and solutions that help large biotech and pharmaceutical companies get answers and bring new drugs to market faster. As we work with our customers, we encourage them to be open to advice from our teams about the best ways to implement solutions and systems that meet their needs.
Q: If you could automate anything in your life, what would it be?
A: I would automate the safe transportation of my daughter. So many times, I’m rushing from work to pick her up from school, aftercare, or various sporting events. If I could safely automate that, it would huge convenience.
Q: What’s your best career advice?
A: Two things come to mind. One is there truly is no substitute for hard work. The second is, no one expects you to know everything, however they do expect you to know where to find the answer. Understanding and embracing this is so important. When we were going through the acquisition by BICO, I surrounded myself with talented people who were experts in areas that I knew I was weak in. I know I am not the “smartest person in the room,” however, I will outwork and out-hustle anyone, which is oftentimes more valuable.
Q: What was the first thing you ever wanted to be when you grew up?
A: As a little girl, I loved babies, so I wanted to be a pediatrician.
Q: What’s something your colleagues don’t know about you?
A: I love weeding! It gives me a sense of accomplishment. I like it because it doesn’t require any thought. I am constantly thinking, answering questions, responding to emails, or sitting in on meetings. Being outside on a warm sunny day, completely alone, is my therapy.