April 28, 2019 at 9:48 am

Alumni News | McCarley Becomes Quidel’s Associate Director of Operations

Nicole McCarley, portrait

Nicole McCarley

When Nicole McCarley ’99 graduated from OHIO with a degree in Microbiology, she didn’t anticipate that her ideal job would allow her to stay right here in Athens.

As Associate Director of Operations at Quidel’s Athens branch, she has reached great heights while remaining close to her roots.

‘My Job Is Different Every Day!’

McCarley’s job allows her to work closely with a broad range of operations and teams at Quidel. She is involved in daily management, mentorship, and troubleshooting.

“I assist managers with the day-to-day running of their groups, and I mentor them as to what each leadership department needs. I help them improve their administrative approach in working with employees. I also help them troubleshoot any production issues, inventory issues, and budgeting. So sometimes I’m down in the weeds doing the production with them, and sometimes I’m more of a manager and mentor. My job is different every day!” she says.

More specifically, McCarley is responsible for the Cell Culture Manufacturing departments, the Bioreagent departments (which makes Quidel’s antibody detection kits), and the Specialty Products group, which deals with autoimmune diseases, complement system, and bone health diseases.

“I help groups with their capital expenditures, large equipment purchases, any new headcount that they want, reviewing their budget, reviewing the monthly financials, and identifying variances and corrections of those variances. In general, I deal with any production issues that they have,” McCarley explains.

Troubleshooting ‘Makes the Job Fun’

This broad range of responsibilities is a perfect fit for McCarley, whose true passion, she explains, is troubleshooting problems so that she may help as many people as possible.

When troubleshooting, she considers whether a resolution could arise through training, documentation, or new process improvements. In cooperation with managers of a given area, McCarley considers whether proposals and solutions “are feasibly manufacturable,” in addition to assisting with the transfer and development of new parts.

“I love to troubleshoot and find new ways to do things and to fix things. That makes the job fun. You can improve something or make somebody’s life better because you made their job just a little bit easier,” she says.

The highlight of her job, though, is the service and assistance she provides to others.

“What I truly love about my job is the ability to make something better for a product or a person,” McCarley adds.

A Variety of Career Milestones

McCarley started her career with Quidel in 2001, when the three founding members of Diagnostic Hybrids, Inc. hired her after an on-the-spot interview. She submitted her résumé despite the fact that the company hadn’t listed any current openings.

“They asked when I dropped off my résumé if I had time for an interview. On my way home, the founding members called me and asked, ‘Do you want to be a QC Technician?’ That’s how it all started! I was really happy to get a job in Athens that would pay well and was in my degree field,” McCarley recalls.

Approximately three years after she was hired, the company began looking for a new Quality Control Manager, as the outgoing manager had transitioned to Research and Development. McCarley applied and got the job, where she excelled.

“I think I did well in that role,” she says. “I changed a lot of the documentation during that time and worked on several of the DQ developments. I enjoyed Quality Control and everything I did there.”

Her key career milestone, she explains, was her 2007 transition from Quality Control Manager to a Production Manager. This marked the beginning of a series of achievements and transitions.

“I later obtained the position of Manager of Cell Culture; a little while later I ended up working with bioreagents. I then worked with Nate Chapman [Senior Manager of Molecular Manufacturing] and mentored him into his first stint as a manager. Then I began working with Specialty Products and started mentoring that group,” she explains.

The Future of Quidel

When McCarley speaks about the future of Quidel, she emphasizes the tremendous support that the corporate office has provided to its Athens branch.

“I appreciate that the San Diego office has invested in us as far as putting in new equipment and allowing us to manage our groups as we have in the past. They’re very conscious of the fact that we were an entity on our own and that we understand what our products are,” she remarks.

McCarley’s career growth mirrors the rapid and exciting changes that Quidel takes on year after year.

“Every year we get a new product or project to tackle, and that really makes work exciting!” she exclaims.

Microbiology and Lab Tech Studies at OHIO

Like many Quidel employees, McCarley got her start at OHIO. She originally majored in engineering, but she soon transitioned away from that area of study.

“I realized that my heart was in Biological Sciences. At that time there wasn’t a big focus on bioengineering, so I switched over to Microbiology,” she states. She coupled her major with a Laboratory Technology degree, as well. With this combination, she found her academic niche and a springboard to an ever-growing career.

McCarley recalls with particular fondness a course she took with Dr. Joan Cunningham.

“In Dr. Cunningham’s class, we studied culture growth, culture maintenance, bacterial identification, and those kinds of things. That was really one of the most memorable classes I had!” she recalls.

Advice for OHIO Job Seekers

In terms of résumé building, McCarley recommends that applicants highlight even those skills that may not seem particularly applicable.

“We still look at your time at McDonald’s or your time in retail because that tells us that you have the ability to interact with the public,” she notes. She adds that people learn something from every job they hold, and she encourages applicants to emphasize what they’ve learned and how they’ll transfer that knowledge to a career at Quidel.

When adding to her team at Quidel, McCarley looks for employees with a range of skills and experience, including a history of working with a wide variety of equipment.

“I look for a working knowledge of FPLCs, HPLC, centrifuges, hoods—all those biological techniques that you learn by participating in labs or working for a researcher. Those are very important. A basic knowledge of how antibodies are made and produced, how cell culture is used in the industry, autoimmune complement system—how that works and how it applies in science and diagnostics. That’s a lot to ask for in a recent grad, but when you’re looking for someone you need in your area, those key words will get you looked at,” she explains.

Technical skills aren’t the sole qualifying factor, though. McCarley is interested in hiring employees who are dedicated to their jobs and eager to work diligently. In particular, she looks for someone who “will be willing to put in the hard work, even though it’s not glamorous.”

“It’s not glamorous to harvest 500 flasks in a week, but it needs to be done, and if you’re going to do it, do a good job. Be motivated. Those are the people who get the attention of people in leadership roles,” she advises.

About Quidel

quidel logoQuidel Corp. is a leading manufacturer of diagnostic healthcare solutions serving to enhance the health and well-being of people around the globe with well-known and respected products that provide healthcare professionals with accurate and cost-effective diagnostic information at the point of care. Its core competencies and capabilities focus on immunoassay and molecular testing in the areas of infectious disease, women’s health, and virology.

Quidel is headquartered in San Diego, with research and manufacturing operations in Ohio, Massachusetts, and Germany. Quidel and Ohio University are working together to support alumni in pursuit of rewarding career opportunities.

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