He ensures drugs are made according to rules

The biomedical sciences industry, nurtured by the Economic Development Board, is a key pillar of Singapore's economy. With 1% of the resident workforce in it accounting for 4% of gross domestic product in 2013, it punches well above its weight. Arti Mulchand profiles some of the people working in it.

When Mr Sim Wee Li left Singapore after his national service in 1996, to study biochemistry and molecular biology, the plan was for him to come back and help in his parents' business.

However, after graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1999, he landed jobs in pharmaceutical firms, the latest being with Baxter BioScience in Hayward, California.

He also got married and, in 2009, became the father of twins - a girl and a boy.

But he often thought of home, of his parents and siblings, and not least, of food.

"It was hard to find Singaporean food and food simply wasn't available at all times.

"I really missed my chicken rice and bak kut teh (pork rib soup)," says the 38-year-old.

In 2010, he learnt that Baxter BioScience was opening a facility in Singapore and jumped at the chance to move back.

Today, he is a compliance excellence champion, who ensures that the company's facilities comply with global regulations and requirements for the pharmaceutical and biologics industry.

In Singapore, Baxter BioScience makes Advate, which is used to treat a blood disorder called hemophilia A.

Despite the demands of the job, like meeting challenging deadlines and late-night calls with other Baxter facilities in other time zones, Mr Sim says he tries to strike a balance between work, family, self and health.

He finds time for sports every day after work, either hitting the gym, playing futsal or badminton, or going for a run or a swim.

He takes his wife out once a week, and dedicates the weekends to his children, who are now five.

He also runs marathons and triathlons, and takes part in high- adrenaline activities such as skydiving and rock climbing.

Meanwhile, he remains passionate about an industry he wishes more people knew better.

"The biomedical industry comes under manufacturing, so people have a lot of misconceptions about the nature of the job, thinking we work on assembly lines; but it is a unique sector that is very technology-driven and involves a lot of science.

"When you hear patients talk about how the product helps them, you understand that what you do in the drug creation process, ensuring that the plants perform at peak, has a direct impact on lives.

"You make a difference."

This article was first published on June 2, 2014