A lot of our episodes for the Elemed Career Diaries Podcast have been centered on people in QA/RA who are leaders in major corporations and we’ve gotten valuable insight from them on mentorship, work-life balance, trends, innovations in the MedTech industry and more.
For this segment of A Day in the Life of, we ask freelancer Laura Irwing Ross what it takes to be a QA/RA freelancer. Freelancing is a viable option for anyone in QA/RA who perhaps wants more flexibility, feels like they will make more of an impact this way or wants to have multiple clients instead of relying on one employer. Whatever your inspiration, Laura will give you insight into what the life of a freelancer really is like which will help you decide whether it’s for you or not.
Listen to the full video which is only 11:58 minutes long to get more tips.
Can You Introduce Yourself?
My name is Laura Irwin Rossing, I’m from Australia and I live in Denmark. We have three children, one is eight, one is three and one is one. I work in regulatory affairs and medical devices as a freelancer.
What do You do in This Role?
I do pretty much everything that the companies ask for as long as I can.
What Gave You the Idea to Take this Career Route of QA/RA Freelancer?
I chose to take this career because I felt that it was a good decision for me and my family and also because I felt as a person, it was a good option. I think, again, another reason is that I wanted to become self-employed. I wanted to experience the business side of things and I felt like I had a lot to give.
Tell Us One Thing That You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Before
The thing that I wish I knew is that marketing is possible for freelancers or consultants, even though we’ve never done it before. We know a lot about our field and we can actually talk to our customers and try to sell ourselves to get tasks.
What is the Most Common Myth Associated with being a QA/RA Freelancer?
The most common associated myth, I think, from people that are in the field is that you’re earning heaps and heaps of money. But running a business, your money, also disappears to everything else. The thing within the field is that you have to be a specialist.
What Advice Would You Give to People Thinking About Becoming Freelance QA/RAs?
A piece of advice I would give is that starting a business as a consultant is probably the easiest business form you will ever be able to start. So if you have that urge or desire, go for it. It’s pretty risk free. It doesn’t cost you a lot to start and you can pretty much pack up from one day to the next.
You’re not like others that have to buy a whole warehouse or rent space or anything like that. The other thing is to listen to your customers, because we have a lot of preconceived ideas based on the companies that we’ve worked in and they often don’t fit other places. I’ve learnt a lot by listening to my customers.
A lot of them don’t want- especially the smaller companies, which I mainly work with and I really enjoy- someone full time, all the time and they don’t have the budget for it.
So actually, if you offer 5/10 hours a week, often you’ll find you get lots of good, small customers and that also spreads your risks.
Biggest Challenges of Being a Freelance QA/RA?
You have to do everything from A to Z in your company: you have to seek work, you have to have things in the pipeline. You have to perform, work, finalize things, follow up, all at once for all different types of customers.
Best Career Advice You Ever Got?
The best career advice I ever got was actually from one of my bosses, where she said that, “Even though you’re good at something, it doesn’t mean you can’t do something else.”
She was right. There’s a lot of jobs around us, a lot of tasks like just off what we’re doing that we can usually do 70 or 80% of without having to put too much effort in, and I think it’s that whole thing about daring to try and daring to fail.
Goals for 2021
Probably to stick to the reasons why I started my company, which was to have more flexibility on the home front. The work’s piling in at the moment and I’m even looking at doing at least a six-day working week the first few months of 2021, which is a success criteria but it’s also not the reason why I started my company.
What Does a Typical Day Look Like For You?
At the moment, I am working from about 7:00 till 3:00/ 3:30 or so – around eight hours a day. I get up early, get the kids off to school, work. I sit at my computer straight away or work until the kids need to be picked up and then I’ll often walk down and pick them up, at least the two little ones.
My working day workwise, I shift a lot between customers. So sometimes I allocate a morning to a customer, sometimes I allocate an hour or two depending on what their needs are.
Tell Us More About the Consultancy World
The consultancy world has changed a lot since I started our company. I started when I actually also found out I was pregnant with a third child and therefore I was not interested in doing long term contracts or full time at other places. My criteria was that I would work remotely and that was possible.
Also before Coronavirus, there were actually a lot of customers that wanted that because either they didn’t have a space or they didn’t want to see me all the time. They just wanted the job done. So working remotely is a possibility and I think even in the future, especially for the small companies.
What's Your Success Criteria?
That I can see my customers, especially the smaller companies, start to talk in the medical device sort of risk-based area where you can hear them discussing things and focusing on health and safety issues or traceability or something they didn’t do before. That makes me really proud of them. And I’ve seen quite a lot of that. They learn quickly and they really perform very, very well. So hopefully soon I’ll also be able to say goodbye to them. And best of luck.
Do you Have Colleagues as a Freelancer?
Yes, I have plenty of colleagues. People call them competitors as well, but I’ve actually found that a lot of people are willing to help each other and we’re also very different.
We tend to have different customers based on our personalities. In that sense, I don’t see them as competitors. For example, I’ll be doing an audit soon for a girl who I actually hired for something else to help me. And that’s really, really nice to get that synergistic sort of collaboration up and running.
A Final Word
I hope that other people get inspired to become freelancers if they feel it’s something they want to do. I’m also here if they want to reach out to me.