Our Stories – Sian Jones

UK conventional Laboratory Manager -Ruthin, North Wales

Hi, I’m Sian Jones and I’m the UK conventional Laboratory Manager. I’ve been with Genus ABS for 20 years in November.

Initially, I started my career in Genus ABS in Ruthin on research as a Research technician assisting in the planning, carrying out and reporting of research projects. It was my first proper job after leaving university. It also provided me the opportunity for further study, so I went back to university part time to complete a research project. Three years into this position I was fortunate to get the lab managers position, (whilst writing up my thesis so it was a pretty hectic time).  Working on the Production side of things was very different to the world of research and was a steep learning curve for me as being a lab manager involved managing staff, production targets, budgets etc which were all new challenges.

We are always looking at ways to improve quality and continually question how and why we do things in order to improve. There are always challenges to overcome and despite being in my position for many years, I continue to learn and that drives my enthusiasm.

However, despite the challenges I haven’t looked back. I thoroughly enjoy my role and it is the reason I have stayed in in the position for so long. I particularly enjoy being part of a dedicated team continuously striving to improve semen production and quality from some of the best bulls in the world.  We are always looking at ways to improve quality and continually question how and why we do things in order to improve. There are always challenges to overcome and despite being in my position for many years, I continue to learn and that drives my enthusiasm.   I find Reproductive biology a fascinating subject, and sometimes the cases we come across are not necessarily textbook-it makes it even more interesting. I feel incredibly lucky to perform a role in an area that I find so very interesting.  

There’s no such thing as a typical or average day it varies depending what challenges arise.  COVID-19 has dramatically changed what my day currently looks like. Pre-COVID-19 I was mainly office based but would venture into the lab to assist on various stations to cover staff holidays/sickness.  The priority was to always ensure semen got processed. I would ensure that the lab ran as smoothly as possible, dealing with any issues as they emerged, tackling those of an urgent nature first such as machine breakdowns database issues or semen quality issues. Samples have to be processed within a certain time frame, and if there are issues with the machines or any part of the process, things have to be rectified quickly to enable processing to continue with as little disruption as possible without compromising the product. Therefore, you are often working against the clock so it can be hectic at times.  

During my time with the company, I got the opportunity to assist in training lab teams in bull studs in China and India, countries I would probably never have visited had I not being given the opportunity to do so with Genus ABS.  It was an amazing and valuable experience, something that I will never forget. It was great meeting teams from around the world working towards the same common goal and the various methods employed in the different countries to achieve it.

Looking back on my time with Genus ABS, one of my personal highlights would have to be the Sexcel launch. This was the game changer. Competition was restricted as far as sexed semen was concerned prior to this. The technology is ground- breaking and very impressive. I was fortunate to be based at Ruthin and witnessed how the UK Intelligen lab evolved, from the building of the lab, installation of the machines, staff hiring to the first UK units produced.  This really has changed the Ruthin site considerably. When I started at Ruthin 20 years ago, there were a total of 11 people on site (that included lab, office, stock and vet team). Now, there are 4 times as many people working at Ruthin and with the advent of Intelligen people are now on site 24 hours a day.

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