15 minutes with: Melanie Turieo
Our experts are on the frontlines of bringing ingenuity to life for our clients. They accelerate new growth ideas from concept, through design and development to commercial success. And they revitalise organisations with the leadership, culture, systems and processes to make innovation a reality.
In this series, you’ll meet some of the brilliant minds creating change every day.
How would you describe your job to someone you’ve never met?
My job is leading teams of designers, engineers, and scientists as we develop products for the medtech, biotech, and pharma spaces. I’m a Human Factors engineer by training and background.
I started my career designing military products, including soldier-worn and protective gear like body armour and load carriage equipment. Then I started working on military medical projects for devices used by field medics and field hospitals. That was my transition into doing medical products.
Human Factors Engineering is a discipline with applications across transport, consumer, military, and medical. Medical applications of product development have always appealed to me because they impact people’s daily lives.
How do you bring ingenuity to your work?
It’s not a conscious thing. It’s so engrained in what engineers and designers do. We’re trained to come up with innovative solutions in response to unmet needs and technical problems out in the world. It’s inherent to how we think and work. It’s naturally infused in the way we approach problems.
What are you most excited about and inspired by in medical product development right now?
The miniaturisation of electronics and increased power density and processing are making more innovations viable in today’s landscape.
For instance, in diabetes management, closed loop continuous glucose monitoring and insulin delivery are bringing us ever closer to an artificial pancreas. The technology has been around a while, but it’s still not seamless enough from a user experience perspective. As the technology is getting streamlined and smaller, we’re now more able to fold it into people’s lives in a way that’s less noticeable or intrusive.
Brain-computer interface applications are also becoming more of a reality, allowing people who couldn’t engage with others physically due to loss of motion or speech to translate their brain signals into speech and movement. This provides them with the ability to interact more with the external world.
Which project are you most proud of?
I enjoy surgical systems like surgical robotics because there’s a dual positive benefit for surgeons and patients. There are better outcomes and faster recovery for patients, and increased control and precision for surgeons. These are complicated but interesting systems with a big payoff when you get it right.
What are your goals, professionally and/or personally?
Professionally, I’m motivated by making a positive impact for people. It’s why I love my job. A positive impact for clients in medtech means a good outcome for patients.
I also aim to make a positive impact internally on people’s working lives.
In my personal life, I have two young sons and I want to support them to become curious, confident, kind, engaged humans who use their talents for good in the world.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a similar career path?
In the engineering and product development field, context matters. We tend to focus on our technical areas of expertise and developing and growing into strong subject matter experts. But what makes for successful solutions is understanding the context you’re operating in. How does your expertise fit together with everyone else’s?
Focusing on the context and environment is especially important at PA. It isn’t enough to deliver technical solutions that work or even that are highly usable. Solutions also have to be commercially viable for our clients, and in the medtech space they have to be able to clear regulatory approval and achieve market access through reimbursement. All of this factors into making a successful product alongside an ingenious technical solution.