Antoine Daridon is a Product Manager at SpinX Technologies in Geneva, Switzerland. He is also a member of the Strategic Advisory Board of InSphero in Zürich, Switzerland. Antoine holds a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the Universität Bern in Switzerland, a masters in analytical chemistry from the Université de Jussieu, Paris VI and the ESPCI, Paris Tech, and a B.S. degree in organic chemistry from the Université de Bretagne Occidentale.
After earning his Ph.D., Antoine took a postdoc position with the group of Nico de Rooij at the Université de Neuchâtel, where he developed microfluidic systems for environmental research. This experience led to an R&D position with Fluidigm in San Francisco, California, where he developed microfluidic assays for research in protein crystallography, cell based assays, chemical synthesis, and genetic analysis. When he first joined Fluidigm, Antoine was the only person in this role who did not have an engineering background. He feels this was beneficial, as it helped him see the product line from the point of view of the customer and ask, “What scientific information can I generate with this device?”
Here is an excerpt from my interview with Antoine:
Would you describe the work you do in your current job?
SpinX Technologies makes instrumentation for drug discovery research. As a product manager I work with our customers to adapt their custom drug assays to our platform and make sure the instrument that we are developing fits their needs. I also improve the graphical user interface to ensure that it is intuitive and works well for our customers.
Are most of your customers research scientists?
Yes, they are. We turn the customer’s needs into product requirements, so a big part of the job is translating how a software engineer thinks into what biologists can understand and vice versa.
That sounds like a great role for someone with a research background. What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really love biology and instrumentation and I enjoy working with people. I like when I have to put my brain cells to work trying to solve a new problem. That is what keeps me moving. I am not very interested in repetitive work.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in making the transition from science into industry?
One of the main challenges I faced in industry was switching from science research to product development. These two activities are very different. There are many product development concepts that I had not been exposed to in research. For example, I had no idea what a product development cycle was. The concept of product requirements was also new. As a scientist you tend to pursue the absolute best performance you can get out of your equipment. In product development you have to define requirements that every instrument produced can meet, and this often requires a compromise.