Setting up PandemicGuard
Posted on: 1 May 2020 by Ash Puravady, final year Business Management with semester Abroad and Year in Industry at University of Liverpool in Hints, tips and advice
In recent weeks, we’ve seen the urgent need for PPE for our healthcare heroes. Ash is applying his skills and making a difference.
Healthcare & Medical staff put their own lives at risk every day when they treat patients, and this risk is only exacerbated with COVID-19 ravaging throughout the world. When this pandemic reached the UK, we’ve seen how the government had failed to comprehend the threat posed to the public, and the healthcare system too, who were left without adequate stockpiles of essential PPE.
As a nation, it was time to support and give back to those who have given so much to us throughout the country. We’ve seen the incredible fundraising efforts of 100-year old Captain Tom Moore, groups on Facebook making scrubs and masks, and huge manufacturers like Ford & Mercedes-AMG producing ventilators and CPAP machines.
This is when I wondered how I could help protect our NHS?
Through an open-source collective called Helpful Engineering, I networked to find others that were committed to a similar cause and found a group in the UK that were discussing the items/products healthcare staff would need in the future. After making significant headway on face-visor projects and establishing good links with the National 3D Printing Society, MedTech Foundation, and MedSupply Drive UK, our sights turned to more specialised pieces of PPE - which is where myself and three others founded Pandemic Guard.
We’re a small team and work almost exclusively online (using tools such as Slack, Telegram & Trello), but we’ve made huge amounts of progress; our first product (the Pandemic Aerosol Guard) is now being used in three hospitals across the UK. As well as managing marketing activities, I help with facilitating feedback from Doctors and Nurses, so we can make rapid adjustments to our designs and prototype them with a considerably faster turnaround than usual manufacturing processes.
It is certainly a difficult challenge to undertake in these times, but it is rewarding. Your communication skills are tested to the absolute limit, time management has to be spot-on and my work-ethic has been stretched too - for all intents and purposes, this is a full-time role (along with balancing interviews for Graduate roles, completing my final-year assignments & helping students in my role as a Career Coach!).
As a Business Management student, I didn’t quite feel like I could bring the technical proficiency required when designing products on a PC, but I had a range of skills I picked up from previous employment that I brought to the team. The majority of these were soft-skills; negotiation, effective communication, leadership & networking and the importance of these should never be underestimated in any role that you do currently or want to pursue in the future.
During this pandemic, it is undoubtedly going to be a difficult time for many and we’ve got to be super mindful of that but if you can see this as an opportunity, your mindset for productivity and curiosity are going to be in a significantly better place. It goes without saying that there is no single right way to improve your soft-skills - most likely, they’ll develop naturally as you increasingly push yourself outside of your comfort zone which for me, meant setting up Pandemic Guard.
All of this, of course, is just how I have filled my time during quarantine and I urge you to not compare yourself to anyone else’s progress or work during this pandemic - I’m a firm advocate of the notion that your well-being should be your number one priority, but if you want to help, please do! From just simply staying at home and reducing the risk of infection, to volunteering with organisations such as GoodSAM, the British Red Cross & Med Supply Drive (plus many more!), have a look to see what’s out there (locally, as well as nationally!) and try to push yourself beyond your comfort zone.
Use this as a time to self-reflect, create and do things you never previously had the time to do; brush up your cooking skills, use apps like Duolingo & Mosalingua to learn a new language, if you want to write or start a YouTube channel - just do it! And remember, don’t be afraid to ask for help, reach out to people on LinkedIn, business-owners, authors - the worst you’re going to get is no response, which is fine, but think of what you could get in return for the future. Maybe a new business partner, a vital link into employment, a mentor - the opportunities are out there but you have to be proactive.
If you want to keep up-to-date with our PPE product developments or simply want to ask a few more questions, reach out to me on LinkedIn here.