We caught up with Jose Couto, who joined us in November 2021 as a Senior Field Application Scientist (FAS) based in Lausanne, Switzerland. With almost two decades of experience in liquid handling and automation, Jose sees himself as a problem-solver, an engineer who is fascinated by new challenges. Drawing on his extensive expertise in automated liquid handling, Jose seeks to understand customers' needs at a very deep level, so he can find the most appropriate solution across genomics, drug discovery, and many other application areas. Each customer is different, as he says, and there are often many roads that lead to a lab's desired workflow.
Alongside his FAS colleague, Kamila Koprowska, Jose is primarily responsible for supporting SPT Labtech's customers in mainland Europe. But, as Jose is quick to point out, there are no borders for SPT Labtech (!), and so he regularly interacts with customers worldwide as a member of the Product Management team, working closely with Sales, Applications, and Support to help find optimum solutions.
Jose implements SPT Labtech's existing workflow solutions and helps customers develop and run new applications, learning all the time what level of customization is required to get each customer to where they need to go. Understanding a customer's particular liquid handling needs is key – whether from the point of view of the lab technician, the lab manager, the lead scientist, or the CEO. In addition, Jose works within product management, seeding innovative ideas by keeping his mind open to new directions that might help solve real-world challenges.
Onsite with customers, Jose adjusts, improves, and validates workflows. He compares this process to the work of a translator – building bridges between the customer's scientific endeavours and the world of liquid handling automation, SPT Labtech's mosquito® or dragonfly®. Working closely with researchers and scientists allows Jose to deliver liquid handling solutions that fully meet the customer's expectations.
Jose starts his day with the most important thing: a good Italian espresso. And then it's emails, which are an important way SPT Labtech stays agile and flexible in response to customers' changing requirements. Jose might see an email land late in the evening in his inbox: whenever possible, a reply requiring only five minutes, often makes all the difference, e.g. helping customers to get up and running as soon as they arrive at the lab the next morning.
There's a lot of internal interaction as well, all for purpose of making sure the customer is fully supported by Sales, Service, and Logistics. For example, Jose might by feedback to Sales, updating them that everything went well with a customer's installation or letting them know if something else is required. For Jose, his role is not about ticking boxes to complete his tasks, it's much more about focusing on the real needs of the customer.
The 'beauty of SPT Labtech' for Jose is that he can simply reach out to the right SPT Labtech team member whenever he needs something to be done quickly for a customer. Working as a team, the Field Application Scientists and Product Management make a real difference by addressing customer priorities and sharing high-value information – no matter if the request comes from a customer based in China, Europe, North America or elsewhere. And it's precisely this customer focus that differentiates SPT Labtech from the competition. As Jose is keen to stress: "Our commitment to our customers, the way we listen to them, is truly impressive!" This customer focus is something Jose has experienced strongly since he joined the company.
As a recent example, Jose cites his visit to a customer's lab in Europe, where SPT Labtech innovative liquid handling plays a key role in processing Covid-19 samples. The pressure was on because of the developing situation with the virus. Rethinking how our company envisages liquid handling workflows is sometimes necessary to meet customers' objectives. Here, it's important for Jose not to be locked into a single point of view, a single understanding of how the science fits into the liquid-handling process. New ways of doing things can be implemented immediately or be used as future seed ideas for how to further enhance the impact we're having as a company.
Alongside his technical knowledge, Jose is genuinely interested in the many fascinating people he meets. There isn't a single way of doing things – labs in different industries and countries have unique ways of approaching their workflows. So there's always something new to learn. Rather than lead customers by the hand, Jose works collaboratively to find the best way to link up their science with the best match in terms of SPT Labtech's liquid handling and automation solutions. In a nutshell, this is what adds value for customers.
What's the best part of the role? Human interaction and solving customers' problems. It's very simple for Jose: making customers happy makes him happy because achieving the customer's goal is always the top priority of SPT Labtech.
Jose's personal goals are settled on a daily and weekly basis. Having worked as a product specialist across customer support, applications support, key account management, and sales for the past two decades, Jose enjoys being in a position where he can affect real change and, as a true professional, make a difference by implementing new ideas.
As well as enjoying the art of cooking, Jose is a keen student of geopolitics, which helps him to better understand the world and human beings. But his passion lies with aviation, motorbikes, and cars – lots of cars! He doesn't just love to drive and race them (that too!), but also loves the design, the engineering, and the beauty of them. Top of his bucket list is the chance to learn how to take to the skies in an airplane.