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Tony Cheng

SFU Co-op Student
Health Sciences

Tony Cheng Portrait
I always say, rejection is part of life. Its important to accept it and move forward in order to improve.

My year-long co-op with CanCap Pharmaceutical Ltd. as a marketing and sales assistant included managing the organization’s Amazon and Instagram accounts, marketing oncology research for SynCore biotechnology Co., Ltd., and drafting letters for potential business partners. These tasks that helped me grow and gain valuable skills in my field. All-and-all my co-op experience was one of the most rewarding yet challenging endeavors of my academic journey. I am truly thankful for the opportunities I had and people who helped me grow.  

About CanCap and SynCore

CanCap Pharmaceutical company and SynCore Biotech are both under Sinphar Group. However, they are quite different. CANCAP Pharmaceutical Ltd. is a company that manufactures, labels, and distributes natural health products and pharmaceutical products. The company’s products include natural ingredients such as minerals, vitamins, and fish oil capsules. The company has its own warehouse for storing raw materials and finished products, a quality control lab, a production department, and a marketing and accounting department. CANCAP has both the establishment license for pharmaceutical production and the site license for nutraceutical production in Canada. The company is also adopting Health Canada’s regulation for purchasing raw materials, and producing and delivering supplements. The quality control department, follows in-house standard operating procedures to make sure their products meet the requirements of good manufacture practices. 

On the other hand, SynCore Biotech is a company that focuses on research and development in oncology. Through assisting their business research, I gained deeper insights into pancreatic cancer treatments and strengthened my knowledge of licensing between pharmaceutical companies including, upfront, milestone and royalty payments.

Jumping Out of My Comfort Zone

Getting out of your comfort zone is important. It is important because it allows you to grow and gain confidence. Even when you fail there is still a valuable lesson to learn.

During the first working term in CanCap, I was told to connect with CanExport as the company was planning to export their products to Malaysia. CanExport is a governmental organization that helps Canadian companies export their products to other countries. I was both nervous and excited to connect with the representatives since I have never done anything like this before. I successfully connected with a local representative in Malaysia through CanExport and had a phone call with the representative alongside my supervisor. Through this phone call, my supervisor and I learned about the nutritional market in Malaysia and gained insight into the price range, which was very beneficial for us. This was the first time I began to gain confidence by challenging myself through this co-op term. Even though in the end we didn’t end up exporting our products to Malaysia, the process of listening in on phone calls and business meetings with different representatives allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the process and important skills along the way.

Another task I was assigned at my co-op, was to reach out and build rapport with local consignment stores. This was another example of getting out of my comfort zone. Part of my responsibility was to do inventory once a month which included counting the current products in the consignment stores and promoting the new products we have. I was nervous at first because I was unsure of how to present or showcase my findings when I met with the owners of the consignment stores, but eventually, I built up a strong relationship with them.  Through this process I realized that fear or nervousness is temporary and that letting go of those emotions allowed me to perform better.

Accept Rejection and Seek for Improvement

I always say, rejection is part of life. Its important to accept it and move forward in order to improve. There was one consignment store which had a negative relationship with us when I first took over this job. I remember when I visited them for the first time, the owner was complaining about our products and customer service. I didn't even have the chance to put down the new products in his store before hearing of his dissatisfication with our services. I felt disappointed at first, but I decided to approach the owner and the situation in a different way. For example, I contacted the owner about our new products, delivered free samples, and demonstrated that we value him as our partner. I also tried to find a mutual topic that I could chat with him about when we met. I soon noticed that he started to be more open to our new products and even gave us a special spot to promote our brand. This was a time that I started to feel accomplished in my role as the store owner's attitude began to change from negative to positive.

Learning from Others and Seeking Improvement

In the last few months of my third co-op term, I started to get involved with business and marketing research for SynCore biotech. At first, my supervisor asked me to look into the top 10 licensing deals within the pharmaceutical industry. As I started to do research I learned about how various drugs were being developed under the FDA approval process. Since I am not studying business in school, I kept communicating with my supervisor in order to understand the marketing process.  My supervisor began to give me more important tasks such as drafting business letters and approaching pharmaceutical companies we were going to meet.  Ultimately, I gained a deeper understanding of the science behind pancreatic cancer treatments and how to approach pharmaceutical companies from my experiences with SynCore biotech.

Take Initiative and Be Ambitious

Through my co-op, learned that it is important to take initiative, because it shows us how capable we truly are and provides opportunities to take on greater responsibilities. During my time at CanCap, I created brochures for new products, helped maintain the Facebook and Instagram acccounts, assisted in the renewal of our brand with Amazon, and extended universal product codes for our products. Prior to my co-op, I was unaware of how to manage an Amazon page or renew a product brand. But after taking initiative and completing these tasks, I noticed my confidence started to grow. Therefore, taking initiative not only helped me gain more skills but also enhanced my self-esteem.

Be Grateful

Last and certainly not least,  the thing that I learned through my co-op experience was to  be grateful for those around you because after all, they are the ones who helped me grow and gain new experiences. 

Beyond the Blog

  • Tony Cheng Apr 23, 2019
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About the Author


Tony Cheng

SFU Co-op Student
Health Sciences
Connect with Tony Cheng on LinkedIn. 

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