SōRSE Employee Spotlight: Zahra Marin

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Written by | January 7th, 2020

Meet our Manager of Quality Assurance and the Analytics Lab, Zahra Marin, who brings over five years of experience in quality management in FDA-regulated industries. Zahra’s background in Chemistry and Business Administration allows her to bridge different industry experiences with the goal of implementing thorough quality programs. After years of living in frigid North Dakota and the Midwest, she is happy to have settled on the West Coast and is now adjusting to life as a mother, having given birth to her first child at the end of December. She and her husband also love to travel – and their goal is to visit every state!

How did you end up working at SōRSE?

Coming from the ChicagoLand area and passing by Kansas, my husband and I have always wanted to live on the West Coast (the Best Coast). When he had a job opportunity in Tacoma, I followed and started working for Amazon. I thought working for a big corporation in a liberal state would be a dream.

After just a few weeks, I realized that working for such a big company wasn’t for me. It felt way too impersonal, and there was too much structure. Everything is tracked in multiple programs, no one knows anyone, and people just walk by without saying “Hello.” There are cameras everywhere, a lot of security, facial recognition devices, controlled access everywhere, you name it.

After deciding to remove myself from that environment, I found out about SōRSE and thought how cool it would be to work in this industry in the state of Washington. I liked that it was a startup; it seemed like a place where I could make a difference. There weren’t a lot of people here at first, but you could really see how everyone came together. I thought the building itself was pretty quirky and in an odd neighborhood, but I liked that it had personality.

Cannabis was not legal in states I lived in before, so I didn’t know much about it. CBD definitely interested me, and I wanted to learn about the fast-growing industry and see SōRSE grow with it. Working Quality in a company that uses CBD means that you get to do a lot of detective work and figure things out on your own, which is very satisfying.

There aren’t a lot of places where you are on the cusp of discovery, and here at SōRSE It feels like we are modern day cowboys during the Green Rush.

What have been some of the significant moments in your time here? What are you proud of?

The renovation of the lab has been an important project in the last few months, and it is coming along nicely. A huge project we have been working on is restructuring and revising our safety plan and making sure it is aligned with the company’s goals. When we have had quality issues, we have worked well as a team to find out the problem, gathered documentation, and investigated, and then were able to make decisions on how to proceed.

I find a lot of satisfaction putting systems in place – it’s important to get information out of people’s heads and into a place where others can access it. I am also very happy about working with other departments to organize information flow, how the team tackles major challenges and is committed to finding reliable information when they have to solve a problem.

What do you love most about what you do?

What I really love most is that I get to use so much of what I have learned in my educational and work background in QA/QC—Business, Microbiology, and Analytical Chemistry. I feel like everything I have done in the past has prepared me for this role. And I love that I have great people to turn to who are so committed to the success of SōRSE and are not hesitant to offer their expertise.

What can be challenging about your work?

With this industry being so new, sometimes there just isn’t any information out there that you can go by. This is especially difficult when working in QA/QC where the goal is standardization. This means that we need to put our detective hats on to find resources, solutions and answers to our questions; this kind of work is challenging but intellectually stimulating. Sometimes we have to create the answers we need and show the work behind why we think it is a valid answer.

Where do you see yourself in this role moving forward?

I foresee making our food safety program even more robust. This means fine-tuning the foundation work we are doing right now. For me personally, I want to continue to grow the quality side and take on aspects of the regulatory systems, to keep the customers safe and the quality of our products high.

Can you share a fun fact that not a lot of people know about you?

I am originally from Morocco – I lived there until I finished high school. Then I went to Fargo, North Dakota for my undergrad studies. NDSU had a low cost of living (I wonder why?) and good quality programs. The transition to Fargo was difficult; between the harsh weather, strong accents and me looking so different from everyone else, I felt like I was living on Mars...except Mars was warmer on some days. Living there makes me appreciate the beauty of Seattle, the people, and the mild climate.