Orla joined KPC almost three years ago as a graduate sampling engineer and has since worked her way up to a CQV engineer and qualified team lead.
Can you tell us a bit about your career journey with KPC so far?
I started in Leverkusen, Germany, as a sampling engineer for clean utilities/cleanrooms in a fill-finish facility. I joined the parts washer qualification team and was mentored by a senior engineer on how to qualify a parts washer from installation qualification (IQ) through to performance qualification (PQ).
I chose to stay in Germany and work in Wuppertal as the clean utilities qualification lead in a drug product facility. This was a huge step up in responsibility as I was responsible for leading a team of eight graduates/engineers in the qualification of the plant utilities.
I was enjoying my time in Germany, so I chose to stay for even longer, and I transferred to my current role in Frankfurt as a qualification lead on suspension dryers, heat exchangers, and purified water.
What has made you want to continue your career journey with KPC?
There are many reasons why I chose to stay with KPC. The first is room for huge career progression. For example, over the past three years, I worked my way up from a graduate sampling engineer to a qualification team lead.
KPC has projects in great locations such as Europe, Asia, the Americas, and the Bahamas. They also have many more projects in different locations in the pipeline. One of my biggest passions is travel, and working with a company that allows me the freedom to travel and work for them is hard to find and is a big plus.
KPC act as one big team, helping solve issues and challenges together. In a big company, it’s easy to feel lost, but KPC makes it a mission to hold monthly ‘Tech Connect’ sessions that ensure we have an opportunity to mix with and meet our colleagues and share ideas.
What have been some of your highlights so far?
Living in Germany and immersing myself in a new culture has been an amazing experience. Coming to Germany was my first time living outside of my family home, and I have a great apartment and love the independence that comes with fending for myself. I feel that I’ve grown in a personal capacity. Germany is ideally located for exploring central Europe, so I’ve taken the opportunity to travel to neighboring countries which I can do relatively inexpensively.
I love the variety of work I’ve been exposed to in the last three years. I’ve learned a lot and am developing skills that will stand out to me in my future career. I’ve also made some great friends through work!
What have been some of the most significant learning experiences/challenges you’ve faced over the last three years?
Having a big step up in responsibility from a graduate engineer to a team lead was a huge challenge. I had no previous experience with leading a team or establishing the sampling routine/system for plant utilities. It was a huge learning curve to overcome. However, learning when to ask for help was an even bigger issue to overcome! Once I did ask for help, I realized I had the full support of other senior members of staff, and we could resolve the issue together. If I had any questions that the team in Frankfurt might not have been able to help me with, they could always provide me with a phone number for another KPC team member that could help.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career with KPC so far?
Work-wise – I got the chance to return to the Leverkusen site in 2021 and see the filling line I had worked on up and running. Seeing equipment and processes that I have helped qualify to fill a life-saving drug into glass vials was an amazing feeling. What started as taking daily water samples back in 2020, and working on benchtop units, qualifying the cleanroom, parts washers, and VHP chambers, all contributing to one streamlined process.
On a personal level – I have enjoyed having my own apartment and experiencing life in a new country
How would you describe KPC as an employer?
I’d say KPC is a good employer. They help with the logistics of moving location, which is essential. They offer competitive terms and conditions, and they care about their employees. They take the time to get to know what you want in your career and will help you develop in that direction if suitable opportunities arise.
I’d also note that senior management are very approachable and stay in touch with the remote teams, so we never feel like we are isolated or unsupported.
To anyone considering joining KPC, I’d say go for it. You’ll find adventure, new experiences, career development opportunities, and great work colleagues.
Working with KPC means working on some of the most challenging but rewarding pharmaceutical and biotech projects across the world, and supporting the industry’s best-known companies to make life-changing products for people.