To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day 2020, we spoke to KPC Technical Services Consultant Lauren Murphy to learn about her career with KPC to date, and what she hopes to achieve in the future!
Can you give us a brief introduction to your background?
My interest in science started at school, and I decided to study Biotechnology in DCU. During my studies, I learned about the science behind making biotech products, and towards the final year it became clear that a wave of biotech manufacturing was about to begin in Ireland and opportunities would be vast. Fresh out of college, I didn’t know anything about working in the industry but I did know that making medicine that changes people’s lives was where I wanted to be.
How did you get started in the industry?
After college, I was placed onto a 2-year graduate program at one of the world’s biggest Pharmaceutical companies in Dublin. My role was as a technical specialist, supporting the science behind the day-to-day manufacturing activities of a monoclonal antibody medicine. I quickly found myself leading teams to investigate manufacturing issues, which if not resolved efficiently & effectively had the potential to stop production. The buzz of leading a team to resolve scientific problems to ensure medicine is continually supplied to patients was exhilarating. I wanted to learn more about the intricacies of getting a potential medicine out of a research environment, and into a manufacturing facility and all the steps involved in getting that medicine approved by all the relevant regulatory agencies. I moved to another big pharmaceutical company whereby one of the sites was in a start-up phase of getting a blockbuster cancer treatment medicine into the facility & manufactured for regulatory approval. I spent around 2 years here, and the speed at which we worked was challenging but looking back I learned a huge amount in a short space of time.
Talk us through your career with KPC and some some of the highlights you have experienced so far.
I took a few months off to travel, enjoying the break but knowing I wanted to come back to the industry in Ireland. KPC approached me about an opportunity to work as a consultant for them on a project in another big pharmaceutical company in Dublin. The role involved using my experience to support other manufacturing sites globally, working with colleagues from other sites in Ireland but also from all over the world. The opportunity to work with many sites, expanding my network, and developing new skills such as building relationships virtually, really appealed to me.
I have been with KPC around 8 months now, and I have to pinch myself it has only been 8 months, as I have been exposed to and learned so much already. I’ve learned about multiple technical transfers, consulting, and how to operate at a global level. In the short time I have been with KPC, I have travelled to the US twice with more opportunities in the pipeline. I have also been so fortunate to work closely with the Chief Technical Officer of KPC Julianne Hogan, who is an expert in the field and I feel so lucky to have her mentoring me through my career.
Where do you see your career taking you in the future?
When it comes to my career development, I try not to live by the “5-year plan” as life can be so unpredictable and amazing opportunities can pop up overnight. When I think of where I want to go in my career, I set myself short term learning goals, while keeping a long term bigger picture in mind. If I come across things day-to-day that I find interesting, I will seek out projects or people that can help me learn more about the topic. I then evaluate all the learnings I had that term or that year and focus on which ones stood out as the most interesting to me. This helps me to identify what I like and ultimately shape and steer the next direction I take. Whether it’s technical details of a chromatography column or how to manage big-budget projects, as long as I am learning something new in my career, I gain a sense of achievement.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in the Industry?
Whether you are finishing university or thinking of a career change, my advice would be to research job roles online to determine if it sounds appealing to you. Use resources like LinkedIn to search for companies, roles, and people to understand what appeals to you. Don’t be afraid to message and set up a call with someone on LinkedIn who has your “dream job” to get a sense of what you need to get there. Under the roof of a pharmaceutical company, we are not all scientists. We have engineers, accountants, regulatory, business operations, IT, and more. What attracts people to work in the industry, is being part of a diverse team that makes life-saving medicines which gives an extreme sense of job satisfaction you might not find elsewhere.
If you are a graduate or experienced professional in the life science industry, and are interested in joining the KPC International team, you can find our latest opportunities on our careers portal, here