Dr Noel Heaney, general manager at BMS Biologics Cruiserath
Dr Noel Heaney, general manager at BMS Biologics Cruiserath. Image: Connor McKenna

BMS: ‘We have a real focus on people development’

4 Mar 2016

BMS is currently undergoing a massive expansion within Ireland, with work ongoing at a brand new, billion-dollar manufacturing plant at the biotech company’s Cruiserath facility.

That expansion will see the BMS staff growing by more than 300 over the coming years.

Dr Noel Heaney, general manager of BMS Biologics Cruiserath, refers to the development as “one of the largest foreign direct investments in the history of the State – certainly in the life sciences area”.

An investment like that, and a recruitment drive of that magnitude, puts BMS up against one of the biggest issues facing the biotech sector right now – the fact that there are more roles than there are people.

While the talent gap can be a huge concern, Heaney sees several means of combating it at BMS.

A strong relationship with the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) has been a significant boon for the biotech firm.

“We have a fantastic relationship with NIBRT and really that is a facility and a capability, not only for the pharma industry, but for Ireland, in general, in terms of attracting new industries here. They’re doing a fantastic job,” says Heaney.

Furthermore, recruitment events can be a huge help when it comes to attracting staff. Word of mouth is key, according to Heaney.

“If people really do understand, and hear, how we treat employees, how we have a real focus on their future career development, then we will hopefully become the employer of choice in the biotech sector.”

Recruitment by retention

Finally, internal transitions can be a great way of filling vacant roles. For the new manufacturing plant, for instance, the firm is retraining and upskilling staff from an existing API facility at Cruiserath to take the new roles.

In this way, BMS gets to sustain its existing culture while bringing new skillsets to the mix.

This is also a simple way to combat the retention issues that are plaguing every industry now, as young professionals move away from the idea of having a job for life.

Heaney uses himself as an example: “I have been with the company for [nearly] 23 years… but over the course of those 23 years, I have probably had about seven different jobs, so, on average, I’m changing jobs roughly every three years, and that would be pretty common for a lot of people within the company.”

And, as an added draw, internal movement within the company isn’t just restricted to the Irish operation. With facilities in the US, France, Italy, China and Japan, the world is, more or less, your oyster.

“It’s very regular that opportunities come up for people to relocate, if they’re willing to do so,” says Heaney.

To learn more about working with BMS, watch Heaney’s full interview:

Looking for STEM jobs in Ireland? Check out our Featured Employers section for information on companies hiring right now.


Kirsty Tobin
By Kirsty Tobin

Kirsty Tobin served as careers editor of Silicon Republic from 2015 up to August 2017. When she was younger, she had a dream where she started and won a fight with a T-Rex, so she’s pretty sure she kicked butt at this, too. Passions include eating all the cake, watching more TV than is healthy and sassy comebacks.

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