We spoke to Katarzyna Pluta about making the transition from Poland to Ireland, and how she came to work for Amgen in Dún Laoghaire.
Life is funny in how much it can subvert your expectations. You can come up with complex ideas about where you want to be in one year or even five years from now and then the next thing you know, an opportunity falls into your lap that leads you down an entirely different path.
This is exactly what happened to Katarzyna Pluta, a senior associate QC specialising in bioanalytical sciences at Amgen. She came to Ireland for a working holiday to save some money for home renovations only to find herself getting an opportunity to pursue a PhD here. Now, she lives in Ireland and says it feels more home to her than her native Poland does.
We chatted to Pluta about how she came to work at Amgen and her experience of Irish culture.
Where are you from and what’s it like there?
I come from a small town called Slupsk in northern Poland. It is a peaceful, slow-paced town that is just a short distance from the Baltic Sea.
How long have you been in Ireland?
I have lived in Ireland since 2006, with a two-year break when I moved to Durban, South Africa, where I was offered a post at a fertility clinic.
What prompted your decision to move here?
I initially came for a working holiday as I wanted to save some money for home renovations. I then met a professor from University College Dublin, who offered me a research position that later led to a PhD opportunity.
During the course of my PhD, I developed an interest in the pharmaceutical industry through research, and I headed into this field soon after I completed the degree.
What’s your role in Amgen?
I am a senior associate in the department of quality, and recently moved from the separation sciences group to the biological sciences group.
How would you describe your working environment?
It is a dynamic, interesting and innovative space where new ideas are welcomed and nurtured. No two days are ever the same, I find.
What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy the scientific aspects of my work, the level of independence that comes with the role and the supportive environment of working within a friendly, high-performing team, led by an equally supportive and innovative manager.
Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?
I instantly fell in love with Ireland and the Irish people when I arrived and can easily say that, by now, I feel more comfortable here than in my home country. There are plenty of opportunities for science-minded people, which I find appealing and, equally, society is very inclusive, which is very reassuring.
What surprised you about moving to Ireland, if anything?
I was surprised by the level of trust, openness and the positive attitude of people.
How does your working life help to make you feel at home here?
I made some great friends at work, who have introduced me to all aspects of cultural and social life in Ireland.
What do you like most about your adopted home?
People make places, and I love Ireland for its people. I love their positive attitude and the fact that they make you feel like you are a part of a society and not just an expat. This reinforced my desire to continue my stay in Ireland and settle down here with my family.