Michelle Somers is smiling into the camera in front of a wall with an Amgen sign.
Michelle Somers. Image: Luke Maxwell/Siliconrepublic.com

‘Women can succeed even in less gender-diverse areas’

4 Mar 2020

Amgen senior manager in engineering Michelle Somers discusses her career path from college to coordinating people.

Michelle Somers is a senior manager in engineering at Amgen’s Dún Laoghaire facility, having studied chemical engineering at college and worked as a project engineer for a design consultancy, among other roles.

Here, she talks about her path to Amgen and how she came to be a manager, despite initially having doubts about her abilities.

‘I enjoy the sense of achievement in a job well done and being part of a team that can make things happen’

What first stirred your interest in a career in this area?

My favourite subjects in school were maths and chemistry, which led me to a chemical engineering degree. From there, the pharmaceutical industry seemed like a logical place to work considering the availability of jobs within the area.

What experiences led you to the role you now have?

A degree in chemical engineering followed by diplomas in project management and financial management.

I worked as a project engineer in a design consultancy followed by positions based on-site within pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities.

I then decided to relocate back home to Wicklow, which led me to Amgen. I joined as a commissioning, qualification and validation engineer and moved to various different departments before becoming a manager within the engineering group.

What were the biggest surprises or challenges you encountered on your career path and how did you deal with them?

Don’t be afraid to change things – like what team meetings or processes you implement – until you find something that works for you. Approaching change with a positive attitude can really help you deal with the change.

Was there any one person who was particularly influential as your career developed?

The first would be my parents, who were strong advocates for the importance of education and were very supportive of my choice to study engineering, though I do think my mother would have preferred me to become a teacher!

My very first job involved working for a senior female design engineer. During my career, I worked directly for a female engineering senior manager in a plant where there was a female plant manager. This showed that women can succeed even in less gender-diverse areas, such as engineering.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the sense of achievement in a job well done and being part of a team that can make things happen.

I think Amgen Dún Laoghaire is a really friendly place and people do try make others feel welcome here.

What aspects of your personality do you feel make you suited to this job?

I’m a very organised person and like being prepared so that helps when dealing with project management and team management.

How did Amgen support you on your career path?

They gave me the opportunity to progress into people management when I was unsure of my own capabilities.

They provide excellent in-house training as well as assembling programmes to ensure that you make use of the in-house training on offer.

What advice would you give to those considering a career in this area, or just starting out in one?

Take the chance to get as much varied experience as possible. Look for the best in others and be respectful and appreciative of their support.

Believe in your own abilities.

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