A woman smiles at the camera wearing a dark blazer with a white background behind her. She is Nicola Magill, director of process development at Amgen.
Nicola Magill. Image: Amgen

‘People in biopharma can expect to get what they put in’

11 Sep 2023

Amgen’s Nicola Magill discusses her role as director of process development and how she became interested in the biopharma industry.

For Nicola Magill, the most enjoyable part of being director of process development at Amgen is coaching her team on decision-making and how to approach different scenarios.

“Ultimately, I want to see them develop into leaders and influence strategies in the future.”

Magill, who leads the technology transfer team in process development at Amgen’s site in Dun Laoghaire, manages tech transfers for all new product introductions and life-cycle management programmes.

With a degree in chemical engineering from University College Dublin, Magill has extensive experience in process validation and control strategy development, and has worked on both commercial products and new product innovations.

Her interest in biopharmaceuticals began with her early interest in chemistry and maths. Through a visit to a pharmaceutical company in secondary school, her interest grew as she was fascinated by the experience.

“I knew straight away that I wanted to explore this avenue, and having received advice from many sources, I decided to pursue a degree in chemical engineering.”

What brought you to your current job?

I got an initial taste for new product introductions during my first job straight out of college. I really liked being at the forefront of new medicine and developing what the processes would look like at a commercial manufacturing site.

Since I moved to Amgen, I have expanded my knowledge and expertise in this area. These learnings have set me up for success and ensured that I became a subject matter expert. I’m proud to say that Amgen gave me the opportunity to lead the team that supports all transfers into the Dun Laoghaire site.

‘This industry moves and evolves at a fast pace, so make sure you are passionate about it’

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

Every time I immerse myself in a new role or have been promoted, I strive to prove myself.

Equally, in recent years, I have become increasingly tuned in to my strengths and limitations and apply this knowledge to do the best job I can. At the heart of my approach is the mantra that “I am in this role for a reason”.

It also makes a huge difference to work for Amgen – they put in place the resources to support my development.

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

I’ve been lucky to have several mentors throughout my career and each one has provided valuable guidance and insights which have supported and informed my career choices. I remember the most valuable piece of advice that I received early in my career was to be your authentic self. It had a huge influence on me over the years and still plays a defining role in my management style – I’m my own person and I bring a unique perspective as a leader to the table.

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

Since my early school days, I’ve had a love of learning and I’m fortunate that this thirst for knowledge has permeated through to my career. I’m particularly passionate about all things technical and always want to find out more about products and technology.

I also try to be an empathic leader – I have done my team’s job, so I’m able to walk in their shoes. I’m aware of the potential pitfalls and I know how to guide and support them.

What can people expect from career progression in this industry?

People can expect to get what they put in. I set time aside every week to explore thought leadership articles or podcasts. I also have regular, one-to-one meetings with my mentors. I have worked hard throughout my career and have focused on my ability to deliver results. This has led to expanded roles, with each one allowing me to develop new skills that in turn have further enhanced my career.

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

This industry moves and evolves at a fast pace, so make sure you are passionate about it. It’s also important to build a network of peers that you can lean on for support.

For anyone who has just started out in this area, I’d also recommend where possible to seek out a mentor. They have provided me with invaluable guidance as I have progressed along my career path. Most importantly, look for opportunities with companies that nurture talent – I’m grateful to Amgen that they supported me on every step of my professional journey.

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