Joseph Taylor, BMS
Joseph Taylor, bioprocess associate, Bristol-Myers Squibb. Image: BMS

‘The future of biopharma looks bright and promising’

2 Jun 2017

As Life Sciences week draws to a close, we hear from one last person working in the sector: a bioprocess associate at pharma giant BMS.

As the biopharma sector continues to grow in Ireland, the variety of roles available on offer grows alongside it. But what do those roles consist of?

Joseph Taylor, a bioprocess associate at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), walks us through a day in his job.

What is your role within Bristol-Myers Squibb?

I am a bioprocess associate at BMS Cruiserath Biologics.

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?

As we are currently building a new state-of-the-art biologics manufacturing facility, my typical day-to-day can vary greatly depending on what I am working on at that time. Broadly speaking, a typical day consists of working with multiple people from a range of cross-functional departments to consolidate and condense information for the completion of various projects.

What types of project do you work on?

I have worked on a wide variety of projects, including designing the gowning strategy in the warehouse sampling area, mapping out the end-to-end SAP process flow for the Cruiserath site and authoring standard operating procedures. I have travelled abroad to conduct factory acceptance tests with a vendor, helped develop manufacturing process schedules, and procured furniture and equipment for the manufacturing facility. I act as a ‘buddy’ for new hires within BMS, and have also worked on charity initiatives for the corporate social responsibility team – we recently raised more than €6,000 for a local hospice. The projects vary greatly in their demands and timelines, and in what they require.

This eclectic variety of work has helped me develop a range of skills across different professional departments that I never had exposure to before. Gaining experience in such a wide range of working tasks has presented a steep – but thoroughly enjoyable – learning curve, allowing me to gain invaluable project knowledge.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

Communication skills are essential. Being able to condense vast amounts of information into compact and concise forms is crucial to the efficient transfer of information and knowledge among colleagues.

Each project I have worked on has been part of a larger collective, so teamwork skills are key to successful and efficient completion of projects.

Time management is also critical, due to the time-constraining nature of project work. Setting and meeting deadlines is an everyday part of working on the BMS Cruiserath project.

Using tracking tools to set and gauge the meeting of targets is imperative to completing different projects. Being able to break down and segregate whole projects into manageable pieces is the best way to ensure day-to-day progress.

Most of all, due to the heterogeneity of projects, it is important to adapt quickly and efficiently to new projects by being able to digest new information and learn new things quickly.

What is the hardest part of your working day?

Pulling together a wide variety of information from a range of cross-functional departments can be challenging. Trying to condense existing expert knowledge from subject matter experts in different departments into one singular project can be difficult.

Working on the BMS Cruiserath project requires the ability to learn and adapt quickly, as well as to be flexible to project demands, especially in projects within functional areas that are alien to yourself.

This cross-functional collaboration has enabled me to gain an abundance of professional knowledge and skills in different project functions. In particular, and generally speaking, I have learned to be more time-efficient, collaborative and flexible in my working nature.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?

It is important to break the overall project down into smaller goals, so that you can complete the project one step at a time and continue to progress day-by-day. Tracking tools have been the most useful aid to doing this as they allow you to remain focused on every individual action needed to complete the overall goal. This, in combination with good time management, is the most important tool for completing projects.

When you first started this job, what were you most surprised to learn was important in the role?

The need to gain knowledge and develop skills in functional areas that are alien to manufacturing and operations, to the extent that is required. Having to learn about functions of – and processes in – other departments, and how they cross into manufacturing and operations, has been a major feature of project work within BMS.

However, this has only presented the constructive opportunity of expanding my professional knowledge and skill set.

How has this role changed as this sector has grown and evolved?

As this is my first role in the biopharma industry, I can’t give a full insight into this. However, it has been incredibly exciting to get involved with the current expansion of biopharma in Ireland, so I am looking forward to seeing how it further develops and progresses over the coming years. The future of the industry looks very bright and promising, and I am looking forward to being a part of it.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

One of the things I enjoy is how fast-paced and demanding the role is. The nature of projects, and their time constraints, has enabled me to grow my projects skill set and learn to work more efficiently than before.

What I enjoy the most is the opportunity to learn more skills and expand my knowledge on a wide variety of functional areas within BMS – such as operations, procurement etc – through the cross-functional exposure granted with each project.

In addition, the productive and efficient working culture within BMS is one that provides a thoroughly enjoyable environment to work in.

For a different perspective on working as a bioprocess associate at BMS, hear from Cheryl Hyland.

Bristol-Myers Squibb is currently hiring bioprocess associates for its facility in Cruiserath, Dublin 15.

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