BMS at Career Zoo
BMS team members at Career Zoo. Image: Conor McCabe

For BMS, Career Zoo is a matchmaker made in heaven

10 Mar 2017

At Career Zoo, the number of jobseekers is so huge that it can feel impossible for any job offer to actually come from it. That’s far from true.

Countless reports, studies and surveys tell us that one of the things employees value most is that their work feels worthwhile. The world of pharma seems custom-made to deliver that feeling. Your work directly affects people’s lives – that can be a big draw.

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) is a global biopharma company behind medicines helping people in their fights against cancer, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hepatitis B, psychiatric disorders and HIV/AIDS.

At last year’s Career Zoo, BMS hired three scientists. These are their stories.

Armin Bardak, bioprocess associate, manufacturing

As a young student preparing for his Leaving Certificate, Armin Bardak had a strong interest in his science subjects, focusing particularly on biology and chemistry. It’s no surprise, then, that he went on to study pharmacology at University College Dublin (UCD), and followed that with a master’s in business and biotechnology, also at UCD.

When he finished his master’s degree, Bardak knew that he wanted to move from the world of academia to the dynamics of business. Looking at the line-up for Career Zoo’s October 2016 event, BMS really caught his eye and, after some encouragement from a friend, Bardak signed up, with the aim of chatting to BMS on the day.

At Career Zoo, Bardak was able to chat to some BMS bioprocess associates, who gave him an overview of what is involved in the role. They took his details and, within a number of days, he was called to interview at the biopharma giant.

‘My role is very rewarding – what we’re working on is really the future of biotech and the development of life-saving drugs’

Meeting the BMS team at Career Zoo, Bardak got a good sense of the company and its culture: “Even though I didn’t meet anyone who was on my actual interview panel, I was a lot less nervous than I might have been. Getting the chance to chat to the guys at BMS about their typical workday made the whole process a lot smoother than going in there cold-faced.”

Bardak is now four weeks into the new role and is loving every second of it.

“As first jobs go, this has been a really smooth and welcoming experience. One of the best parts about starting out with BMS is that you can step back from your specific role and look at all the opportunities that there are throughout the organisation. There are lots of real long-term career prospects here,” said Bardak.

“As opposed to working in academia, here you’re dealing with plenty of real-time, real-life problems. It’s really challenging and brilliant to know that the work you’re doing is really making a difference – it’s certainly a strong motivator.”

Bardak has already signed up some of his friends to the 11 March event, and will be at the stand on the day, looking to recruit more people to join the BMS team.

David Ring, bioprocessing associate, upstream

David Ring graduated from Dundalk Institute of Technology in 2000 with a degree in food sciences and has been involved with the STEM sector ever since. He has worked in various laboratories, from Warner-Lambert to Pfizer to Cadbury.

Feeling that it was time to upskill and move away from food sciences, Ring signed up for Career Zoo’s February 2016 event, with the aim of speaking to NIBRT. It was as a result of training with NIBRT that he saw where the opportunities were across the sector, and BMS really stood out from the crowd.

Having upskilled from food science to biopharma, Ring approached BMS at Career Zoo’s October 2016 event. Not long afterwards, he was called for interview.

Ring began his new role this January as a bioprocessing associate, upstream.

“I absolutely love it here. The atmosphere is fantastic and everyone is so friendly and approachable. As someone who hasn’t taken a direct route to working in biopharma, it’s great to know you can ask questions and your colleagues are willing to give you the time,” said Ring.

“In this industry, you always need to be learning. The fact that there is a huge emphasis on learning and upskilling here is also a really big plus for me.”

On what he’s learned along the way, Ring reckons you should never take no for an answer: “Take it from me – it’s true that when one door slams in your face, another one definitely opens.

“Having spent 16 years in this industry, I can testify that you need to keep learning and adapting and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do that. I’ve moved from food science to biopharma. If you have the determination, you can get to wherever you want to go.”

Pamela Tennant, senior manufacturing technology engineer

Pamela Tennant is a relatively new addition to the BMS team, having joined the company in January of this year.

Tennant began her career as a product development scientist, after completing a degree in microbiology at NUI Galway, followed by a higher diploma in biotechnology at University College Cork and a master’s in biotechnology at the University of Ulster.

She spent some time working in research at the Royal College of Surgeons before delving into various industry roles.

Last year, when Tennant began thinking of new opportunities, she attended Career Zoo.

“I was drawn to BMS even before meeting people from the company at Career Zoo. The type of work I could do with BMS – the type of drugs I’d be working on – was really attractive,” she said.

Tennant says Career Zoo gave her the opportunity to meet BMS staff face-to-face, which was hugely beneficial.

“I really wanted to talk to people in the industry at Career Zoo, and build up useful contacts. It’s always nice to meet people face-to-face and connect with them, but there are rare opportunities to do that when you’re working. Career Zoo gave me that opportunity,” said Tennant.

“It’s a great platform to meet companies in your industry. I spent the whole time in the BioTech cluster, speaking to BMS representatives and also checking out the other opportunities on offer. It was a really useful way to find out about the next steps I needed to take towards getting a job in BMS.”

A start-up environment

At BMS, the start-up environment really appeals to Tennant. The company is currently developing a major new facility in Dublin, and she is heavily involved in the transfer to the new site.

“It’s really nice to be in at the start and able to input into decisions about the set-up of the new facility. Because of the start-up environment, there’s a sense of excitement and a real buzz around the site. My role is very varied and obviously very rewarding – what we’re working on is really the future of biotech and the development of life-saving drugs,” said Tennant.

“At the moment, I’m predominantly office-based but, once the equipment is in and we start processing, I’ll be on the production floor more. We’re hoping to have the new facility up and running towards the end of this year.”

Tennant says she loves the challenges associated with her role, and the emphasis on problem solving. The company culture at BMS is also attractive, with a strong emphasis placed on diversity and team-building.

“Most people come from a scientific background, but we have a very diverse team in terms of age groups and where people are coming from. It’s great because everyone is able to bring something different to the table,” said Tennant.

“I’m still quite new here, obviously, but my first impression is that the culture is really, really nice. There’s lots of support for further education, and it’s good socially, with team nights out and team building endorsed and supported, both in work and in external settings.

“There are strategies in place for promoting diversity, which is great to see. And it’s obvious that BMS is working hard to ensure this is a good place to work; that there’s a supportive environment for all members of the team.”

Career Zoo is taking place in the Convention Centre Dublin on 11 March. Register here.

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