The hotly anticipated BMS facility at Cruiserath is now operational, but what is it actually like to work there?
Since BMS first announced its intention to construct a new facility at Cruiserath, Dublin 15, the Irish pharmaceutical industry has watched its development with intense interest.
The Cruiserath facility will initially manufacture a single product at a time and eventually move to between three and five campaigns per year. The facility has been designed to be highly flexible to accommodate a variety of cell culture processes.
Its development marks a significant step in both BMS’ expansion and in the growth of the Irish pharmaceutical sector. This facility marks the first time in the firm’s history that biologics manufacturing will be taking place outside of the US.
Yet to dwell on these details would be to miss a large chunk of the story of Cruiserath. The facility now bustles with people, and we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at what it’s like to work there.
Noel Heaney, general manager of biologics at BMS Cruiserath, said: “It’s incredibly satisfying to know that the hard work you’re doing here, and that everybody collectively and together is doing here, is really making a difference to patients’ lives in terms of transferring medicines or getting medicines to patients where, in a lot of cases, they don’t have any other options.
“That just really is energising.”
Any employee who speaks about the company continually circles back to the sense of it being a collective, and much flatter, hierarchically speaking, than one may expect from such a big player in the pharma industry.
Derek Hughes, a QA lab operations specialist, stressed how people at all strata of the company can make decisions that can help to move large projects forward. “I’m only relatively new into the job a couple of months, so I like the learning curve. I like that it’s fast-paced and you learn a lot of new things.
“I like the empowerment here as well. Everybody from any level is empowered to make decisions.”
For Lauren Doherty, a downstream manufacturing student from DCU on placement at the facility for eight months, she quickly found that she felt like part of the team. “The best thing about my job is there’s a different challenge every day, so it keeps me interested and it’s a very enjoyable place to work. Everyone is very nice and it’s a very fun environment to work in.”
It begs the question: how do you engender such a friendly atmosphere in what is a large, sprawling site teeming with people who are constantly moving between departments?
David Connolly, QC microbiology manager, explains that a large part of the enjoyment he derives from work stems from his extracurricular involvement in committees, such as the gym committee and the health and wellbeing committee. Through this, he has been able to partake in everything from organising a tobacco cessation programme to a mental health talk.
“On the health and wellbeing teams, we’ve so many activities ongoing. It’s great to see that with mental health talks last year, we had over 75 people attending.
“We’re running Pilates now … 70 to 80 people have registered for it.”
Aisling Boland, HR business partner at BMS, added: “I love the culture at BMS. There’s a big focus on engagement in the site, with different teams such as corporate social responsibility getting involved in the community, the diversity and inclusion team etc.
“There’s loads of different activities every month.”
You can view our full interviews with the people at BMS’ Cruiserath facility in the video above.
Updated, 2.38pm, 6 April 2018: This article has been updated to clarify the functions of the Cruiserath facility.