A smiling man with dark hair and a beard beside a BMS sign.
Luca Petricca. Image: BMS

‘The contrast you can see in Ireland still leaves me speechless’

11 Jun 2019

What’s it like moving from Italy to Ireland? BMS’s Luca Petricca shares his experience.

It can be hard to move from one country to another, but it can also be extremely enchanting, especially if you’re moving for the right job and you love your work.

Luca Petricca is a process monitoring and analytics engineer at BMS. Here, he talks about his experience moving from Italy to Ireland.

Future Human

Where are you from and what’s it like there?

I’m from Italy – more precisely, I am from a small town near Rome. I think everyone knows the main characteristics of Italy – nice cities, the cheerfulness of the people (it’s part of our DNA), the myriad of different and typical food from north to south, the different local dialects and traditions, the flourishing and timeless art styles, the history, the amazing and diversified natural landscapes. Hopefully anyone who has visited Italy will know what I mean!

How long have you been in Ireland?

I arrived in Ireland in September 2017.

What prompted your decision to move here?

For my job and background (I’m a pharmaceutical biotechnologist), it was the right time for me to move to Ireland. They have had some really positive momentum attracting innovative companies here, many of them in the life sciences sector. Working in the biopharmaceutical sector in Ireland on a day-to-day basis, I get to experience the evolution of the science and technologies, and their application in the industry to deliver safe, high-quality products to patients.

Furthermore, the chance to work in a multicultural environment was another reason for this change. In Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), you collaborate every day with people from different countries with diverse cultures, backgrounds and ways of thinking. It’s obvious that this environment represents the perfect mix where innovative ideas find fertile lands.

What’s your role in BMS?

In BMS, I lead the process monitoring and the data analytics programmes for the Cruiserath Biologics site. My role is closely aligned with a virtual team primarily based in the United States. I also keep a close relationship with the manufacturing, science and technology (MS&T) team in Cruiserath.

The virtual team and I work together every day to implement harmonised strategies in order to ensure the collection, analysis, and reporting of the manufacturing process and drug substance data, ensuring that they are robust and reliable in every phase – but we don’t stop here. We always try to innovate and challenge the status quo, not just for ensuring that the process is under control in a certain moment, but also for being able to predict and detect any potential shift of the process and proactively intervene.

What types of project do you work on?

Our first project consisted of implementing an integrated system to collect and organise the process data in a hierarchical structure. This allows us to automatically extract and reorganise the data we need in a form suitable for analysis and trending. This system also automatically refreshes the trends and analysis on a regular basis, so you don’t need to think about this every time and you can dedicate your brain and efforts in other activities.

I also recently took ownership of leading the monitoring programme for one of our products across the drug substance network. That responsibility is not limited to the internal BMS sites, but also the contract manufacturing sites that produce this product. This is a really exciting opportunity for me.

How would you describe your working environment?

From my experience, I can say that I couldn’t have expected a better environment than the one in BMS, both in Cruiserath and with the global team.

The people that work here in Cruiserath and in the BMS network come from different countries with different cultural backgrounds, and that’s just one aspect of the culture. Our level of collaboration is amazing; you are always encouraged to bring new and innovative ideas forward at any stage. Every day, we face the challenges that a new state-of-the-art site such as Cruiserath can have, considering the move from start-up to sustaining operations. But this doesn’t represent something concerning, rather a great demonstration of cross-functional teams working together in a transparent and collaborative way.

What do you like most about your job?

One of the things that I like most about my role is the fact that you can have visibility and access to every phase of the manufacturing process in real time from any place in the world where you are working, from your manufacturing site or remotely, with just a mouse click. This means I also have the opportunity to span and expand my knowledge in every step of the process, for any products in our portfolio in every site where we produce them.

The possibility to predict how the process will behave each time from the data we collect still enchants me. Since I was a child, I have always had a love for science fiction and in a certain way I feel like I am living in one of these ‘future scenes’ where humans and machines are working together (unfortunately still without flying cars or teleportation).

Was it difficult to adjust to living and working in Ireland?

Luckily for me, it’s not the first time that I have lived abroad. I studied in Germany for a period of time during university, so the initial feeling is similar despite it being two different countries.

After a move like this, the beginning can be a little bit difficult, which is normal to feel because you are getting familiar with your new routine and adapting to the new situation, new country rules, new people and practical stuff (rent, bills, health system). For a little while, you feel a little bit alone, but this is the time to start creating new relationships, having some nights out, and everything will start to become more reassuring and exciting.

In fairness, based on my personal experience, also being from a European Union member state can help make things easier because you can find many similarities and protections that help you to have a certain peace of mind and allow you to really focus on enjoying your new experience.

What surprised you about moving to Ireland, if anything?

One thing that still leaves me speechless is the contrast that you can see in Ireland. On one side you have the hustle and bustle of Dublin city centre and its suburbs; and in contrast, just a few kilometres away, the astonishing landscapes, the sounds of nature, the charm of places that you can reach in 20 minutes – and relax, meditate or just simply take a walk.

The ancient history that you can take in from every town, every castle, every church and every piece of historical setting is something that has impressed me from the very beginning. I always love this kind of contrast. You can choose every situation where you want to be in a particular moment just driving with your car for 10 minutes or maximum of four hours.

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