Headshot of Terri O'Donovan on a soft blue background.
Terri O’Donovan. Image: Janssen Sciences Ireland

Meet Janssen Sciences Ireland’s first digital and technology lead

21 Oct 2022

In her role, Terri O’Donovan is responsible for shaping the biotech company’s digital strategy to make it a more predictive and adaptive plant.

Click to view the entire Digital Transformation Week series at SiliconRepublic.com

A strong digital transformation strategy needs a leader who knows how a business operates and how to bring employees along on the journey.

In Janssen Sciences Ireland, that leader is Terri O’Donovan. With more than 14 years of experience in Janssen, O’Donovan was appointed as the first digital and technology lead at the Cork site as a pilot for the global Janssen supply chain.

As part of her role, she responsible for shaping the site’s digital strategy and helping it to become a more predictive and adaptive plant.

O’Donovan created the first Janssen digital and technology department. She hopes to see a digital and technology lead appointed at each site, and for them to be part of the senior leadership team.

‘When people are interested in learning more and upskilling, it truly enables digital transformation’

“Since July of this year, we now have six digital and technology site leads across the organisation, which helps with sharing best practices, level loading work on new technologies and supports the scaling up of them,” she told SiliconRepublic.com.

“We have built a digital ecosystem by partnering with industrial and academic partners to advance our journey. We are delighted to be part of the Enterprise Digital Advisory Forum where we can contribute to the National Digital Strategy by providing information from the pharmaceutical industry.”

To build digital capability, change management and problem-solving skills, O’Donovan also worked with Janssen’s global team to develop a ‘Workforce of the Future’ programme to support continued professional development and training of employees.

“What I have found is when people are interested in learning more and upskilling, it truly enables digital transformation,” she said.

Outside of her pioneering role as digital and technology lead, O’Donovan is also a strong advocate for women in STEM and is a WiSTEM2D ambassador.

As part of her digital transformation team, 66pc of hires were women. She is working on narrowing the gender gap in AI by raising awareness about gender diversity.

She also worked with the women graduates on her team to launch a digital and technology newsletter, Yammer page and SharePoint site for continuous knowledge sharing on AI and technology.

Bringing in new tech

No digital transformation strategy is without its challenges. For O’Donovan, the biggest hurdle was around gathering sufficient data to compare currently used processes with new ones.

“The key to this success is stakeholders being brave enough to trust the data and the technology,” she said.

One example of digital transformation O’Donovan talked about was the site’s ‘in-line conditioning technology’.

“The manufacturing process requires 170,000 litres of buffer solutions, which are primarily comprised of water. The traditional approach uses large vessels to prepare and store these buffers, which would have required a larger facility footprint, leading to more expensive running costs,” she said.

“Janssen’s innovative project means that individual, high-concentrated buffer stock solutions are prepared, blended together and then mixed with water from the distribution loop at the chromatography skid, leading to the real-time manufacturing and release of the buffer at point of use in the process.

“This resulted in a storage reduction capacity of approximately 80pc. It also led to a cost reduction of €1.25m per year and had a positive sustainability impact using 50pc less plastic.”

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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