Darragh Pattwell, Site Director, AbbVie

Darragh Pattwell, Site Manager with AbbVie in Sligo and Manorhamilton talks to gradireland about his motivations when setting out on his career, how adaptability is key to succeeding in management, and what motivates him to keep succeeding in his work.

Hero image for Darragh Pattwell, Site Director, AbbVie

Degree subject Bachelor of Engineering (BE), Chemical Engineering (Hons), UCD (1998)
Job title Site Director
Employer AbbVie

What were your own motivations and
inspirations when starting out on your
career?

I graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor of
Chemical Engineering (BE) from University
College Dublin. From my early days I have
been motivated by the activity of learning,
by extending myself and by striving for a
sense of self fulfilment and achievement.
I strive to make a difference in everything
that I do. I have carried this through
University and into working life.

Early experiences in my career have
shaped how I have developed as a leader.
The critical thing, in my view, was being
open to the advice and feedback and
using it to better myself for the future.
Two examples come to mind. The first
involves self-awareness, a key component
of personal development. I have found
personality profiling and mentoring to
be two of the more effective ways of
developing deeper personal insights.
Profiling often characterised my natural
style as a perfectionist and as having a
directive style of management. However
over the years I have learned to diversify
my approach and adapt my natural style
to become more balanced, able to call on
other appropriate styles and behaviours.
Soon after I began my career I identified
a role model and someone I looked up to.
He was always there to listen to me, to
mentor, to offer advice and he was always
honest telling me what he thought rather
than what he thought I might want to hear.
I truly recommend to everyone to seek out
the advice and mentorship of someone you
look up to.

The second involves peer feedback and
learning from personal experience. I have
been in manager employee relationships
where there was a clash of personalities
both from the employee and the manager
standpoint. I have managed employees
where I didn’t take the time to truly
understand their perspectives and the
way they like to communicate and be
communicated with. Furthermore, I have
had a manager who always could never
be wrong and always expected things
to be done his way, always hearing but
never listening to what I had to say. This
frustrated me at times and distracted me
from doing my best work. Through these
experiences I have become a better leader,
I have learned to have more empathy and I
have learned that a poor manager does not
define how successful I can be.

I can remember sitting across the table
from a peer when the chips were down
and we were struggling on an important
project and I received some open negative
feedback from her about my ability to lead.
Whilst I didn’t agree with this feedback, I
nonetheless took it for what it was worth
and set about becoming the best leader
I could be and continued to believe in
myself.

Since then I have gone on to lead a
new Drug Product facility through
regulatory licensing and first commercial
manufacture, I have been the first
combined leader of Drug Product and Active
Pharmaceutical Ingredient manufacturing
at AbbVie Sligo Manorhamilton (MHR) and
have been given the privilege of leading the
Sligo MHR site since May of this year. I feel
a strong sense of accomplishment with
the progression I have made in my career
and my eagerness to learn, to strive and to
innovate has never diminished.

Could you tell us about your initial contact
with AbbVie and your early career there
and what it taught you about yourself?

My initial contact with AbbVie was through
an approach by a recruiter. From the start
I felt a connection with the ethos and the
value placed on the contributions of all
employees. I had previously worked for
the same company for more than sixteen
years and in many ways the move to
AbbVie taught me that it is easy to fall
into a routine and a comfort zone and
that there is a lot more to learn when you
diversify your experience outside of just
one company. Since I joined AbbVie Sligo
we have launched a cure for the Hepatitis
C Virus and a new treatment for Chronic
Lymphocytic Leukaemia from this site,
with many more life changing medicines
in development. AbbVie has a strong
connection with our patients and I have
learned that this connection is also what
inspires me to do my best work. My move
to AbbVie reinvigorated me and gave me
a renewed confidence in my own abilities
and a drive to succeed with a company that
is making a real difference in the lives of
patients.

What has your career path through the
company been and how it has differed
from your initial perceptions/plans?

In previous employment I worked for
more than sixteen years through roles
of increasing complexity in Quality Operations,
Technical Operations,
Manufacturing and Lean Six Sigma.
My experience spanned both Active
Pharmaceutical Ingredient and Drug
Product manufacturing. I was very
fortunate and grateful to have been given
this opportunity to develop a broad base
of understanding in the pharmaceutical
industry.

Since joining AbbVie in January of 2015 I
have been the Director of Manufacturing
for API and Drug Product and more
recently in May of 2016 I was appointed
Site Director of the Sligo MHR site. I can
remember a specific point in time during
2000, two years after I began my working
career, where I set a goal of becoming
Director of Manufacturing within 11 years,
also mapping out the steps I believed I
would need to take to get there. I have
been fortunate to fulfil those ambitions
and having recently just turned 40, I
believe that with AbbVie I can contribute
even more in the future.

Your advice to graduates or students?

Everybody is different, and they respond
differently to differing management styles
and require different levels of motivation.
But below would be some pointers and
observations:

  • Your technical competence is a given
    through your academic accomplishments
    but try to learn something new every
    day.
  • Focus on how you interact with people
    and how you can adapt your approach
    depending on whom you are interacting
    with.
  • Be self-aware and consistently look
    for feedback. Be open to receiving
    constructive or what might be perceived
    as negative feedback – if properly
    channelled it may be the best kind of
    feedback to spur you into action even if
    you don’t fully agree with the sentiment.
    to outperform at my current role for a
    sustained period. I believe it’s important
    not to push for promotional opportunities
    for the sake of status alone. Invariably
    you will not succeed in the long term
    if you have not reached a level of
    competence and performance in your
    current role before progressing. I hope
    that my abilities and performance will
    enable me to accede to a Vice Presidential
    role within AbbVie over the next number
    of years. In the meantime, my ambition is
    to work every day to try to make sure that
    I add value and contribute in every way I
    can to furthering the success of the site
    I work in, the success of AbbVie and the
    health of patients all over the world.
  • Try to clear the air where interactions
    haven’t gone well. Sometimes the unsaid
    begins to fester and create problems
    where none should exist.
  • Treat everybody with respect regardless
    of job title or status.
  • Strive every day.
  • Plan and prioritise what you want to
    achieve next week before the previous
    weekend.
  • Don’t let e-mail rule your working/
    academic life – set time apart to work
    on priorities without the distraction of
    electronic media.
  • Be open to learn from others. You won’t
    always have the right answer and
    somebody else might be doing it better.
  • Try not to restrict your career options by
    creating unnecessary barriers with regard
    to the geographical location of the best
    opportunities. Where possible try to be
    as flexible and as mobile as you can to be
    ready for opportunity when it knocks – it’s
    a small country and it’s a small world!

How you motivate yourself in your day to
day work?

Quite simply, I am motivated by
manufacturing medicines that have a
remarkable impact on patient’s lives. I
am proud to work for a company that is
striving to making a difference in the areas
of Oncology, Virology, Immunology and
Neurology. I am excited about the potential
for us to make innovative breakthroughs
in the treatment of unmet medical needs.
I am also motivated by the people I work
with and our common desire to make
positive change and to strive to get quality
medicines to patients in time and all of the
time.

What your own future career ambitions
are?

I set no limits on my career ambitions. I
feel that my ability to progress further
should be determined only by my abilityto outperform at my current role for a
sustained period. I believe it’s important
not to push for promotional opportunities
for the sake of status alone. Invariably
you will not succeed in the long term
if you have not reached a level of
competence and performance in your
current role before progressing. I hope
that my abilities and performance will
enable me to accede to a Vice Presidential
role within AbbVie over the next number
of years. In the meantime, my ambition is
to work every day to try to make sure that
I add value and contribute in every way I
can to furthering the success of the site
I work in, the success of AbbVie and the
health of patients all over the world.

Cherry picked for you

Cherry picked for you

and delivered directly to your feed.