My name is Nessa Walsh and I graduated with a Masters in Pharmacy from the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) in 2016. Following my graduation, I spent six months of my MPharm year working as a Medical and Regulatory Affairs intern with Servier Laboratories.

I decided to study pharmacy because I wanted to help develop novel therapies for patients living with incurable diseases. I was always intrigued with the complexities of different drugs and the pharmacological effects drugs have on the body. After completing a pharmaceutics-based research project, I wanted to gain exposure to the whole pharmaceutical industry and understand how the business worked. I chose AbbVie because of their global reputation and their extensive pipeline in areas that were of particular interest to me, such as immunology and oncology.

AbbVie is a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company. The company is spread across five sites in Ireland. Alongside three manufacturing facilities in Sligo and Cork, two offices in Dublin serve the needs of the company’s Commercial and Operations activities.

During my internship I got involved in a variety of projects, from new product introductions, to continue advancing the pipeline, and validation activities. I developed strong rapports with my colleagues across the organisation and learned how to correctly plan projects to meet the required timelines. In 2015, I won the first award for Operations Intern of the Year in recognition for my work with AbbVie. The award reflected the successful completion of my assignment goals, as well as my alignment with the AbbVie culture and behaviours – something that was really beneficial throughout my internship.

As a young graduate, I relish working in such an innovative and driven environment. I chose the Operations Development Programme (ODP) to develop my skills and competencies within the various functions with Operations while working on innovative and challenging projects. The ODP is a two-year development programme consisting of three 8-month assignments. As an ODP, I design my rotations around advancing my knowledge as an industrial pharmacist but also to challenge myself in working in functions outside of my remit. This advances my awareness and understanding of other functions, and benefits my leadership traits. 

My first rotation involves working as an industrial pharmacist in technical operations. I am involved in new product introductions, transferred from research and development, to be scaled up for commercial supply. I also focus on process optimisation for other products. These products have recently been brought through the process validation stage and now go into their first commercial supply campaigns. The aim is to hand over a robust process to the operations department to increase throughput by reducing the cycle time and increasing the yield for commercial manufacture.

For my second rotation starting later this year, I am hoping to gain some experience in an area outside of my field of expertise. One of the main benefits of the ODP is that you can design rotations in functions you want more experience in, that will benefit your programme goals and enhance your future career. Being part of the ODP allows me to work as part of a global network within various functions of Operations, all working together to develop novel therapies for patients worldwide.

Watch what Nessa had to say about working life in Abbvie in her gradireland video here.