Head of Process Robustness, Drug Product, UK


What does your role involve?

My role is a technical role and it was created two years ago to improve robustness of GSK’s mature products.  In my role I also help GSK’s network of manufacturing sites get more from what they are doing and by that I mean increasing efficiencies and reducing waste.  In my role I also review our manufacturing processes, and where appropriate, optimise the equipment settings or propose suitable replacement technologies.

What do you like about your job?

I like the fact that my role sits between R&D and manufacturing because I get a holistic picture of the entire drug-making process and therefore the opportunity to translate the inventive R&D mindset into pragmatic manufacturing solutions.

Have you always worked in the pharmaceuticals sector?

Actually, no. Before joining GSK eight years ago, I worked at the FMCG company Unilever. In my last role there, I worked in its ice cream operations, which is quite a change from my role today! Specifically, my role required an understanding of the structure and properties of ice cream, and in some cases how that structure could be changed to give an enhanced flavour and textural experience when the ice cream was consumed.  This ‘structure-property-attribute’ approach is employed extensively by materials scientists, and the great thing about it is it can be applied to any manufacturing industry.

So what prompted you to switch industry?

If I was being honest, I didn’t proactively decide I wanted to move into the pharmaceuticals industry. I was attracted by a specific job opportunity which detailed a similar role to what I was doing at Unilever, but for the development of medicines rather than food. As I did my research, it became clear that science was at the core of GSK’s business, which resonated with me, as I consider myself a scientist first and foremost. The translation of science into something which enables better decision-making is a real passion of mine so it was a no-brainer to join.

And you’re still with GSK eight years later. What do you most like about the company?

As I said, a company that keeps science at the heart of its business will always appeal to me. I also enjoy the fact that the company has allowed me to broaden the scope of my knowledge and experience, beyond my job description.  I’ve been encouraged to think creatively when developing solutions, which is great for my development. But I think the one thing that I’ve learned since joining GSK is that you can start anywhere and go anywhere. My background is in materials science and engineering, but my current role is so much broader than that.