Heba, Manufacturing and supply, Egypt

Heba Elbamby is a subject matter expert in our manufacturing and supply chain organisation based in Egypt. With regional responsibility, her role is to raise the capabilities of colleagues across seven sites on the scheduling of production. We spoke to her to find out how she’s built her career at the company and what keeps her here.

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Hi Heba. Your role sounds interesting. What do you do?

In my current role, I am a subject matter expert on production scheduling in our manufacturing and supply business. Scheduling is the process of arranging, controlling and optimising work and workload in our medicines production process. I am based in Cairo, Egypt, but my role covers seven sites across Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Algeria. My role is to share my experience and knowledge help upskill scheduling managers across these sites to ensure that they manage the sites to the best of their ability. I love meeting new people from different cultures and backgrounds so this role is really good for this.

Working across seven sites must be a challenge. How do you manage your time?

Working remotely does have its challenges. I tend to travel about 30% of the time to the different sites but I have regular meetings with the sites over the phone too. It’s important that we speak often.

As sites build their expertise, it means that I don’t need to be on-site as often. For some sites, it is fair to say that they are used to doing things in a certain way so that requires more face-to-face time. Building strong relationships is a big part of my job and something I really enjoy. I have been a scheduling manager in the past so I have experienced what they have and walked in their shoes.

For some sites, it is fair to say that they are used to doing things in a certain way so that requires more face-to-face time. Building strong relationships is a big part of my job and something I really enjoy.”

Tell us about your career at GSK

GSK was actually my first job out of university more than 15 years ago, so I am very attached to the company and have been here through lots of change. I trained as a pharmacist but have taken on a number of roles in the manufacturing organisation, all in Egypt. I have worked in quality as raw materials analyst, spent time in technical roles and also worked in supply chain.

I have learned a lot doing these different roles. I am quite new to my current role but the experiences I have had really help me to understand how everything fits together. I really enjoy connecting the dots.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am currently working with regional team on a ‘flexible repetitive schedule’ As the name suggests, this is operating the same production schedule repeatedly, perhaps daily or over a longer period such as one month, to stabilise our production and there are cost benefits too as the turnover is reduced.

What keeps you at GSK?

As I said, GSK was my first real job so I have a special bond with the company. I don’t think I will ever leave! I love the culture – I’ve always been supported by colleagues and the company has trusted me to give me different opportunities in new areas and more senior roles to develop me.

The company also runs a development initiative which I am part of called Accelerating Difference. It is the best programme I have ever been on! It is personalised to the individual so the focus is on me, Heba, and how I can support my own development through the way I work with others.

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I love the culture – I’ve always been supported by colleagues and the company has trusted me to give me different opportunities in new areas and more senior roles to develop me.”

What have you got planned next?

I love working in supply chain, so I think a role in different part of this business would be nice to do next. I would also like to move into a strategy role as my last few jobs have been more operational.

What advice would you give to jobseekers about the qualities needed to be successful in supply chain?

I think clear communication is really important. You will be working with lots of different people so it is important everyone understands each other and what the priorities are. Next, I think project management is key. In supply chain, sticking to a timeline is critical because we are not just delivering luxury items; we are providing medicines that will help people. The final thing I would say that is supply chain works as a team and without openness and honesty, it would fail.  I like to think of this function as the oil that keeps the machines running! 

In supply chain, sticking to a timeline is critical because we are not just delivering luxury items; we are providing medicines that will help people.”