Jeffery, Technology, UK
I’m Jeffery, I studied Biomedical Science at Nottingham Trent University and graduated three years ago. During my first year I was already thinking about what I wanted to do and where I wanted my career to head. I knew my preferred direction would lead to me working in a hospital or in healthcare.
After researching a number of companies and speaking with friends who were about to graduate, I decided to apply for the GSK industrial placement scheme in Microbiology. After a year spent working at our Steriles facility in Ulverston, I knew I wanted to come back. The whole experience, the culture, getting involved in real projects, knowing we were making products that were going to help very sick people and being empowered to be a real part of that work – was truly inspiring
Becoming a future leader
During my first year of the scheme (I am currently in my final year), following my certification, I worked as a SAP production planning consultant. What that means is that I looked at how we can improve our business using technology by implementing our SAP M-ERP (Manufacturing Enterprise Resource Planning) in our manufacturing sites around the world.
What SAP does, is allow all of our integrated sites to work on the same system, let's call it a universal platform. Anything from purchasing our raw materials for our antibiotics, to shipping out our finished packs is performed in the same system.
The main driver behind this roll out is to allow GSK to standardise and automate financial and commercial processes, systems and data.
It's quite a diverse role because it blends technology and business. We're not just switching off the IT systems and replacing them with a new one. It's a huge business change that involves changing the way people are working. I’m constantly talking to the people who will eventually be using the new systems, as well as with their managers and our directors, to identify any improvements we can make in the way our manufacturing is planned and executed.
As there are so many phases to each project, it can be challenging, but it’s also one of the best ways to develop a range of skills. For example, during the scoping phase of our ERP deployments, we present the vision of this ‘new world’ to our teams. You can find yourself talking to a manager or director who has been in the role for over 20 years and you have to be able to take on their feedback on what our proposed solution is, as well as provide them with a clear, compelling vision of the benefits to be gained from SAP.
As the project moves forwards, we’ll run workshops, trying to identify any gaps, any things that the new system won't be able to support our teams to do and develop workarounds. Part of what I do also involves delivering training on how the system works, how we use it, and the benefits of using the system.
In my master plan I see myself working in Supply Chain Optimisation. I really enjoy the work that I’ve been doing in Tech and production planning. It’s exposed me to the supply chain as a whole and I could really see myself driving improvements in how we deliver our products to our patients and our consumers.
What do I like most about working here?
I would say the best thing about my job is the trust we have in our team. For example, if I’m working past five or six, and my colleagues are heading home, then they’ll really make sure that there’s nothing they can do to help me before they go. This level of trust makes us a very efficient team and is a part of the reason why I feel excited to come into work each morning, even those cold mornings when it’s sometimes a struggle to get up and get ready!
In my master plan I see myself working in Supply Chain Optimisation. I really enjoy the work that I’ve been doing in IT and production planning. It’s exposed me to the supply chain as a whole and I could really see myself driving improvements in how we deliver our products to our patients and our consumers. I have personally started to work towards gaining a professional qualification in supply chain management to help me reach my career aspirations.
During the last year of the FLP, I continued to help implement SAP at manufacturing sites, including one in Rio de Janeiro. When the time came to roll off the scheme, I decided I wanted to gain broader business experience. A Product Planner role came up in Maidenhead at a toothpaste manufacturing site, where I’d worked in my first year. I joined on a part-time basis, continuing as a technical consultant while helping to raise the capability of the team.
Where are they now?
In August 2019, I became the Logistics Manager for the Materials team. The Materials team purchases and manages the materials we use to make our products. I joined in September – and it was really tough! As Logistics Manager, I had to manage a team where I wasn’t the expert, which was very daunting at first. It was a real learning curve in a new area, but there was plenty of training and workshops to build my skills. I developed a good relationship with the team.
In December 2019, I moved back to the tech business. The merger with Pfizer meant implementing SAP at a string of new sites. By January 2020, I was in Montreal, learning how Pfizer did things and introducing SAP. I also went to a site in South Africa – but then the coronavirus pandemic happened.
Through the network I’ve built in this role, I’ve also become involved in data analytics with the Pharma Supply Chain. They’re bringing together all of the data from GSK systems and putting it into Cloud storage, so the business can access information on demand. I’m learning a lot with this team, which is great! I’m also working with an ex-Pfizer site in Italy to understand how they work and move them to GSK’s SAP.
The future? I’ve always wanted to work abroad longer term, rather than just on a project basis – Latin America is my go-to place!
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Clare, Technology, UK
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Help us use technology in sustainable and innovative ways so we can meet our strategic objectives.