Life Sciences: MSD reflects upon 50 years of excellence in biotech

Employees at MSD Brinny, who volunteered a range of local and regional charities in the Inishannon and Cork community.

In association with MSD Brinny

We sat down with Barry Mulcahy, site lead, MSD Brinny and asked him some questions.

Barry Mulcahy

Can you tell me a little bit about MSD and the role that the site in Brinny plays within the overall MSD network?

MSD Ireland is one of the country’s leading healthcare companies, having first established here over 50 years ago. 

We currently employ over 2,000 employees, across five sites in Ballydine, Co Tipperary, Brinny, Co Cork, Carlow and Dublin and, in addition, operate substantial Human Health and Animal Health businesses.

MSD Brinny specialises in the development and commercial supply of biotech products, including some of MSD’s most successful treatments for Oncology, Hepatitis C and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

We’ve over 35 years bio-tech experience and knowledge, are one of the region’s largest employers, employing over 700 staff and have invested €130m in the site since 2016.

How is MSD Brinny doing? In which areas are you expanding and what are you looking for from potential employees?

We’re doing really well. The site is expanding significantly, we’re bringing new team members on board on a regular basis and it’s a very exciting time for the team here. 

The expansion of the site is linked to the increase in global demand for some of MSD’s key medicines and vaccines and we’re ideally placed as a site to support this key business need.

At present we’ve vacancies in a number of exciting areas and roles including lead positions for people with a background in Manufacturing, Biotechnology, Chemical, Engineering or Science.

Aside from candidates’ education, experience and technical skills, we’re also looking at how candidates communicate and work as part of a team because a key part of our great culture is working as one team.

In MSD Brinny, we’re keen to secure people who want to be challenged, who are curious, and who want to push the boundaries of science and technology all the while ensuring that they are getting great support from the site to achieve this.

The company is currently recruiting in Cork; how is that process going? Is the workforce in Cork increasing/set to increase? How do the company find the calibre of candidates?

It’s going very positively and we are seeing a really great variety of candidates from all specialities applying for roles in Brinny and indeed across MSD Ireland.

A key challenge now facing the pharmaceutical sector generally is the recruitment of highly-skilled employees with specialist STEM capabilities. 

Ireland is renowned for its excellence in pharma — we’re the home for 10 out of 10 of the top pharmaceutical firms in the world and Ireland is the seventh-largest global exporter of pharmaceuticals.

This success has resulted in a highly competitive talent market and is certainly a challenge for our operations here, including MSD Brinny.

However MSD is in a unique position to be able to offer our employees to experience end-to-end manufacturing across all of our sites in Ireland. 

We pro-actively offer employees the opportunity to upskill and to rotate to other sites in Ireland and also across our global operations. 

This unique opportunity is welcomed by highly qualified candidates as they recognise the benefits and career development opportunities working with MSD provides.

What kind of opportunities does the sector present to graduates and experienced professionals in terms of employment opportunities?

Working in the pharmaceutical sector allows you to be at the forefront of scientific discovery and innovation. 

MSD’s workplace culture, in particular, focuses on creating an inclusive, collaborative and challenging environment, where employees can continuously develop and grow in their careers. 

Employees have a strong sense of purpose and are proud that their work is making a difference in the lives of people globally.

Brinny in Cork is a great place to work, there’s a very positive and energetic culture of curiosity and innovation that drives the business. 

People enjoy being part of a company that makes a difference, developing and producing new medicines that have a huge impact on the lives of real people throughout the world.

As Brinny expands, there are great opportunities to advance within the site and Brinny’s strong reputation within the MSD organisation means that people can also move and learn within the MSD network globally.

The substantial investment in the site’s facilities and the creation of new roles reflects MSD’s ongoing commitment to Cork and to the local Inishannon community.

Through our focus on innovation and new product developments, we continue to expand our manufacturing output to help people to lead longer, healthier, and more productive lives. 

We look forward to growing our highly-skilled team and building our presence in Brinny so that we can continue to lead scientific breakthroughs in the treatment of some of the world’s common diseases.

At the annual MSD Brinny volunteer day at the bridge at Innishannon were volunteers Kate Condon and Marie Cunningham. Pic: Denis Boyle

How and why is the biotech sector thriving at present?

It’s an exciting time to be doing business in Ireland. 

A lot of our success here is down to the young and talented workforce, as well as a business and regulatory environment that encourage scientific and clinical innovation. 

Indeed, MSD is now one of nine of the world’s top 10 pharma companies based in Ireland, with the sector now worth €30bn a year in exports.

In addition, the Government’s R&D initiatives to date have encouraged MSD to position its sites as development centres for our new product portfolio, and we are developing many of our pipeline products here also, bringing with it considerable investment.

Through our focus on innovation and new product developments, we continue to expand our manufacturing output here in Ireland and offer new, life-saving treatments for patients.

Anything the company would like to mention? Any general comment the company would like to make about their future here.

In summary, MSD, Ireland is one of the country’s leading healthcare companies. 

We are fully committed to playing a leading role across the healthcare landscape – firmly placing the patient at the heart of all of our activities and continuously challenging ourselves to think differently and bring added benefit to any initiative. 

We adopt a partnership approach all elements of our business and are fully committed to continuing to Invent for Life each and every day.

MSD and our operations in Brinny have played a pivotal role in the development and growth of the Biopharmaceutical sector in Ireland. 

We are committed to continuing to play a major role in this hugely important industry while also continuing to prioritise our local community and our employees who are the heart of our business.

200 MSD Brinny employees join forces to ‘Make Someone’s Day’ within the local community

MSD Brinny, Cork, recently organised an employee ‘Volunteering Day’ which represented the largest single contribution of time, skills and resources by employees to local causes since the site established itself in Cork over 35 years ago.

Based on the theme of ‘Making Someone’s Day’, 200 employees signed up to volunteer at a range of local and regional charities in the Inishannon and Cork community, with activities as wide-ranging as serving food at Cork’s Penny Dinners, painting and decorating for Marymount Hospital, Cork Simon Community and Bandon Community Hospital, and clearing out the kennels at the Irish Guide Dogs.

Employees at MSD Brinny, who cleared out kennels at the Irish Guide Dogs as part of 'Employee Volunteering Day'.

Supporting the local community has always been important at MSD Brinny, giving everyone at the site the chance to give back.

Speaking about the success of the event, site lead and Bandon local Barry Mulcahy said: “We were delighted with the dedicated efforts and enthusiasm of our employees at MSD Brinny, who signed up in their droves to get out in the community and give back — as part of MSD Brinny Volunteering Day.

“In MSD, we recognise that we have a responsibility to do our bit for society, the environment and our customers. 

"It’s about thinking beyond the business; not only do CSR initiatives motivate our staff who volunteer regularly across a number of different activities, but our CSR activities impact positively on the wellbeing of our wider community. 

"We will continue to prioritise our local community in Cork and our employees who are at the heart of our business,” said MSD site lead, Barry Mulcahy.

Other activities included gardening and general upkeep of the local community in conjunction with local organisations.

Author Alice Taylor with Barry Mulcahy, MSD Brinny site lead, and members of MSD staff volunteering in Innishannon.

The best-selling author and Inishannon local Alice Taylor joined the MSD Brinny team who were painting the bridge in Inishannon to lend her support to the initiative.

One of the region’s largest employers, MSD Brinny has a long and proud tradition of manufacturing excellence as well as a strong legacy in the biopharmaceutical sector and has been a vibrant part of the local Innishannon community for nearly 35 years.

The MSD Brinny site specialises in the development as well as the commercial supply of biotech products, including some of MSD’s most successful treatments for Oncology, Hepatitis C and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

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