Subscribe to Newsletter
Manufacture Business Practice, Technology and Equipment, Small Molecules, Trends & Forecasts

Smooth Operator


What attracted you to your new role?

A large part of my role is shaping the newly created Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP), which brings industry and government together to help boost medicines manufacturing in the UK. It’s exciting to be at the very beginning of creating an entity that could be transformational for the sector. I want to look back in 15-20 years’ time and see that we’ve helped to re-energize medicines manufacturing. And the MMIP – led by ABPI and the BioIndustry Association (BIA) – can really make a difference.

How did you get into pharma manufacturing?

In some ways, I got into the industry through the back door. I started my career at the bench as a research technician at the Chester Beatty Institute of Cancer Research in London. It was through a chance meeting with a gentleman from Wellcome – Mike Barton – that I started to understand what industry actually did in terms of research, development and manufacturing. He painted an excellent picture of the opportunities within big pharma and I was aware that there was a link between my Institute and Wellcome. Six months later I was offered a role at Wellcome’s Beckenham site.

Although I enjoyed bench research, my father was an engineer and I came from an industrial area so that was always in my DNA. I wanted to get involved in something more practical and tangible.

How did things progress at Wellcome?

I spent 10 very informative years at Wellcome; it put me on the front line of innovative medicine. As a Process Biologist I was involved in the design, build and operation of industrial manufacturing facilities for monoclonal antibodies. It was an extremely creative period, and gave me the opportunity to work all over the world. My time at Wellcome culminated in the build and launch of a new biotechnology facility in Japan, which felt like my first real legacy. I had helped create something from nothing.

When I left Wellcome I went into the contract manufacturing business as operations director of Celltech and stayed there for about four years. The contract manufacturing environment exposed me to lots of businesses and lots of creative people. We had to focus on what was best for the customer, so there was a lot of collaborative diplomacy involved. The people skills I had developed through working in different cultures really came into play.

And then you left the UK for a while?

Yes. I got itchy feet and was offered an opportunity in Europe in 1994. I joined a US company with an operation in Holland, once again putting infrastructure and teams in place to get products out into the marketplace from a new facility.

I came back to the UK four years later – in 1998 – for something quite different. I was asked to help at a start-up business that had some great programs in its portfolio but had lost its way. It ticked all of the boxes for me: I was in at the beginning, it was a real challenge, I got to work with like-minded people and I was exposed to different areas of business. It was probably the best 11 years of my career. We took a business that was on its knees and built something worthy of acquisition in 2008. I feel very proud looking back. Once again, there’s a legacy element there; much of what I put in place is still functioning today.

Is there a common thread that ties your experiences together?

I guess something I’ve learned through my different career stages is that I love fitting the jigsaw together – making sure that it’s building the right picture, to deliver a sustainable business. At the end of the day, I’m more than happy to hand it over to someone else to fully complete or take the business onto the next level once the infrastructure and teams are in place.

So, how did you end up as project director at ABPI?

Well before ABPI, I joined the gene therapy business, Oxford BioMedica. The business was moving into manufacturing and needed someone who could once again fit all the pieces together. I joined the business, established the manufacturing operation, built the operations team, and managed to secure government funding to meet our ambitious business goals with respect to manufacturing. Through the exposure to the gene therapy environment and involvement with government I became involved with a number of advisory and steering groups and when the opportunity arose to champion the MMIP initiative, I could not resist the challenge. It feels like I’ve almost come full circle and I hope that I can now give something back to the sector. It actually doesn’t feel like a job in the traditional sense – it’s more of a passion.

What is the strategy of the MMIP?

The strategy is clear; we want to create the right environment to support investment and expansion of the UK’s medicine manufacturing sector. People often talk in terms of a collective ecosystem. We want to glue that ecosystem together and provide a clear and positive roadmap for blue-chip companies, SMEs, and entrepreneurs alike.

The MMIP will focus on four key strategic work streams in Technology and Innovation, Regulatory, Skills and Fiscal. If we can start to work collaboratively to address some of these issues, then our sector will go from strength to strength. These are exciting times for medicines manufacturing and I am very fortunate to be part of a sector that wants to make a positive difference in delivering innovative medicines to patients.

Receive content, products, events as well as relevant industry updates from The Medicine Maker and its sponsors.
Stay up to date with our other newsletters and sponsors information, tailored specifically to the fields you are interested in

When you click “Subscribe” we will email you a link, which you must click to verify the email address above and activate your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please contact us at [email protected].
If you wish to unsubscribe, you can update your preferences at any point.

Register to The Medicine Maker

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:
  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Medicine Maker magazine