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AbbVie: dynamic graduate programmes that develop and deliver

Global biopharmaceutical giant has a strong tradition of developing its staff

With more than 2,500 employees across its nine sites in Ireland, global biopharmaceutical giant AbbVie has a strong tradition of developing its staff through dynamic and well-constructed graduate programmes.

"Whether an individual joins AbbVie as an undergraduate student working on our intern programme or as a member of one of our two graduate development programmes, we ensure that they all engage in meaningful work that impacts our business and improves the lives of patients worldwide," says Louise Clarke, early careers programme manager with the company. "We are very deliberate about offering our early career talent development opportunities that align to their personal goals and give them the chance to innovate, collaborate and make a global impact."

These opportunities include novel initiatives such as the company's Intern of the Year Award and the Operations Development Programme (ODP). The latter is a three-year global accelerated leadership programme which focuses on developing high-potential early career talent by providing employees with a broad base of functional and leadership skills early in their AbbVie careers. In 2017, the company launched its Technical Development Programme (TDP), a specialist outreach designed to help identify and develop subject matter experts.

Sustaining and building an early career pipeline is a key component of our talent strategy

“Our intern and graduate programmes are designed to support an individual’s personal and professional development through rigorous, well-defined assignments, performance management process and opportunities to get to know the business and its leaders,” Clarke adds.


Community engagement is an integral part of AbbVie’s culture, according to Clarke. “We encourage our people, including those on graduate programmes, to give something back to local communities where AbbVie is located,” she says.

Employees participate in initiatives such as the company’s signature Week of Possibilities community volunteering outreach, and on a number of programmes promoting Stem in the community and in local schools. Staff are also offered opportunities to participate in wellbeing and equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) initiatives.

“AbbVie’s early career programmes are more than just a learning experience for these individuals – they also help AbbVie recruit and retain strong talent with the potential to become leaders in the future,” says Clarke. “We invest a considerable amount of time working with university partners, professional bodies, students and graduates to understand what their needs are. We provide young graduates with challenging, impactful assignments alongside a personal and professional development curriculum. It’s a mix they find very stimulating.”


The knowledge, ideas and capabilities that employees bring are highly valued by the company. “AbbVie is focused on attracting, retaining, developing and supporting the people who, working together, can advance its mission,” Clarke points out. “Embracing equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to us. AbbVie realises that the best ideas can come from anywhere in the organisation, so employees must be comfortable sharing their perspectives and challenging each other. To maximise the performance of individuals and teams, we strive to help them build the capabilities that are most critical to our mission and success, whilst treating them with respect, and providing them with a safe environment to support their well-being.”

As an essential service, AbbVie’s Irish plants continued operating as Covid-19 began to impact the country earlier this year. According to Clarke, the flexibility and commitment of the local workforce enabled the company to respond successfully to virus’s challenges.

“Through a blend of on-site and remote working, we were able to facilitate all of our intern and graduate candidate programmes across our sites, fully in alignment with Covid-19 safety regulations this year,” she says. “Sustaining and building an early career pipeline is a key component of our talent strategy. Ensuring our early career talent have an enriched best-in-class experience is fundamental to that strategy, and we have adapted to a new virtual way of working and communicating through the innovative use of technology.”

AbbVie’s commitment to the development and progression of early career talent has been recognised on a number of occasions in recent years. These include several Grad Ireland graduate recruitment awards and three separate honours at last year’s Irish Early Career Awards.

The company's commitment to encourage and advance female talent was reflected in the nomination of four female AbbVie employees for Irish Early Career Awards in different technical categories with Michelle McNulty, from AbbVie's Ballytivnan site in Sligo, receiving the Accounting Professional of the Year award while Caroline Rocks from the company's site in Santry, Dublin was Engineering Professional of the Year.

Barry McCall

Barry McCall is a contributor to The Irish Times