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Early Talent programmes designed to develop industry-leading professionals

MSD is one of Ireland’s leading healthcare companies, and is committed to fostering early talent to research, develop, and manufacture the medicines of tomorrow

MSD Ireland’s investment and commitment to inspiring ‘early talent’ has been a strategic decision by the MSD leadership team for a number of years.

“We want to future-proof our talent - and our industry - and build a workforce able to research, develop and manufacture the medicines of tomorrow,” explains Fiona Croke, senior talent acquisition partner, MSD Ireland.

In a world experiencing unprecedented technological change, the pharmaceutical sector can’t stand still, she points out.

“At MSD, we are introducing advanced technologies, automating and digitising processes, and applying advanced analytics to data. It is vital for us as a business, and for Ireland, that there is both a continued interest in our field and the necessary skills required for our future workforce,” she says.

The company has also taken an innovative approach to skills building, including developing strategic partnerships with the education sector, scientific organisations and industry associations.

“We place huge importance on our early talent management, with a portfolio of programmes that take a strategic and holistic approach to preparing talent for the future and equipping them with the skills they’ll need,” says Croke.

Our graduate programmes provide successful candidates with in-depth knowledge of a chosen site

“We are increasingly looking for opportunities to directly engage with college course directors and lecturers to help to prepare and support the future generation of pharma employees. We believe it is critical to develop programmes that prepare students and align academic learning with practical application.”

One of the country’s leading healthcare companies, MSD Ireland has had a presence in Ireland for more than 50 years and today employs approximately 2,700 employees in six sites across Ballydine in Co Tipperary, Carlow, Brinny in Co Cork, Dublin and Dunboyne, Co Meath.

STEM Graduate Programmes

MSD is committed to encouraging the next generation of STEM talent through a variety of dedicated programmes.

Next year will see a new intake of MSD Ireland’s STEM Graduate Programme, a three-year on-site work placement designed to develop industry-leading professionals.

“In general, our graduate programmes provide successful candidates with in-depth knowledge of a chosen site through rotations across the operational and technical areas of the business. It’s a fantastic opportunity to gain technical, leadership and business experience and work with experts in the field who are at the forefront of pharmaceutical discovery both in Ireland and globally,” she says.

It also offers a global programme for emerging and ambitious talent – the Manufacturing Leadership Development Programme (MLDP).

This is designed to develop participants with skills for critical positions in its manufacturing division, the division devoted to formulating, packaging, and distributing products.

It’s an international programme that places participants on rotations that represent key business priorities to foster their development. Candidates can also avail of one-year international assignments through this programme.

Cutting-edge apprenticeships and TY placements

MSD Ireland also offers a number of apprenticeship programmes such as lab analyst, electrical instrumentation, mechanical automation and maintenance fitting.

These are designed to give real, hands-on experience to those interested in learning and developing vital skills in a practical environment.

The early talent programmes on offer at MSD Ireland are a great way to kick-start a career

The company offers several internship programmes offering the chance to gain practical experience in areas such as quality, manufacturing, IT and automation, and engineering.

In addition to all of the above, MSD actively engages at secondary school level too, offering transition year programmes and student summer work placements across all of its Irish sites.

In 2021 it held a Virtual Transition Year (TY) Programme and, when surveying the TY students afterwards, over 80 per cent felt the programme helped them with their subject choices for the Leaving Certificate.

“The early talent programmes on offer at MSD Ireland are a great way to kick-start a career. They provide a unique opportunity to gain professional experience in one of Ireland’s largest biopharma companies and be part of a company that can make a difference to patients around the world,” says Croke.

Collaborative culture

The company’s culture is a huge part of MSD’s appeal.

“We pride ourselves in creating an inclusive, collaborative and challenging employee experience, founded on trust and mutual respect,” she says.

Early Talent programmes teach people so much about themselves and about the industry we work in

MSD Ireland is also constantly evolving its early talent programmes to ensure they are best-in-class.

Liam McNamara, senior specialist, Technical Operations at MSD Ireland, knows this first-hand, both through having participated in a similar programme, and now mentoring and supporting new graduates and interns.

“Early Talent programmes teach people so much about themselves and about the industry we work in, and expose people to scenarios and real-life issues which cannot be taught in a classroom,” he explains.

“I would recommend any student who is interested in a career in the pharmaceutical - or any life-sciences - industry to try their best to get an internship as early in their career as possible.”

In his case, he first secured a three-month summer internship when he was completing a science degree. He followed it up with a six-month internship as part of his master’s degree in science, both in MSD Ireland’s Quality Control Labs.

“These eventually led me to completing my PhD directly in a biotechnology research and development lab. I don’t think I would have been offered the opportunity to complete my PhD research within the industry if I hadn’t completed the internships, as they gave me a great insight into the inner functioning of the sector,” he points out.

Serious work but with a social side

MSD Ireland’s early talent programmes are also a great way to build contacts, and friendships too, he adds.

“We actively encourage networking amongst interns themselves and the MSD Links team runs coffee morning catch-ups, career presentations, virtual training classes and fun ice-breakers so everyone feels involved and engaged,” Liam explains.

“We even organise a graduation ceremony on completion of their time with us. This is usually a fun event, albeit taking place virtually in the current environment.”

For anyone interested in building a career in the exciting world of biopharma, MSD Ireland’s early talent programmes are a great place to start.

“Every person’s story is different and you certainly don’t need to do an MSc or PhD to have a successful career in this industry. But I would recommend that you get on the ladder as early as possible and internships are a great way to do that,” says McNamara.

One of Ireland’s top 20 companies by turnover, MSD has invested approximately $3 billion (€2.5 billion) in its operations here which, in turn, manufacture approximately half of MSD’s top 20 products, and enhances lives in more than 60 countries.

With headquarters in the US, MSD employs around 74,000 people worldwide. The company offers exciting opportunities for those looking to develop a strong career path in the life sciences sector and help make a difference to patients around the world.