Practical impact: 'A student who visited years ago works here now'
Dave McCann on how Pfizer's CSR Programme can have a very real impact on Irish students
Junior Achievement Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation that works with corporate clients
For many organisations, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is just a tick-box exercise. For others, it’s about supporting their communities in a real way with employees giving freely of their time.
Pfizer Grange Castle, Co Dublin is one of those latter organisations, and analytical scientist Dave McCann is one of those employees. For most of his 16 years at the site, he has been volunteering in local schools via the Junior Achievement Ireland programme.
“I am a firm believer that when you get opportunities to give back, you should take them,” he says. “I have always wanted to because when I was younger, I wasn’t sure whether to do teaching or go into industry. Obviously, I chose industry, but I have always enjoyed working with younger minds and trying to inspire them to get into science or engineering.”
McCann is a chemist by trade; he has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Trinity College Dublin, which was followed by a master’s degree in analytical chemistry.
On finishing college, McCann worked in scientific roles in the pharmaceutical industry.
“My career took a bit of a circuitous route but I missed being a professional scientist. I joined Paul Dillon’s group in manufacturing science technology back in 2015. We provide various support functions around the site. The work is fantastically varied, and interesting, you never know what you’re going to get. I absolutely love it – you don’t stay somewhere 15 or 16 years without loving your job.”
Junior Achievement Ireland
Junior Achievement Ireland is a not-for-profit organisation that works with corporate clients on projects involving Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) schools. They first began to work with Pfizer at Grange Castle back in 2005 and McCann immediately volunteered his time.
“The goal is to encourage kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to prepare for the working world and think about their career aspirations,” he explains. “This goes from junior infants right up to the end of secondary school. It’s been such a successful programme.”
McCann delivers a science-based programme aimed at fifth and sixth-class students, “where the kids try out different experiments, including solving a murder mystery using forensics and building their own periscopes. It’s hugely popular with the local schools and the kids love it, it’s a very enjoyable programme to deliver.”
Some years ago, Pfizer established a relationship with the local Deansrath Community College, Co Dublin.
Each programme lasts six weeks, with weekly visits to the school lasting the length of a typical lesson. The aim is to prepare young people entering the workforce, by giving them communication skills and preparing for interviews.
The work that we did all those years ago meant that he found his career path, right back to us
“The last couple of years I have concentrated on the older kids who are deciding on college courses or careers. We help them get ready for the working world, by writing cover letters, filling out applications, correcting CVs, and mock job interviews.” This practical help is especially valuable in a disadvantaged area, he adds. “This programme is particularly satisfying as I know I am delivering something potentially life-changing.”
Over the years, McCann has juggled his work commitments with his volunteering commitments, but has always been supported by Pfizer. “When you introduce yourself, ‘hi I’m Dave, I work in Pfizer, that big white factory up the road’, almost without exception, they all know it’s Pfizer, so we must be doing something right.”
Although McCann derives immense personal satisfaction from his volunteer work, the impact of the company’s outreach efforts extends far beyond the volunteers.
“We used to bring schools into the facility and give them guided tours, and one young lad seven or eight years ago was on one of those tours. He was interested in what we were doing and contacted me a year or two later saying that he was really interested in a career in biotechnology. I gave him a few tips, he studied science at third level, now he works here in Pfizer Grange Castle.
“That moment made it all worthwhile, this is why we do this stuff. The work that we did all those years ago meant that he found his career path, right back to us.”
Please visit pfizer.com/careers/en-ir/ for open roles in Pfizer Ireland