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Supply Chain Compliance & Programme Manager, AbbVie

Owen Drummond

Job title
Supply Chain Compliance & Programme Manager
Pharmaceutical Bulk Tableting/Encapsulation
  1. Bsc in General Science NUIG
  2. Diploma in Project Management
Favourite subjects in school
The best thing about my job
You get to work autonomously -that is you are responsible for yourself and the work you do, so you have to be self-motivated, not waiting for someone to tell you to do something.

Good people skills are important-how to give an outline of a problem and get people discussing it and how to solve it while keeping everyone on board.  Basically you want everyone rowing in the same direction otherwise you will get nowhere and that then reflects badly on you.You need to be able to stand your ground but also compromise when needed.A sense of humour is a great tool in any job. 

From an education side-there are so many options as jobs are constantly evolving.  

My Main Tasks

Most of what I do now is Project Management. That sounds a bit vague but just to give a quick explanation;Let’s say we are going to make a new drug, to make it interesting let’s say the drug is a tablet to cure people with Hepatitis C, which is something we do.My job is to map out the different tasks people from each department need to do to set up documents and systems so we can make the tablet. I meet with those people and we agree what the detail in those tasks will be.Then I need to build a Change Plan, which is basically a list of tasks, in a computer system and that once approved by the Quality department the tasks get released for work. After that I make sure each task is being completed by doing a review with the team each week to make sure we have everything ready on time.


When you work as part of a peer group the people that you need to complete tasks do not report to you so you need to be able to influence them in order to get work completed. This can be difficult as they could have other priorities with projects in their own department. This is where people skills are important and being able to outline the urgency of a project. In order to develop people skills it is beneficial to get involved in group activities-be it a local club as a participant or a volunteer.  Try to mix with different groups of people so you encounter as many personality types as possible.

Who Influenced Me

I always had an interest in STEM-from a young age reading magazines like National Geographic, building things, stripping bicycles down and rebuilding them, figuring out how things work-there are a good few electronic toys/radios that never recovered from that phase.  So I suppose you could say I had an investigative curiosity.

Work/Life Balance

Yes indeed.  I’ve been here 13 years (feels like 5!) and in that time I’ve held numerous roles in different departments.  I’m currently on my 5th role with AbbVie so there are opportunities to move around, both onsite and across the global organization, if you want to learn something new. From a lifestyle point of view the location (Cork) is great for leisure activities such as cycling, surfing and mountain biking with kilometers of routes outside the front door, beaches 30 minutes away and Ballyhoura mountain bike trails an hour away. We have organized work groups to participate in charity cycles in recent years and just completed a 420km tour last June raising funds for a local charity. My kids are part of the local rugby club and as happens I got “volunteered” to coach so we’re 3 years in now -but no World Cup yet!!

Most Useful Aspect of my Education

The foundation I got as a Production Operator with various companies set me on the path.My first job in the pharmaceutical industry was in a Sterile Fill Finish plant (making an immunosuppression solution for injection for organ transplant patients) and that was the steepest learning curve straight out of college.I also worked in Bulk API manufacture (producing the active ingredient that goes into tablets).Each of these roles gave me an understanding of manufacturing which was what got me into my current company where I worked in Production in a number of roles. The experience of Production here in AbbVie was a natural fit for my current role in Supply Chain as I already knew the processes and systems.

Useful Work Experience

Any work experience whether that is in a manufacturing environment or not for example in an electronics factory, mechanics apprentice or office basically anywhere you can demonstrate that you have learned skills that you can translate to your next job.I’ve worked summers in an automotive electronics factory, as a windsurfing instructor, as a landscape gardener, in a book warehouse, insulating pipes in a power station and have learned something new each time that I could bring with me into a new job whether it was dealing with people, how quality processes work, how to pick an order for shipment or safety practices.

Top Tips!

Don’t underestimate yourself or allow other people to either. Don’t be discouraged if something you were aiming for, say a college course, is no longer an option because of grades or some other reason-the real measure of your character is not giving up and finding another way. If you show determination and interest a company can be willing to fund further education-the path might be longer but you have the benefit of gaining real experience & earning money along the way Employers value that as you are showing that you are a problem solver not just a problem identifier.  The longer road can be more scenic and you pick up more practical experience.As a wise man said “You have to want to do it”.