“We have to make quick decisions every hour of every day.”
Head of Merck Separations Technology Cluster
Based in Cork, Ireland
Liz leads Merck’s Separations Technology Cluster, which includes manufacturing operations in Cork, Ireland, as well as five additional plants in Europe and the United States that produce filtration and purification products for the division’s worldwide customer base. She is responsible for developing an integrated, global strategy for the cluster, with the goal of creating a competitive advantage for Merck through operations excellence.
Since joining Merck in 2009 as Director of European Environment, Health and Safety, Liz has worked across geographical and cultural boundaries in positions requiring substantial international coordination and collaboration. Prior to joining Merck she worked in the pharmaceutical industry in Europe in a variety of operational roles.
“I’ve seen tremendous change during the past five years – in my career and in our business. A lot of organizations are stagnant, but Merck is moving. There’s never a dull moment and there are endless opportunities to learn and grow.
“I love the adrenaline rush of our fast-paced manufacturing environment. There’s a sense of urgency that comes with making products used in the production of life-saving drugs. Our job is to ensure that our customers receive high-quality products on time. Our work is tangible and immediate, and we have to make quick decisions every hour of every day – decisions that can have consequences for customers and for our entire organization. It is sometimes said that if we sneeze in manufacturing, the rest of the company gets a cold.
“But while meeting daily demands, we also have to keep an eye on the future, because what’s good enough today won’t be good enough tomorrow. In the biopharmaceutical industry, regulatory requirements and customer expectations are constantly changing, and we must stay one step ahead of these changes. We must continuously drive long-term improvements and up our performance to meet higher quality standards.
“Balancing these short- and long-term demands is challenging – and rewarding. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to drive change and help bring the business to the next level.
“But the most rewarding part of my job is engaging others in the change process: building employee teams, listening to their ideas and giving them the scope to improve processes and make a meaningful difference. I’m very proud of the employees at our manufacturing sites around the world – and very excited about the dynamic organization we’re building together.”
On December 4, Liz led an “expert exchange” session at the 2014 Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston. She talked about her background and professional experiences in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, shared her insights about the challenges and rewards of leading an international team, and offered tips about how to succeed in a global, matrixed organization.
“Those opportunities that come along — you have to grab them.”
“Put your hand up and say you want to travel. Get experiences in other companies. This really accelerates your development.”