Key future issues
Pfizer, along with a number of other pharma companies in Cork, is facing two key issues, which are the need to maintain competitiveness and to continue to attract and retain suitably qualified staff.
“Our two main challenges are: firstly, the competitiveness of the Pfizer Cork sites — that is, making sure that our portfolio of medicines is managed in a competitive manner,” explains Seamus Fives, site lead for Pfizer Ireland Pharmaceuticals.
“The second challenge we are looking at is to ensure that we continue to have well qualified, excellent colleagues,” he explains.
Dr Dermot Kelly, Director of Regulatory Affairs at Pfizer, observes that the company and its employees are struggling with an inadequate road network, routinely spending an inordinate amount of time simply getting to and from the campus during peak traffic periods. This, he warns, could potentially impact on Pfizer Ringaskiddy’s ability to attract key personnel.
Additionally, Dr. Kelly highlights that ongoing infrastructure issues could possibly impact on any future decisions around expansion at the site.
Although it takes just 15 or 20 minutes to drive from Douglas to Ringaskiddy offpeak, the same journey can take up to four times longer at peak commuting hours during the working week.
Despite the deep concerns of Pfizer, other pharmaceutical companies and the general business community in Ringaskiddy, i t seems that the area’s notorious traffic congestion problem is set to continue for many years to come.
Demand for key people
Meanwhile, according to Seamus Fives, the demand by the bio- pharmaceutical industry for key personnel such as chemical and process engineers, and chemists is outstripping supply. “For us, keeping this site competitive, both within the Pfizer network and the broader generic manufacturing arena, is crucial”, Kelly said.
Skilled, top- drawer employees are crucial to maintaining competitiveness at the facility, he says: “Having a high quality workforce here is very important.”
He points to the Port of Cork expansion, where a new terminal is under construction, moving a significant proportion of Port of Cork activity from Tivoli to the Ringaskiddy area, thereby adding even more traffic to the congested road by the end of 2018.
Maria Walsh, Pfizer Health Index 2017 ambassador, at the recent launch of the 12th Pfizer Health Index, which is an annual survey which charts health perceptions, attitudes and behaviours of Irish adults. Focusing this year on the theme of workplace health, the findings showed that workplace stress is a key health concern for Irish workers.
Janina Zambrzycka, 2016 winner of the Niall Condon Pfizer Process Safety Award, with Niall J Condon, Pfizer’s vice- president for BioPharmaceutical Manufacturing Operations, at the launch of the inaugural Niall Condon Pfizer Process Safety Award.