For an article in the latest edition of Women Mean Business (WMB) magazine, Deirdre O’Shaughnessy, editor of the Cork Independent, asked Linda Mellerick about her experience as Managing Director of GxP Systems. As Deirdre tweeted that she was very impressed by Linda, a noted former camogie player, we thought we would share the interview questions and answers in their entirety:
Linda: To begin and the fact that the majority of your readers won’t be familiar with this industry and the terminology let me explain in layman’s language what GxP does. GxP Systems is a privately-owned Cork-based company. For 16 years, we have been providing Engineering specialists to the life sciences industry, such as pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. As you can imagine, every tablet or medical device, such as a stent, that you put into your body needs to go through rigorous testing and a rigid process to ensure that the drug or device, from a quality and specification point of view, is absolutely rigid in accordance with FDA (U.S. regulatory body), EMA (European Medicines Agency) and IMB (Irish regulatory body) requirements. GxP Systems project manages and executes this process in a highly documented fashion. Some of our customers here in Ireland, Europe and the U.S. are of the strongest, largest life sciences companies globally such as Boston Scientific, Abbott, Creganna, Heartsine and Invacare.
Deirdre: I see you began as Operations Manager in GxP Systems and rose to become General Manager. What does the role involve? What’s your favourite aspect?
Linda: As MD I’m responsible for the strategic, operational and financial side of the business. It’s demanding, it’s challenging but very exciting at the same time. The industry at the moment is favourable to GxP Systems’ offering and I am driven to maximise that to its full potential. This energises me. I love the diversity in the job. Every day is different. I could be in the office dealing with one thing or another or customer facing.
GxP Systems grew by 67% in 2012. The challenge now is to grow further in 2013. When you raise the bar you’ve got to keep raising it.
Deirdre: Is it a good time to be working with pharmas etc?
Linda: From GxP Systems perspective it’s an excellent time to be working in the pharmaceutical/medical device industry, particularly if you’re willing to be flexible and travel. The struggle GxP Systems will actually have will be sourcing skilled experienced engineers as we grow further. Despite the times in which we find ourselves, there is a shortage of skilled resources in Ireland. During the construction boom I think many graduates headed for that sector and it is hitting us now in life sciences. Many ignored or were unaware of the national presence of these global giants and what they could offer. Recent figures from IDA reference that Ireland is home to nine of the top 10 global pharmaceutical corporations and 17 of the top 25 global medical device companies.
I believe we need to create awareness sooner. These are interesting corporations making very interesting drugs and devices. I think we need to create that academia and industry link sooner than we are.
GxP Systems commenced a graduate programme twelve months ago and we have hired a number of personnel who are working out very well. We will continue with that programme but experienced engineers are our current need.
Deirdre: Do you think your sporting career influenced your choice of career and your leadership style?
Linda: Absolutely. It has certainly instilled in me drive, responsibility and energy. With regards leadership – I suppose I do expect a high performance and effort from my team. Several commonalities and links can be drawn between sport and business; team sports in particular. One of the important learning points from sport which correlates to business relates to the examples of teams with reputably the best individual talent and ability, yet have fallen short of performance expectations. High-performing teams, therefore, do not necessarily have the best individual talent and ability available, which means that other variables such as motivation, respect, responsibility, and communication are high on their agenda and of paramount importance. A player with those attributes is an inter-county or national player in my view, and we all want those players on our team whether in business or sport.
Deirdre: You must travel a lot in your job; is this difficult and do you enjoy it? (Any tips for how to live out of a suitcase?!)
Linda: Thankfully I don’t live out of a suitcase. I do travel a bit but that comes in peaks and troughs really. The balance is good and I tend to plan ahead. There are always ad hoc trips of course. At times I enjoy it but it’s not as glamorous as people think. It can be tiring and of course when flights don’t go to plan, very frustrating. I tend to get in, do what I need to do and get out and don’t have time for sightseeing. These few weeks are busy with both international and national travel but it’s all part of the job.
Deirdre: Anything else you think is relevant – recent wins for the company etc – would be more than welcome.
Linda: We’ve a fantastic team here at GxP Systems; highly skilled, responsible engineers who take pride in their work. We also have a very motivated management team. From my perspective having the right team in place is fundamental to the success of any business. I’m a firm believer that you are only as effective as the team you build around you.