Meet Sarah Keane, NPI Manager, Sterling Pharma Solutions

"Sterling is focused on offering customers an exceptional experience and therefore, heavily invests in enhancing the capabilities of its manufacturing sites and the development of its employees.

In October last year I moved to the New Product Introduction (NPI) Manager role, overseeing the introduction of new products and working with the customer and local team to ensure a successful outcome for each project. The NPI manager is seen as the ‘CEO’ of the projects they manage and they are responsible for delivery of the project within the agreed timelines and budget. The role is challenging but very rewarding. I really enjoy the diverse nature of it, every day brings new challenges and new learning opportunities."

Interview with Sarah

12th March 2024

As an Organic Chemist, what appealed to you about Sterling Pharma Solutions?

Sterling Pharma Solutions partners with customers across all stages of an API's lifecycle from proof of concept to commercial scale manufacture. As a PhD Organic Chemist, Sterling's science centric approach to its business appealed to me. There's plenty of opportunity here to apply my previous experience and chemistry knowledge to provide technical solutions to help deliver projects.

How is Sterling different to other companies you have worked in?

Sterling is focused on offering customers an exceptional experience and therefore, heavily invests in enhancing the capabilities of its manufacturing sites and the development of its employees. There are many opportunities to upskill. I have just recently completed a Women in Leadership Course. In 2021 myself and my colleagues gained a certificate in Biopharmaceutical Technology from UCC. Sterling is a highly collaborative environment, where teams from different sites frequently come together to support customer projects and share best practice. There is a lot of transparency at Sterling, it is one of the core values and it really is embedded in the culture.

How has your career progressed since you joined Sterling? 

I have been fortunate to work in a number of roles since I started working at Sterling (previously Novartis) almost 11 years ago as a Process Development Chemist. The management team strongly support career development and there are lots of opportunities to develop and move into new roles. 

As a Process Development Chemist I worked across a wide variety of projects involving process improvement, troubleshooting plant issues, supplier approval projects and launch. I managed projects to introduce new equipment to the laboratory and oversaw improvement projects with external companies. I was interested in moving to a production role to broaden my knowledge of large-scale manufacturing and so in 2016 I moved to the production department to work as a Process Manager in the multi-purpose production building. There, I was responsible for managing campaigns of intermediates and APIs.

I then progressed to the Senior Process Manager role, supporting newer Process Managers and worked on a team introducing a multi-step launch product. I really enjoyed my time working on the introduction of new chemistry to the plant and collaborating with the different departments to get everything prepared. In October last year I moved to the New Product Introduction (NPI) Manager role, overseeing the introduction of new products and working with the customer and local team to ensure a successful outcome for each project. The NPI manager is seen as the ‘CEO’ of the projects they manage and they are responsible for delivery of the project within the agreed timelines and budget. The role is challenging but very rewarding. I really enjoy the diverse nature of it, every day brings new challenges and new learning opportunities.

What has been the highlight during your time at Sterling so far?

The highlight has been moving into the role of NPI Manager and collaborating with the team here, other sites and new customers. There is great energy around new product introduction and the team here at Ringaskiddy are looking forward to the future.

What advice would you give to young Engineers and Scientists looking to start their career in the Pharmaceutical industry?

My advice would be to get involved in things outside of the general scope of your job (sitting on committees for Health and Safety or Sports and Social), this is a really good way to build relationships outside of your own team and to learn new skills. Also, don’t shy away from asking questions and looking for new opportunities to learn. Ask for a mentor who you can go to for advice and support. I have had great mentors throughout my career, as well as being a mentor myself. It can be a formal or informal relationship and the right mentor can be invaluable in helping you successfully navigate challenging situations that arise and can also help you with career development.

About Sterling Pharma Solutions

At Sterling we truly live our values. We care about our people and our customers, and focus on delivering an exceptional, transparent service to both. It’s how our company and our people have consistently operated over the last 50+ years. Since 1969, Sterling has grown into a fast-paced global organisation, and that growth is forecast to continue at an exciting pace. As we grow, we retain our family focused heritage and strive towards a collaborative ‘One Sterling’ approach to streamline our six sites; from the process and systems we use, to the support we provide for our employees. We are committed to developing our people and providing opportunities to up-skill or move into management positions, as well as opportunities to work at our various global facilities. We provide competitive benefits packages to support our employees and their families. Our culture and our people truly make Sterling who we are, and the humanity and the personal connections forged through long term retention define us. We caught up with Sarah Keane, NPI Manager at Sterling Pharma Solutions to learn about her experience. 

More about Sterling

Interested in working with Sterling?

For more information on opportunities with Sterling Pharma Solutions, get in touch with us.

Senior Talent Consultant
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