"People see science as something that’s difficult, but it’s so intrinsic to what we do and see that it’s exciting. And if you can see science as part of life, and not just something in a big text book, it brings it all to life and makes you more passionate about wanting to get involved."

So says Claire D’Abreu-Hayling, Senior Vice President of Global Sterile Research and Development at Teva, who was always interested in medicine and the pharmaceutical industry as a young person. Claire suffered badly from asthma as a child and because of that was drawn into the pharmaceutical industry because she could see from the patient’s point of view just how important medicines were.

Claire joined Teva in 2006 as the Head of Research and Development (R&D) for the Runcorn site. Two and half years later Claire was promoted to the role of European Regional Manager, responsible for European R&D before moving up to Senior Vice President of Global Sterile R&D in 2011.

Said Claire: “I manage various different sites in the Netherlands, Romania, Croatia and the UK and I’m responsible for the development and registration of sterile products, such as injectables, ophthalmic and sterile inhalation products. Teams at these sites carry out all the R&D activities, generate the data and put the registration documents together to go to the global regulatory authorities so that we can get these products approved and provided to patients in the respective markets.

“I did my first degree in Analytical Chemistry at the University of the West Indies before coming to England and starting my career at a pharmaceutical company, where I did a Masters in Pharmaceutical Analysis and Quality Control. As part of my own, ongoing career development I also did a Master’s Degree part-time and undertook several leadership programmes internally because I was being developed both as a scientist and as a manager.

“I became a team leader and then moved to another pharmaceutical firm where I was given the Head of Analytical role. While I was doing that I was headhunted into Teva, so I think in terms of STEM pathways there’s been a parallel between academic progression and career development through internal training and participation in initiatives that benefit the organisation, like recruitment, publishing papers or presenting at conferences.

“When I studied at university, I specifically went into chemistry because I liked chemistry. I have a passion for chemistry as well as a passion for wanting to see people’s quality of life positively impacted by the medicines that we can develop. It’s such a privilege to be working on medicines. Knowing that if we produce great quality work we can get really good medicines out there has always been my pursuit.

“I believe in a spirit of excellence. I think everything you do has to be done to the best of your ability and with excellence. The other thing that has directed my activities is a sense of integrity. You have to be true to what you believe and what you commit to deliver.

“In my current role I was asked to create a focus for excellence in sterile products and also to create a focus on complex steriles. Over the past six years that journey has involved training people, bringing new capabilities in, bringing new technologies in and changing mindsets, both within R&D and operations. Now I’m delighted to say that we’re enjoying some success. In the last few years we have had three of these complex steriles approved and were first to market, both in Europe and the US.

"This sort of thing is very motivating because we’re breaking new ground and we’re the first to get products to the patients at the right quality and at a better value than the branded product. I think that’s really what we’re about and if we can do that with energy and with passion we can’t ask for anything else.I like working at Teva because there’s a good partnership between myself and my manager.

"We have performance related processes where I work against agreed goals and objectives and I also have a training and development plan which involves both of us identifying areas that I should continue to develop because we should all continue to grow and learn. And with a 360 degree feedback mechanism, I’m able to get constructive feedback.  

“Recently my manager has put me forward to have 360 degree feedback from 11 leaders across Teva to give me a range of different perspectives so that I can look at that and identify any blind spots or areas where I need to take a different approach. So that’s an investment in my personal, professional coaching. I’ve also recently joined a women’s industry organisation based in Chester which holds a leadership conference four times a year, not just pharmacy but across all industries. We meet to discuss a range of different topics which I enjoy because it helps me to think differently.

“But it’s STEM that is fundamental to everything that we do as an organisation and at an individual level as well. It’s the way I relate to my team, in terms of the work that we do getting medicines out to patients.

"If you ask me what I’m proud of at Teva it’s definitely the people that I work with, especially when I see them reaching their potential. When I look at the journey that we have come from, we started with simple products and we’re now able to be first in the industry in getting these ‘difficult-to-make’ products registered, approved and out to patients. It’s not just about the science behind it, it’s the people behind it and the fact that they can start to believe and start to create a mindset that we can do it.

“We’re really starting to make a difference because medicines that were previously not available to the patient as generics are now available. We’re helping government healthcare systems because they can get their money to go further. Rather than paying for branded products at a higher price, they’re able to get the equivalent medicines at a lower price which means that their budgets for pharmaceuticals can go further and more patients can benefit from that. 

Teva Runcorn is a great place to work because it’s given me the opportunity to be who I am. I am a West Indian. I am a black, female professional and in my previous jobs I experienced a lot of stereotyping. Here I’ve been able to grow into being who I am, both in terms of my values and in terms of my ethical beliefs and also because I think it’s a company that encourages self-starters and it’s a company that gives you a degree of autonomy and recognises and rewards contributions and I think that’s what’s helped my career to really flourish within Teva.

“There are lots of things keeping me at Teva, not just the professional development, the opportunities and the changing role. Over the years the organisation has evolved due to acquisition which has brought new leadership and constant change. It means we now have a phenomenal portfolio of medicines and products. I can’t think of very many companies covering the breadth of sterile products that we are covering in my portfolio and I find that very exciting.

“It’s a challenge scientifically because some of these products are really hard to make which is why I love the collaboration we have across the different parts of our business. It means we can continue to strive for excellence and continue trying things that may not have been tried before to get the right result. 
If you’re considering a job at Teva Runcorn I would say that it provides a great environment for you to develop and for you to contribute and be recognised. It’s also somewhere where you can have a long term career. It’s a great place to work and it’s full of passionate people who enjoy what they’re doing. I think everybody wants to make a difference. Everybody wants to leave a legacy and I think you have the opportunity to do that here at Teva."