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Thursday 17 October 2019

The move to success

Dave Fitzgerald with wife Kathy Fitzgerald and daughters, Emilia Fitzgerald, age 3 and Alannah Fitzgerald, age 6 months.
Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media
Dave Fitzgerald with wife Kathy Fitzgerald and daughters, Emilia Fitzgerald, age 3 and Alannah Fitzgerald, age 6 months. Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media

For David and Kathy Fitzgerald, joining Regeneron and moving to Limerick was the start of a new phase in their lives

Founded nearly 30 years ago, Regeneron is a leading biotechnology company that invents life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases. Their approved and investigational medicines are designed to help patients with eye disease, heart disease, allergic and inflammatory diseases, infectious and rare diseases, pain, and cancer.

Regeneron announced plans to invest in Ireland in 2013, and purchased a suitable facility in Raheen Business Park, Limerick in 2014. This prompted a search for employees with the expertise and experience it needed to continue as a world-leader in the industry. David and Kathy Fitzgerald were two of the employees who moved to the area to start a new journey with Regeneron.

David Fitzgerald, Regeneron. Photo: Sean Curtin True Media

“I met Kathy while we were both working for a large global biotech company in Dublin,” says David Fitzgerald. “We got married in 2013 and had our first child, Emilia, in 2014. That was around the time when I was looking for a new challenge at work. But since I had a family and was settled, the idea of moving was daunting. I only wanted to move for the right company which could provide me with challenges and a real future.

“I researched Regeneron and found that their drug pipeline is so unique within the industry, because they develop all their own drugs in-house. That really piqued my interest. And, when they announced they were opening a new facility in Limerick, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to join them.”

David and Kathy moved to Limerick in 2015, where they both started working in the new Regeneron facility. The Limerick facility is the largest scale bulk biologics production space in Ireland and one of the largest bioprocessing operations in the world.

David, who is the Associate Director in Manufacturing, and Kathy, a manager in the Quality Operations Department, both found that working for a start-up is a rewarding experience.

“A start-up is a very busy, dynamic environment,” continues David. “When I joined, we were only building the manufacturing area which was a challenge, but that challenge brought everyone together as a team.

“Regeneron has become very competitive in Ireland for talent in the biotech industry, but what makes the company unique is the depth of our drug pipeline and science-driven approach.

“There is a young workforce and an amazing energy at the facility and I think we have achieved an incredible amount in a small amount of time. There’s so much more to do here and we’re only getting started.”

Opportunities to progress

This year, Regeneron was rated the number one biotech employer by Science magazine for the fifth time. With an exciting pipeline of medicines and proprietary technologies, it is consistently rated one of the world’s most innovative and smartest organisations, for instance, being rated in the top ten on Forbes’ list of most innovative companies for the past five years.

David and Kathy both say the culture within Regeneron, which was named one of the best workplaces in Ireland in 2017 by the Great Place to Work Institute, is collaborative and inspiring. Both have been promoted twice since joining the company nearly three years ago.

“Other companies talk about how supportive their workplace culture is, but at Regeneron, they are true to their word,” says Kathy. “In a start-up environment, there is a huge scope to progress if you prove yourself. I was on my maternity leave for our second child, Alannah, who is now five months old, and an opportunity opened up within the quality department for a managerial role. I decided to go for the interview and I got promoted to my manager position while still on maternity leave. I didn’t even think that was possible.

“Regeneron is so supportive of everyone’s career goals. Because I was a mother with a young child, I had to leave work at five every day in order to pick up my daughter. Having family commitments can sometimes slow down your career in other companies. But, Regeneron is very supportive of young families and parents, and they are committed to helping their employees achieve a work/life balance.”

“Kathy is very talented,” explains David. “Regeneron is so supportive and they know how to keep the best people because they always think of the future when they are hiring. They really do invest in their employees.”

Relocating to Limerick

Any big career move is a daunting thought, but the move to Killaloe in the Mid-West was perfect for David and Kathy. With support packages, excellent benefits and great on-site facilities such as a gym and fitness classes, the move to Limerick was one of the best decisions David and Kathy made.

“When David suggested relocating to the region from Maynooth, we took a drive around the area,” continues Kathy. “I grew up in a farming area in Carlow, and when I saw Killaloe, I was instantly sold on it. I always wanted a country life for my own children and Killaloe is scenic, ideal for kids and we genuinely feel at home here. The traffic and cost of living is far less than it was in Maynooth, and if we ever want to go to Dublin, it’s less than two hours away.”

One of the challenges of the move was that David and Kathy had no family or friend network around Killaloe. They had a ten-month-old daughter and a dog, and they were very worried about moving to an unknown area.

“The relocation support from Regeneron has been fantastic. It has made our move to Limerick so easy and I will forever be grateful to them for that. There is a lot of flexibility in working hours, and that flexibility doesn’t impact your career which it might do in other companies.

“We also thought we wouldn’t find a rental place which accepted dogs which was important as our dog, Ralph, is a part of our family. But, we were able to find one easily in Killaloe and now Ralph goes for a swim in the Shannon every evening!”

The future of the company

Regeneron’s Irish expansion is continuing, with employment expected to rise to 800 by the end of 2018. Recruitment is ongoing for roles across all functions, such as manufacturing, quality assurance and control, engineering, IT and jobs all across the business. There are opportunities for graduates, high-end specialists, and professionals with a few years’ experience.

“It’s not a global multinational conglomerate within the biotech world,” says David. “While the Limerick site is the largest bioprocessing facility in Ireland, you still get that small company feel, which is great. Regeneron promotes from within and if you join and you prove yourself, you will get rewarded. Within an established company, there aren’t as many opportunities to progress, but when you move to a start-up, there are a vast amount of opportunities.

“I think it is amazing to work here because, aside from career goals and benefits, the work we do transforms people’s lives. That underpins everything we do.”

When asked about whether Brexit and economic worries could affect job opportunities within the biotech industry, David says he believes biotech offers steady jobs within an unsteady economic market.

“Ireland has a very strong biotech industry so Ireland is a force within the field, and I think it will be a strong force in years to come. There is a real opportunity here for people coming home from abroad and for anyone who wants to join a vibrant workforce within a great community in a fast-paced environment.”

For more information and to see a current list of job openings in Ireland, visit www.regeneron.ie

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