Friday 20 September 2019

BD in Limerick is hiring: We talk to a senior scientist to find out what it’s like to work there

What if you had the chance to combine a satisfying career with the opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of people who need it most?

Patricia Cleary is a senior scientist in the Systems Verification and Validation Team at BD’s Research Centre Ireland (RCI) in Limerick. Her job is to ensure that the cutting-edge medical products that BD produces are able to provide healthcare professionals with the tools they need to make clinical diagnosis.

“It’s pretty amazing when you come away from your day job and think about the big picture of what you’re actually working on,” she admits.

Based at Castletroy, Co Limerick, BD’s RCI employs 200 people in software development, software testing, systems engineering, mechanical and electronic engineering, project management, quality and biosciences including immunology. The company is currently hiring talented people in a wide range of positions so we sat down with Patricia to find out what it’s like to work at RCI.

From development to deployment

The global medical technology company has more than 50 offices worldwide and it serves healthcare institutions, life science researchers, clinical laboratories, industry and the general public. It is a leading employer in the Irish med-tech sector and their state-of-the-art facility in Limerick is located close to the University of Limerick.

At RCI, they bring a product from concept to prototype to market and Patricia’s role is to conduct testing throughout the process to ensure that their latest technology is fit for purpose and meets the needs of their intended users.

One of Patricia’s favourite aspects of her job is the chance to work on a project from start to finish and to become fully immersed in its development.

“From a sheer scientific point of view, I love the pace of the development cycle,” says Patricia. “I work on a product for a year and a half or two years and see it mature into a product that we launch into the market, where it is used by scientists and healthcare professionals in hospital laboratories.”

Patricia initially studied Biomedical Science in NUIG, before doing a PhD in Biochemistry. She became very familiar with BD products while doing research using flow cytometry (a technique used to detect and measure the physical and chemical characteristics of cells or particles).

“When you come from a research background where you use flow cytometry, you quickly understand that BD are the market leader and the powerhouse in flow cytometry,” explains Patricia. “The cytometers we used in Galway were all BD products. BD was the company to go to for the expertise in this technology.”

When BD opened the RCI site and advertised a position that involved working on flow cytometry development, Patricia jumped at the opportunity and has been working for the company for over two years.

Creating the next generation of medical technology

One of the advantages of working at RCI is the opportunity to work in the research and development side of the industry, creating and developing cutting-edge products that go to market. It is a collaborative process to develop new products and involves everyone from scientists to mechanical engineers to software designers coming together as part of the creative process.

“When you look at the medical device industry in Ireland, a lot of it is focused on manufacturing so it’s really refreshing to be at the R&D side of it at RCI,” says Patricia.

“Since BD is a market leader in this area, to be at the forefront of BD’s new products is pretty amazing - to see what’s coming down the line, what the next generation of technology is and where the next applications of this technology can go.”

Although it’s exciting to work on innovative products, there’s also a sense of responsibility when making products for use in the medical market. Patricia notes that BD’s software development, clinical research instrumentation and prototype development ultimately results in the creation of products that serve a vital medical function.

“There’s always a drive for improvement – are we up to date with the latest technology? Are we pushing the boundaries of what’s coming out, and what the consultants in the hospitals need to help make their clinical decisions? At the end of the day, we’re creating the tools to help to form a medical diagnosis. It’s really important that we’re at the forefront of technology.”

Patricia’s work with the Systems Verification and Validation Team involves testing these new products using customer scenarios to evaluate their maturity and market readiness. That means understanding the user experience, anticipating customer needs and identifying any potential issues.

“Once the Development Team has created a new product, it’s my job to test them to see if they meet our customers’ requirements,” adds Patricia. “There are two sides to testing. In verification, we ask if we built the product right. In validation, we ask if we built the right product.”

Patricia offers the example of a product that is being used in hospital labs to test for HIV.

“It’s my job to assess if we’ve developed the product correctly,” she says. “There are a lot of engineers and software professionals involved throughout the development process who can create amazing instruments but it’s really important that we have a scientist’s viewpoint on how easy the product is to use and whether it’s fit for its intended purpose.

“So I must always consider the customer’s point of view during my testing, ‘As a scientist, is this what I expect to see and will it help me do my job?’ Part of my job also involves human factors and usability testing.

“A great place to work”

“BD is a great place to work,” says Patricia, pointing to the career opportunities, the vibrant atmosphere, the great culture, benefits like flexitime and the management’s strong focus on encouraging a healthy work-life balance.

With decades of experience on hand through their parent company in the US, the RCI workforce has an invaluable knowledge base to draw upon but its Irish employees are encouraged to embrace innovation and to constantly push their boundaries.

“You get opportunities to go beyond your own job and take on other areas,” she adds.

“As an example, I’m interested in understanding more about human factors and the user experience side of product development, and my management are encouraging me to pursue this. So there is a strong drive to help employees in their career development and to empower them to make the changes that drive better product delivery.”

BD is a global medical technology company that established RCI Limerick in 2017 as a global research and development hub located in Castletroy. BD develop innovative technologies to improve biomedical discovery, clinical diagnosis of disease and the delivery of care for patients and health care workers. 

BD is currently hiring. If you have talent and you want your contribution to count, please visit the BD careers page to see what jobs are available at RCI.  

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