Graduate Interview: Gary Wellock

Returning to education is often a daunting step to take, but the long-term career payoff it offers is well worth knuckling down for.

For former Innopharma Labs student Gary Wellock, who completed an MSc in Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Process Technology, the study has certainly paid off. Now working as a Regulatory Associate in a pharma company in Ireland, Gary offers us some insight into what to expect from Innopharma’s Masters Programme and some helpful tips for anyone considering undertaking one.

Industry Relevance

After working in a different field for a while, Gary had a desire to further his career options in the pharmaceutical industry. Embarking on a post-graduate course with Innopharma Labs gave him the opportunity to get back into the pharma industry. He cites the industry relevance of the course as highly beneficial to him.

“The best thing about the course was the industry relevance. When I was doing the internship, a lot of it was relevant to what I was studying so I was able to do a study while working which was relevant to my job and relevant to the course at the same time.”

Making Connections

Getting your foot in the door is one of the hardest parts of beginning your career, in particular when you are trying to break into a new industry. Gary found the industry connections Innopharma Labs provided were hugely beneficial and gave him access to the industry and helped him achieve his career goals.

“They gave me a huge amount of help when it came to getting a job. It was really good to speak to people in the industry and realise that you are not actually as far removed from it as you thought. They gave coaching on how to answer interview questions and how to present my cross-industry relevant experience to potential employers.

The course gives you a broader exposure then you would have on your own, particularly if you don’t have any experience in the Irish pharma industry. I was completely unknown. I didn’t have anyone I could put as a reference for the first job, so their knowledge and expertise was hugely valuable.”

Getting the Balance Right

When it comes to work/study balance, Gary recommends paying close attention to time management. This was particularly important for him as he was in full-time employment while studying. He advises that the key to success is being organised from the start and staying organised.

“You have to use all the tricks in the book to maximise your time. You learn how to work in an organised fashion and make the best use of your time to make the biggest dent on your study.”

But in the end, all the hard work paid off, “There’s a real sense of achievement when you get through, it’s not something to be taken lightly.”

Landing Your Ideal Job

Gary’s current role is as a Regulatory Associate. He enjoys the varied nature of the work which is approximately 70% planned and 30% ad hoc. The subject matter of his dissertation helped him to learn more about his field and he notes “a huge thing I got from college was a strong understanding of the regulatory environment.” He’s currently finishing up a project that has seen him heading up a team with three interns.

“I was taken on as a business intelligence analyst to look at the process and do the reporting on the departmental metrics. At the moment I’m writing a database to capture regulatory intelligence coming in from markets around the world.”

Although there are a high number of positions available in the industry for people with the correct skill set, in order to break in you need to get yourself in front of the right people first to show what you can do. Gary offers the following advice on landing your ideal job:

“My advice would be do whatever it takes to get where you want to go, don’t just say there are no jobs, there are jobs you’ve got to go and find them. I get emails from recruiters every week now but before you get into the industry you don’t get any. The connections and the references from Innopharma Labs helped me get my foot in the door.”

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