Graduate Interview: Vincent Lawlor

A group of Innopharma Education students talking on graduation day

We caught up with our PG Dip in Medical Device Technology & Business Graduate, Vincent Lawlor, to ask him about his experience with Innopharma Education and his transition from a long career in Engineering into the Pharma & MedTech sector.

Why did you choose Innopharma Education?

“I have a background in Engineering, a degree in mechanical engineering and a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering. After 11 years of working, I was made redundant. I recognised that the medical device sector was the area I would have to go into if I wanted to stay in employment as there are so many career opportunities. I was starting to see a pattern of getting rejected from job roles because I didn’t have MedTech experience. I applied for several courses, but I chose Innopharma Education because it was industry-focused and delivered part-time.

A few weeks into the course, I got a job with Nypro. I worked in contract manufacturing alongside big pharma companies for over two years. After this, I applied to Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, where I am working now, and got the job straight away. After a short period of time, I was made permanent.”

How did you find working while studying?

“The course is a perfect structure for those with a busy lifestyle. The reasons I did the course was first because it was industry-driven. After doing a PHD I didn’t want to go back to the academic world of lecturers who weren’t from industry. Secondly, because it was distance learning which meant that if I couldn’t dial into the class, I could look at the recording which suited me. The recordings are great especially during study as I could go back and look at them. I thought it was a brilliant idea. That’s what not only attracted me but that helped me navigate and complete the course a lot easier.”

What does your role involve?

“In short, I work on disposable devices in volumes of 3,000 million units a year for a Boston based pharma company and I also work on the reusable devices which are beside the patients in the hospitals.”

Did you find the course applicable to your role?

“Absolutely, especially in Mallinckrodt. Documentation is key, without documents it didn’t happen. Understanding that you need the FDA and European regulation is very important. They control everything and that’s how we ensure our devices are correct. And then the ISO Standards, design control, risk control, all of them I have been using for the last 4 years. Those are the big things.”

What are the main things you learnt?

“The course gave me a deep understanding of how the MedTech industry works. I learnt you can never prevent risk, but you can mitigate against it. The relevance of the whole course and how it ties together really stood to me. The regulation tells you to do something but doesn’t tell you how to do it. Standards tell you how to do it and then specification and how they are all linked together. That’s what I learnt from a very top level.

The subjects are varied. I learnt the relevance of quality and that I had to be quality driven. I recognised areas that I would want to work in. The fact that the lectures are industry-focused and have experience in the sector really helped me. They were all very helpful, the assignments were fair, and the group work made studying very interesting.

I liked the way the course covered the entire MedTech sector. The topics of the course give you a flavour of quality, design control, risk, management, of all of it really.  I really can’t express how much I leant. It would be hard to fault the programme.”

Would you recommend the course to people looking to upskill?

“Yes, I already have! I told them that it will stand to them. When I was in interviews and was asked what I knew about the MedTech industry, that’s where I noticed the course really helped as I could talk through the differences between the several aspects in the MedTech world.”

What advice would you give them?

“Have discipline, you must understand that you have to set aside time for the course.

It’s not like the typical educational system or college, it is a different environment. The teachers are industry people.

Be open-minded to all the information. There is a huge amount which can be daunting but between regulation and ISSA standards what I learnt is nobody knows them all, but they know where to find them where they need them.”

Find out more about Post Graduate Diploma in Medical Device Technology & Business here.

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