An Insightful Discussion LSC's Kieran Coughlan – Projects, Investment in the Irish Market and Addressing the Skills Gap

Posted Mar 13, 2024

Last week, we caught up with Kieran Coughlan, LSC’s Managing Director, to get his insights on the Irish Life Sciences market – where the major projects are and if the market will continue to remain top of mind for future investment by global pharma companies. Kieran also addressed the skills gap and what LSC are doing to ensure retention of contractors and retention of skillsets.

Where do you see with the major projects in 2024 and beyond?

There’s obviously a significant spend in Ireland on new projects, particularly in fill finish. There’s the investment by BMS in Dublin, the Astellas project in Tralee and also significant investment from Pfizer in Grange Castle, MSD in Ballydine and Lilly in Raheen. So, there is a lot of money being spent across the country and that certainly is going to keep the Irish ecosystem busy for the next 24 months. Longer term than that, it’s hard to predict how capital investments will run as there are a lot of challenges facing the global economy.

But there are some things that we can see. Notably, there’s a considerable shift as many companies are reinvesting in manufacturing products within Europe, which were previously outsourced to the Far East, particularly China and India. Ireland, despite its strong points like a skilled workforce and excellence in regulatory compliance and project delivery, faces challenges in terms of cost, planning and accommodation. The evolving cost dynamics in Ireland create hurdles, even though the advantages lie in readily available skills and the high quality of work. While these are positive aspects, navigating the changing market dynamics in the coming years will be a test for the industry.

Do you think the Irish market will remain top of mind for future investment by global pharma companies in manufacturing facilities?

There’s no doubt the IDA have done a phenomenal job in mapping out successful strategies for keeping businesses coming to Ireland. Over the last 20 years, there has been significant investment in Biotech and Ireland has attracted a substantial amount of that investment. The government and the IDA have made some strong strategic decisions like the investment in NIBRT, the investment in the regulatory authorities in Ireland and the investment in education. The government in general has done a lot of positive things.

However, there are going to be challenges. New market drivers such data analytics, digital transformation as well as an increased focus on alternative therapeutic and medicinal products, will bring change in the sector, especially in how products are commercialised, the nature of facilities being built, and the skillsets required. The government need to continue to ensure that the skillsets will be there from the universities and that the taxation environment remains favourable.

What are LSC doing to meet the skills gap in the market?

One of the standout attributes of the Irish market is its strong sense of community, which is somewhat unique on the global stage. In Ireland, there’s a remarkable willingness among people to freely exchange information on project delivery methods and the implementation of new technologies at site level. One of the things that we’re very strong on in LSC is helping build that community, to engender those touch points and relationships.

Building a community, helping develop relationships and supporting organisations that are part of that community such as the ISPE, ISA and BPCI has always been a really strong part of our focus. From a client’s perspective, a crucial step in ensuring the availability of the right skills is to focus on retaining the existing skilled individuals.

So, for LSC, our focus is on being as easy to deal with as we can so that people are not having to deal with peripheral issues. This means addressing seemingly trivial matters such as facilitating timesheet submissions, invoice payments, and assisting with accessing information, courses, seminars, and webinars.

LSC also invest a huge amount in our team internally and we like to think that our team are probably as knowledgeable, if not more knowledgeable than anyone else in the market. We invest a lot in our team to ensure that we understand what our clients are looking for or what they want, what their problems are, and what their drivers are. A job spec only tells you so much. What we really need to know is what’s happening on a project, what the key deliverables or goals for that project are so that we can support the clients project delivery.

Ensuring our team comprehends both our clients’ and candidates’ needs is crucial. Having this understanding enhances the quality of our conversations by minimising discussions on irrelevant matters, allowing us to focus more time on addressing issues that truly matter to our clients and candidates.

When you were a hiring manager, what were the key benefits for you when adding consultants to your group?

The benefit for me was the added value that consultants could bring. A consultant is someone who can deliver and somebody you can easily work with. They are problem solvers and strong decision makers. You expect them to be able to deliver with minimal support and if they need information, you expect them to be able to go and find that information themselves.

What are some of your tips for managing consultants on site?

Integrating consultants into your team is key. If your team are not ready for them and don’t see the need for them, you are going to have a challenge. You will have an increased turnover of consultants if you are not prepared for them. It is a small world out there, and if your organisation or team is seen as chaotic, that will be reflected in the marketplace.

Why should Pharma companies partner with LSC?

Primarily because this is the only sector, we work in, so we are specialists. We understand the roles and the projects that our clients are working on, and we have the relationships built up to help identify the key resources that they will need. That specialist knowledge also ensures that we understand what is happening in the marketplace both commercially and in terms of sourcing with a track record of delivering projects for our clients.

Secondly, LSC is all about people both internally and externally. We invest a huge amount of our time and energy helping people be as successful as they can be. Our service is designed to be effortlessly delivered and straightforward to engage with. This applies whether it’s for candidates or consultants seeking contracts aligned with their interests, or for clients ensuring they receive the right resources promptly, with individuals who are prepared and eager to contribute to projects.

From the client’s standpoint, we recognise the pivotal importance of adhering to project schedules, as any potential issues could significantly impact the overall timeline. Our commitment lies in ensuring that individuals are well-informed, shielded from distractions caused by peripheral issues, and equipped with streamlined connections and communications that facilitate a seamless onboarding process.

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