“Embrace opportunities that push you outside your comfort zone” – 60 Seconds with Tim Shanahan, Vice President of Manufacturing at Ipsen

60 Seconds With, Interviews | Tue 3 Jan | Author – Business & Finance
Pictured: Tim Shanahan, Vice President of Manufacturing, Ipsen

Tim Shanahan is Vice President of Manufacturing at Ipsen


What was your first job?

Back in the 1990s when I was in school, my first ever job was as a green keeper at Dooks Golf Club near Glenbeigh Co. Kerry. It was years later that I then embarked on my now lengthy career in the Irish pharma sector.

What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?

I decided to pursue a career in pharma, and specifically manufacturing, because I always had a very strong interest in science particularly at school. I was influenced by my school teachers and subsequently applied to do science in college. I was accepted into UCD and started out at first doing a science degree, but then decided to change my course to Chemical Engineering as I felt there were more career opportunities in that area.

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

Something I love about my career is the scope to travel internationally. I’ve had the opportunity to work in multiple countries on various types of projects over the years. I actually moved to the US shortly after college for what was supposed to be a year and ended up spending 12 years over there – travelling throughout the U.S, Puerto Rico, Singapore, the list goes on!

Gaining experience working across different countries and engaging with different cultures has been brilliant for me both from a professional and personal perspective. One thing that’s great about working in pharma is that many of the skills you develop in one market are transferrable across the globe and allow you to be an agile and innovative operator. For example, at Ipsen Ireland almost one in ten of our employees have progressed their careers internationally across the wider Ipsen network, in positions across Operations, Manufacturing, HR Clinical Supply Management, etc. It’s great to see colleagues expand their horizons and geographical boundaries to further their careers, sharing and gaining expertise to help support patients in need. 

Career wise, would you do anything differently?

I wouldn’t do everything differently because I see my career as a continuous journey of milestones and learnings, not a path of perfection. A piece of advice I would share with my younger self and with those who are early on in their careers, is to seize every opportunity to broaden your experience. Put your hand up for any new project or team that could allow you to diversify your expertise and learn more about a range of areas within your respective field – that way you will become a more rounded and knowledgeable professional rather than a pigeonholed expert. As a result, you might find more doors opening and allowing you to develop and advance your career.

In one sentence, how would you define success?

For me, I would describe success as a feeling that you’ve achieved something which has developed you further as a person and enabled you to do better for yourself or for others.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I’ve ever been given is to embrace opportunities that push you outside your comfort zone, opportunities that others might shy away from. For example, I once ventured  to Puerto Rico for a work assignment that nobody was overly keen on – rather than sticking with the crowd, I decided to jump on the plane. Opportunities like that have allowed me to build out my network, develop my career and gain fresh perspective.

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

Motivation for many operating within the pharma sector comes from the knowledge that you and your team are together making patients’ lives better every day. This is certainly the case at Ipsen where our excellent team is totally committed and works tirelessly to help patients with rare and life-limiting diseases achieve better quality of life through better condition management.

Enabling and empowering our staff members to thrive and rise up within the business is an integral part of our culture at Ipsen Ireland. We have professional development supports and career path development that supports employees to scale their careers and gain diverse experience. One in ten of our employees first joined when they started out their careers in pharma and have continued building their careers with us. By the end of this year, over half of our leadership roles will be held by internal talent which we are very proud of.

How do you handle adversity?

Remain calm, and then get to the bottom of the issues you’re trying to work through. I like to take a step back, review the issue and think about how I would approach it correctly.

How do you relax?

I’m from Kerry originally and like many Kerry natives I have a passion for sport and a keen interest in Gaelic Football – in my spare time I support our upcoming county stars training local juvenile teams! I also enjoy playing the occasional round of golf, when I’m not on the Gaelic pitch.

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

For Ipsen Ireland, we plan to continue developing and investing in our Blanchardstown site and supporting our skilled team of 175 employees to deliver life-enhancing care at pace and scale for patients with rare and underserved medical conditions, here in Ireland and across the world.


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