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Students enjoy a busy Dream Placement at GSK in Ulverston

Two Cumbrian students have had a busy half term break finding out about career opportunities at GSK in Ulverston.

Jenny Bond, aged 16, from Ulverston Victoria High School and Matthew Smith, aged 17, from Workington Sixth Form, came to GSK on the Dream Placement scheme, which is run by the Centre for Leadership Performance. The aim of the scheme is to give talented and ambitious Cumbrian students the chance to gain first-hand experience of the kind of employment opportunities that are available on their doorstep, and to see local leaders in action.


On Monday, Jenny and Matthew were given an overview of GSK's operations at the Ulverston factory, which produces medicines that are sent around the world.

On Tuesday, the two students met some of GSK's apprentices. GSK apprenticeships offer exciting opportunities to study for a range of qualifications while gaining valuable work experience and getting paid.

Matthew says: "It was good to see how you can get to the same place by doing a different career path. You can work your way up with apprenticeship schemes. It was good to see what jobs they were doing."


Matthew and Jenny also found out about the important role that quality control plays in the production process, meeting Neil Cowen, the Director of Quality and getting some hands-on experience in the microbiology laboratories. Patients need to have absolute confidence in the medicines they are taking, so quality control is a vital part of the production process.


Jenny says: "I really enjoyed going into the labs. We got to do lots of different tests, like colour tests. We were given some samples and we had to test them with different pH buffers and then they produce different colours. The colours had to be on a certain level to know that they were safe."

On Wednesday, the students met Phil Wilson, the new Site Director at Ulverston. As well as having spent the last two years working as Operations Director at Ulverston, Phil has held a number of senior leadership roles at Ulverston and at other GSK sites in the UK.

Phil explained where Ulverston fits into the overall GSK structure. Jenny and Matthew also sat in on a weekly call that Phil had with GSK sites in Australia, Singapore and other parts of UK, which they both thought was really interesting.


Jenny says: "This scheme gives you a really good insight into how a company is run. It's really good that we have met all the senior leaders. You wouldn't normally get that opportunity."

The students then met Stewart Doyle, the Head of Engineering, to find out about the different roles that engineers at the factory play in the production process.


Matthew, who is interested in a career as a process engineer, says: "It was really interesting meeting the head of engineering and the team because it was really relevant to what I want to do.

"When I applied for my chemical engineering degree I was set on going into the oil and gas industry, but coming here is swaying me; I can see myself working here. I can see myself working in an environment like this. What is now swaying me more towards the pharmaceutical side is the job satisfaction that I'd get from overseeing or making a product that could save someone's life."

The students also had lunch with some of the young people on GSK's graduate scheme, to learn more about the opportunities that are available after leaving university.

During the afternoon Jenny and Matthew met Pat McIver, who is leading the project to develop a new biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility at Ulverston. The factory will be a new and visionary facility, producing advanced pharmaceutical products.


Later, the students also met staff to learn about the site's safety programme.

Today (Thursday) Jenny and Matthew are visiting GSK's factory at Barnard Castle, to see a different part of the company's business.

On Friday, they will be back at Ulverston where they will find out more about how the medicines are produced at the factory before taking part in a feedback session to discuss what they have learnt.

Matthew says: "We've met with different leaders and managers and found out what their jobs involve and how they contribute to the production of antibiotics.

"Here they want to show you things, want to show off what they are doing and because you are a potential future leader they want you to take an interest in it and perhaps come back here to work in the future.

"I knew about GSK but I didn't know they had a factory in Cumbria. Now I do. If I had the opportunity I think I would come and work here."

Jenny says: "I knew about GSK, living in the area, and I wanted to see what it was like and how it all operated. I think it would be great working here.

"GSK is such a big company, it is really well known and it has a very good reputation. Also, you've also got the chance to travel and work at one of the other sites. There are so many different opportunities within one company."

GSK Ulverston Site Director Phil Wilson says: "We have been very pleased to be able to give Jenny and Matthew the opportunity of learning more about what GSK does at Ulverston and the kind of jobs that are available here. The Dream Placement scheme is a great way for talented young people to get a sense of the kind of careers that are available in Cumbria.

"We are proud to be part of the community in Cumbria and we are always keen to encourage local people to apply for jobs here. As a science-led, global healthcare business with clear values, GSK offers a wide range of careers.

"The new biopharmaceutical factory will further increase the number of jobs at our Ulverston site and we want young people to be thinking about the opportunities this will create for them in future."

The experience that Jenny and Matthew will get at GSK will qualify them for a Silver Award from Industrial Cadets, an industry led accreditation for 11-19 year olds which aims to help develop a skilled and enthusiastic workforce.

GSK, February 19, 2015

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