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My Day: Grainne Hughes, Almac Pharma Services

Grainne Hughes, vice-president of business support services, Almac Pharma Services


Grainne Hughes

Grainne Hughes

Grainne Hughes

By 8am I’m in my car and already half-way to the office at Almac’s headquarters in Craigavon. I’m married with three sons, my husband is a teacher, and we are also part-time farmers, so our mornings are extremely busy. I also make sure I build in time to exercise every weekday morning – I find it invigorating and enables me to focus so I can be at my best throughout the day.

I typically arrive at the office around 8.30am and immediately get set up for the day ahead. I’m an avid list maker and no two days are ever the same, so I check over my notes from the previous evening and review my calendar for scheduled meetings and calls. Then, 9am is when my meeting schedule commences so I like to grab a coffee and prepare my water bottle for the day ahead.

My one-to-one catch ups are scheduled in the morning. As a business our overarching mission is to advance human health and we are responsible for the packaging and delivery of niche commercial drugs for rare illnesses, some of which can be life-changing for the patient who rely on us to ensure the drug is delivered on time and at the highest possible quality. We work with various disciplines, and I draw upon my experience and background to help the teams deliver the very best service for our clients.

In the past three years, we have experienced phenomenal growth as we respond to increasing demand, therefore recruitment and training is a priority at the moment. In 2021 we announced the recruitment of 1,800 new employees globally, with 1,000 based here in Northern Ireland. This year, we recruited placement students, creating a potential resource pool in the future, and they have been a great addition to our teams. I have a degree in biomedical science and have transitioned into a role that requires a combination of both science and a strong business development focus. Likewise, my team have similar educational pathways which works incredibly well.

I typically join my client services team at this time to ensure service delivery is smooth and talk through any challenges presented. This gives me a chance to discuss clients’ long-term strategic objectives which enables us to assess how we could expand upon our partnership. I also regularly meet prospective clients to introduce them to Almac and present on how we might be a good fit to deliver their needs.

Another function within my remit is business excellence – as a company we spend time introducing new ways of working which drives efficiencies and strengthens our overall performance. After lunch, I like to spend time with this team to review initiatives using benefit analysis and resource assessment processes and discuss potential delivery relative to our current business priorities.

At this time of the day, I’m checking in on our client delivery and revenue performance metrics and liaising with my business teams to ensure all is going according to plan. As a global company, this portion of the day is dedicated to meetings with US clients, after which I get a chance to download the day and make a list of the tasks I need to follow up on the following morning.

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I try to leave the office by 6pm and once I get home my family and I sit down to dinner together and catch up on our respective days. Then it will be a mixture of helping with homework and prepping lunches and dinner for the following day which gives us a much-needed head start the next morning. Being organised is key to managing every aspect of my busy life. While there is a lot of work involved, I’m passionate about both my career and my family and I enjoy every moment.