Jess Nel

Hi. My name is Jess and I'm a Product Development Researcher at Teva's Waterford site.

My job role is wide ranging... I work in the Research and Development (R&D) department, working on the development of respiratory products and I’m involved all the way through the development journey. It begins with “what do we need to build this device? How do we create that process and how do we get the results we need?”

It's a bit like being a detective… Most of my day-to-day work is spent collaborating with other departments looking at data, trying to figure out what’s happening and then pulling it all together. It involves a lot of problem solving and investigative work, looking at what we’re aiming to do and figuring out how we can achieve that.

I’ve always had a curious mind…. At school I always had an interest in looking at things and going “how does that work?” and poking it multiple times to see what happens. “What happens if I push it to the side? What happens if I put it under these conditions?” Eventually, someone decided it might be useful if I channel that interest into an actual defined discipline, instead of just breaking things!

I jumped around a lot at college... At first, I wanted to go into the human side of things, so I looked at anthropology, archaeology and ecology which had nothing to do with chemicals. As part of that I had to do a prerequisite in chemistry which I fell in love with. But I still missed the human side of things, so I became interested in human anatomy, biology and physiology which is just chemistry in people. In postgraduate studies, I combined my passion for these subjects and specialised in pharmaceuticals.

My journey took me from South Africa to Waterford... The pharmaceutical industry isn’t as developed in South Africa as it is here. In Ireland, there are a lot more opportunities because there are more pharmaceutical companies around and there is a lot more freedom at the universities to study specifics such as respiratory sciences.

I was impressed by Teva’s global reach... I’d learned about generics at university and the companies that develop these processes. It’s very interesting because it's not just about copying and pasting, there’s a lot of science and hard work behind it. After looking into Teva you can see it’s found across everything. It’s fascinating to see the number of products and companies they’re involved in; you might not see the name there but it’s in the background.

"My journey took me from South Africa to Waterford..."

"The pharmaceutical industry isn’t as developed in South Africa as it is here. In Ireland, there are a lot more opportunities because there are more pharmaceutical companies around and there is a lot more freedom at the universities to study specifics such as respiratory sciences."

Even though I’m new, I’m already a part of the team... It’s a bit of a trial by fire but I actually really like it. Because you’re new, people will slow down when explaining things, but it doesn't mean they think any less of you and that you can’t handle a specific task. You’ll definitely have someone say “well, if you think you can handle it, it’s yours” which is great.

There’s a real gender balance at Teva... It was nice to walk into my office at Teva and see there was equality in terms of the number of males and females working there. Teva is really good in terms of female leadership too, lots of the people I interact with in meetings are women and I’ve never felt like I’ve stood out, which is reassuring.

Adaptability is key for anyone thinking about a career in pharmaceuticals... I think a lot of companies are looking for someone who is willing to roll with the punches in the sense that you can get up off your feet and work independently. Try and get first-hand experience at companies you’re interested in through internships or placements as it helps you understand the different roles available and will make for an easier transition when starting your new job.


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All information and job titles were correct at time of approval

Date of preparation: October 2022
Reference: COB-IE-NP-00082