Anthony McMahon was with Azur Pharmaceuticals when it was acquired by Jazz in 2012; so, in total, he has been with the two companies for nine years. His initial role was leading the Quality Assurance (QA) group that performed oversight of contract manufacturers. In 2014, he joined the Athlone Manufacturing team as Head of Quality, which he saw as a "once in a lifetime" opportunity. After the Athlone plant received its FDA approval, Anthony joined the Pharmaceutical Development and Manufacturing Sciences Group, initially working as the drug product development lead on the JZP-110 CMC development team. Then, as part of the Project Janus re-organization, he was given the chance to lead the Analytical Development Group which works on Jazz's small molecule development programs (such as JZP-110, JZP-324 and JZP-507).
JazzNet recently caught up with Anthony and asked him a few questions:
Q: What do you like best about your current job? Why?
A: Just over a year ago I transitioned from Quality Assurance, where I had spent over 10 years, into my current role, which is focused on product development. I enjoy pretty much all the job encompasses; taking a new product and trying to understand how it works and behaves; figuring out how to manufacture it and produce a product that works well for patients; and mapping ways to use a product in our clinical trials to ultimately receive approval. I find that really rewarding.
Q: What does career development mean to you? How has your role/position developed since you first joined the company?
A: I think the key is trying to look within yourself and figure out what you want to do (which isn't as easy as it sounds, at least for me). Then it's about being proactive in finding ways that you can move in that direction. You need to be determined; depending on where the business is at a given time…that will determine what sort of opportunities may be available. But there will always be something; within your current role or in a new role. Lastly, you need to be open to opportunities that come your way; a lot of my career development has been organic – I had no idea Jazz was going to build a manufacturing plant in Ireland for instance, but when I found out I knew I really wanted to be part of that team.
Q: Who or what has been the most meaningful contributor to your development (i.e.; manager, education, mentor, project…). How so?
A: I think that has to be my role with the Athlone Manufacturing Project. This gave me experience with a Greenfield Manufacturing start-up, as well as my first site Head of Quality role. The project goals in terms of budget and timing were extremely challenging, as the internal team was pretty small (about 25 people) and most of us had no experience with such a project. The site leader, Alan MacNeice, invested a lot of effort in helping us become a high-performing team. We delivered the facility with FDA approval on time, under budget and with no 483 (inspection deficiency) observations. So overall this gave me insight into a really wide range of aspects of the industry – how to build a new manufacturing facility and get it Health Product Regulatory Agencies (HPRA - the Irish regulator) and FDA approved; but most importantly how much can be achieved with a small group of people if they bond and work together as a an effective team.
Q: What role has/have either your manager(s) or any internal staff development programs played in your career growth and development? Can you provide an example?
A: I had known for a number of years that I wanted to get experience outside of Quality and Product/Process Development. It had been something I wanted to get into very early on in my career but there weren't many opportunities in Ireland at that time. So when that role came up, I was really excited about it. However, that didn't mean I was going to get the job. I have to pay tribute to a few people – my then manager Alan MacNeice, who advocated for me, Finbar Larkin (Head of Product Development), who was prepared to offer me the chance to stretch myself and Paul Treacy, who really supports cross-training. I think it's great that Jazz offers these opportunities. If you're transitioning from an area where you are comfortable to a new one, the first while can be a steep learning curve so you need to have a supportive environment where people understand you may make mistakes, but they know from your time with the company what you are capable of.
Q: Please describe how one or more of Jazz's Core Values are embodied by your role here.
A: It's got to be collaboration: We work on cross-functional teams. The main team I work on is the JZP-110 CMC team. Everyone owns their area of expertise, but the team is accountable for the overall goals. There is a lot of healthy debate, but we all enjoy working together and are committed to the goal of delivering a successful product for our patients.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge as you've grown in your career? How did you overcome it?
A: I am a technical person, and my natural working preference is to focus on the data and look for logical solutions to challenges. While this can be a strength in manufacturing/product development, ultimately most great achievements come from working with people and teams. This has been my challenge, particularly as I have taken on managerial or leadership roles, to improve how I work through people. The first step in overcoming it has been to really try and make myself receptive to feedback in this area as it can be a big blind spot. So I have tried hard over the past few years to understand the people I work with; their skills, their preferences, their aspirations, motivations and then how my actions impact on them. Luckily, with the caliber of people we have in Jazz, and how patient-focused the organization is, it's generally just a case of not getting in their way!
Q: Complete the following sentence: "My personal mantra is…"
A: Hard work is a talent.
Q: Fill in the blank: "My colleagues would be surprised to know that…"
A: Over ten years ago, I cycled down the world's most dangerous road (the North Yungus Road in Bolivia). Also, five years ago I completed an Ironman triathlon. It's a bit of a tradition to get the tattoo if you've done the Ironman, so I did that too: As I get old, it'll be a reminder of what I could once do!
Q: Fill in the blank: "When I am not at work, my favorite pastime is…"
A: I love running; there are a few of us in the Dublin office who run at lunchtime. It's a great way to clear your hea
Q: Fill in the blank: "My favorite quotation is:…"
"The wonder of the world,
The beauty and the power,
The shapes of things,
Their colours, light and shades--
These I saw.
Look ye also while life lasts.