My Day: Grain Hughes, Almac Pharma Services

By 8 am I am in the car and already halfway to the office at Almac headquarters in Craigavon. I am married with three sons, my husband is a teacher and we are also part time farmers so we have a lot of things to do in the morning. I also try to set aside time for exercise every weekday morning – I find it invigorating and allows me to focus so I can be in better shape throughout the day.

I usually arrive at the office around 8:30 am and immediately get ready for the day ahead. I’m an avid list maker and no two days are the same, so I go through my notes from the previous evening and check my calendar for appointments and calls. Then at 9am my appointment schedule starts, so I like to have coffee and a bottle of water ready for the next day.

10 a.m
My one-on-one meetings are scheduled for the morning. As a business, our primary mission is to improve human health, and we are responsible for packaging and shipping niche commercial rare disease drugs, some of which can be life-changing for the patient who counts on us to deliver the drug. on time and with the highest possible quality. We work across disciplines and I use my experience and expertise to help teams deliver the best possible service to our clients.

We have experienced phenomenal growth over the past three years as we respond to growing demand, so recruitment and training is a priority at the moment. In 2021, we announced the recruitment of 1,800 new employees worldwide, 1,000 of whom are based in Northern Ireland. This year we recruited students for placement, creating a potential resource pool for the future, and they have been a great addition to our teams. I have a degree in biomedical sciences and have moved into a position that requires a combination of both science and a strong focus on business development. Similarly, my team has similar educational paths that work incredibly well.

12 a.m
I usually join my customer service team at this time to ensure that services continue to run smoothly and to discuss any issues that arise. This gives me the opportunity to discuss clients’ long-term strategic goals, allowing us to evaluate how we could expand our partnership. I also meet with potential clients on a regular basis to introduce them to Almac and how we can meet their needs.

Another function that falls within my remit is business improvement: as a company, we spend time implementing new ways of working that increase efficiency and strengthen our overall productivity. After lunch, I enjoy spending time with this team to review initiatives using the Benefit Analysis and Resource Assessment processes and discuss potential implementation in line with our current business priorities.

At this time of the day, I check our customers’ delivery and revenue figures and contact my business teams to make sure everything is going according to plan. As a global company, this part of the day is dedicated to meetings with US clients, after which I get the opportunity to load the day and make a list of tasks that I need to complete the next morning.

I try to leave the office by 6:00 pm, and as soon as I get home, my family and I sit down to dinner together and catch up on our days. It will then be a mixture of helping with homework and preparing lunches and dinners for the next day, giving us a much-needed head start the next morning. Being organized is the key to managing every aspect of my busy life. Even though there is a lot of work here, I am passionate about both my career and my family and I enjoy every moment.