Q&A Profile: Mairead McCaul, Managing Director of MSD Ireland

January 25, 2022
Q&A Profile: Mairead McCaul, Managing Director of MSD Ireland
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Mairead McCaul is Managing Director of MSD Ireland (Human Health) and is also Head of the MSD Ireland Country Leadership Team which includes representatives from MSD’s six sites in Ireland and key business areas. Prior to her appointment to her current role, Mairead was Business Unit Director, Oncology and Market Access, MSD Ireland (Human Health) and has a wealth of experience in senior roles across Sales Management, Marketing and Commercial Operations since joining MSD Ireland in 2007.  


She is a passionate advocate of diversity and inclusion and has led many programmes of activities to support this area, previously co-leading the MSD Women’s Network in Europe and most recently acting as an ambassador for MSD’s 2021 Neighbour of Choice partnership with Teen-Turn.


Prior to joining MSD, Mairead worked for eight years within the laboratory diagnostics sector. She qualified in nursing and midwifery and holds a BA (Hons) in Business Management from Dublin Business School.  Mairead is an active member of a number of working groups within the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association and was recently appointed to the Board of Guaranteed Irish.  

Can you give a brief overview of your role with MSD Ireland?

My role is to oversee the Human Health business for MSD in Ireland. I’m also the head of the Country Leadership Team which aims to grow MSD’s presence here by being a valued and trusted healthcare partner, a great place to work for our employees, embedded and valued in the communities in which we operate and by developing new and innovative medicines that will increase the quality of life for patients around the world.


Working in a dynamic company such as MSD there are many demands on my time therefore prioritising my day to ensure I focus on the key priorities for our business is critical.


I have a talented leadership team who are empowered to lead their business areas and teams to identify key opportunities and projects. Having such a strong team leading the business means that I can focus on the longer-term strategic opportunities across our business. This includes working collaboratively with Government, healthcare providers and healthcare professionals to ensure patients in Ireland have access to the latest innovative medicines; working to ensure affordability across the sector; and participating in industry bodies such as the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) to identify innovations we as an industry can bring to the Irish healthcare landscape generally.


What values drive MSD?

At MSD Ireland, we believe our values represent the very core of our character. They guide every decision and action we take.

We operate openly, honestly and with the highest degree of integrity. Our goal is to lead the way to a healthier future, and by reflecting on the needs of the patients and communities we serve, as well as the needs of our employees, we aim to be truly innovative in enhancing their individual wellbeing and that of society.

We aspire to improve the health and wellness of people and animals in Ireland and across the globe and to expand access to our medicines and vaccines. All of our actions must be measured against our responsibility to those who use or need our products.


What challenges are currently faced by the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland?
A key challenge for the sector is that Ireland has become slow in adopting and providing access to new innovative medicines. What this means is that in a lot of cases patients in Ireland aren’t getting the same level of access to medicines that have been introduced in many countries across Europe and this has an inevitable impact on health outcomes and quality of life for patients here. MSD Ireland is committ­ed to working in partnership with Government and other stakeholders to address this situation. Ireland urgently needs to make up ground, lost to other EU countries, and return Ireland to a position whereby our patients can access new medicines provided to other European citizens. A recent positive step was the Government’s allocation of €30 million for innovative medicines in Budget 2022, building on €50 million in the previous budget. This demonstrates the need to build capacity to fund innovative medicines.


Another challenge facing the pharmaceutical sector is recruitment of highly skilled employees with specialist STEM capabilities. To be successful in recruiting employees, an employer must offer exciting career opportunities mixed with other work/life benefits. That’s what we aim to do at MSD. The breadth of our operations across the country offer a variety of career opportunities in R&D, manufacturing and engineering along with many other specialist areas.


With the Irish Government’s clear ambition to make the pharmaceutical sector a cornerstone of economic growth, it’s important to consider every aspect of a country when it comes to looking at how easy it is to do business, from quality of life for employees, to infrastructure and investment cost.


Education and skills development is also crucial. It’s important that ‘Ireland Inc' continues to nurture and foster the sector, such as creating policies that encourage the best and brightest talent from across the world to take up careers here.


Are there any big opportunities on the horizon for MSD Ireland?

The past number of years have been significant for MSD Ireland in terms of growth and expansion. MSD has a significant footprint in Ireland. We currently employ approximately 2,700 employees across six sites in Ballydine, Co Tipperary, Brinny, Co Cork, Carlow, Dunboyne and Dublin and, in addition, operate substantial Human Health and Animal Health businesses.


In total to date, we have invested approximately $3 billion in our Irish operations and our annual turnover ranks us as one of Ireland’s top 20 companies. Significantly our Irish sites manufacture approximately half of MSD’s top twenty products, saving and enhancing lives in over sixty countries around the world.

Our focus is to ensure we continue to play a pivotal role in the MSD global network and that we continue to attract and retain the best talent in the business, as well as providing unique and progressive career opportunities both in Ireland and across the globe.


Why was it important for MSD Ireland to be a member of Guaranteed Irish?

MSD have been proud members of Guaranteed Irish for over ten years and there are real synergies between our operations and the Guaranteed Irish ethos. Across our six sites in Ireland, we play an active part in the communities in which we operate, providing sustainable, highly skilled and long-term jobs to over 2,700 employees nationwide. We’re a company that has gone from strength to strength in recent years with increased investment across our sites and the acquisition of new sites and business areas.

It’s important that companies such as ours are recognised as playing a significant role in the Irish economy and at local level in our communities and that we are recognised alongside other sectors as enhancing and improving the sector we operate in.


Finally, as a Guaranteed Irish Board member representing the Pharmaceutical Industry, what advice would you give to Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare businesses who are considering becoming members?
As we know, the Guaranteed Irish symbol is a symbol of trust and provenance for business in Ireland. Becoming a member of Guaranteed Irish allows you to promote Ireland across the globe and position Ireland as a continued location of choice for Foreign Direct Investment. It also provides a valuable and engaged network of like-minded people and organisations and provides countless networking opportunities and access to many events on industry specific topics.

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