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An Engaging Evening of Innovation and Future Trends: The Fourth Annual #ISPEFoF Executive Forum Dinner and Panel Discussion

James A. Breen, Jr., PE
Stephanie K. Thatcher
An Engaging Evening of Innovation and Future Trends: The Fourth Annual #ISPEFoF Executive Forum Dinner and Panel Discussion

The 2024 ISPE Facilities of the Future Conference will be held on January 29-30, 2024, in San Francisco, CA, USA, and virtually. This conference brings together pharmaceutical industry stakeholders, particularly those concerned with planning, designing, constructing, manufacturing, supplying, and assessing innovative “next generation” facilities and related pharmaceutical engineering innovations, processes, and practices.

2024 ISPE Facilities of the Future Conference

The ISPE Executive Forum Dinner and Panel Discussion supported by ISPE's Women in Pharma® is a unique opportunity at the conference for pharmaceutical industry leaders to connect and share experiences. Jim Breen, ISPE Foundation Board Liaison, and Vice President, Global Engineering and Technology at Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicines, has facilitated the Executive Forum Dinner and Panel Discussion since its inception back in 2020. e Jim holds a leadership position with Johnson & Johnson. He has served the pharmaceutical industry and ISPE for more than two decades and has observed changes as well as emerging trends in the pharmaceutical industry over the years.

Stephanie Thatcher, President at ORCAS Project Controls, had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Breen. In this interview, Jim shares his history with the event, highlights the advancements in the pharmaceutical industry, and notes how these advancements are aligned with the broader shifts and challenges in the pharmaceutical industry.

Stephanie: “As the leader of the Executive Forum Dinner, what motivated you to take on this role, and how do you believe it adds value to the overall conference experience?”

Jim: “We started the [ISPE] Facility of the Future events based on the direction of the Global Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Leadership Forum (GPMLF) which wanted to create a forum to exchange ideas, experiences, learnings, and future trends in terms of facilities of the future for the pharmaceutical industry on a global basis. This all started around 2015 and today we have an industry-leading event each year. In terms of the Executive Forum, this allows the attendees of the event to engage with industry leaders and get their thoughts and opinions on future trends.”

Stephanie: In your opinion, what are some of the most significant developments or advancements in our industry that have been discussed or showcased during these conferences?

Jim: “We have seen an acceleration of focus in sustainability, artificial intelligence, training for future employees, and an increased use of single use technology.”

Stephanie: “How have the topics and discussions during the executive forum dinner reflected the broader shifts and challenges within this sector?”

Jim: “Over the years, we have had a very diverse [group of panelists] – academic, regulatory, government, operation, supply chain, etc. [Our panels have] changed each year to reflect the [evolving] themes and landscape of the industry. Aligning with our vision at ISPE for our industry to be equitable and inclusive, free of biases and stereotypes, where diversity of thought thrives, this year’s Executive Forum is supported by ISPE Women in Pharma®.”

Stephanie: “Over the years, have you noticed any recurring themes or concerns raised by executives during the forum dinner, and how have these been addressed or evolved?”

Jim: “The major theme every year is [on how to] attract, train and develop existing and future employees for the changing technology and risk environment.”

Stephanie: “Given your extensive experience, what advice would you offer to professionals looking to stay ahead of industry trends and navigate the dynamic landscape of pharmaceutical facilities?”

Jim: “I would encourage professionals to stay abreast of the changes happening in the pharmaceutical industry with a special focus on artificial intelligence, and understanding sustainability and implications, and technology focused on operational efficiency as this will be a continued focus to improve the speed to delivery to the patients but also reducing the cost.”

Stephanie: “Are there any memorable moments or impactful discussions from the executive forum dinners that stand out to you, and if so, could you share some insights into why they were particularly noteworthy?”

Jim: “One of the most memorable for me was the [2023 ISPE Facilities of the Future Conference Executive Forum in North Bethesda, Maryland, USA] in which we had a very engaging discussion with eight senior industry leaders and the engagement was so great that at one point we had the panelists asking questions of the audience which is not the norm. This demonstrated the level of engagement.”

Stephanie: “Have there been any big ideas from this conference that you or your company have implemented to improve projects or operations?”

Jim: “I believe most folks like me who attend the [2024 ISPE Facilities of the Future Conference] will hear many new concepts/ideas on how to apply [conference] concepts into their day-to-day operations. Over the years, I have moved several concepts into implementation at work from these [Facilities of the Future] conferences. [That said,] more importantly, it is the network connections (the people who actually implemented these new technologies) [who] give you more insights on how the programs were actually implemented. I find having these real connections with folks who implemented the projects are more important than the technology.”

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