iSpeak Blog

ISPE Member Spotlight: John Clarke

ISPE Member Spotlight: John Clarke

John Clarke works with Pfizer in Dublin, Ireland and is currently the Process Lead on a facility expansion project for conjugate vaccine manufacture. John graduated from University College Cork with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and earned a Masters of Engineering Science in Biopharmaceutical Engineering from University College Dublin and has held roles across Quality, Validation, and Manufacturing Support functions. He has been actively involved with ISPE Emerging Leaders since 2014 and is currently Global Chair of the ISPE Emerging Leaders and represents the group on the ISPE Board of Directors.

How did you become involved with Emerging Leaders?

I attended my first Emerging Leaders event (known as young professionals at the time) in Cork, Ireland, in 2014. At the time, the committee was led by Caroline Rocks, and I took the opportunity to chat with her and other members of the committee. I volunteered to take part in organizing upcoming activities and was invited to join their monthly call. This was my first introduction to ISPE, and I learned how Emerging Leaders affiliates and chapters are run. Over the years, I became increasingly active on the committee and was involved with organizing many of our local events taking place around Ireland.

During this period, I learned that the more I gave to ISPE, the more I got out of it. I developed long lasting connections to members of the EL and main affiliates. In 2016, I was nominated to become the ISPE Ireland EL Chair, a position that allowed me to become involved in ISPE EL activities on a European and Global level. In November 2020, I became the Global EL Chair and have been enjoying working with the Board of Directors during the past 6 months.

What has been your favorite part of being involved with Emerging Leaders?

The best element of taking part in the ISPE ELs for me has definitely been the friendships and connections I've made through ISPE in Ireland and across the world. One of the most rewarding experiences of my time as the ISPE Global EL Chair was organizing our first ever virtual hackathon in February 2021. Due to the restrictions in place because of COVID-19, the traditional method of running hackathons was not possible. This both challenged and enabled us to have our first ever fully international Emerging Leaders event.

The task team that organized the event included representatives from across North American and European chapters and affiliates. While developing the hackathon format and theme was a challenge in itself, I always looked forward to the task team meetings and the opportunity to collaborate with others.

How do you feel the Emerging Leaders Community is evolving, and how do you think it will continue to grow?

The Emerging Leaders community represents the future of leadership across the pharmaceutical industry. Today’s ISPE topics focus on technologies and ways of working that will shape ELs careers. The goal for the ISPE ELs is to continue to build the community by increasing connectivity and providing content of value to ELs around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the innovation and excitement that can be achieved through collaboration between manufacturing companies, R&D, and regulatory bodies. ISPE has always been at the forefront of this collaboration, and the talent of the Emerging Leaders community is key to ensuring future supply of innovative medicines to patients around the world.

How do you balance a challenging job with Pfizer in Ireland and the additional hours you provide as an ISPE Volunteer and International Emerging Leaders Chair?

I have always treated the time I dedicate to ISPE like any other time I invest in my professional development. The time I have committed over the years has always been more than compensated by the learning and experience I have gained in return. I am guilty, like a lot of active volunteers, of not being good at saying “No” to opportunities that come my way. It can be a challenge to achieve the right balance between work and volunteering (and having a social life), but it’s a skill will remain relevant throughout my career.

As an Emerging Leader, how has ISPE supported your career growth? How has ISPE added value to it?

Being an active member of ISPE has supported my career growth in so many ways. From a technical point of view, the access to guidance documents and special interest group forums has been invaluable. In addition, the technical content I have seen at ISPE conferences, local affiliate events, and site tours has accelerated my development in technical roles with Pfizer. Even more valuable has been the experience I have gained from an organizational and strategic level. Participating at local, international, and board levels has allowed me to engage with senior leaders from across the pharmaceutical industry and has provided me with many insights into strategic thinking and effective leadership.