January / February 2018

UK Affiliate - Engaging Members, One at a Time

Wendy T. Haines, PhD, DABT, CQA
Engaging Members, One at a Time

These are interesting times for the pharmaceutical industry in the United Kingdom. According to a recent report, the industry employs more than 73,000 people and contributes £30.4 billion ($40 billion) to the British economy, including £4.2 billion ($5.5 billion) in R&D expenditures.1 As the country prepares to leave the European Union, however, Brexit’s unknown effects on regulations, taxation and other facets of the pharmaceutical industry leave many questions unanswered.

Founded in 1988, ISPE’s United Kingdom Affiliate is focused on growth and continued membership engagement. It serves more than 850 members in four regions: Southern, Central, North East, and North West.

“Half of our membership comes from the South,” says UK Affiliate Past Chair Dr. Peter Dodd. “There are two concentrated spots: the London area out to Oxford and Cambridge, and another concentration around Manchester and Liverpool, which is partly on the border of the Central and North West regions.”

On average, the affiliate holds monthly events in addition to factory visits and an annual conference. “Because we are split into four regions, we target three education and networking events, per region, per year,” says Affiliate Chair Jonathan Youles. “The UK is not that big geographically, so people can attend pretty much any event that we organize. Last year we introduced a Summer Conference, a one-day event that allows us to focus on a topic in more detail.” This year’s Summer Conference was held in June and covered containment and decontamination.

The highlight event of the year is the Annual Conference, held each November. Between 50 and 80 people usually attend the one-day event. The conference is followed by a formal dinner and awards ceremony, an event typically attended by up to 500 members and invitees. The 2017 Annual Conference was held on 30 November in beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon—the birthplace of William Shakespeare—and focused on “New Dimensions in Pharmaceuticals.”

Membership is a focus for many chapters and affiliates, and the UK Affiliate is no different. Responding to an initiative from ISPE Headquarters, the affiliate established a Membership Development Committee.

“We recognized that there was a gap in getting relatively new members in the profession together at a substantial event that was good value,” says Youles. “That was the purpose of the Summer Conference.”

“We are also focusing on young professionals (YPs) and linking to universities,” says Lynn Bryan, Past Chair and current Community of Practice (CoP) Liaison.

“We feel that ISPE offers an ability to learn; to figure out what you want in your professional career,” says Youles. “If we can engage people at an early point in their careers, then hopefully we can help them learn more about what they want to do. We will be learning from other affiliates’ success; the Ireland Affiliate is more advanced with the YPs and we will try to learn from their knowledge in this area.”

“The good news is that we have a young professional on our board who is super enthusiastic to take the initiative forward, and I think that is half the battle,” says Bryan, referring to Craig Milner, the UK Affiliate’s Young Professionals Chair and Student Liaison.

Bryan, Dodd, and Youles agree that ISPE provides a unique wealth of opportunities for meeting people within the industry. “ISPE is the broadest group of pharma engineering professionals in the UK,” says Dodd. “It includes regulators, entrepreneurs, people working in research, and everyone in between. It really is a very broad spread of people.”

As they look ahead, the leaders discuss the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming Brexit.

“Whether you wanted Brexit or not, this is where the challenge is going to be in the next 18 months or two years,” says Bryan.

“We still don’t know how negotiations will shake out in terms of investment or retention of manufacturing and R&D within the UK, whether it is likely to encourage people to move, or maintain the status quo,” concluded Youles.
One thing is certain, however: The UK Affiliate will continue to engage its membership throughout the country.


  • Founded 1988
  • Membership 850+
  • Chair Jonathan Youles, YtronQuadro (UK) Ltd.
  • Treasurer Philip Hill, Fulkers
  • Secretary Bruce Williams, Williams Process Ltd
  • Past Chair Dr. Peter Dodd, formerly of Fujifi lm Diosynth Biotechnologies UK Ltd
  • Membership Secretary Dr. Phillip Richardson, AstraZeneca
  • Education Advisor Roger Shillitoe, AstraZeneca
  • CoP Liaison Lynn Bryan, Ballygan
  • Young Professional and Student Liaison Craig Milner, Sanofi
  • Communications Chair Philippa King-Smith, Ardmac Ltd.
  • Professional Organisation Liaison Adam Hawthorne, PM Group
  • North West Region Chair Rob Walker, Rob Walker GMP Consultancy
  • North East Region Chair Dr. Peter Dodd
  • Central Region Chair Shaun Baker, Newman Labelling Systems Ltd.
  • Southern Region Chair Shawn Whitfi eld, BTG International PLC