March / April 2022

Member of the Year 2020: An Inspirational Leader

Marcy Sanford
Member of the Year 2020: Eamon Judge

Eamon Judge, the 2020 recipient of the Max Seales Yonker Member of the Year award, exemplifies the values behind the award: service to the industry and inspiring ISPE members to volunteer.

2020 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo was a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic and did not include a Member Breakfast or member awards. Instead, ISPE bestowed the 2020 Max Seales Yonker Member of the Year Award at the 2021 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo in Boston, Massachusetts, to Eamon Judge, Global Engineering Advisor/European FM Lead and Chair of the Industry Engagement Subcommittee of the ISPE Ireland Affiliate. The award was announced at the Annual Meeting, with Eamon accepting it virtually.

While introducing the award, 2020–2021 ISPE International Board Chair Joanne Barrick told online and in-person attendees that “this award honors members who dedicated themselves to excellence and service to our industry and to ISPE. Max Seales Yonker was an active member, Society leader, and a relentless contributor to ISPE and to our industry. When her family, and her ISPE family, lost her to cancer in 2005, it seemed only fitting that her memory be honored with an award that recognizes that same commitment to Society service. The memory of Maxine Yonker reminds us that we are all patients, and it reminds me of the vital work that each one of you do to advance the development, production, and delivery of a safe and reliable drug supply.

“Eamon Judge has been an active member and leader within the ISPE Ireland Affiliate for more than 17 years,” Barrick said. “He has made a particularly significant contribution to the Society by leveraging his position as ISPE Ireland Affiliate President to form and lead the Irish COVID Alliance, which has been nothing short of remarkable. From April 2020 to date, Eamon led the COVID Alliance, a group of 50 private and public sector organizations who mobilized to assist the Irish Health Service during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among others, the Alliance addressed assuring adequate oxygen supply for ventilators, acquiring surge capacity equipment for the healthcare system, organizing volunteer maintenance and utility workers to support hospitals, and developed and implemented a process to manufacture a critical short supply reagent for COVID-19 testing, supporting over 5 million PCR tests. Midway through 2020, after sharing the activities of the Alliance with the ISPE European Affiliate Committee, the Ireland Affiliate joined with the ISPE UK Affiliate to share experiences as they partnered with the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) to develop a ‘knowledge exchange’ among companies in the UK. Eamon inspires others to engage in volunteer activity and truly exemplifies the value of ISPE Membership to the industry.”

Roots in Science and Service

Eamon Judge grew up in a family with strong scientific interests. “My interest and background in science goes back to my father, who originally was an engineer with our electric utility and was a very curious man,” Eamon said. During World War II, he was a telecommunication technician in the civilian workforce that accompanied the Allies. He wired up telecom in the caves in Gibraltar before the invasion of North Africa.”

While Eamon’s family encouraged his interest in STEM, they were unsure of his career path at first. “When I picked chemical engineering as my course of study, my parents scratched their heads and said, ‘What’s that?’ They had no idea what a chemical engineer was at the time. Being an engineer meant building bridges.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with First Honours from the University College Dublin, Eamon started reviewing his employment opportunities. When he decided which company he wanted to work for, his parents were once again scratching their heads. “When I decided to join Eli Lilly in 1980, the company had just arrived in Ireland and was setting up a new plant. My parents had never heard of them. I was offered other job opportunities from companies that were well known in Ireland, including the electrical company that my father worked for. But I decided to try Lilly because what struck me during my interview, which is also the reason I am still with Lilly 41 years later, was Lilly’s values and because when I was doing my round of interviews, they were the only company where everyone was on a first-name basis. They looked at you as a person. Now most companies are like that, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s, most companies were much more formal. Lilly was quite different and that was appealing to me.”

Throughout the 1980s, Eamon held operations management roles and took on director-level responsibility for small molecule active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) operations and engineering/health, safety, and environment (HSE) supply chain functional leadership at Lilly’s API site in Kinsale, Ireland. “We were a very small site at the time, like a child compared to the major US sites. We started producing APIs using chemical synthesis and within four to five years had established ourselves to the point that we became recognized as a final API production site, had been regulatory approved for the same, and were supplying to markets all over the world.”

During the mid-1990s, he and his wife and children relocated to Lilly’s corporate headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he held several leadership roles in corporate strategic facilities planning and technology and facilities design. He returned to Ireland to lead the operation of Lilly’s bulk aseptic manufacturing facilities. In the 2000s, Eamon had senior management responsibility for engineering, IT/process control, and HSE during the addition of two large mammalian cell culture API facilities. He was recently EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Asia) Leader in Lilly’s global engineering function with project planning responsibility for significant capital investments in Europe and Asia. Eamon has had a long interest in sustainability and in 2020, he proposed and led the construction of Ireland’s largest private solar farm at the Lilly Kinsale API site. He has since been contacted by five other pharmaceutical companies to advise them on the development of similar projects.

Pandemic Help

Throughout his career, Eamon has faced various challenges. His determination to help when the COVID-19 pandemic first started affecting Europe certainly saved lives. “My first moment of realization of how bad COVID-19 was going to be was on 4 March 2020 while I was watching a BBC program and they were showing some scenes from Northern Italy, footage of a collapsing ER unit where people couldn’t get oxygen and couldn’t get into intensive care, and you saw the trucks taking the bodies away. I thought if this is coming our way, it is going to be terrible. It’s going to need a response; our health service is going to be swamped by this. They are in the business of treating and saving people; they are not in the business of logistics and engineering.

“Ireland has companies in the pharma sector and service companies that all work together and are also connected through ISPE. So, the following morning, I rang the principals of four of the major engineering firms and I said, ‘Look, I don’t know what we’ll need to do, I don’t know what they’ll need, but we’ll need to respond fast. There’ll be no purchase orders, there’ll be no payment, it’ll all be pro bono,’ and they all said, ‘We’re here, tell us what you need.’”

The group, which became known as the COVID Alliance, grew to 50 private and public sector organizations that all mobilized to help the Irish Health Service by formulating testing reagents, producing PPE, upgrading hospital oxygen systems, staffing nursing homes, and more. Many of the members are long-time supporters of ISPE activities. Eamon went on to partner with the ISPE UK Affiliate to coordinate a similar initiative. Eamon said ISPE connections proved fruitful throughout developing COVID Alliance responses.

ISPE and  “Comradeship”

Eamon’s roots in ISPE are strong. Eamon joined ISPE in 2004 and was the President of the ISPE Ireland Affiliate for six years. He said he initially joined ISPE after returning to Ireland from the US as a way to stay connected, but has found he gets much more than networking opportunities from his membership. “People talk about ISPE being good for networking, but it is more than that. It’s a sense of comradeship. ISPE provides a forum for connection with each other, and while members realize that some of their information is proprietary, there is a lot of other information that is appropriate to share for the benefit of patients, the community, or the environment and it is very positive that people are willing to help each other out.”

During his tenure as ISPE Ireland Affiliate President, the Affiliate hosted the ISPE European Biotechnology Conference in Dublin in 2017 and the ISPE European Annual Conference in 2019, which had the largest attendance at any ISPE European Annual Conference to date. Eamon established a foundation for the subsequent development of student chapters, is an advocate for Women in Pharma® and Emerging Leaders (EL), and has established the Irish Pharma Manufacturing Leadership Forum. “I’ve taken part in some of the EL Hackathons both in Las Vegas and Dublin and also virtual ones and I’m blown away by their ideas. We think we are being mentors to help them but more often than not it is the ELs who are helping us to look at the world differently.”

In addition to his mentoring work with ISPE’s  Emerging Leaders, Eamon promotes STEM to students of all ages at local schools, has been involved in Scouting Ireland as a member and leader, and has been involved for over 20 years with the Young Scientist Exhibition, an annual Irish science competition for elementary through high school students. His passion for connecting with and helping others is evident in everything he does. “Over the years, three groups of students from the local high school I work with have gone on to be overall winners. It is great to see the students grow as they develop their projects and many of them have gone on to STEM careers locally with Lilly and other companies.”

In his spare free time, Eamon enjoys doing DIY projects, listening to podcasts, and spending time with his wife, Maureen, and three children, two of whom are engineers, while the other has a genetics and computational biology background.

And while the past few years have been challenging for everyone, Eamon see some positive outcomes from the pandemic for the pharmaceutical sector. “I think we’ll be able to use what we’ve learned during the pandemic to bring medicines to patients quicker. I think it’s made us able to focus more on what is critical and what is not, and helped us identify supply chain issues that would have come up eventually as the use of single-use materials has exploded. It’s shown us where there are opportunities to partner with regulators more effectively and make progress more efficiently. It’s shown that things can be done quickly and safely when necessary to meet the needs of patients.”