RUTH BEADLE is Site Head of Sanofi Waterford, a state-of-the-art biopharmaceutical and medical device facility located on an impressive 37 acre site within 10 minutes of Waterford’s historic city centre.
A native of Dublin, Ruth’s career path saw her hold supply chain, operations and human resources roles with Bass Brewers UK and Britvic Soft Drinks UK before renewing her family link with Waterford when she returned to the city to join Waterford Crystal in 1999.
“My father is from Waterford and so I always had an affinity with the city. He was from Bailey’s New Street, a beautiful narrow street just off the Quay. When we were kids, we’d come down from Dublin for a week every summer and spend time enjoying the lovely coastline. Waterford is a port city and at that time live cattle were exported from the port and the cattle ships were berthed just across the road from our street. The cows would be run down the Quay and I have fond memories of cows escaping up Bailey’s New Street and running past our door!” - Ruth Beadle, Site Head - Sanofi Waterford
Accompanied by her husband, Bob, and infant son, Carl, Ruth found Waterford much transformed on her return. With the port by then relocated three miles downriver at Belview, the spectacle of runaway cattle on the quayside had given way to the equally dramatic annual Spraoi parade.
Subsequently, the fading grandeur of Bailey’s New Street was rejuvenated and is now situated in the heart of the city’s beautifully restored Viking Triangle. Waterford’s industrial landscape was also much altered, with Genzyme Waterford joining a growing cluster of new 21st Century industry when it opened in the city in 2001.
Ruth Beadle joined the company as Supply Chain Manager in 2007 and became Head of Supply Chain in 2011. By then employing 480, 2011 was to prove an auspicious year for Genzyme Waterford with the announcement of the global acquisition of Genzyme Corp by Sanofi, a French-headquartered global life science leader.
Waterford Workforce Embrace Change
As Ruth recalls, the challenge posed by new ownership brought out the best in the Waterford workforce: “Acquisition of a relatively small company like Genzyme by a huge organisation like Sanofi was going to be either a threat or an opportunity. I think it depends on how you look at it. Here in Waterford, we took the view that it represented an opportunity to show what we could do and how well we could do it."
Ruth believes the capacity of the local workforce to embrace change was central to the response of the Waterford site:
“It came down to the people. Ours is a rapidly-changing industry and to survive and thrive, we have to be capable of changing with it. I think that ability is specific to the type of people we try to attract here – we go looking for agility and flexibility. We could have retrenched and defended but we didn’t do that. We’ll never be the cheapest global location with where we are but we can be the best. We have a facility that is a centre of excellence for biologics, that will deliver on time and always meet the regulatory requirements. We made a commitment to the highest standards and it was given by everyone who works here.” - Ruth Beadle, Site Head - Sanofi Waterford
That commitment has been amply rewarded with the years since the Sanofi acquistion showing an impressive graph of increased investment, site expansion, new product introductions and a headcount now exceeding 650. In 2015, the Waterford site was named Best Large Company in Ireland at the Great Place to Work Awards and Biotech Company of the Year at the prestigious Pharma Industry Awards.
2015 also saw Ruth’s appointment as Site Head. With continued investment and an array of new products in the pipeline, Ruth is delighted to attribute much of Sanofi Waterford’s continuing success to the company’s location: "Being part of an emerging cluster of biotech industries in the southeast is an advantage. I looked at the statistics recently and found that 51% of our team have biologics experience with other companies. Another 37% have medical device backgrounds so the skills are in the region. The cluster is good but it’s not as aggressive as it would be in Dublin, for instance, where people are chopping and changing jobs all the time. We have the attractions of a big city and the benefits of a smaller community."
Working with Waterford City & County Council and Waterford Institute of Technology
On the subject of community, Ruth is also conscious of the part local civic and educational institutions have played in the Sanofi Waterford story:
“Waterford City & County Council is accessible and efficient in terms of the supply and maintenance of essential services. We find them helpful and approachable, rigorously applying all the usual environmental and planning regulations but here to work with us and not against us - they really are a valuable partner. We also have an extremely fruitful collaboration with Waterford Institute of Technology, identifying the kind of skills we’ll need in five - ten years time and designing courses to meet those needs. That dialogue is invaluable and I’m not sure it could happen as easily if we were located in a larger community.” - Ruth Beadle, Site Head - Sanofi Waterford
Quality of Life
The importance of community to Sanofi Waterford is reflected in a national award-winning Corporate Social Responsibility programme which combines sponsorship of high profile Waterford festivals with lesser known but equally valuable partnerships with local schools. As the Waterford site continues to grow and attract new talent, Ruth is keen that these community ties be maintained and renewed. And with their young adult son, Carl, now sharing the Beadle household with sisters Anna, Kate and Emma, community is also important to Ruth and her husband, Bob:
“What attracted us to Waterford is the quality of life which is second to none. The cattle have long gone from the quay and it’s very much a modern city now but the way we’re bringing up our kids here is as carefree as the way we were brought up in Dublin 30 years ago. It’s really great for them to have that freedom.” - Ruth Beadle, Site Head - Sanofi Waterford