There has never been a more exciting time to work in the Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) industry. From artificial intelligence (AI) to data analytics, engineering and automation, the industry is travelling forward at unparalleled speed, innovating at every turn, says Marie Martin, plant manager at MSD Carlow.

Marie Martin, plant manager at MSD Carlow.

Marie Martin, plant manager at MSD Carlow.

“If the pandemic over the last few months has taught us anything, it is that science and technology is a critical industry. Stem’s ability to innovate and deliver on new ideas and ways of doing things is critical to us all in our daily lives. I know that this will help us in attracting people into this area in coming years,” Martin says.

Martin has been part of MSD Carlow from the start. When the site opened 10 years ago it was in start-up mode, building the site from the ground up. She began as the commissioning and qualification lead and worked her way up the career ladder to become plant manager.

“I have been afforded some fantastic opportunities and I am committed to doing the same for others as I believe that embracing and supporting diverse talent is essential,” she says.

“Stem is a very broad set of disciplines and I think it’s a great career choice for anyone with an inquisitive mind, a passion for learning and problem-solving. The boundaries between scientific disciplines are also evolving, particularly in life sciences. This change highlights a growing need for new voices to join in the conversation and drive it forward.”

Encouragement

“As an industry we have a responsibility to ensure everyone who dreams of being part of this sector can do so and for that we need to encourage and nurture people with the ambition to achieve their goals. We should focus on attracting people with curious minds from all walks of life and backgrounds to help us solve the medical challenges that continue to face us,” she says.

Explaining Stem in simple, fun and engaging ways from as early as primary school level will help raise awareness and hopefully enhance students’ curiosity.

“Companies organising activities such as site visits, lab open days and kitchen chemistry sessions are all vital to educate students as to what a career in Stem is really like and the opportunities it can offer. It’s also important we showcase the different career paths that our colleagues have taken.

“We aim to inspire the next generation of future leaders but believe there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach and know that innovators don’t fit a mould. By opening the doors to our work, we’re also presenting an opportunity for students to recognise themselves within our teams. Visibility plays a key role as you can’t aspire to be what you can’t see,” she adds.

Women

It’s well known that the number of women in science, technology, engineering and maths is relatively low in comparison to men. However, MSD is seeing the percentages increasing.

“With more representation and awareness occurring, I hope that the number of women in Stem careers will increase rapidly, achieving greater gender balance and supporting new and diverse thinking across these areas.

“Science and engineering have always been something I have been interested in, even though there were very few female role models at that time. However, this never held me back and I consider myself lucky to have had the confidence and determination that I could make it. My focus and willingness to learn helped me get to where I am now,” she says.

Future-proofing

MSD’s Early Talent programmes have been historically focused on science and engineering disciplines but with the demand for new critical skills across Stem, they have opened their programmes to include other key areas such as IT, automation and data analytics.

“We need to future-proof for the changes ahead and ensure both our company and sector has the necessary skills to hire today for tomorrow. Moving forward, I think it’s critical for our economy in Ireland to prevent shortages of critical skills across Stem by ensuring a strong and collaborative partnership between education and business.

“MSD embraces and supports bringing diverse, talented and committed people together as we continue to push the boundaries of science and innovation from MSD Ireland to the world,” she says.