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Operations Global Graduate Associates Programme

Locations: Global opportunities available 
Salary: Competitive

Apply for US programme 

About Operations

Our Operations organisation's goal is simple. To make sure our patients worldwide are supplied with cost-effective, life-changing medicines. That makes Operations the vital connection between our Research and Development lab and the pharmacy shelf. We operate in over 100 countries, and our medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.

We're a team of around 50,000 people, working across the globe, driving innovation to solve some of the most serious medical issues facing mankind today. With manufacturing plants in 16 countries, we're committed to ensuring a reliable supply of medicines, where and when they are needed most.

Programme details

About the programme

Our ambition is to improve the lives of 200 million patients, and be a $50 billion company, by 2025. To do that, we need high-calibre graduates, with potential and ambition to become one of the leaders of the future, to join our Operations Global Graduate Associates Programme.

Operations is one of the largest, most important areas of our business, accounting for 11,000 people, and our supply chain truly is world-class. This is your opportunity to work on real, life-saving projects right from the start, supported by the best colleagues the industry has to offer.

AstraZeneca's Operations business is organised into:

  • Four supply areas: Americas; Europe; Middle East and Africa; Asia Pacific; and Biologics
  • Three global functions: External Sourcing, Quality, and Supply Chain & Strategy
  • Two corporate functions: Global Procurement and Corporate IT

How does the programme work?

A key element of this three-year programme is leadership development. The first two years will be split between three different placements, and each role with give you valuable insight on how to influence decisions across a range of business areas. You'll also spend a minimum of three months living and working abroad, to gain exposure to different cultures and ways of working, as a hands-on way to test and improve your ability to handle responsibility.

By giving you vital pharmaceutical industry exposure, this graduate programme is the perfect springboard to a senior job opportunity within AstraZeneca. Throughout the programme you'll be frequently encouraged to review your progress towards achievement of role objectives and personal development plans with your manager. You'll get the training, experience and support you need to develop a career you can be proud of.

What does the programme involve?

Starting in September 2017, the programme lasts three years. Three placements, each lasting eight months including an international experience, will give you a great insight into our business and the chance to influence the direction in which we're moving. You'll then progress into a consolidation role for your third year and all progression is subject to performance. In our global and regional functions, you could develop knowledge of supply chain, logistics, external sourcing and global quality. You'll also have the chance to work in two corporate functions, Procurement and Information Technology, as well as in Engineering.

Your programme will provide an invaluable blend of on-the-job experience and coaching. There will be a huge support network behind you, including a mentor and programme manager, and we'll encourage you to develop your own network of contacts. We'll let you know before the end of your second year whether we'll be offering you a permanent, post-programme role, which we do for 90% of graduates.

Essential requirements

What we're looking for:

  • Graduates in any discipline who have completed their first degree with a minimum of a 2:1 or MSc in 2016, or are due to graduate by September 2017
  • Passion to work in pharmaceuticals and healthcare, real desire to make a difference to patients and our business
  • Ability to quickly understand our environment, and the curiosity and flexibility to work anywhere within Operations
  • Strong business acumen, leadership potential and change management capabilities
  • The confidence and vision to look at, and challenge, existing ways of working
  • Valid passport, geographical mobility, and willingness to spend a period of time living and working overseas
  • Fluency in English.

Meet our people

Meet Andrew

Meet Andrew

Hi, I'm Andrew and I am the Head of Outbound Supply at our Macclesfield site. I lead a team responsible for the distribution, customer service, and physical picking, packing and shipping of our products for supply across the world.

I initially joined AstraZeneca through a programme called 'The Year in Industry' when I was 18. I worked for a year building my experience in manufacturing, and at the end of my placement I did a presentation to showcase what I'd learned. As a result of that, AstraZeneca sponsored me through university, and allowed me to undertake summer placements whilst I was studying.

I did a Biochemistry degree, but established pretty early on that I didn't want to be a chemist, I wanted a career on the business side. AstraZeneca had been such a good company to work for, they look after their employees and I knew I wanted to be involved. Whilst I was on my final placement, I heard about the graduate programme and a colleague encouraged me to apply.

It's a three year programme and you do three eight month placements, then a 12 month consolidation placement.

The programme gives you such a unique opportunity to gain experience in broad areas of the business. I tried to pick areas that perhaps I didn't want a career in, but would give me valuable experience. I did Quality for a while, I went to America and was a Quality Specialist over there, and even though I couldn't really see myself doing it as a career, it was important, because as a supply chain professional, you work with Quality regularly. That's what I say to everyone who asks me about the graduate programme, don't just do things that you think will be fun, do things for the knowledge.

My new role is really exciting and can be stressful, but I enjoy the problem solving aspect. If there are issues with the manufacturing process, the need to supply patients becomes urgent, so part of my role is trying to work with the team to find solutions to get products to our patients as fast as possible. Under normal circumstances, we are working to ensure we have efficient and effective processes, at the right cost, providing a great service to get our medicines to patients all over the world.

In five years' time, I hope to still be with AstraZeneca and hopefully working within supply chain, perhaps in a central role in global supply chain.

Meet Ãsa

Meet Ãsa

A few years ago, while I was studying Bioengineering in Sweden, I was introduced to AstraZeneca at a careers fair. I was intrigued, and after some more research, I decided to apply for the graduate programme.

I always hoped I would work in the pharmaceutical industry and AstraZeneca has a lot of presence, so I knew it was a great opportunity. It also gave me the chance to work abroad, my first role was in Belgium.Science is so interesting to me. It's fascinating to study, and I've always been attracted to finding solutions and developing innovations. Working here means I get to interact with teams who are brainstorming new things. It's cool to see what we can achieve, and developing drugs that have a great impact on people's lives. We can actually be part of these positive changes.

My job is completely different every day, but that's why it's fun. Often I have meetings with my project teams, and we do this virtually because my colleagues are based all over the world. I can have a call with China in the morning and the United States later on. My role is really to try and get things going to make sure we have movement on our projects. The most exciting part of my role is that I can help impact the long term strategy for Operations at AstraZeneca. I have a chance to put my own mark on it.

The programme is such a great opportunity, I was able to work and live in four different countries. There are very few people that I know who have been able to do that. It's great to try different types of roles and it makes it easier to discover what you want to do. It's also a chance to create a global network. I think that's really powerful, plus having friends all over the world is amazing. It's a very unique programme, and I still work closely with many of the people I met on the programme.

I try not to plan my career too carefully, but I would love to have line manager responsibilities one day, or work abroad again. Either way, I hope I'll still be able to make an impact to the way we do things.

To anyone considering the programme, I would say it's a wonderful opportunity. It's not just a great chance to get to know the company and try out various roles, but it gives you a cultural awareness. It's a real eye opener.

Meet Kristin

Meet Kristin

Hi, I'm Kristin and I'm a Global Category Manager within Procurement. Specifically, I look after the Recruitment Category. My responsibilities include managing spend associated with our third parties in the Talent Acquisition Function. This includes, negotiating, contracting and managing our supply base.

I joined AstraZeneca as an intern on the Crestor Brand Team, I worked with the External Relations team and when my Internship came to an end, I was encouraged to apply to the global graduate programme. My four rotations were always within procurement, which is a bit different to how the programme operates today. Nowadays, the programme encourages you to experience different areas within Operations, which in my opinion is an example of how the programme has grown since its conception in 2009.

My first rotation was within North American Commercial where I supported various brand teams from a Procurement perspective. My next rotation was my International Assignments supporting Corporate Procurement. I was based in London for 8 months and it was both personally and professionally significant to my growth as an employee and person. My third rotational was back in the US supporting Facilities Management. I was fortunate to land my consolidation role in the Direct Materials space within the Packaging Team and adored the site activity. This eventually became my permanent role I think the best parts of my job are global working and learning how to influence in different cultures.

I was an Italian Literature Communications major, so the Pharmaceutical Industry was not on my radar. As part of my Master's Degree, I took a public relations class in which we were required to find an Internship. I was given the opportunity to undertake mine at AstraZeneca where immediately I noticed how well they treated their interns. I knew that if they treated their interns that well, they treated their employees equally as well. From that point, I knew I wanted to work for this company.

I would describe AstraZeneca as a large company, with all the benefits that you get from working for a large global company, but with a small company feel. You don't feel like a number or anonymous in any way.

Although I do not work directly with scientists, I can feel that Science is at the heart of all decision making at AZ. It makes you feel connected to something much larger than your day to day job. My advice to others considering the global graduate programme would be to appreciate it, because what it gives is a really special beginning to your career at AZ. Take advantage of the opportunities and make the most of it. As you exit the programme you will learn that it has set you up for success.

AstraZeneca is very good at supporting moves outside of your comfort zone and even outside of your experience or proven skill set. The theme of my career has been exploring areas that I didn't even know existed, but they have all proven to be useful and beneficial. I'm always learning and feel supported.

Meet Gao Bin

Meet Gao Bin

Hi, I'm Gao Bin and I joined AstraZeneca in 2009 after getting my master's degree from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where I studied Biochemical Engineering. I spent the majority of my six years at the AstraZeneca Wuxi supply site, starting in the Engineering and SHE department, and then moving to Technical Function. I also had an international assignment in the UK working in the Global Engineering Procurement team.

After I returned to China from the UK, I rejoined the Technical Function, and moved to Supply Chain in 2012. In February 2015, I moved to my current role, as an Asset Planner. I manage the planning activities, from material purchasing, to production to distribution.

The science in my role is really technical, so I don't have a lot of interaction with it, but in Operations, science gives us the support we need to get the job done.

My whole journey at AstraZeneca has been exciting. I've had a lot of rotations, so I'm really interested in new things and am really keen to learn new skills and gain more knowledge. The most exciting role I had was contributing to a project to build a distribution facility in China. It was great to design a really big warehouse with the latest technology, and also to collaborate with different people globally. Now the project is in progress and the facility is nearing completion. Last month, I visited the site and it's still under construction but it's amazing to see it become a reality.

To others considering the global graduate programme, my advice would be to be confident in your learning ability. Also, be positive. During the journey, there might be something that you aren't so happy with, some of the rotations may not suit you or you might not enjoy them, but every opportunity for a graduate is a learning opportunity, so we can learn from every rotation.

Finally, I would say be proactive. We join the company as a blank page, but if we want to be a high level leader, we need to learn. Try to look for every opportunity to learn. Don't be afraid to ask questions, don't be afraid to try new things and try to get out of it as much as you can. Get out of your comfort zone.

Meet Victor

Meet Victor

Hi, I'm Victor and I'm a Supply Planner with AstraZeneca in Brazil. I'm responsible for the production planning of the delivery of our products to Latin America.

I did a Pharmaceutical Science degree at university, and was always very aware of AstraZeneca. I knew of the company before I heard about the global graduate programme, so when a friend suggested the programme to me, I jumped at the opportunity.

My first role was as a planner in Brazil. After that I moved on to a packaging production role, and my third rotation was as a Supply Chain manager in Mexico.

AstraZeneca is such an innovative company, and you really have a chance to see how, with science, the company is seeking new ways to develop life-changing medicines. This is something that attracted me, as well as the opportunity to participate in a global programme, gaining international experience and being in an exciting, supportive work environment.

I think the coolest thing about science is that you can gain so much knowledge of how the body, and diseases work, and try to find medicines that are going to meet the needs of the body, or prevent future illness. Plus, we get to help improve the quality of life. Science can save lives, and provide quality to patients' lives, so those people and patients that are affected, are happy and can lead a full life.

My role is all about helping to make sure these important medicines reach the patients, so that's very rewarding. Knowing that the products are available in our distribution centres and that they will be available for patients when needed, is mission accomplished.

In the next five years, I hope to build a career in supply chain, mostly in the demand area closer to the marketing companies and distribution centres that we'll have in the future. For now, I'd like to stay in Brazil, but in the future I'd love to have more international experiences, which the company definitely supports.

My advice to others considering the global graduate programme is to reach out for hands on experiences where you can have greater responsibilities and learn more. Learn as much about the pharmaceutical industry and the company as you can. You should want to learn what AstraZeneca represents and what our products represent.

Business areas within the graduate programme

Opportunities exist for graduates across each of our global and regional supply & quality functions as well as our three corporate functions.

Pharmaceutical Supply & Quality

Pharmaceutical Supply & Quality

  • Participating in a variety of lifecycle management & improvement projects to broaden knowledge and experience of AstraZeneca's pharmaceutical supply chains & their Quality processes
  • Understanding, managing & communicating demand, supply, packaging or Quality plans between customers, distribution networks, sites or regions
  • Analysing data (demand, supply, metrics) and producing clear management proposals to improve supply chain and Quality performance
  • Developing and implementing forecasting processes
  • Identifying & facilitating improvement activities to have a positive cost and lead-time impact on the global supply chain
  • Reviewing & evaluating stock levels, minimum order quantities, supplier & QA lead times on a regular basis to identify continuous improvement opportunities including, but not limited to, inventory reductions.

Pharmaceutical Procurement

Pharmaceutical Procurement

  • Carrying out sourcing and supplier management activities by purchasing products and services in line with organisational objectives and category & sourcing strategies
  • Researching & assisting in selecting potential sources of materials / services
  • Contributing to the preparation of competitive bids, quotations and proposals with accurate specifications, terms and conditions
  • Contributing to cost reduction, cost avoidance, cost containment programmes
  • Analysing supplier market information and leveraging this to support effective sourcing decisions.

Information Technology (IT)

Information Technology (IT)

  • Working with Business Analyst community in gathering functional and technical requirements from our business users in order to develop new go-to-market solutions
  • Benchmarking and analysing new services focused on social networks and new media;
  • Portfolio planning & programme and project management
  • Managing our landscape of services
  • Overseeing applications, infrastructure environment and processes
  • Directing architectural alignment
  • Enhancing business interactions through high-performing and easy-accessible mobile applications.

Pharmaceutical Engineering

Pharmaceutical Engineering

  • Managing technical projects and systems to ensure that downtime is minimized
  • Developing an understanding of the principles and concepts associated with specialist engineering areas
  • Providing technical guidance and coaching
  • Dealing with technical situations independently
  • Handling more complex work activities or in making more sensitive engineering judgments or decisions
  • Regularly exchanging complex information, mostly guiding and advising others, who may not have a technical and/or engineering experience or understanding
  • Interfacing with other internal functions and external groups, e.g. contractors, suppliers and service providers.

Frequently asked questions

Which formal qualifications do I need?

Graduates in any discipline who have completed their first degree with a minimum of a 2:1 or MSc in 2016, or are due to graduate by September 2017.

When must I have graduated?

You must have graduated within the past two years and by September 2017.

How, and when, should I apply?

Online applications are now open across Sweden, the UK and the US.

Applications for the US will close on 2nd October 2016; for the UK on 31st December 2016; and for Sweden on 15th Jaunuary 2017.  For roles In China, applications will open on 6th February 2017 and close on 31st March 2017.

What should I focus on in my application?

Your application should aim to show the skills, qualifications and experience you have that are relevant to this programme. You should also tell us what you know about AstraZeneca and its Global Operations organisation.

It would be helpful for you also to describe your motivations; career aspirations; your strengths and weaknesses and any examples of where you believe you have shown great judgment, drive or influence.

What should I attach with my application?

Please attach a CV to your application and any other documentation that shows your suitability for one of our roles.

Your CV should show relevant dates; education establishments; work experience and any other relevant skills and experience that you have in support of your application.

Can I apply for more than one graduate position?

There is no requirement for you to submit multiple applications for each position you are interested in. In your application you can however indicate which of the disciplines within Operations that you wish to be considered for (e.g. Supply Chain, Quality Management, Procurement or Information Systems).

You may express a preference to be considered for more than one of the disciplines.

What should I attach if I have not yet completed my master’s degree?

Please indicate your expected final degree level and attach copies of any reports or certificates you have received in support of this expected outcome.

Am I guaranteed a job when I finish the programme?

Roles will be offered to those graduates who meet the required performance levels and have demonstrated the required levels of ambition & proactivity throughout the programme. Should you not be on target to achieve any of these criteria, this will be discussed with you throughout the programme as part of the normal performance management processes.

Our intention is to ensure there are no surprises at the end of the graduate programme!

Explore our other graduates/masters programmes

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