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Pharmaceutical Technology & Development (PT&D) Graduate Programme

Locations: Macclesfield, UK; or Gothenburg, Sweden
Salary: Competitive

Apply for UK programme

Applications for the Swedish programme will be opening from the 2nd January 2018.

About PT&D

As a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business, we employ around 50,000 people worldwide. Our goal is to make a real impact on some of the greatest medical challenges facing humanity.

That simply wouldn't be possible without our incredible PT&D team. They are responsible for designing and developing the innovative products and manufacturing processes that change patients' lives every day from concept right through to delivery. This is your chance to be a part of that change.

Programme details

About the programme

If you share our passion for science and technology, and want to make a genuine difference to the lives of patients, today and in the future, then the PT&D graduate programme was made for you. The programme is all about looking forward, using ground breaking science and technology to meet the needs of patients.

We can't develop the kind of incredible medicines we do, without developing people first. And to do that, we have an incredible culture of support and collaboration, as well as the tools, rewards and opportunities you need to take your scientific career further. As a graduate, you'll be working on a variety of projects, with some of the world's most experienced scientists. So every day will be an opportunity to learn and grow, and enjoy making your talent count.

What does the programme involve?

The two-year programme starts in September 2018 and includes three distinct rotations through different areas of PT&D. These will provide you with broad exposure to multiple areas of basic and applied scientific research, and experience of the medicines design, development and commercialisation process through the application of science on development projects. You can choose from a wide range of placements and we'll do all we can to meet your preferences. 

You'll also complete our global graduate development programme. Three times over the two years, you'll be part of a graduate cohort that comes together in one of our global locations to develop the leadership and self-management skills required for success. You can expect a competitive salary and benefits, potential for future employment and mentor support from the outset.

Essential requirements

What we're looking for:

  • High-achieving, technically expert graduates in chemistry, physics, chemical or mechanical engineering, pharmacy or related subjects who have completed their first degree or Masters in 2016/17, or are due to graduate by September 2018 with a 2:1 or higher or equivalent grading
  • Innovative thinkers whose enthusiasm matches their scientific expertise
  • Confidence and desire to tackle new challenges and work situations with ease
  • Energy and motivation to be part of a team that believes collaboration is key to meeting the unmet needs of patients.

It is the people that make AstraZeneca and we take great pride in ensuring our people reach their full potential. Pharmaceutical Technology & Development (PT&D) is an exciting place to be right now, providing a wealth of scientifically challenging opportunities providing personal growth and professional development.

Any graduate joining PT&D will, from day one, be part of a team applying brilliant science and engineering to turn molecules into medicines. The variety of experiences gained from rotation through different placements provides an invaluable breadth of business awareness and understanding from which to build an exciting career in AstraZeneca

Dafni Bika VP & Global Head of PT&D

Meet our people

Meet Annika

Meet Annika

Heya, I'm Annika and I'm a Scientist in the PT&D Graduate programme. I'm originally from Finland and started in the company by doing my master's thesis in the field of continuous wet granulation in Drug Product Manufacture in Gothenburg, Sweden. I had a blast doing the thesis and learned a lot during the months spent in the lab among all the AZ scientists. I appreciated the great feeling of co-operation where everyone was working together towards the same goals. And even as a master's thesis student I really felt like being part of the team. During this time I got to know some of the graduates in the PT&D and IMED programmes at Gothenburg site through a young-minded organisation called AZ Youth. I saw how the graduates were doing all this cool science and having the emphasis on learning while contributing to the drug projects. It sounded a good way to start your career.

After my thesis, I was eager to learn more about pharmaceutical industry, work with the experts in this field and see more of the different functions and departments. I wanted to focus on the later stages of drug development which made applying for the PT&D graduate programme an easy choice. I luckily was accepted to start in September 2015 and have loved it ever since. 

My first placement was in Inhalation Devices and Packaging in Product Development, Gothenburg, Sweden. I am a pharmacist by background and being part of a team of engineers was challenging at first and ended up being very fascinating in the end. I learned a ton! I focused mainly on the usability aspects and reviewed all the human factor studies made by my department, looking at how the patients interacted with the devices we were designing and helped to improve the design and instructions to further improve the usability of our devices. Since AZ has a big respiratory pipeline and a lot of collaboration inside and outside AZ, it was an interesting field to be in.

At the moment I am doing an international placement in Biopharmaceutics in Product Development at Macclesfield site (the UK) where my role involves learning about the human physiology and different ways we as a pharmaceutical company can track how the body affects the medicine's absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion. This is done through analytical and pharmacokinetic modelling. I have my own project where I am modelling data from clinical studies to see the correlations between intravenous and oral dosing models, and these pharmacokinetic models can in the future contribute to designing the right clinical trials for the benefit of the patients.

I usually say I have the greatest job ever! I just get to learn more every day. Well, of course you have the things that you are expected to deliver in each placement but that comes naturally since these are usually entwined to your overall learning. I get excited when there are a lot of things happening around me and the beauty is that I get to be a part of this journey from the complex molecules to the actual patient-friendly products. Pharmaceutical industry continues to amaze me and the amount of scientific expertise, drive and co-operation happening at AZ is simply astonishing. The possibility of doing international placements makes it even better since AZ is such a large global company.

I think the graduate programme is for you if you can interact with a lot of people, are willing to learn and are not scared of taking on a subject without previous knowledge of it. Looking back when I worked as a pharmacist in a community pharmacy, I think I can now contribute to a much wider range of patients while having a science focus in my work. My advice for a future graduate would be: love a challenge, talk with people and gather as much knowledge as you can!

Meet Lottie

Meet Lottie

Hi, I'm Lottie and I'm currently working on a late stage formulation team within Product Development based at the Macclesfield site in the UK.

I am a pharmacist by background, and spent a year working in a hospital as a pre-registration trainee pharmacist prior to joining the PT&D Graduate Programme in 2015. Having undertaken a summer placement with AstraZeneca during my undergraduate degree, I had some knowledge of the company and experience working at the Macclesfield site. I have always found it an exciting, friendly and supportive place to work and couldn't wait to come back when I was accepted onto the two year programme.

For my first placement on the programme, I was placed in Study Management within R&D Supply Chain. This was not a role I had ever previously considered, and was mostly office based. I was responsible for managing study drug supply to a number of clinical trials for one of our oncology compounds, and got to interact with a huge variety of people from both within AstraZeneca and externally. I found the placement challenging, as I had a lot of responsibility working in quite a fast paced environment. But it was also hugely rewarding as I was able to see more clearly the impact we were having on those patients' lives. I got the opportunity to use a lot of the skills I had developed through my pharmacy training, and get a broad overview of an area of the business where I had no prior experience. 

I then moved across into Product Development for my second placement, where I am currently working on the late stage formulation development of a product intended for paediatric use. I am also completing some broader project work looking at some of the challenges we face in producing new medicines that are suitable for children and how we can overcome these. This is a really interesting area to be working in as some of the age-appropriate dosage forms being developed for children are quite new concepts, so there is plenty of scope for me to make a real impact on how we develop these products in the future.

What I enjoy most about the graduate programme is the ability to rotate between completely different areas of the business, getting a breadth of experiences across different teams. Being able to try new things, and see how all of the various departments work together is a really unique opportunity and is helping me to start thinking about where I might like my career to progress in the future. It is exciting to be contributing to real projects that could one day improve peoples' lives, and we are given plenty of opportunities and support to ensure that we are able to make valuable contributions in every placement. I also enjoy the global graduate development programme which we take part in, as this helps us to develop some of our softer skills as well as the chance to visit other sites and network with AstraZeneca graduates from all over the world.

I would highly recommend the programme to anyone who likes a challenge and has a passion for learning, as we are constantly being exposed to something new. It is a great introduction to the pharmaceutical industry, and PT&D is a really exciting and rewarding place to work.

Meet Aidan

Meet Aidan

Hi, I'm Aidan and I'm currently leading an improvement project on the Macclesfield pilot plant that is focussed on optimising our cleaning strategy. I joined AstraZeneca after completing my Master's degree in Chemistry at the University of Oxford.

For my first rotation on the PT&D Graduate Programme I worked as a Process Chemist in Chemical Development, where I devised new synthetic routes for one of AstraZeneca's early phase oncology compounds. This was a fantastic opportunity to apply my theoretical knowledge of organic chemistry from university to a real-world project in industry. Although I had no experience in the pharmaceutical industry prior to joining the programme, I was able to learn a huge amount by drawing on the expertise of my colleagues, and it was exciting to work on innovative science in a world-leading department.

I've recently moved onto my second rotation in Drug Substance Manufacture, a function within the R&D Supply Chain branch of PT&D. Here I've been able to contribute towards the large scale manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients for the supply of medicines to patients on clinical trials. As a chemist, it's fascinating to see how chemical processes transition from the lab to this drastically different environment, and the experience has provided me with a valuable insight into this key part of the drug development process.

What attracted me to the PT&D Graduate Programme was the breadth of opportunities that are available to graduates, and the emphasis on personal development. There's a huge range of potential roles that you can work in over the three rotations of the programme, and with the guidance of your assigned mentor, you're encouraged to develop a diverse skillset across multiple business areas. People at AstraZeneca are extremely receptive towards graduates, and there is an excellent support network in place to ensure that you get the most out of the programme and help you realise your future career aspirations going forward.

My advice to anyone considering applying for the programme would be to go for it. PT&D is an incredibly diverse area to work in, with innovative science having a real impact on the business and the patients that it serves. If you're willing to learn, you can get a huge amount out of the programme, no matter what your background is.

Meet Grace

Meet Grace

Grace is a scientist within product development at AstraZeneca.

2011–2013 Worked part-time at Urban Pharmacy and then in 2013 Graduated from Queens University Belfast with a masters degree in pharmacy and began a pre-registration training year at Urban Pharmacy before joining AstraZeneca’s pharmaceutical technology and development graduate scheme in 2014. In 2016 Finished the graduate scheme and was appointed to a permanent position as a scientist.

I first became interested in the pharmaceutical industry while I was at school. I was fascinated by the process of taking a molecule and turning that into something that you could find on the shelf of your local pharmacy. Wanting to find out more about that motivated me to study pharmacy. For pharmacy students there is a well-worn path to working in community or retail pharmacy. At this point I hadn’t pinpointed the particular field of pharmacy that I was interested in, so I focused my attention on retail pharmacy.

Changing plans

My university expected me to complete a number of placements during my degree. Alongside these university placements I maintained a part-time job at an independent community pharmacy and carried out some voluntary work experience at a hospital in order to get a broader range of experience.

Community pharmacy focuses on the individual needs of patients and through working in this area I learned a lot about communicating with patients, as I had to explain the side effects of medication and so on. However, what I didn’t get was an opportunity to delve deeper into the science behind the medication that I was dispensing. In my final year at university I undertook a research project and realised the questions that I had about the process of developing pharmaceuticals could only really be answered in the research field. After this I became more drawn to research and industrial pharmaceutical work and decided to pursue a career there instead of in community pharmacy.

Making work experience work

When it came to my assessment centre, a concern of mine was that I would come up against candidates from engineering, chemistry or pharmacy backgrounds who would have more relevant industrial work experience and more technical knowledge.  So, I aimed to emphasise the strengths and skills that I had developed through community pharmacy. Skills such as communication and an understanding of the business side of the pharmaceutical industry really helped me; I think I showed that I had the potential for learning the more technical side of things.

Laboratories and learning

My graduate scheme was structured around three rotational placements over the course of two years. Two of these rotations involved developing products through lab-based work while the third was in supply chain, looking at the business aspects of delivering drugs to patients and ensuring that the development of products followed a strict timeline and met objectives.

In my current role as a scientist I work to design and develop products that can treat patients with a number of conditions. At a simple level it involves turning molecules into medicines that can be tested at clinical trial, but this work also has the potential to change people’s lives. The nature of research work means that a lot of the time an experiment won’t have the results that you were expecting. By nature I’m a perfectionist, so this can become frustrating, but it makes eventually getting the result you hoped for even more rewarding. I’ve had to learn to adapt when things don’t go to plan and to ask for help from people with more experience. Hearing stories about how our products have been successful and improved the quality of people’s lives provides constant motivation for whenever the work gets repetitive.

Breaking new ground

In the time since I joined, two new breakthrough oncology drugs, Lynparza and Tagrisso, have been approved and made available to patients. Usually the drug development process (from starting clinical trial to approval) can take anywhere between six to 12 years. However, because of the hard work of my colleagues, Tagrisso was approved only two and a half years after starting trials. In order to carry this out the development had to be strategically planned and timed to perfection.

In the short term, I want to continue to develop my technical knowledge and work in product development. Colleagues have highlighted my strong communication and business skills, due to my experience from working in community pharmacy and in the supply chain, and so at some point I’d like to move into management. At AstraZeneca I’ve got to experience some really amazing work by scientists who are at the top of their field and I’d like to continue to learn from them and help drive projects to completion.

Follow your own path

My advice for current student would be not to be afraid of diverging from the status quo. Undergraduate students may have a tendency to follow the same path as the majority, and so I took a risk in focusing on something different. Doing so gave me a differing set of experiences and skills that made me stand out in the application process and continue to be useful. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and have the courage to pursue opportunities that arise. 

Frequently asked questions

How will the programme work?

You would join AZ on a two year fixed term contract and complete three placements, of eight months duration each, across different parts of Pharmaceutical Technology & Development.

There are a wide variety of placement options available, allowing you to gain a breadth of experiences across multiple functions such as Product Development, Chemical Development, Pharmaceutical Innovations and R&D Supply Chain.

Each graduate will take a different route through the programme, based on your personal background, skills and career aspirations.

Will I have a choice of where my placement would be?

Yes, you will be encouraged to discuss placement opportunities with your managers and mentor throughout the programme and submit preferences in where you would like to be based.

You won't be asked to state preferences for all three placements up front, so while you learn about the different functions and departments within AZ you will be able to tailor your placements to meet your own interests and career aspirations.

What kind of work will I be doing?

All of our graduates are fully immersed within teams in the organisation and take on real roles and responsibilities from day one.

Your day to day activities will depend on the team and projects you are working in, and you could be based in a variety of different environments including the development or analytical labs, large-scale labs and pilot plant, an office environment or a combination of these. Wherever you are based the projects you will be working on will be real projects, with the potential to benefit patients worldwide.

Does the programme require previous work experience in the pharmaceutical industry?

Though some experience of working in the pharmaceutical industry may be advantageous, it is not a requirement for this programme.

You should be prepared to highlight the skills that you have gained from any work experience you have that may be transferrable to the graduate programme, regardless of the sector you gained this experience in.

Will I obtain a permanent role at the end of the programme?

We are not able to guarantee you a permanent role at AstraZeneca at the end of the programme. Our graduate programme is very much part of our broader strategy in terms of developing the next generation of scientists so we do expect some of our graduates to move into permanent roles, however whatever the outcome for you we are confident that you will benefit significantly from the skills, network and experience that you would obtain from the completion of the programme.

There are also possibilities to continue towards a doctoral thesis with the connections made from the graduate programme.

Will I have an opportunity to work overseas as part of the programme?

We do offer some international placements as part of the programme but this is not guaranteed.

What are the opportunities for development on the programme?

You will be encouraged to grow and develop throughout the 2 year programme. A number of development opportunities will be put into place, including relevant technical and placement specific training.

All graduates will also be enrolled into our global graduate development programme.

What does the global graduate development programme cover and how will it work?

The development programme will focus on the skills that you need to be successful, including leadership and self-management without forgetting the scientific expertise.

There will be 3 development modules across the course of the 2 year programme where you will be given the opportunity to develop softer skills (leadership, communication, self-management) and you will come together as a global graduate cohort at one of our sites to complete these. Each module will include a series of workshops, individual and group tasks.

It can also be seen as the opportunity for you to network and share ideas with other graduates from our global graduate cohort.

What opportunities will I have to present my work?

There are many opportunities for graduates to present their work. This could include sharing their progress with other team members in project meetings, taking part in graduate presentation sessions or presenting to a wider audience at department or site-wide events (such as Science Days).

There may even be opportunities to present at external conferences and events.

How many positions are you recruiting?

Globally we are looking to recruit approximately 6 graduates onto the programme, usually spread across Macclesfield, UK and Gothenburg, Sweden.

What countries are you recruiting in?

We will have PT&D Graduates based in Gothenburg, Sweden and Macclesfield, UK.

What will the selection process look like?

We have developed a robust selection process that will enable us to ensure that we select the best candidates to join our programme sharing the same AZ values as we do. This will consist of a number of different types of exercises and interviews that will test your technical knowledge and interpersonal skills.

You will be provided with detailed information on how you can prepare for one of our selection events should you be shortlisted. Our assessment centres are very much a two way process and this is our opportunity to find out about your suitability for a place on our programme but it is also your opportunity to find out whether the programme is right for you. 

When can I expect to hear whether my application has been successful?

We aim to contact all candidates within 4-5 weeks from the closing date to confirm whether you have been shortlisted to progress within our process.

What if I cannot make the selection dates that you have indicated?

We will be unable to offer an alternative date for candidates who cannot make the assessment dates. We therefore include details of our assessment dates on our advertisements so candidates are clear about this when they submit their applications.

Will I be provided with relocation support?

All graduates who join the programme are provided with relocation assistance and help with expenses coming from setting up home in a new area if required.

Graduates going on international placements are also provided with settling in support where we will provide assistance with the establishment of national insurance numbers and bank accounts, and relocation support from an external vendor to help you to find a place to stay.

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