“Problem solving is an integral part of my job as an engineer — being adaptable and resilient is key”

Sandra Dinan has found there are plenty of learning opportunities within her role as process engineer at Lilly Kinsale.

Share This Post

Sandra Dinan has been working in Eli Lilly and Company in Kinsale since September 2022, a world-leading innovative medicines company. She joined their Engineering Graduate Programme after completing a BEng (Hons) degree in Chemical and Biopharmaceutical Engineering in MTU.

Here, she outlines what she loves most about her current role as a Process Engineer in Small Molecule Manufacturing.

What motivated you to apply for the graduate programme at this company?

When applying for jobs, Lilly appealed to me as one of the strongest biopharmaceutical companies making medicine here in Cork and globally. It has a promising clinical pipeline and it is in an exciting growth phase.

The graduate programme is three years in length and accredited by the ICHEME, a global professional organisation for engineers. This appealed to me as it supports continuous professional development and enables graduates to get ahead on their journey to becoming a Chartered Engineer.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how it prepared you for this programme?

After completing the course in MTU, I developed skills for problem solving and facing challenges. I learned skills in stress management, teamwork and organised for multiple project deadlines and exams which prepared me for the fast-paced environment at Eli Lilly.

I come from a sporty background which also helped develop my teamwork skills but has also taught me to keep my head up when I make a mistake, or when things go wrong.

I also completed a 6 months work placement in Merck Millipore Cork during my time in MTU. This was my first ever experience where I could apply and develop skills in the real world, complete my research project and get used to how production operations work, as well as documentation and compliance activities.

Is there anything you wish you had known before starting the programme?

The level of fast-paced work, deadlines and demanding challenges was something I wish I knew about before starting the graduate programme. I started off as a Process Engineer in Small Molecule on one of the processes at Lilly Kinsale. I was treated the same as any other Process Engineer on the team and was given responsibility and tasks straight away while supporting the lead Process Engineer. This was a great way to develop skills and to learn and grow as an engineer, but it was also intense and a challenging first few months in getting up to speed, with the responsibilities increasing throughout the programme.

Can you describe a typical day or week in the programme?

As a Process Engineer, a typical day involves arriving to work and attending the morning meeting. This is where we do a shift handover with the process team, including discussing updates and any issues, and the plan for the day. Other day to day activities include troubleshooting, chairing meetings with multi-disciplinary teams and process monitoring. I also spend time liaising with colleagues in other functions such as quality representatives and safety engineers to compile process information or solve problems when needed.

What kind of projects or assignments did you work on during the programme?

I’m currently working as a process engineer for a specific new product introduction. Over the past few months, I’ve been helping with planning for the changeover of equipment, and ensuring compliance is maintained for both safety and quality, which are our top priorities.

Over the last year and a half I’ve also chaired the safety committee for my building, talking about different safety topics and communications.

What advice would you give to a graduate who is thinking about interviewing for this position?

Be yourself and be honest. Think about why you want a particular role and always bring the best of yourself to the role. Be willing to work with an open mind and learn from people who have more experience in that area, always ask questions and this will help you excel in your career development.

What would you say are the key skills and capabilities necessary to be a good fit?

Working as an Engineer at Lilly Kinsale means working in a multidisciplinary team. A lot of the work involves liaising with different functions. Key skills for this are therefore teamwork and communication.

Challenges and problem solving are an integral part of the job as an engineer. Being adaptable and resilient in solving any technical problems and managing change are important skills for the role.

How would you describe the company culture?

The Lilly Kinsale culture is very family orientated with a great community spirit. Everyone is very helpful and supportive, and I feel like I can reach out to anyone in any area on the site for help when needed, no matter what level, or how senior they are. The company is very inclusive and people at Lilly are encouraged to speak up and to be innovative. Personal and career development are always supported.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

After five years, I see myself having transitioned through multiple areas in the company such as process safety or continuous manufacturing. I see myself working as a more senior experienced Process Engineer on potentially design of a new product introduction for an upcoming medicine, or working at one of Lilly’s manufacturing sites in the US.

What’s your favourite place to holiday?

Italy or Sherkin Island in the sun.

What are you watching at the moment?

I have started the new season of Bridgerton.

What’s your favourite meal?

Authentic lasagne from Rome.



Related articles


Leading healthcare company continues to hire and grow

“MSD was already creative when pitching ourselves as a great company to work for, and now this crisis has challenged us to be even more innovative”- Maria Cullen, Talent Acquisition lead at MSD Ireland


Discover your perfect job

Looking to take the next step in your career?
Kickstart your search with indepth profiles and 

handy career advice and find your 

perfect match today.


10 Minutes With…

Find jobs in your area

Copyright © 2022. Developed & Designed by Square1.