Ron Taber and Team Rise to the Occasion During COVID-19 Pandemic
Director, Packaging Operations
Location: San Dimas and La Verne, CA
Joined Gilead: March 1997
During his more than 20 years at Gilead, Ron Taber, Director, Packaging Operations, has been involved in numerous aspects of pharmaceutical manufacturing and even embarked on a different career path. Here, he reflects on his time at Gilead and how the COVID-19 pandemic led to some of the most memorable moments of his career.
What drew you to your field and how did you come to work at Gilead?A:
In my early career, I was trained and educated in electrical technologies. At that time, I was drawn to Gilead because there was an opportunity to be involved in manufacturing projects centering around automation. The projects provided me with the chance to learn so many new things. In my first few years here, I worked on the automation required for an important part of our manufacturing process, which provided me with the opportunity to learn how to do programming for the equipment involved in that process. At the time I had not done programming before, so I was able to take a further step in my field. I was looking for a company that would offer me room to grow – and I have been able to do that at Gilead.
Tell us about a time you really felt the impact of your work.A:
In my current role as Director of Packaging Operations, I oversee the teams responsible for all packaging and inspection of the company’s medicines at our San Dimas and La Verne manufacturing sites. Recently, we had to develop a plan to support the increase in demand for one of our products to be sent to India due to the surge of COVID-19 cases there last summer. We managed to get product out the door in record time, which made a big difference to the patients in need.
What was your most memorable day at Gilead, and what made it special?A:
There have been many memorable days over my 24 years at Gilead, but the day that really stands out was in early 2020 when our site was asked to manufacture an investigational treatment for COVID-19. We had to quickly figure out producing and inspecting the product and keep up with ever-increasing production demands. As this was still an experimental treatment, we didn’t have an automated process set up yet, which meant we had to do manual inspection of the product. This can be a slow process, but everyone worked incredibly hard to keep up the pace and we even had volunteers from other departments join in. I remember being amazed by how the team came together and found ways to safely and quickly inspect the product and get it out the door to hospitals and clinical trials that needed it. It was the most amazing collaboration I have ever been part of.
How would you describe the company’s culture?A:
I would describe our culture as one that fosters development. When someone shows potential and a good work ethic, our teams help foster the growth of that person. We get excited to see people take on new roles and succeed in their career goals. One of the managers who currently reports to me started her career here in an entry-level role, and it has been incredible to watch her continue to find success by working hard, increasing her technical abilities and growing into a talented team leader.
What has been your personal experience with the opportunities for career growth at Gilead?A:
I began my career at Gilead on the technical side in maintenance, working on the engineering for projects. After about 15 years here supporting production, I had developed enough knowledge of the area that the director of manufacturing at the time asked if I would be interested in managing the packaging of our medicines. It was a big shift for me to go from the technical side to managing operations, but I had great support every step of the way.
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