Caren van der Merwe

Captain, Royal Signals, Ex-Armed Forces fast-track scheme

I joined GSK from the Royal Signals on the new Global Manufacturing and Supply Ex-Armed Forces Fast Track Scheme. I’m currently in Worthing at one of our Manufacturing Sites on the GSK Production System Team working with our production areas to take our very best practices and apply them everywhere consistently, day in, day out.

The pharmaceuticals industry is highly regulated; making and supplying medicines is highly complex. Working in these challenging conditions requires leaders and operators who are well disciplined and mentally agile enough to quickly understand and confidently carry out these processes.Strong leadership is vital in ensuring that teams operate within strict guidelines and maintain tempo and pace to achieve their goals in a complex environment.

I have been struck by how friendly and enthusiastic all the GSK staff are and in particular by how passionately they believed in the GSK ethos which puts the patient at the centre of everything we do. I am proud to be a part of an organisation that makes life saving medicines for patients across the globe.

I have a degree in management and logistics. While my degree has been helpful in getting to grips with the way the supply chain here works, for any member of the forces who is used to changing roles frequently and starting fresh each time, having to learn quickly and think on your feet is nothing new.

My military experience has prepared me really well for my new career. Our training in teamwork and leadership coupled with experience using these skills in the most punishing and stressful of environments gives me the confidence to drive change and take the lead in spite of my limited specific experience. I am excited to be a part of a company that seeks to help people do more, feel better, live longer. It’s great to be able to feel like I have so many opportunities as well as being able to feel proud about what we stand for.