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As Regulatory Affairs Manager for Australia, Joy Pallis, prides herself on helping bring to market innovative medicines that make a remarkable impact on peoples’ lives.

Earlier this year, Joy celebrated 35 years at AbbVie and reflects on her achievements and the varied nature of her career across a range of roles in pathology, manufacturing and regulatory affairs. Joy shares her gratitude for the life experiences and support she’s had at AbbVie as well as the value of working alongside wonderful people.

“You don’t join a company at 21 and say, ‘I’m going be here for my whole working career’. It doesn’t happen that way. One year just rolled into the next and I have no regrets, no regrets at all. I enjoy what I do and that’s paramount.

In fact, I always say: ‘You should suit the company and the company should suit you’.

For me, this company has always suited me, even when it was part of Abbott. AbbVie is good to its employees and their families as well. It’s a company that has always respected me as an employee and given me opportunities to learn and grow.

I started working at Abbott in April 1988. I saw an advertisement in the newspaper for a microbiologist based at the manufacturing plant at Kurnell, in Sydney’s south-east, so I called up, got an interview and landed the job.

I started in the Sterile department of the manufacturing plant which made sterile medicines. It was an important position, ensuring the sterility and therefore safety of the medicines during the manufacturing process. I also spent time in Quality Assurance where I was involved in testing medicines and carrying out environmental monitoring at the plant, as well as process validation later down the track.

I had always had an interest in regulatory affairs, so I jumped at the opportunity to assist in that team. Having the broad manufacturing and scientific background and experience working on the lines meant I had a unique understanding of the business and could see things differently; I could understand process and apply meaning to the practical application of the documents I was reading, in a way that others couldn’t.

The company has also changed. It’s bigger and better now than it has ever been. When I look around me now, everyone has a personal laptop and a phone. When I first started, there was only one typewriter in the senior admin’s office to type files for the directors but otherwise everything was handwritten. On the factory floor, we had an Olympic striped exercise book that had each line numbered by hand, so we could document any deviations. There was no auto-generation of tracking numbers, it was all handwritten in the note book!

While it was all much simpler, it was also much slower. These days with email and access to electronic files, everything is instantaneous.

Things like office attire and even the very concept of being in the office has changed. The idea that if you weren’t in the office, you weren’t working no longer applies. Now, we have the flexibility to work from home or the office. It’s all much more relaxed, but the expectation remains that you deliver – it’s this attitude and commitment that really pulled us through during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

During the lockdowns we all shone. As a team we knew what we had to do; we had submissions to make and deadlines to meet. And we did it.

The biggest telling element was that even though we were isolated at home, we were still delivering on our business goals. It still gives me such a great sense of satisfaction to see us delivering as a team and as an organisation. It’s like a relay race – as Regulatory Affairs, we have the baton first, running our race to register our medicines and once that is finalised, we then hand the baton over to the commercial team.

As a team we commit to bringing products to market for our patients. We keep our word; we do what we say we will. We all work together so well for the benefit of our patients and that’s a really rewarding process to be part of. It’s also something that gives me a great sense of pride when I see our products on the market.

I’m also proud of being able to share my knowledge with others over the years. I’ve been able to train people and show them how things work. I’ve hired people, nurtured them and given them what they need to grow professionally and sometimes, personally. That to me is a big buzz.

It’s this pride in delivering on expectations and meeting our milestones that has remained consistent even while technology and the world around us, have changed. AbbVie takes care of its people and that’s certainly a common thread.

I always say: ‘I am the lucky one because I work with great people’. A great team can achieve so much, and we’ve really shown that’s what we are. I take my hat off to them and their dedication. Everyone talks about AbbVie being a great company and as an organisation it absolutely is. But above all, it’s the people that make the company extraordinary.”