In Conversation with

Rob Hughes

You have been with Siegfried for a quite some time already. How did you settle in and what is your interim balance?

I recently completed my first year at Siegfried and am amazed at how quickly the time has passed. There was a steep learning curve to understand Siegfried Irvine’s business model, the product portfolio, and how the Irvine site fits into our larger corporate network. I was fortunate to join the organization with a lengthy overlap period with my predecessor. This allowed us to avoid a disruption to the operation while I learned the business. Combined with a seasoned leadership team, we successfully navigated the transition period and have shifted our focus toward operational improvements and growth.

 

What is your function at Siegfried and what are your responsibilities?

I serve as the Site Head for Siegfried’s Irvine facility. We are a sterile drug product facility and focus on difficult formulations, cartridges, and ophthalmic drugs. I have responsibility for the overall performance of the site including operational, financial, and regulatory targets. Additionally, I lead the strategic planning to achieve our growth and modernization plans.
 

Do you have a typical workday?

One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is that no two days are similar. Often times my priorities and schedule change several times during the course of a day as operational and client needs arise and require attention. 

Due to our physical location in the Siegfried network, my workdays start before the sun rises each morning. I try to connect with my European colleagues before leaving home to ensure any issues are resolved prior to the end of the European workday. Upon arriving at the office, I check in with our site leadership team to ensure overnight activities occurred according to plan. From that point forward, my day is a mixture of activities including strategic planning, client meetings, internal projects, and troubleshooting issues.

 

What is your favorite activity?

I am excited for the future of Siegfried Irvine. We have committed significant investments in the facility to support ambitious growth plans. These projects include new filling lines, automated inspection technology, and European regulatory compliance. In order to implement these improvements, we need to modify and formalize many of our policies and procedures. I expect that within a few years, the Siegfried Irvine facility and business will look significantly different than it does today. I greatly enjoy these forward looking projects and laying the foundation to support our transition and growth.

 

How did your professional career develop? What was your previous employment experience?

I attended university in San Diego, California, where there are a large number of biopharmaceutical organizations. My undergraduate degree was in biological sciences so there was a natural fit out of school. One of my first professional positions was with a drug development organization working on a cancer therapy. Our company hosted clinical trial participants who were in remission to speak at a company event. Hearing the cancer survivors tell their story was one of the most emotional moments of my life and reinforced why I wanted to work in pharmaceuticals: to help improve the lives of patients.

For the past 20+ years, I have worked for a handful of pharmaceutical companies in several disciplines. I have held leadership roles in manufacturing operations, quality assurance, regulatory affairs, quality control, and business development. These varied roles have provided a broad perspective of the challenges various departments face and how all the functions interrelate to each other. During this time, I returned to school and earned an MBA. This provided additional exposure to functions such as finance, human resources, and corporate strategy. Prior to joining Siegfried, I served as the Site Head for Abzena, a biologics contract development and manufacturer in San Diego.

 

What are the similarities and differences between your present field of activity and your earlier ones?

My role at Siegfried is similar to my previous Site Head roles. In these cases, I have had responsibility for the oversight and performance of pharmaceutical contract manufacturing facilities. The regulatory and business challenges are common across the industry.

The key difference between Siegfried and my previous roles is the complexity of our operation. We process a large number of development projects at various stages of the drug development cycle. Each of these has unique complexities and challenges. We have six different filling lines covering a range of container closures. Combined, our staff manages multiple dynamic variables on a daily basis.

 

What about Siegfried appeals to you?

The primary factor that appealed to me when interviewing with the company was the future vision for the Irvine site. The company expects significant growth from the Irvine facility and is willing to support the effort with capital investments. Being a part of delivering that vision is an exciting challenge.

 

Who is the private Rob Hughes? What are your hobbies and what do you do for your work-life-balance?

I am happily married with four kids. In our spare time, my wife and I are SCUBA instructors and teach students as well as train new instructors. Most weekends and often times before and after work, I can be found diving off our local beaches. Our kids share this hobby and we plan our vacations around visiting popular diving locations.

When we are not underwater, our recreation time is spent outdoors hiking, running, and biking trails through our regional parks. I have found these activities help restore clarity and balance to my life.

 

Do you have any lifelong dreams that you would like to fulfill?

I would like to visit more of the world. Outside of holiday and work travel, I have spent the majority of my life in Southern California. I would like to travel to other continents, learn their history, speak the language, and experience the cultures.

 

What was the greatest gift or the best moment in your life?

The greatest moments in my life revolve around my family. I am not sure how to identify a single one over others so will cheat and pick the birth of my kids. It is a day all parents can relate with and changes us forever.