Heahshot of Ryan McDonough

5 Questions With Ryan McDonough, Senior Vice President, Philadelphia Project Operations at DPS Group Global

“5 Questions With…” is a weekly BioBuzz series where we reach out to interesting people to share a little about themselves, their work, and maybe something completely unrelated. This week we welcome Ryan McDonough, Senior Vice President of Project Operations at DPS Group Global.

In his role as Senior Vice President, Philadelphia Project Operations at DPS, Ryan leads the strategic direction and continued growth of the Philadelphia office, with a focus on expanding its client base and driving project operations improvements. He’s responsible for sales and marketing of DPS Philadelphia’s services, including architectural and engineering design, commissioning, qualification, and validation (CQV), and construction management.

1) Please introduce yourself to our audience by looking back at your education, training, and career.

I have spent my entire career, 20 plus years, in the AEC consulting business—all of it focused on the life sciences industry. I have held various operational leadership roles, most recently as the Senior Vice President of Project Operations at DPS. Prior to my current role I served as the biotech market business unit lead, where I provided strategic direction in addition to developing and executing annual growth plans for the division. I spearheaded the development and progression of the advanced therapy medicinal product (ATMP)/cell and gene therapy initiative, working with clients on multi-process facilities predicated on maximum flexibility, logistics optimization and technologies that reduced overhead costs, allowed pipeline expandability, and produced higher quality therapeutics—all with the purpose of creating lifesaving therapies and cures.

I hold a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Delaware and am a registered professional engineer (PE) in five states. I’m a member of the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) and the Bio Industry Organization (BIO).

I’ve served as an active board member of the Joel A. Gingras Foundation, an organization focused on increasing awareness and raising funds for Brain Tumor Research since 2005.

2) Can you tell us more about DPS Group Global and the services that it provides to its clients?

DPS Group is a global engineering, consulting, and project management company, serving high-tech industries around the world. DPS delivers services for clients across the complete engineering and construction value chain including feasibility studies, concepts, consulting, architecture, engineering, procurement, construction management, commissioning, qualification, and validation as well as client-side technical services.

DPS applies its extensive process engineering expertise, built over 46 years, as well as significant lean construction experience to assist clients in high-end process sectors such as pharmaceuticals, biotech, and semiconductors to deliver manufacturing facilities speedily, safely, and cost-effectively. What sets the firm apart is the partnerships it builds with clients through a fundamental understanding of their businesses and its own agility, flexibility, original thinking, and high-caliber people.

DPS has grown substantially in recent years and now employs more than 2,000 people in 18 offices and on client sites in Ireland, U.K., Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Israel, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. For more information, visit www.dpsgroupglobal.com.

3) What energizes you the most about the current work that you do?

There are a few things that come to mind, but when I really think about it, what energizes me most is the work I do and the people I work with.

I believe we have an obligation to make a difference in this world focused on enriching lives and improving all of our futures. The life sciences industry provides so many opportunities to make a difference. I am energized every day that we are able to help our clients design, build, or improve their facilities to discover or manufacture life-changing or life-saving medicines. Something I try to never lose sight of is how we have a direct impact on the patients that require these medicines or therapies. Designing, constructing, or commissioning a facility is exciting in itself but when you stop and really think about the patients that will benefit from it suddenly you are driven by a different purpose.

I often think about some of the facilities or clients that I had worked with over the years and how the medicines they produce have a direct impact on my family. Another aspect that is so rewarding is when we have an opportunity to meet a patient that will benefit (or has benefited) from the therapies our clients are making. That is what energizes me – understanding that it’s not just about finishing a design or construction, but helping our clients get the medicines to the patients.

I am also fortunate to work with very talented people – some of the best in the business. Interacting and collaborating with passionate people every day invigorates and motivates me. I have a goal to try and learn something new every day, it can be something technical, something regarding leadership, or simply learning something new about a co-worker that I didn’t know previously.

I’ve also had some great mentors throughout my career, which has inspired me to mentor and teach others to help them achieve their career aspirations.

4) What is your perspective on biopharma and biotech growth in the Philadelphia area, and where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?

It is a very exciting time to be in the life sciences industry in the greater Philadelphia area. There is a lot of very exciting science taking place in Philadelphia. The term Cellicon Valley has started to catch on recently and for good reason. 

The greater Philadelphia area’s reputation as a leading life sciences hub nationally and internationally is growing rapidly. Venture capital is flowing into the region in biotechnology at a record-breaking pace. This combined with regional employment growth that is outpacing the national life sciences averages makes it easy to see what the greater Philadelphia area is so attractive.

With the combined science coming out of our universities as well as new local companies, the demand for laboratory space is growing very fast. This has fueled the investment and development of several projects in the area. As these companies continue to advance their science and move towards manufacturing needs the greater Philadelphia area is set up with multiple long terms options to allow these companies to stay local and build or lease their manufacturing facilities right here.

5) If you could have coffee with any one person (alive or deceased), who would that person be, why would you choose that person, and what would you want to talk about?

This is a tough question to answer and there are a lot of people I would like to do this with. If I had to pick one it would probably be Steve Jobs – I can think of so many things to ask him. I have always admired him and his passion for thinking differently and would like to have a casual discussion with him about what drove him. His drive for innovation and continuous improvement fascinates me. But what I would really enjoy discussing with him was what motivated him every day and how did he motivate the people he worked with.

Be sure to check out BioBuzz’s previous interviews, and stay tuned for more conversations with others from across the BioHealth Capital Region, Philadelphia, and beyond!

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Sarah Ellinwood

Managing Editor at BioBuzz | Workforce Genetics
Sarah Ellinwood is BioBuzz's Managing Editor. A scientist by training and a science communicator at heart, Sarah specializes in making complex concepts understandable, engaging, and exciting. She received her Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology with a focus in infectious disease immunology from the University of Maryland and is passionate about all things related to scicomm, peer mentorship, and women in STEM.