Meet David, Principal Enterprise Architect at Roche

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Dublin, Ireland and studied Electronic Engineering and Computer Science at the Institute of Technology Dublin. I then worked for a technology reseller for a couple of years, until I embarked on my biggest adventure to date. I emigrated from Ireland in 1995 and landed in San Francisco with only a backpack, and the name and phone number of a friend's friend!

I did some consulting work in the healthcare industry before joining Genentech in 1999 as a Network Engineer; that was the beginning of my exciting 15-year Biotech journey. Marriage and two kids later, life has never looked so good!

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area has exposed me to the natural beauty of northern California. I have developed a passion for trail running and enjoy the outdoors in a climate very different from the one I grew up in!

In which Roche location are you currently working and what can you tell us about that location as a work environment?

I am based at the South San Francisco Genentech site. It is a special place, from its location next to the SF bay to the hills to the west where the fog streams in the afternoon, not to mention the wind! Genentech has undergone exponential growth over the past 15 years from 4,000 employees in 1999 to over 11,000 today, not including contractors on site, and now 50+ buildings.

I live in Oakland across the bay and am fortunate enough to commute to the office via ferry. Yes, San Francisco skyline, Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge views every morning, not a bad way to get to the office!

I have been involved with the transformation of the work environment at SSF, moving from a fixed allocation to a more flexible form of working. I focus on how the technology fits into this transformation, and enables it on so many levels - mobile, always connected, etc.

What is it about Roche that keeps you here instead of a traditional IT company?

I'm the Enterprise Architect responsible for "Network Facility IT Service" - the area focused on how we connect sites and how we create a common user experience through technologies and services. As a company Roche is undergoing exciting growth and transformation including how we are seeing the convergence between physical buildings and how our employees work. To be part of that journey is a fantastic opportunity for any IT professional - it's a new world and helping shape that future is very exciting.

What does an IT Architect do at Roche?

There's an IT Architect Job Family that includes different kinds of architects at Roche: Enterprise Architects, Portfolio Architects, Solution Architects.

As Enterprise Architects, we look at overall business needs and define technology strategies that span the enterprise. Portfolio Architects typically focus on the application landscape & future roadmap of the portfolio they represent. Solution Architects typically design for a specific solution and its related components.

How do you manage to innovate in a company of Roche's size?

As Architects, it's our responsibility to be forward looking, scanning for technology trends and disruptions in the market place. We stay in close contact with key vendors, attending conferences and networking with peers from other companies; we try to stay ahead of the curve. Internally we have a number of mechanisms for employees to suggest innovative ideas that then get vetted and reviewed by a governance board. If approved, they move into a proof of concept phase and so on. In the space I'm responsible for, I see new products and ideas from multiple industries - typically IT and emerging technology within the construction industry. There are lots of moving pieces to keep us busy and excited.

How empowered is the IT Architect's role within Roche?

In my area of Network and Facilities IT it is very satisfying to be a part of how a strategy is embraced, executed upon, and delivered to the business. In the case of new technologies and user experiences in the workplace, it's great when a new building comes into service and you can see the end result in a tangible way.

How is your job connected to “doing now what patients need next”?

The reason I have stayed at Genentech/Roche for so long is that I know we make a difference in the world. It would be very easy to work for a company that provides apps or widgets, but working for a company that saves lives and having had the opportunity to meet those very patients over the course of the past 15 years has been truly inspiring. The future of our business will be dependant upon good science and good data. Capturing that data and delivering it to where it is needed across the globe is dependant upon technologies. So planning for new global facilities is truly laying the foundation to enable Roche to continue to move forward.

Explore here how IT at Roche has an impact on patients' lives.

Tags: Genentech, Career Blog, Information Technology, South San Francisco, USA