Home For Visitors For Companies Impressions Our Team Archive
2019 | Silver Partner
2018 | Silver Partner
2017 | Base Partner
MSD Global
We are
At MSD, we are inventing for life. As a leading global biopharmaceutical company, we have been engaged in life science research for more than a century, developing drugs and vaccines for the most challenging diseases worldwide. In Switzerland, we provide a wide range of healthcare solutions and are making available significant novel medicines, including treatments of cancer, hepatitis C, diabetes and antibiotic-resistant infections. Our recently re-integrated broad vaccines portfolio is well positioned to further prevent diseases and improve public health.
Switzerland serves as an international hub in the company’s global setting with four sites in and around the city of Lucerne. Our R&D site in Werthenstein was involved in the development of about 45% of MSD’s products, serving patients in need. From here, around 270 scientists, engineers, technicians, process specialists and administrative personnel from around 14 nations test, develop and analyze new large molecule (i.e. biological), test and run stability studies on drug substances or drug products, provide experimental medicines for worldwide clinical trials and are contributing state-of- the-art packaging of clinical supplies.
We offer
Inventing shapes our corporate culture. In joining MSD, you’ll be part of an organization that is inspired by innovation to achieve our ambitious goals and transform lives through spirited co-creation and applied curiosity. You will be embarking on a journey where you can drive your national or international career development aspirations. We are proud of our modern working environment and our positive culture of cooperation and support. We are an equal opportunities organization, proudly embracing diversity in all its forms. When are you inventing the future?
We are looking for
We are regularly looking for talents with a strong educational background in Life Sciences, recently having gained a relevant university degree or with first industry experience, pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Your experience can be applied in a variety of functions within our local and regional organizations in Switzerland, e.g. in R&D and manufacturing, quality, regulatory affairs or external manufacturing management. Besides, MSD offers an apprenticeship program with a focus on biology or chemistry.
// Interview 2019
Dr. Stephanie Moessner
Director Pharmaceutical Sciences WAG

Postdoctoral Researcher (Humboldt Fellowship), NIST National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland, US (1996-1998)
PhD scientist in analytical and environmental chemistry, toxicology, University of Ulm, Germany, Department of Analytical and Environmental Chemistry (1991-1995)
Diploma, Chemistry (inorganic, organic, physical and analytical chemistry), University of Ulm, Germany (1985-1991)

Director PharmSci WAG, Werthenstein BioPharma GmbH, MSD Switzerland (2018)
Director ACDS (Analytical Chemistry in Development and Supply), Werthenstein BioPharma GmbH, MSD Switzerland (2010-2018)
Associate Director GMP/Comparator Labs, Werthenstein BioPharma GmbH, MSD Switzerland (2004-2010)
Manager Stability Lab, Werthenstein Chemie AG (1999-2004)
What is your daily work like as Director of Chemistry at MSD and what are your responsibilities?
I am head of the Pharmaceutical Sciences department at MSD in Switzerland at the development site in Schachen close to Lucerne. My teams are developing analytical methods for innovative drug products, e.g. on polymeric basis. My daily work is mainly leading people, project coordination and making strategic decisions.
You worked in the academia and the industry. How does the work differ in the fields and what could they learn from each other?
While academia is primarily focused on basic scientific research, the pharmaceutical industry is applying these results into products for the benefit of the patient. Synergies between academia and industry are key for the success of both. MSD has recognized this important network and has established their research facilities close to top universities.
You graduated in chemistry and completed your PhD as well in the fields of chemistries. How much do you still come in contact with concrete chemistry in your function as director?
In my current position as people manager, the direct contact with scientific problems is less in focus than earlier in my career. Other competencies like developing and motivating people get more important.
How much have your studies prepared you for your role as Director of Chemistry at MSD?
During my PhD thesis in addition to working on scientific questions I have learned how to manage success and failure. I learned to be curious, resilient, flexible and adapt to challenging situations. This has tremendously prepared me for my current role.
How important is harmony between work and outside life for you? Does MSD offer a good work-life balance for its employees?
A good work-life balance is and was very important during my career. I have two children, worked part-time for many years, enjoy flexible working hours and can work from home. MSD has been recognized as Top Employer since many years.
You were already promoted multiple times. How do you imagine your future career path to look like?
This is a good question! To be honest, I never had a clear career path laid out for me. I always relied on my openness, flexibility and good network to develop into potential new roles.
Which suggestions do you have for a recent ETH graduate applying for jobs or internships?
I would suggest him or her to be open-minded, choose broadly and be aware that the industry is changing fast and not always in a predictable way. A good network, challenging mentors and supportive sponsors are crucial in your career. Attending as many university events as possible to establish relationships with potential employers in the region is very helpful. Explore different areas in internships to get an understanding, what it is like to work in such a role. There are so many opportunities nowadays, so keep on exploring.
Read more
// Interview 2018
Dr. Marc David Grynbaum
Principal Scientist Regional SAS Hub

PhD with Prof. Albert at Eberhard-Karls-University (2004-2006)
Graduate Research Assistant at Tufts University (2005-2005)
Diploma in Chemistry at Eberhard-Karls-University (1998-2004)

Principal Scientist Regional SAS Hub at MSD (2018)
Associate Director SAS & Dev Lab at MSD (2015-2018)
Associate Director CoE for Comparator Blinding at MSD (2012-2015)
Assoc. Principal Scientist GMP Testing Lab at MSD (2007-2012)
What are your responsibilities as Principal Scientist Regional SAS Hub at MSD?
In my role as Principal Scientist, I am heading the regional Supply Support Sciences Team. My team, consisting of eight employees and including everyone from lab technicians to graduated biochemists, supports commercial sites in Europe when facing analytical questions. One area we work in is the identification of unknown particles (so called “Extraneous Matter”), which occur during manufacturing. The results of our analyses support the production site in the so-called root cause analysis and in the impact assessment – i.e. where does this particle come from, how can we prevent this issue in the future and what is the impact on our product.
Another task is the support of source of supply change registrations. From time to time, our production processes may change. Before medicines that were produced using a modified process can be provided to a specific market, we have to show that those changes do not influence product quality or efficacy. Typically, my lab provides analytical data for those registrations for each country. Each region respectively each country has different requirements on what / or how to provide the data.
For these activities, both my team and me interact with our colleagues from all over the world, mainly in the US and in Europe, but also in Asia. In addition to the operative tasks, I have the responsibility for my team and their personal and professional development. Additionally, it is my job as manager to provide an open and inclusive work environment – that’s the only way a team can perform at its absolute best.
You graduated with a degree in Chemistry. Does MSD also employ graduates of other fields of study (Chemical Engineering, Interdisciplinary Sciences)?
While I am working at our R&D site in Schachen (approx. 15 minutes from Lucerne), MSD Switzerland offers a variety of different jobs at our four sites in and around Lucerne. Accordingly, the profiles of our 700 employees differ a lot. Besides chemists, there are of course many pharmacists, there are biotechnologists, biochemists, biologists, physicists, engineers, computer scientists, … I can’t even list all of them. At the same time, many of the employees don’t work directly in their respective field of study. That’s why the job advertisements on our job website ( are formulated very openly, e.g. “Education required: Degree in Engineering or Biological/Chemistry Sciences“. I would advise university graduates not to focus too much on their particular area of expertise.
How does a typical work day in industry differ from one at university?
From my perspective this is a very general question and cannot be answered that easily. It depends on the university as well as the research group and on the company and the department one is working for.
What made you choose MSD as an employer? Can you describe how the application process worked for you?
After my graduation, I sent about 25 applications for job openings in the pharmaceutical-chemical industry and for jobs with suppliers. The job market was very good and I quickly signed the contract with MSD (at the time our site was actually part of the American company Schering-Plough), so I terminated my assistant position with my professor from university earlier than expected.
I really applied for a wide spectrum of jobs and had very diverse interviews, also e.g. in sales, which interested me as well. When I got the positive feedback and the job offer after my second interview at MSD, I directly accepted the position over the phone. In retrospect, this was the best decision I could have made. I love the international environment in our company and can completely identify with our mission “To discover, develop and provide innovative products and services that save and improve lives around the world“. We have a very open and international culture and have employees from over 50 nationalities working at MSD Switzerland (sometimes it feels like the “mini United Nations”). There’s a good team spirit and MSD allows for a healthy work-life-balance and excellent benefits. All this lead to MSD Switzerland’s certification as Top Employer (
You joined MSD right after obtaining your PhD. Which advantages did you have from staying with the same employer long-term?
Correct, my professional career was entirely with MSD. That sounds boring, doesn’t it? But for me it really wasn’t! For once, my role changed four times significantly. And today I can say that I have supported projects all the way to successful market introduction. Pharmaceutical development takes a lot of time from discovery of the active substance until the drug is finally available to the patient – often 10 years, and only very few products even make it to the market. During my time at MSD, I had the opportunity to personally work on the development of two life-saving drugs and to bring them to the market. I worked on one of them for seven years. And … you always meet twice in life – in my current role, I can continue to work on this project and support the initial registration in further countries.
Your CV lists a number of Advanced Trainings you completed at MSD. Can you tell us a little bit more about those opportunities?
Yes, I completed a number of Advanced Trainings, and there’s even more than those listed on my CV. Continuous development and continuous education are very important to me personally and also to MSD as an employer. 70% of the development is experiences on the job, 20% is learning from others (mentoring, networking) and 10% is training. As employee, one has to be eager to develop and the manager enables one’s development.
My personal highlight was certainly to be selected for the “Business Leadership Program” last year. This is one of MSD’s “Star Programs” and is offered in collaboration with Duke Corporation Education. In this training, I learned a lot about Finance (and completed an online course “Demystifying Finance”) and also improved my leadership skills. Colleagues from all areas of our company (Manufacturing, Research, Clinical, Marketing, Sales, …) and from all regions participated in the training, so we were a very diverse and thus very interesting group. The training took place in Dubai and despite an intense training program from 8AM to 6PM, followed by dinner, there was still some time for a quick swim in the warm sea. A great experience!
How did your responsibilities change during your career at MSD?
When I started in 2007, I headed the pharmaceutical analytical laboratory, i.e. my team supported the product pipeline and we also worked on stability analytics, including active substances. When the company made the strategic decision to move the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) pilot plant away from our site, my group switched to early phase pharmaceutical analytics, where we supported clinical Phase-1 studies. These products were very close to the active substances (“Active in Capsule”/”Bottle”). We then switched to late phase pharmaceutical analytics from Phase-2b to market introduction. Recently, three years ago, I established a new laboratory, which supports our drugs after market introduction – the regional Supply Analytical Sciences Laboratory.
While I started back in 2007 as people manager, over time, my role developed from a supervisory position (purely operational) to a more strategic one. This is also reflected in my team – everyone has more responsibility now. In addition, my direct manager is now in the US.
During your PhD in Tübingen and Boston, your research focused on the modes of action of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients. How did you benefit from what you learned there in an industrial setting?
My PhD supervisor, or my professor respectively, had many industrial collaborations. I profited a lot from those: Getting to know the industrial environment, presenting the results at meetings both at university and at our industrial partners in Germany and abroad. I learned a lot from this result-oriented way of working. The financial support from industry also allowed us to participate in multiple international conferences. Besides presenting my own data, I profited a lot from the cultural diversity and the scientific exchange with international researchers at extraordinary conference venues. This “internationality” is something you will need in every industry and in every company nowadays.
Does your job require you to stay on top of current research or do you rather focus on applying established technologies?
Great question! Yes, we work in a regulated environment in which established methods only change slowly. However, innovation is always a hot topic! The development cycles are much shorter now. In one of my classes during my studies I cut out and weighed Gas-Chromatography peaks … today unthinkable. We constantly evaluate new technologies that we can implement for our purposes. Those are not only commercially available ones, MSD also collaborates with universities. Innovation doesn’t always mean a new big (or small) piece of equipment, it is a mindset and innovation can occur in small incremental steps. This is very important to me and simply requires creativity. Within MSD we have multiple Innovation Centers, Innovation Forums and internal conferences where our scientists from all over the world exchange ideas. This year we held a site event of our „Manufacturing Science & Technology Days“ in Switzerland which colleagues from Analytical, Biotech & Manufacturing attended. Those events always have a very special atmosphere and besides the inspiring scientific exchange and the networking, fun is a big part of it.
Which suggestions do you have for a recent ETH graduate applying for jobs or internships?
That’s a very open question. Everything, from the routine topics like the own Social Media appearance, networking (i.e. visiting career fairs such as Chemtogether), building connections to companies early on, gaining work experience (internships) to researching about the company prior to the interview as well as the follow-up after the interview is important. A few tips:
Keep an open mind for the great variety of jobs, industries and companies. A friend of mine went into consulting following his Ph.D., a colleague from MSD started as a graduated biologist in the Sales department; another one works as a physicist in our market research department. Some strive for a career as a patent attorney and have completed the respective studies in parallel to working at a patent law firm. So you should carefully think about what it is that you want to do and do not focus too much on your field of study.
Certainly one of the first decisions should be whether one wants to work for a large, multinational company or for a midsize firm.
What is the working environment like? Forums on the web can help, however, you should look at those open-mindedly. Not all the comments are objectively true or can be generalized, both positive as well as negative.
Do you like the potential boss, the team?
Don’t lose your motivation through rejection letters. In general, but also if you want to join a specific company. Not being invited for an interview with one team doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a chance at that company.
Good luck!
Read more
// Interview 2017
Dr. Sabina Compassi
Associate Director Global Improvement

Diploma Pharmaceutical Sciences, ETH Zürich (1985-1989)
PhD ETH Zürich (1994-1998)

Siegfried Pharma GmbH, Head Development (1989-1996)
Teacher at Kollegium Stans (1998-1999)
Head Clinical Studies Coordination Werthenstein Chemie AG/Schering-Plough (1998-2002)
Head QA Werthenstein Chemie AG/Schering-Plough (2002-2007)
Manager Global Harmonisation MSD/Werthenstein BioPharma GmbH (2007)
What do you do as Associate Director Global Improvement at MSD?
I am a member of the site management team. I’m leading and mentoring projects (globally or locally) with the aim to improve processes of every kind. It could be technical/scientific processes or it could be administrative, documentation or even financial processes.
It is not about me being an expert on the topic at hand, my focus and my task is to ensure that the issues are handled in a structured and data driven manner using appropriate tools. After options for solutions are found, it is about helping the team to provide decision matrices, and after decision is made, support implementation and manage the change.
As expected in a pharmaceutical company, you studied pharmaceutical sciences – do you also employ graduates of the other 'HCI-disciplines' (Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Material Sciences and Interdisciplinary Sciences)?
As a pharmacist I am a minority. This may sound very surprising, but it is a fact, that most scientist / employees in pharma are not pharmacists, while pharmacists (with their corresponding best suited education) typically are not represented to an expected extent, at least this is true for Switzerland and the USA.
Your current position is as you said more of a planning and managing function and not that close to the lab bench – how common is it to find scientist in managing positions at MSD? Is it possible/common to change fields within MSD (e.g. from research&development to marketing/managing)?
It is quite common to find scientist in managerial functions in MSD, at least in the production/research/development divisions. In medical related divisions it is common to have physisians at the top.
While it is certainly possible, it is not usual and possibly not easy to change fields, usually the scientists stick to the scientific part.
How does work in the university differ from the work in a pharmaceutical company? How does the need for GMP-certification change the workflow?
GMP simply narrows down options. However, if GMP is understood deeply it leaves more room than one would expect. The issue is, that GMP clearly is in contrast with flexibility, agility and creativity needed for research. The academic style is in contrast to the work in a big pharmaceutical company. In a big company it is not about the best solution and finding “the truth” behind things, it is about finding a solution that suits all stakeholders, as close to the best as possible. Alignment is the focus.
How did your education prepare you for the challenges you have to face in your current position?
My education provided the best basis for all of my career, and is still even the basis for what I am doing today. It has built the mind in a scientific based but also practical and goal oriented manner that probably is unique for this particular education. It is knowledge, but then it is also asking the right questions, and being able to differentiate. It is about learning how to define and how to approach issues and problems.
Was the topic of your PhD work also relevant to your current work?
My pharmaceutical studies in the late 80ies prepared me perfectly for any scenario I’ve encountered in the pharmaceutical industry. What I learned then, still is valid nowadays. The research topic of my PhD was – by chance – very closely related: The first Clinical Trial I was given to coordinate was for a drug that – for reasons unknown to the researchers in the company – inhibited the intestinal absorption of cholesterol. The mechanism of which I’ve just had come to reveal in my PhD.
You also worked in public pharmacies – did/does this experiences help you at MSD?
Yes it does. I’m closer to the 'world outside' and can more easily let our employees see perspective of a patient or a pharmacist or a doctor. This is a view that is missing in many colleagues with other backgrounds for instance biology or chemistry.
What made you choose MSD as an employer?
To be honest - I didn’t actively chose MSD/Schering Plough. At that time, I wanted to explore a completely new aspect of the pharmaceutical industry. Which is what brought me to Schering Plough and then to MSD.
Since you are coaching and working on improvement projects, what qualities would you like a new employee at MSD to show?
I always like to see analytical and strategic thinking skills. Another important factor is open mindedness when it comes to solving problems.
Last question: What would your advice be for someone who recently graduated from ETH and is looking for a job?
Be willing to learn. Put curiosity in front. Learn management skills slowly and don’t be tempted to jump to a managerial/supervising function too early.
Read more