Who Are They?

What do Aquafresh toothpaste, Horlicks and Amoxil antibiotic all have in common?

They’re all products created and manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

GSK is a global pharmaceutical company which has been formed through the merger of lots of different companies.

There are three main areas of healthcare that GSK are involved in:

  • Researching and developing prescription medicines
  • Developing, producing and distributing vaccines in over 170 countries around the world
  • Manufacturing consumer health products
    • Over the counter medicines such as Night Nurse
    • Toothpaste and other oral health products
    • Skin health products
    • nutrition products such as Horlicks.

GSK have offices in more than 150 countries, a network of 86 manufacturing sites in 36 countries and large R&D centres in the UK, USA, Spain, Belgium and China. In the UK GSK employ around 16,000 people across 18 sites. One of their Research and Development sites is based in Barnard Castle in the north east of England.


With such a wide range of different products and brands, GSK have a wide range of careers available.  Some examples of possible roles:

  • Chemical engineers
  • Immunologists
  • Material scientists
  • Medicinal chemists
  • Doctors
  • Biochemists
  • Microbiologists
  • Cancer research specialists
  • Biologists
  • Lawyers
  • Statisticians
  • Automation engineer
  • Pharmacologists
  • Technicians – biology and chemistry
  • Accountants
  • Sales people
  • Brand developers and designers
  • IT specialists

Science and Maths links

Topics in science and maths that link to GSK and what the company does:

  • Particle model of matter
  • Acids and alkalise
  • Types of reactions
  • Cells
  • Organisms
  • Health, disease and dvelopment of medicines
  • Nutrition and digestion
  • Number
  • Probability
  • Statistics

Ellie Gangel

Case Study: Ellie Gangel

Ellie did her GCSEs at Longbenton, and stayed on for A-levels in Maths, Business, IT and Psychology. At the time she didn’t have strong ideas about where she was headed, and for the most part pursued the subjects she’d done best in. She chose IT because it’s a broad skill, and she thought it’d be useful to have.

After Longbenton she moved to Newcastle College for a Level 3 Vocational qualification in Business, but after a year she heard about the apprenticeship programme offered by Accenture.

You never really think there are good apprenticeships out there, but we’re college-funded, university degree funded, we still get paid at the same time. It’s a really good company to work for.

At Accenture, she’s working on a project for HMRC. Her team gets a design sent to them, then they code a system which generates tax codes and national insurance systems. As an apprentice, she draws on support from her manager and her manager in turn, but also on a ‘buddy’ — a more experienced programmer who can help out as problems crop up day-to-day. It’s clearly a supportive environment.

It’s the problem solving which makes me enjoy working with the taxes.

After her apprenticeship, Ellie wants to stay with Accenture, progressing within the company. She’s particularly interested in their work with the UK healthcare sector.


Employer: Accenture

Who Are They?

Accenture employs more than 300,000 people worldwide, including lots at their Newcastle Delivery Centre in North Tyneside.

They’re a management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company. They work  with government clients like the NHS, with the aerospace and finance sectors, and even with the music industry.

Nose around on their website, and you’ll find that Accenture describe their business under several categories:

  • Strategy — helping their clients with business insight and understanding how new technology will affect them.
  • Consulting — working with clients to plan and deliver big organisational changes.
  • Digital, Technology & Operations — Helping companies and governments apply digital technologies to automate processes, reveal patterns, and deliver services more effectively and efficiently.


People who work at Accenture need problem solving skills, and the ability to think analytically and creatively.

Accenture is such a large company that they employ people with a wide range of different qualifications and subject backgrounds.  Some of the jobs that people who work at Accenture are:

  • Recruitment analyst
  • Business analyst
  • Robotics Process Automation (RPA) Developer
  • Application Development Analyst
  • Innovation manager
  • Test (Quality Assurance) specialist
  • Scrum master
  • Human Resources specialist
  • Java developer

Science and Maths links

The skills that you develop in maths and science will be used if you work at Accenture.  These include being able to handle and analyse data, using statistics to explore patterns in data, communication skills to share complex ideas with others.

MasterCard International

Employer: MasterCard

Who Are They?

MasterCard is a worldwide financial services corporation with headquarters in the US and offices all across the world – including the UK. It’s easy to think of them as just a credit card company, but they’re also heavily involved in:

  • E-commerce – making money move faster and with ease across the world
  • Payment products – making it easier for shops and services to sell their products as well as for consumers to buy them
  • Business solutions – supporting companies across the world with their financial services
  • Security and Fraud – protecting customers and consumers from fraud and theft
  • Analysis and Insight – looking at trends to build up an overview of markets, economies and people

Moving money around the world used to mean ‘sticking a box of gold coins on a ship’; thankfully, we now have faster and more secure alternatives. Chip and PIN card machines swept across the world a few years ago, and now systems like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay look set to provide convenience and security.

Whenever you pay for something electronically, there’s a decent chance MasterCard is involved in processing the payment, or helped design the system you’re using.

Perfect For:

If you have an interest not just within finance, but business and how technology can shape our futures, MasterCard may offer a future career for you. There are opportunities around the world – so be prepared for relocating, perhaps internationally. Some examples of careers include:

  • Financial Accountant – support clients with the management of their accounts as well as monitor the markets
  • Sales and Relationships Management – looking after accounts with specific companies
  • Business Analyst – investigate markets, spending and patterns, and make recommendations to MasterCard and their clients
  • Application Support Engineer – supporting technology used by clients
  • Software Developer – supporting current software and developing new programs and software
  • Designer – graphics and visual design of products and campaigns

Helpful School Subject Choices:

  • Engineering
  • Maths
  • Physics
  • Business Studies
  • Design & Technology
  • Computer Science
  • ICT
  • Economics

Ann Cairns

Ann Cairns, President of International Markets, Mastercard

Case Study: Ann Cairns

Ann was born and raised in Ashington, Northumberland, and is now President of International Markets for the global financial services company MasterCard.

In our film, Ann recalls feeling inspired in 1969 when she looked up to the moon and tried to wrap her head around somebody standing on it. She went on to study Maths, Physics and Chemistry, and took degrees in maths and statistics at Sheffield and Newcastle Universities.

Staying in the North-East, she worked for Transco in Killingworth, and became the first woman to work offshore on the oil rigs.

Like many people, Ann switched paths, in her case moving from engineering and statistics into management and the finance industry. She’s now risen to the post of President of International Markets for MasterCard Worldwide, and is a regular presence on lists of the most powerful women in business (Forbes list; BBC list).

When Think Physics caught up with her on one of her regular visits back to the North-East, we expected a hard-nosed, hectic businessperson – but instead found Ann both approachable and entertaining. Chatting to us, she described how the skills she learned serving coffees at Newcastle Central Station in her teens are still useful to her today.

Her achievements are clearly the results of hard work and determination, but Ann also reckons business success stems from how you relate to and communicate with others; to resilience; and to having a great sense of humour. All qualities, she notes, for which people from the North-East are renowned.