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A Little Bit About Alec Cameron...

During the last 25 years our traditional GMP, Auditing, Validation, Quality Risk Management, GWP, GLP and Laboratory Practical courses have become benchmarks in South Africa. 

We have trained most of the pharmaceutical companies, pharmaceutical wholesalers and many FMCG companies including the manufacturers of medicinal gases, food, toiletries, cosmetics and household products in South Africa and outside her borders. 

Our success in the industry came from years of hard work and dedication. Like all businesses, Alec Cameron has a story.

Meet Our Founder Peter Hannah...

I joined the pharmaceutical industry in 1978 as Head of Quality Assurance at Wellcome Pharmaceuticals Rhodesia (at that time). A young graduate in Biochemistry and Microbiology from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. I had at that time some analytical chemistry experience but I was thrown into the deep end.

The three years spent at Wellcome was a fantastic foundation for my career. Not only did I have to overcome getting people to understand my Scottish accent but I earned my stripes by performing everything from sorting out microbiological concerns registration of drugs, chemical analysis, method development on HPLC, and even development of skincare products to the registration of medicines.

The early 1980s was a turbulent time in the history of Zimbabwe, the birthplace of both of my sons. The uncertainty of my family’s future prompted me to search for an opportunity elsewhere which came from Abbott Laboratories in South Africa. Within my first month as their Quality Manager, my microbiologist resigned. I remember I told my secretary to cancel my meetings for the next month. I wanted to know how to do his job to ensure I found the right person to fill it. Again great experience as Abbott Laboratories manufactured their range of capsules, tablets, creams and also we utilised a third party in Bethlehem to manufacture our infant formulae.

It was during this time that I felt the need to start a recruitment agency. Born from the frustration of trying to find the right people for my team because I felt that recruiters at the time lacked experience in the industry. So in 1985, I left Abbott to run Alec Cameron. I specialized in the recruitment of chemical analysts, chemists, microbiologists, and pharmacists. I knew what to look for in people - because I knew what I needed from my people.

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I joined the pharmaceutical industry in 1978 as Head of Quality Assurance at Wellcome Pharmaceuticals Rhodesia (at that time). A young graduate in Biochemistry and Microbiology from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. I had at that time some analytical chemistry experience but I was thrown into the deep end.

The three years spent at Wellcome was a fantastic foundation for my career. Not only did I have to overcome getting people to understand my Scottish accent but I earned my stripes by performing everything from sorting out microbiological concerns registration of drugs, chemical analysis, method development on HPLC, and even development of skincare products to the registration of medicines.

The early 1980s was a turbulent time in the history of Zimbabwe, the birthplace of both of my sons. The uncertainty of my family’s future prompted me to search for an opportunity elsewhere which came from Abbott Laboratories in South Africa. Within my first month as their Quality Manager, my microbiologist resigned. I remember I told my secretary to cancel my meetings for the next month. I wanted to know how to do his job to ensure I found the right person to fill it. Again great experience as Abbott Laboratories manufactured their range of capsules, tablets, creams and also we utilised a third party in Bethlehem to manufacture our infant formulae.

It was during this time that I felt the need to start a recruitment agency. Born from the frustration of trying to find the right people for my team because I felt that recruiters at the time lacked experience in the industry. So in 1985, I left Abbott to run Alec Cameron. I specialized in the recruitment of chemical analysts, chemists, microbiologists, and pharmacists. I knew what to look for in people - because I knew what I needed from my people.

Starting my own business in one of the worst recessions of the ’80s as a father of three children meant that I had to give everything to make it a success which meant my family would both suffer and prosper for it.

As time went by, now a father of four, I missed the industry. I missed leading a team and the excitement of finding solutions to problems. 

There is nothing like the pull of a world-class healthcare company like Adcock Ingram to get you back into the workforce which is what happened in 1991 when I was employed as their Quality Control Manager and promoted to Quality Operations Manager in 1992.

This was a tough learning ground but also a place where I met some of my dearest lifelong friends.

In 1995 I returned to my company Alec Cameron and set up the training division to introduce short courses to the industry. I started with GMP and then a company would say can you present GLP? I said sure and then someone would ask can you do Auditing? Can you do Validation? And so it went on until we eventually presented 26 different but related courses.

Over time we opened up training laboratories to train analysts over good chemical laboratory practice and good micro laboratory practice. Our training later expanded and we brought in other trainers to train onsite around South Africa and Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe and Zambia. Approximately 85% of our training was on site and the other 15% at our centre. People travelled from all over SA and indeed across the borders to attend.

We have trained junior staff to senior management. I knew I had done something right when I was contracted by IPT (International Pharmaceutical Training) in London to train delegates from the pharmaceutical industry attending their training facility in London but coming from all over Europe on courses. I was invited to train the managers of Sanofi in Newcastle in England.

Alec Cameron has been privileged to have trained GMP and other courses to some of the giants in the pharmaceutical industry including Adcock Ingram Critical Care, Johnson & Johnson, Aspen, Cipla, Novartis and Sanofi to name but a few. We have also trained at companies such as SAB, Heineken, Namibian Breweries, Sea Harvest, ABI, The South African Blood Transfusion, Nampak, Amka, Vital Health, Sasko, Impala, Western Platinum, 3 M, Lacsa, Botswana Water Board,  and L’Oréal.

It is critical to have intimate knowledge of your production processes that is the only way you can have your finger on the pulse. I have had the privilege through my training and consulting to know so many production processes which have been invaluable; from the manufacture of cement, production of radioactive pharmaceuticals, blood typing, blood separation, testing, blood donations, tablets, capsules, sterile products, dog food, cigarette packing, and manufacture of toilet paper and so on. Invaluable education in processes I would not have had otherwise.

 

Alec Cameron has always been a family business, either run by family or people who became family and I am grateful to have been a part of it for all these years.

 

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