Carol Malysz, Executive Director, RI Bio | Roundtable Moderator

In the ongoing “war for talent,” employers are having to come up with different strategies to find and keep top talent. In particular, the healthcare and life sciences sectors face almost a perfect storm of challenges, from a booming industry to “the great resignation” post-pandemic climate, where companies are competing with industries that have the capacity to be more flexible in terms of hybrid work.  Join us for our conversation with Amgen leaders who share their insights and strategies on how to continue to build a vital life sciences talent pipeline.


Mike Consiglio (he/his), Director, Quality Control, Amgen

Why is there such a shortage of life sciences talent? 

In today’s world there is much more focus on technology and digitalization, causing people to drift away from life sciences. Students and young professionals now have the tendency to choose an education or career in Computer Science/Programming or Engineering. There is a lack of understanding of the different career opportunities associated with pursuing life sciences. The perception is that life sciences only translate to a laboratory environment. Reality is that life sciences can lead to many different career opportunities. {Mike}

Monika Soban (she/hers), Director, Manufacturing Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Site Lead at Amgen Rhode Island

Mentorship and role models are extremely important for anyone pursuing a degree. Young girls see fewer girls going into science fields—they have fewer role models and examples to follow. This gap could be a self-perpetuating problem.  We need to promote more sponsorship, networking and allyship opportunities for the long-term growth of the life sciences pipeline. We need to do a better job promoting these careers at the middle and high school levels and emphasizing how important the work in this field is and how it contributes to our society. {Monika}

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Vera Tyagi (she/hers), Director, Human Resources, Amgen

The life sciences industry has been growing at such an accelerated rate, especially in the past two years. In addition, digital technology has grown even further and offers different ways of looking at life sciences. We have not yet caught up with the talent required to meet this exponential growth. Our academic institutions and life science employers should continue to engage and collaborate to ensure there is a sufficient pipeline of students wanting to build their careers in these areas. {Vera}

 

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What are some of the recruiting strategies at Amgen that have been most effective?  

Collaboration with academic institutions (high schools and universities) has strengthened our recruiting. It is truly amazing to witness the intelligence, motivation, and talent of students at all levels. Amgen’s participation in the Veteran’s Fellowship Program has also been an effective way to attract talent while giving back to our Armed Services.{Mike}

Through support from the Amgen Foundation, we are working with teachers and other non-profit partners within the local community to reimagine science education, energize interest in STEM and help empower diverse thinkers. {Monika}

Our Talent Acquisition and University Relations partners understand our needs and work very closely with our hiring managers to fill open positions with great talent. We also participate in Skills for RI’s Future High School and College internships and partner with professional organizations like NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) to build strong partnerships where we can access talent who want to understand the life sciences or have decided to build their careers in this area. {Vera}

How has the pandemic affected hiring and onboarding new employees?

Working remotely has become a priority for many people, therefore making it more challenging to recruit and hire candidates since the majority of our positions require employees to be on-site to execute physical tasks. Unfortunately, we are not licensed to manufacture or perform analytical testing on drug substance material from our homes. {Mike}

The pandemic forced us to connect with our employees in a more meaningful way—to better understand what they truly want in a job and what are their unique circumstances. We issued engagement surveys to discover what employees value most including perks, flexible work options, manager relationships, and career advancement opportunities. We elevated our approach to employee well-being by promoting mindfulness and self-care. This influenced our recruitment strategy. The pandemic drove us to build resiliency and agility into our daily core competencies. Maintaining this flexibility and placing greater importance on people-centered operations will help us to maintain a competitive advantage. {Monika}

During the pandemic, Amgen transitioned quickly to video conference interviews with candidates. Our hiring managers are resilient and learned to adapt very quickly to ensure a positive virtual interview experience. Our Ambassador Program is very popular with new employees because it connects them with a peer for a period of 3-4 months to assist with assimilating into their new environment. One thing that really helps Amgen with our hiring is our mission to serve patients and our values. People are looking to make meaningful contributions to employers who offer purposeful missions and values that resonate with them. {Vera}

What kind of education and skills make for a good cultural fit at Amgen?

All types and levels of education background fit well into Amgen’s diverse resource model. Diversity, inclusion and belonging (DI&B) plays a significant role in driving impact for our business, staff, and patients. Amgen is a place for people who are open to learning, attentive to details, prioritize safety and well-being for themselves and others, able to follow procedures and instructions, embrace a team environment, and motivated to help others in need of our medicine. {Mike}

We are working to attract a wide variety of talent from different backgrounds, cultures and educational experiences. Our philosophy is to recruit to foster diverse points of view—helping to drive innovation and creativity in order to maintain competitive advantage. Our Manufacturing recruitment plan includes cross-section experience to enable short- and long-term stability within core operations. Our entry level positions require either college degree in life sciences or Associate / or High School degree with previous operations experience. {Monika}

Amgen offers opportunities for all types of educational backgrounds and skill sets. The most important thing is to be open to learning and contributing to different areas which not only helps you but also lifts up your team. We believe that a culture of bringing together diverse experiences and perspectives drives the innovation we need to be successful in our mission to serve patients. {Vera}

How does being a global organization promote career advancement at your company?  

It is truly an honor to serve patients around the world and this global presence certainly advances career development at Amgen. There is a wide variety of business needs and positions at all levels across the global Amgen enterprise, providing opportunities for staff to explore different roles, functions, and cultures. Amgen provides a roadmap to many different places allowing staff to take ownership and “drive” their career advancement to many desired destinations ultimately to achieve their professional aspirations. {Mike}

We are very committed to creating many developmental opportunities for staff to help them achieve their fullest potential. Within our workforce, we support the development of diverse talent including a 1:1 executive mentoring program, function specific development to build scientific literacy, problem solving and leadership. We also offer many opportunities for peer-to-peer mentoring provided by our Employee Resource Groups. {Monika}

Amgen offers global opportunities to our employees which provides them with the ability to create their own unique experiences and career maps. These opportunities can include moves to our various global locations or taking on global projects to gain better understanding of our global landscape without relocating; the possibilities are endless. {Vera}

What advice would you give to anyone interested in pursuing a career in the life sciences, including at Amgen?

Explore, ask questions, and keep an open mind. There are so many experienced and talented people with careers in life sciences willing to share their story. Although every story is unique, there are always chapters you can either directly relate to or learn from. The ideal position in any professional career is to maintain a balance between being confident and uncomfortable. Do not be afraid of the unknown, embrace it. {Mike}

Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable. Learn new things, take new assignments to gain practical experience. Never underestimate yourself, aim high and surround yourself with people and colleagues who intellectually challenge you and support you along the way. Whenever you can, create a safe space for others to do the same. {Monika}

Start with having a growth mindset and be open to learning different things. Amgen offers amazing global opportunities to learn and grow, professionally and personally. In addition, I highly recommend joining one or more of Amgen’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that help foster a diverse and inclusive workplace. These ERGs offer great opportunities to build partnerships through networking and mentoring programs. {Vera}