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Making a Difference: CEO Bob Bradway Shares Career Advice Top Five With Interns

“Being part of a fast-moving company and industry is a big part of what makes a career rewarding and fun.”

Speaking to Amgen’s summer interns, Amgen Chairman and CEO Bob Bradway urged them to take advantage of their time with us to explore career possibilities offered by the emerging “biocentury” and to consider our company as the place where they can best make a difference in the world after graduation. 

Now is an especially exciting time to work in biotech, Bradway told the students, especially in view of the extraordinary advances we are seeing in fields like human genetics and immuno-oncology, where Amgen is a recognized leader

The audience included some 130 interns assembled at our Thousand Oaks, CA headquarters plus others participating via webcast from Amgen sites around the U.S.

Bradway pointed to the urgent need worldwide for new medicines as populations age and as more people enter the middle class and adopt unhealthy diets and lifestyles, inexorably leading to a rise in serious illnesses like cancer and heart disease

Over the past four decades, countless biotech firms have fallen by the wayside.  Amgen is one of just two biotech pioneers that remain in business and independent.  Bradway credited Amgen’s “social architecture” – its unique mission, aspiration, values, strategy, and leadership attributes – for why the company has not just survived but grown to become one of the world’s leading biotech innovators. 

Five pieces of career advice:

First, do something important and make a difference.  “You’re embarking on your professional lives at an amazing time,” he told the group. “Find a place for yourselves in a company - and an industry - that really matters.  A role that can inspire you to get out of bed, go to work, and make a difference every day.” 

Second, avoid the IQTR syndrome.  “The biggest lie we tell ourselves,” Bradway warned the students, “is that we have IQTR—Infinite Quality Time Remaining.  None of us has infinite time – and life isn’t a dress rehearsal.  Young people today are driving innovation across a whole range of sectors.  Don’t wait until tomorrow to start changing the world.”

Third, don’t hesitate to make a lateral move or even one that might be considered a step down, if it positions you to do something new and important.  Recalling how he came to Amgen, he told the students, “I had spent two decades in investment banking and was at the top of my game, when I got a call from Amgen’s CEO suggesting that I leave banking and come to Amgen to work in biotech operations.  At first this struck me as crazy – until I considered that manufacturing lies at the heart of biotech.  So after 20 years of success in finance, I started all over again at Amgen.  It was the best decision I ever made.” 

Fourth, capitalize on what makes you unique.  Again, Bradway pointed to his own life experience.  “At first I felt like a unicorn at Amgen. No one else here had spent 20 years in banking.  But my finance background gave me the opportunity to offer a new perspective, take a fresh view, think differently about Amgen’s business.  Each of you has life experiences that make you unique,” he reminded the students.  “If you think you can offer Amgen a unique perspective and a different set of life experiences, that’s just what we need.”

And fifth, demonstrate a healthy impatience with the status quo.  Bradway noted that young people today shouldn’t tolerate a healthcare system in the U.S. that spends $3.5 trillion annually and provides so little in return.  “I hope you’ll be outraged at how cruel it is to wait until an older woman fractures her hip before she can get the medicine that might have prevented the fracture in the first place,” he said, noting that more women were being diagnosed for osteoporosis a decade ago than now. “Pockets of our system have gone backward – it’s unfair, it’s not right, and it’s got to change.”  Bonus: read his thoughts on predict & prevent here.

We wish this year’s summer intern class all the best in their future endeavors!

To learn more about Bob Bradway, his vision for Amgen and healthcare overall, we invite you to follow him on LinkedIn.