Bristol Myers Squibb’s breakthrough research in cell therapy is helping to revolutionize the cancer treatment landscape and soon, our new state of the art facility in Leiden, Netherlands, will play an integral role in the expansion of our global network to bring cell therapy closer to patients in Europe. We recently spoke with two Leiden colleagues, Omar Addou, Lead Material Handler, and Leanne Macken, Associate Director, Human Resources, to share what it’s like being at the forefront of this exciting and critical new operation as it nears completion.
BMS is hiring across a range of positions primarily within the areas of manufacturing, quality assurance, quality control, IT, and manufacturing, science & technology (MSAT). Because of the dynamic nature of this facility – with the culture of a start-up, but the stability of an established company – these careers offer interesting and meaningful work, along with incredible growth opportunities among diverse and talented teams whose work helps transform patients’ lives daily.
Bringing Global Cell Therapy Experience to The Netherlands
Leanne is one of those inspiring talents who has benefitted from the global opportunities over the past ten years in three countries as a BMS human resources professional. Advisor and generalist work in Dublin, Ireland led to a move to our cell therapy facility in Devens, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. Experience and growth opportunities there led to an offer to help cultivate the Leiden workforce, which she’s been doing for six months now.
“My prior work for BMS, being part of a cell therapy start- up, was very exciting,” said Leanne. “There was great energy as teams progressed through the early stages of the project. Then, to get FDA approval to commercially manufacture another one of our cell therapy products – honestly, when I heard about that approval, I burst into tears.”
Leanne shared how the learnings and career opportunities at the Devens, Massachusetts facility helped prepare her for Leiden. “The commitment, the agility, dealing with unforeseen things, but feeling that collaboration toward a shared goal, it’s a special career that can offer you that,” she said. “I’m enjoying using my learnings at Leiden, BMS' new European start-up, to do even better in my role and help make it the best it can be.”
Varied Manufacturing Career Roles at Leiden
Ten years of previous work in pharma brought Omar to BMS via a friend who recently joined. They both worked together at another pharma company and are now together again at BMS in Leiden. “But these are new therapies and new technologies,” he shared. “What’s exciting is that we’re setting up the whole process, sharing learnings back and forth with our colleagues in the US, creating work instructions, growing the team, training new people – every day is different, and I really enjoy that about my position.”
When Leanne talks of hiring needs and doubling the amount of hires year over year, the bulk of those hires are in positions similar to Omar’s. “There are many aspects involved in supply chain management,” she said. “Everything from systems specialists to providing material movement and logistical support.”
Taking Work/Life Balance and Flexibility Seriously
Both colleagues spoke of BMS’ focus on work/life balance and flexibility. “It’s a very similar feel to what you’d find at workplaces across Europe even though we’re doing very serious work,” offered Leanne. “Everyone is respectful of time at home and in The Netherlands, my colleagues enjoy a very active lifestyle due to that work/life balance. I bought a bike my first weekend here. It’s quite enjoyable.”
“There’s the flexibility of different shifts when it comes to work,” added Omar. “And if you need time at home for something, it’s not a problem. If I need to stay a little over to finish something up, it's okay. But in my department, because we’re handling these important medicines, we have to be on site.”
Leiden Provides a Welcoming Work Environment
BMS’s investment in global inclusion and diversity is very apparent to Omar, from both a culture and business perspective. “The atmosphere is very good here; people are positive, enthusiastic, supportive and respectful,” he said. “There are many different nationalities, cultures, ages – we value that as teams and it shows in the collaboration, the teamwork.”
“We have over 40 different nationalities at BMS Leiden, and some of those have dual citizenship,” added Leanne. “We have groups set up to support international onboarding, and our Dutch colleagues are incredibly helpful in integrating us into their community. And I say that from direct experience, having come from Ireland and the US.”
Everyone Plays a Critical Role in Transforming Patients’ Lives
Like many BMS colleagues, Leanne and Omar both display a real passion for the work they do toward the BMS mission of transforming patients’ lives through science. Feeling an invisible bond with these patients – even though many BMS employees do not directly deal with them – is an inspiration that drives their dedication.
“It’s very rewarding, knowing you’re helping patients,” said Omar. “I enjoy it a lot. And it’s exciting, working with the new therapies and new technologies.”
Leanne agreed. “I can’t really see myself working in another industry,” she said. “I’m not touching the product or making the medicine, but I’m indirectly supporting life-altering medicine being delivered to patients.”
Meaningful Work That’s Also Quite Rewarding
But every so often, BMS sponsors patient visits to the facility that manufactured their medicines. Leanne shared a story where she got to witness the outcome of BMS therapies on a cancer patient.
“She was the same age as me when she was diagnosed with stage four cancer,” Leanne recalled. “When she came to visit us, she no longer had signs of cancer, had just closed on her first home, and was setting up her own upholstery business. Our Leiden facility will provide 2000 more patients a year with that medicine. When I heard that woman and her family’s story – that sense of connection, that sense of pride – it’s something I hold very dear to my heart.”