“For any young graduate, the opportunity to improve human life is very special,” says Steven Baert, Head of HR for Novartis. “You need to have a passion for life. It’s not just a job, it’s a calling. It’s all about innovation.”

Novartis is a leading science-based healthcare company at the forefront of what it sees as a renaissance in medical research and innovation. It is a dynamic organisation that offers top graduates and postgraduates diverse career paths in research and development. “We have a common vision,” says Baert, “and that is to discover new ways to extend and improve people’s lives.”

Novartis promotes boundary-free scientific research and development programmes through the various branches of its research unit, the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), and its development centres, located over the world. Novartis employs more than 23,000 scientists, physicians and business professionals in R&D worldwide, with an R&D spend of $9 billion in 2016. The driving force behind these programmes is collaboration and the exchange of ideas. As Jay Bradner, President of NIBR says, “We want scientists who want to be engaged members of the broader scientific community.”


A collaborative enterprise

“The days of the lone scientist, isolated in a lab, protecting his breakthrough, are gone,” says Baert. “Partnership between Novartis and all sorts of internal and external laboratories is critical, otherwise you have inefficiencies in your research.”

One example among many external collaborations is the ongoing pioneering clinical trials with the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, Arizona, that are furthering Novartis work on the amyloid cascade. Groundbreaking research needs to be harnessed to equally exceptional development before a new drug can be offered to patients. “Our clinical development team ensures that a product is efficacious and safe,” says Baert. Development can involve implementing clinical trials that reflect Novartis research programmes in various disease areas, including oncology, respiratory, neuroscience, cardiometabolic, immunology and dermatology, eye care, biosimilars and infectious diseases.

Novartis currently has more than 200 projects in clinical development targeting unmet medical needs in patient treatment and recovery. “Development requires a very different skill set from research,” says Baert. “There is a lot of collaboration between research and development to build on each other’s ideas.”


Innovation and inclusion

Collaboration and innovation go hand in hand at Novartis, stimulated by its inclusive employment policy. “When we talk about innovation, the link to human capital is obvious – our biggest asset is the quality of our people,” says Baert. “Diversity and inclusion are essential to encourage different beliefs and experiences, and to allow us to challenge each other.”

Novartis is a multifaceted company united by a common challenge – beating the disease. Its size and scope allow for collaborative projects within the company and with elite medical research institutions worldwide. The company-wide aspirational culture, fuelled by an openness to new, sometimes radical, ideas, makes Novartis research and development units inspiring places to work, combining diversity with a sense of shared purpose. “We see ourselves as a destiny organisation,” says Baert. “Research and development are about exploring the impossible. You need to want to be part of a bigger project about extending and improving life, and for that you need passion, integrity and courage.”