A HEALTHY ATTITUDE
What constitutes a meaningful job? Salary is important, but so is making a positive difference in the world – and the holy grail is a career that can offer both. Enter Roche. Employing around 91,000 people across more than 150 countries, the world’s largest biotech company develops medicines and healthcare diagnostics for serious diseases. “The sense of doing good is really powerful here,” says Ted Meulenkamp, International Programme Manager of Attraction and Sourcing. “We’re developing pharmaceuticals for diseases, some of which haven’t seen a new treatment in over 30 years.”
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, the company both works on its own inventions and recognises talent externally. In 2009, for example, Roche acquired the biotech company Genentech, having previously provided it with seeding money. “We saw their potential in the early days,” says Meulenkamp. “When it comes to scientific research, a spirit of healthy risk-taking has always been part of our DNA.”
A case in point; the organisation is on the verge of introducing products that will radically change how people with multiple sclerosis manage their disease. “In oncology, we’re developing testing tools, software and medicines that can detect very specific conditions,” says Meulenkamp. “We’re analysing data from patients and asking what these people have in common. That may lead to better research and more targeted medicines.”
Having lost his mother to cancer, this work is particularly pertinent to Meulenkamp. “Most people know somebody whose life could be transformed by the work that we do here,” he says. “That brings a deep personal connection. And, uniquely, we’re the only company in the world that develops both diagnostic tools and medicines in-house.” Little wonder that 81 per cent of staff globally say they are proud to work at Roche.
That powerful sense of doing good goes beyond remit. “As a company, we’re in touch with what’s happening around us,” says Meulenkamp. Among its many initiatives, the company sponsors the Train of Hope in South Africa, which transports physicians up and down the country to deliver free healthcare. Meulenkamp also mentions Roche’s Children’s Walks, through which employees raise money for charities. In 2016, staff in 68 countries participated.
An ideal graduate environment
Such projects are important to new recruits. “Graduates want to do something useful,” says Meulenkamp. “In return, they have a positive impact on the company, bringing fresh ideas and an understanding of the latest technologies. We want people with different backgrounds who are open to a diversity of ideas.”
A host of graduate programmes, training schemes, internships, and entry-level positions prove the company’s commitment to emerging talent – and not just for scientists. “We recruit into a range of fields,” Meulenkamp stresses, “including HR, finance and IT.” Asked why he feels Roche is a good company to work for, Meulenkamp doesn’t hesitate. “We have great people working here, a unique culture, amazing science that really makes a difference for millions of people, and a lot of career-development opportunities,” he says. “But we expect our employees to show initiative. If you want to do research, go ahead. If you want to take your career in a certain direction, make it happen. It isn’t going to be neatly packaged for you. But if you’re curious – if you’re ambitious and interested in learning new things – then we offer all of the training and opportunities you could hope for.”