Genentech tops Science survey of best biopharma employers

September 19, 2002

When Science asked life scientists around the world which pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies they most admire, Genentech was the clear stand-out, according to a survey in the 20 September issue of the journal, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Following a close second in the respondents' rankings is another biotechnology company that has become a serious player in drug discovery and development: Millennium Pharmaceuticals of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The top ten list also includes Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Merck, Monsanto, Amgen, Pharmacia, and AstraZeneca.

The next ten companies ranked in the survey include a mixture of American biotechnology firms and American and European pharmaceuticals: Novartis, Biogen, Chiron Corporation, Bayer, Schering Plough, Abbott Laboratories, Wyeth, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Glaxo Smith Kline, and Roche.

The San Francisco area firm Genentech, which was instrumental in launching the global biotechnology industry when it was founded in 1976, ranked highest in the attributes that respondents regarded as most important about biopharma employers. These attributes included innovative leadership within the industry, loyal employees, an "alignment" of work culture and personal values, and quality research.

"The values that our founders Herb Boyer and Bob Swanson imparted remain today: valuing employees' creativity and allowing freedom for individual scientists to innovate and be creative," said Richard Scheller, vice president of research at Genentech.

"It's not enough just to be creative and just to make scientific discoveries that are interesting and important. We want to translate those discoveries into medicine to help sick people," Scheller added.

Other ranking attributes in the survey--considered less important but still key to the employers' overall reputation--included good financial investment, a clear vision for the future, social responsibility, and demonstrated job security.

"We have the right people, equipment, and partnerships. We try to attract leading scientists who take a very innovative approach to developing new products. We also give them the tools to practice their science," noted Linda Pine, Millennium Pharmaceuticals' senior vice president of human resources.

Perhaps not surprisingly, outstanding scientists don't necessarily plan to be loyal to their current employers. According to the survey, 35 percent of respondents reported some likelihood that they will look for a new job in a different company within a year. The most quoted reasons for wanting to move were opportunity for career advancement, lack of advancement in an existing job, doubts about job security and their present company's financial situation, and problems with the corporate culture, working conditions, and location. Hughes Research Worldwide of Rockville, Maryland carried out the Internet-based survey in April. As its subjects, the company used selected readers of and subscribers to Science. Once at the website, respondents were asked to rate employers on 42 specific attributes.

A total of 685 individuals responded to the survey, 565 based in the United States and the remainder in Western Europe. Hughes Research Worldwide used a mathematical process to assign a unique ranking score for each company mentioned in the study, which leveled the playing field between younger firms and well established companies.
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For more information on the Science survey, please contact the AAAS Office of Public Programs at 202-326-6440 or scipak@aaas.org.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

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