This is our story, offered as a reflection from the hearts and minds of many across our organization. We are writing this post the same way we got through 2020. Together.
One major objective of 2020 was to secure financing that would allow us to conduct the work needed to enter the clinic. When the pandemic sent shock waves through the world economy and changed how we work, we had to take a step back and consider whether this was the right time to make this move.
Throughout the process we remained purposefully connected, grounded and focused on what we needed to accomplish, no matter what was going on around us. There was obviously no chance of holding traditional investor meetings, but even when not face-to-face, our commitment to our mission was easy to communicate. And, with the new openness of investors to meet through video calls, it turned out we were able to share our story with more people in a shorter amount of time.
“Executing the IPO in the middle of a pandemic reinforced our faith in our work and our belief in the importance of what we are doing. It was reassuring to be moving forward even in the middle of this crisis.” – Leslie Wolfe, SVP Chemistry, Manufacturing & Controls
And not just from eating chocolate. Not even a global pandemic could hinder our need to grow our team. We are proud to say on this front we did not slow down for a minute. Since the year began, we’ve added 40 people to our roster and are still opening new positions.
“Even with this unconventional approach to recruitment, we are attracting some unbelievable talent. The future of this company is exciting.” – Matthew Norkunas, CFO
But finding the right people was only half of the challenge. Bringing new people into our tapestry while we are all separated by schedule and space has been another story. Our Culture Team is working to create innovative connecting experiences, but there is no way around the fact that there are suddenly more people who have never experienced a weekly Town Hall in our vibrant café than there are who have. Some even wonder what it will look like when we are all back together, but we know being open to change isn’t the same thing as changing who we are.
When racial injustice became a focal point of 2020, we stopped to purposefully reflect on what it meant to us as individuals and as a whole. We have since initiated an Acting for Justice forum that provided a space for personal learning and growth, and opened important, but sometimes difficult, dialogues around systemic racism and injustice in the US and in the biotech industry specifically.
We have made personal growth a priority, creating learning plans with outcome metrics around understanding our own racial biases and integrating racial justice into our living culture. We have also aligned with affinity groups that have helped those who’ve experienced trauma process and share, and those who haven’t to begin to understand its impact on those who have and our collective responsibility to anti-racism.
These first steps are helping us advance how we recruit new team members, how we listen to each other, and how we share what we are learning. But we acknowledge that we are still very much a work in progress. Important questions remain around how we continue this conversation within our growing company as well as outside our walls with our communities, both local and professional. How do we move forward, taking further actions that put this new understanding into motion? What reflections can we put in place to ensure we are continually living up to our ideals?
“As a Black woman in a field with few people of color, I appreciate the changes we’ve made as a company this year. They are important, but at the same time we are still only scratching the surface. I look forward to seeing us put these conversations into action — finding ways to celebrate different heritages and continuing to increase the diversity of our team.” – Mari Gebremeskel, Associate Scientist
We can’t know exactly how Generation Bio will evolve over the next few years, but we are clear on that fact that these conversations, and the willingness of our team members to learn, to work and to grow, will continue to help guide us.
Moving forward there are no easy answers and that is a concept we need to be comfortable with.
We are not kidding ourselves that we have made it through to the “other side.” The world has changed dramatically, and we have changed with it.
Our previous style of working is adapting to a new world. We know many of the questions the world is facing won’t be answered for decades. Socially and economically, there’s a heightened state of volatility. As we move forward, our decisions will be informed by this understanding of our new world.
But things will get better. Vaccines are beginning to be approved and distributed across the US. There will be a return to a new baseline. We will, once again, pile into our café to best each other in trivia contests, crowd around data to debate the latest, and celebrate scientific breakthroughs big and small. And we move forward more connected, with a deeper respect for our need to understand each other’s experiences.
Of course, if 2020 has reinforced anything, it’s our belief that there will always be an X factor. But we know where we are headed and who we are as a community.
Thoughtful. Inclusive. Courageous. All-in.
We are Generation Bio.
“When we can all finally come back together, it will be different, absolutely. But the level of enthusiasm and energy is going to be extraordinary.” – Ben Parkhurst, Senior Manager, Process Development
Contributors: Matt Chiocco, Senior Director, Preclinical Development; Mari Gebremeskel, Associate Scientist; Sarah Lagoy; Scientist; Matt Manganiello, Associate Director, Platform Research; Geoff McDonough, CEO; Matthew Norkunas, CFO; Ben Parkhurst, Senior Manager, Process Development; Joyce Pinkham, Vice President, Program Management; Matt Simmons, Director, Analytical Development; Leslie Wolfe, SVP, Chemistry, Manufacturing & Controls; Zhong Zhong, Head of Gene Therapy