Amgen CEO Offers Career Advice to Summer Interns (And the Rest of Us)

Amgen CEO Bob Bradway addressed a virtual gathering of more than 150 Amgen summer interns on July 13, sharing his thoughts on our company, the future of biopharmaceutical innovation, and what it takes to have a successful career. 

Reflecting on the company's founding 41 years ago, Bradway said that Amgen was "dreaming big then and is dreaming big now." He shared his optimism that incredible advances in science and technology will enable Amgen and the rest of the biopharmaceutical industry to meet the health needs of a rapidly aging and increasingly wealthy global population. 

"The industry's ability to develop several safe and effective COVID vaccines in under a year shows definitively that we have entered the biocentury," Bradway said. "This is a very exciting time that will be characterized by profound innovation."

In terms of career advice, Bradway offered these five tips:

  • Do work that matters to you – Bradway called himself the "luckiest person in the world" because he has been able to line up his life-long passion for biology with his career choices – first as an investment banker focused on the biotech industry at Morgan Stanley and now as a leader at Amgen. When asked how he starts his day, he said his focus is always on how Amgen can serve more patients and that the company's mission provides a critical "North Star" that guides and motivates the entire company.
  • Work alongside great people – Bradway called Amgen's people our "secret sauce" and said that a big part of his job is making sure that we have the right people in place who are doing the right work. He added that Amgen's social architecture has been a powerful tool to align the company's more than 24,000 staff around a set of common beliefs and behaviors.
  • Work for a well-resourced company – Doing great things often requires great resources, as evidenced by the billions of dollars Amgen spends every year on research and development and our ability to reach patients in some 100 countries. Bradway encouraged the interns to work for a company that has the resources needed to succeed.
  • Look to fill the void – Bradway encouraged the interns to find the gaps that inevitably exist at a company and "fill the void." After spending 20 years at Morgan Stanley, for example, he joined Amgen, thinking that his experience in finance and strategy would help to fill a gap at the company, which was then exploring how best to achieve its next phase of growth. Similarly, he said, young people who have been comfortable with technology their entire lives can help a company like Amgen meet the need to strengthen its digital capabilities.
  • Be impatient – Bradway said that, as a CEO, "the clock is always ticking" and there is precious little time to truly make an impact. He encouraged the interns to aim high early in their careers, rather than waiting until later on to try to do something great. "There are a lot of big, urgent challenges facing the world," he said. "Go out and make a difference as soon as you can."

Bradway's advice resonated with Kartikeya Agarwal, a rising senior at Claremont McKenna College, who is an intern in our Finance organization.

"Two things that stood out to me the most were Bob's commitment to Amgen's mission of serving patients, confirming that I made the right decision by interning here, and his excitement for the future of the biotech industry," Kartikeya says. "After hearing him talk about the rapid changes and staggering breakthroughs that we will witness in the near future, it is not surprising that Amgen invests so much time and effort into cultivating interns who would be equipped to take on these challenges and achieve results. So for me, the session was eye-opening and Bob helped me visualize the bigger picture behind every number I input into a spreadsheet."

BTW, did you know that Bob is active on LinkedIn? Click here to follow him.

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