Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 11, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why AstraZeneca Canada Inc. was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2017):
- AstraZeneca Canada supports employees who are new parents with maternity and parental leave top-up payments and offers the option to extend their paid leave into an unpaid leave of absence
- AstraZeneca Canada invests in ongoing employee development with tuition subsidies for job-related courses (up to $3,000), subsidies for professional accreditation and a number of in-house and online training programs
- AstraZeneca Canada encourages employees to adopt an ownership culture through a share purchase plan, available to all employees -- and offers additional financial incentives including signing bonuses for some employees and referral bonuses for employees who successfully refer a candidate (up to $2,000)
Pushing the boundaries of science at AstraZeneca
Like most employees at AstraZeneca Canada, VP of Human Resources & Communications Gena Restivo can easily connect her day-to-day work to a very personal, and powerful, purpose.
"We can all look to our own families and network of friends and see people who are struggling with disease and illness," says Restivo, a 16-year veteran of AstraZeneca, a Mississauga-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines for treating cancer, diabetes and respiratory diseases. "We know that what we do makes a real difference in improving and saving the lives of Canadians."
A focus on science and patients is very much at the heart of AstraZeneca's culture. In fact, two of the company's core values are "We follow the science" and "We put patients first."
"It's an exciting time at AstraZeneca because we're really pushing the boundaries of science to improve our understanding of the biology of many disease areas," says Carlo Mastrangelo, AstraZeneca's Director of Corporate Communications. "We're advancing a growing pipeline of new medicines that aim to transform disease management in areas like diabetes, severe asthma, ovarian and lung cancer, where there is tremendous unmet need."
Increasingly, what is known as personalized or targeted healthcare is at the core of much of AstraZeneca's research and development efforts.
Personalized healthcare is about matching medicines to the patients most likely to benefit from them. It involves a detailed understanding of the biology of a disease, identifying genetic biomarkers and developing tests that can identify who is most likely to respond to a targeted treatment.
This focus extends to the company's support of leading-edge Canadian research. AstraZeneca has a landmark research partnership with the Montreal Heart Institute that involves searching the genomes of up to 80,000 patient samples for genes associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The goal is to improve patient outcomes by ensuring that innovative treatments are matched to those individuals who will benefit the most from them.
AstraZeneca is also a founding partner of At My Best, a program that is addressing the growing burden of chronic disease by helping schoolchildren establish lifelong healthy eating and lifestyle habits. The company has also committed $1 million to Stand Up to Cancer Canada, a collaborative program aimed at advancing cancer research and treatment.
Restivo says that a strong sense of shared purpose helps explain why AstraZeneca employees routinely score very high on bi-annual engagement surveys.
It also acts as a prime attraction for new recruits.
"What we look for in external candidates is people who are passionate about doing work that impacts the health of Canadians," she says. "We put a high value on attracting people who have curious minds and are committed to continuous learning and growth in a dynamic environment."
The company strives to reinforce that sense of engagement through initiatives like My Science Matters, a series of lunch & learn sessions, town halls and presentations that connect employees to the latest medical advances in their pipeline as well as build understanding of the patient journey in different disease areas.
Mastrangelo recalls one recent session, in which a lung cancer patient talked about his personal journey.
"He shared a powerful and inspiring personal story about battling lung cancer, including talking about how one of our medicines had changed his life," says Mastrangelo. "From that, you get a rewarding feeling that the work you do is really having a profound impact. But it also drives a real sense of urgency, where there continues to be great medical need and the opportunity to help millions of Canadian patients."