Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 6, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why AstraZeneca Canada Inc. was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
- AstraZeneca Canada celebrates exceptional achievement and performance through the "we appreciate" recognition program (with redeemable points for gifts), the President's Award of Excellence, and MVP awards for employees who exemplify company values
- AstraZeneca Canada actively encourages employees to be active in the community, offering up to 3 paid days off to volunteer and providing financial donations to organizations where employees volunteer their time ($500 for every 40 hours)
- AstraZeneca Canada's head office features a number of onsite amenities, including a cafeteria with healthy and special diet menus, interactive "thinkSpace" rooms equipped with state-of-the-art collaboration technology and comfortable seating, and subsidized access to a shared-use fitness facility, with a basketball court, a sauna, and a variety of fitness classes
AstraZeneca employees thrive on support - and science
During his 18 years at AstraZeneca Canada, Martin Booth has worn many hats. From his early days in Information Technology, he held several roles, including Project Management, Business Partnering, then, in a big shift, joined the Diabetes Marketing team. "That set up the next changes in my career," says Booth. "It was the biggest shift from a career perspective because you're not working across different functions; you're truly in a new function."
Three years - and a few roles - later, Booth is now Director of Analytics, Forecasting and Data Excellence at the research-based pharmaceutical company. "As I developed over the years at AstraZeneca, I found an important driving force for me was getting closer to understanding patients, as well as to the great science we are engaged in," he says.
For Booth, that focus on development is a key part of AstraZeneca's commitment to its employees. "We believe people have potential far beyond what they often can see for themselves, so we encourage them to look across our entire organization," explains Gena Restivo, who has also held a number of positions on her way to becoming Vice-President, Human Resources and Communications. "We encourage our people to be courageous with their growth, ask for help when they need it and learn from missteps; this organization truly supports people in growing to be their best selves."
That support extends beyond 9 to 5. "Living our values through our strong purpose, creating an engaging work environment and supporting our employees inside and outside the office are just core to who we are and what we do," says Restivo. "We truly believe that people are the foundation of our business and that we are at our best when they are at theirs."
To that end, AstraZeneca introduced Thrive@AZ, a multi-year platform focusing on employee growth and development, health and well-being, and cultivating a vibrant, energized workplace. Part of that focus has involved significant updates to, among other things, maternity, parental, adoption and bereavement leave as well as a doubling of tuition support for employees.
The company also introduced Best Doctors, which empowers employees to find answers to medical questions relevant to them or their families. Then, there is LifeSpeak, an online health and wellness development platform that provides instant access to professional insight on a range of topics - from physical and mental health to eldercare, stress management and building a personal brand.
The changes have been well-received. "A lot of people just talk about putting the employee in the forefront," says Booth. "It's the programs and commitment to creating and engaging a supportive environment that really drives me, and has made me want to be part of the culture for so long."
And then, of course, there's the work itself and the organization's focus on the patient. "It's an incredibly exciting time in the biopharmaceutical industry," Restivo says. "We're seeing more and more personalized medicines being developed at AstraZeneca - medicine that is targeted to the right patient at the right dose the first time." In addition, the company is involved in scientific partnerships that have expanded its research footprint in Canada over the past couple of years, including being identified as a top global clinical delivery site.
So it's no surprise that AstraZeneca's employees are excited by the work they do. "We know we are making an important difference in patient health," says Restivo. "Our employees are incredibly passionate about that." Over the next several years, the company will be launching more than 20 life-changing medicines, she says. "None of this happens without our people. They truly are the foundation of our business."