Amgen CEO Bob Bradway’s Advice to Amgen’s Summer Interns: Don’t Hold Back

In a session with Amgen’s summer interns, CEO Bob Bradway said that the time is now to make a difference in the world as both the need for innovative medicines and our ability to innovate have never been greater.

“If you're interested in making a difference in the world, in trying to help people who are suffering from serious disease and in need of better alternatives than are available today, Amgen is a great place to be. The innovation that's arising from our organization right now is really exciting.”

That was Amgen CEO Bob Bradway’s message to the nearly 200 undergraduate and graduate student interns, co-ops, veteran fellows, and apprentices who are spending their summers with the company.

“Being in the right place at the right time is half of what it takes to be successful in life,” Bradway said. “I hope that by the time you finish with us this summer, you'll agree that Amgen is the right place. I also hope you'll agree that when it comes to trying to make a difference in the world, this is also the right time to be at Amgen.”

Bradway highlighted Amgen’s four-decade-plus track record of success, its combination of large-scale capabilities with the entrepreneurial spirit of a start-up, its commitment to good corporate citizenship, and its culture, which he credited with enabling the company to survive and thrive over time while hundreds of other biotech companies have failed.

The need for innovative medicines has never been greater, Bradway claimed, noting the increase in chronic disease that is being driven by a rapidly aging global population, a growing global middle class, and increased urbanization. Amgen’s ability to meet this demand for new medicines is being driven by the company’s capabilities in human genetic data, its pioneering work in multispecific drugs, and, increasingly, its use of artificial intelligence (AI), which is enabling Amgen to innovate with greater speed, confidence, and efficiency.

Bradway called AI “an equalizer, a democratizer” that those entering the workforce might be better able to utilize than those who are well along in their careers. “AI will accelerate everything we do,” he said. “That means we need people like you to help us deploy these new tools.”

Asked about the “best mistake” he ever made, Bradway said that “when I was early in my career, I probably hung back more than I needed to or should have. At times I felt like it wasn't my place to be speaking up, giving answers, and asking questions. By holding back, I wasn't bringing my best self to some of the assignments I was working on at the time.”

Bradway added that “we once had this idea that you had to have 10, 15, or 20 years in a career before you could really have impact. I don't believe that any longer, and it would be hard to continue to feel that way in light of the amazing innovation that we see around us, in particular in the digital world driven by young people like all of you. So jump in and try to make an impact right from the outset of your career.”

Asked who has inspired him the most, Bradway responded that it’s the patients Amgen serves – the people who are struggling with a health challenge and looking to Amgen for new treatments that can make a difference. “You get to know the patients’ personal stories – it gets inside you,” Bradway said, adding that he still carries a letter from a patient that he received on his first day as CEO.

“You're going to spend a lot of time working in whatever profession, role, and company you choose,” he said. “You’re going to invest a lot of yourself and of your precious time in that work. So choose something that really makes a difference in the world. If you're lucky enough to be doing things that matter and that excite you, the rest takes care of itself.”

“Bob gave us a lot of insight about his career journey and the impact Amgen has on patients worldwide,” commented Devan Melwani, an undergraduate at University of California, Berkeley who is interning this summer in R&D Operations at Amgen. “His career advice was useful for me, as an intern wanting to go into the biotechnology field. It was an amazing opportunity to speak to him directly and ask him our questions.”

Tope Iyiola, an MBA candidate at Arizona State University, is interning this summer in Amgen’s Finance Department. “One of the highlights of my summer experience at Amgen so far,” he said, “has been the opportunity to hear Bob talk about how his inspiration comes from the patients that Amgen serves.”

“Our session with Bob was quite insightful,” added Isaac Aboh, an MBA student at the Ohio State University, who is working in Amgen’s Operations function. “He was warm in engaging with the interns and enthusiastic about answering our questions. Bob’s comments made clear Amgen’s commitment to serving patients by meeting the growing demand for innovative therapies.”

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