A shared goal of attracting talent to Greater Philadelphia’s cell and gene therapy hub has united 18 companies who form the Life Science Talent Pipeline Collaborative, a project of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. Over the coming months, we’ll introduce you to some of the Collaborative’s member organizations and their efforts to support the sector’s workforce growth as they look to hire talent. This month we spoke with Jill Schadler, who leads human resources for the US at Adaptimmune, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel cancer cell therapy products for people with cancer.
Adaptimmune Poised for Job Growth Amid Anticipated Commercial Launch
Jill Schadler joined cell therapy company Adaptimmune to head the US human resources department ten months ago. Hired during the pandemic, it wasn’t until late May when she met many of her colleagues face-to-face. An outdoor barbeque lunch, followed by fun virtual workshops the next day, showcased one of the things she likes to emphasize when recruiting new hires – a fun, casual, friendly, and family-oriented place.
Adaptimmune’s location at the Navy Yard, where the company is headquartered, is another selling point. She points to being on the waterfront, where you’re just a football’s throw from Lincoln Financial Field in a sports town. The proximity to the beach, mountains, New York City, and Washington, D.C., and easy access off I-95 are more assets. “What a cool place to build an organization!” she said. Those are the types of things she’s talking with candidates about, “as we try to get them excited to consider our company and our site, as well as potentially relocate.”
Highlighting workplace attributes is a key part of the conversation with candidates. What Schadler said they are trying to do is get the candidates excited by the science. “This is why you choose Adaptimmune,” she said. “Good people have multiple opportunities these days. So, we really start talking about the science, and the BLA (Biological License Application) filing that will lead to commercialization.”
Having a great grasp of the attributes that make working at Adaptimmune, and in Greater Philadelphia’s cell and gene hub, appealing to talent is important as the company, which has 205 employees in the Philadelphia area and 510 globally, looks to grow. Schadler anticipates Adaptimmune adding jobs over the coming months and into 2022.
“What’s exciting for Adaptimmune right now and why I think it’s important to get out and tell our story is we are preparing for our first BLA filing next year, that will lead to the commercial launch of our first cell therapy,” Schadler said. We have in-house manufacturing and anticipate further growth to allow us to manufacture both commercial and clinical products,” she said. That growth is resulting in job growth in the CMC (chemistry, manufacturing, and control) area of the business, she said.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us and we do need the right people,” Schadler said. The need includes talent for jobs such as manufacturing specialists, clinical scientists, and in the areas of biometrics engineering and eventually commercial and medical liaison.
Participation in the Life Science Talent Pipeline Collaborative has given Schadler a great place to network, a group of thought partners, and a feeling that her company is not alone in efforts to attract talent. “The Collaborative, to me, is not raising your own profile, it’s about raising the brilliance of why all these companies are now in this marketplace and feel like this is the right place to be,” she said.
“Part of the reason we joined the Collaborative was to say, ‘We shouldn’t be competing against each other. How do we try to put our heads together because we have more demand than supply? What are others doing to attract talent –that’s maybe outside the market – in?’ And then (attracting) the talent that is in the market into your particular company,” she said. “All of us in the Collaborative are doing a lot of sharing, of strategies, things that work.”
She also sees the company’s participation in the Collaborative as a way to give back. “My executives feel more confident that we’re connected,” Schadler said,” and working to stay involved with topics and issues top of mind for the city that include growing and harnessing our own talent in the area.
“Our CEO talked to me pretty clearly when I first joined, saying, ‘We want to stay in this market. So, how do we not just put the lives of patients out front, but how do we give back to the city?’ I really appreciate that.”
The Life Science Talent Pipeline Collaborative welcomes additional members to join. Contact Patricia Day, manager of Leadership Engagement for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, at [email protected]. The group is employer-led, with actions guided by the cell and gene therapy employers who are its members, acknowledging they know the needs of employers and employees best. To date, participants include: Adaptimmune; AmerisourceBergen; Amicus Therapeutics; Cabaletta Bio; Carisma Therapeutics Inc.; Center for Breakthrough Medicine; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Integral Molecular; Interius Molecular; Iovance Biotherapeutics Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Merck & Company, Inc.; Passage Bio; Rockland Immunochemicals; Spark Therapeutics, Inc.; Spirovant; University of Pennsylvania Gene Therapy Program; and WuXi Advanced Therapies.