U.S. Army veterans find success in careers at Roche
Jamie Wright and Jo Almazni deploy successful civilian careers by matching military experience to valuable business skillsmore
Sean originally joined Cetus Corporation, the small Alameda-based biotech that was acquired by Roche in 1991 for its polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology.
“It was exciting – we were growing and there were great opportunities for advancement,” said Sean. “We were a small group and we created strong friendships, great professional relationships and a sense of community that I still feel at Roche Molecular Diagnostics today.”
Furthering the sense of community was Sean’s relationship with Henry Erlich, his mentor and one of the scientists who developed PCR. Henry’s support and tutelage made a lasting and significant impression on Sean.
“To work with a scientist of Henry’s caliber, someone who’s publishing papers, exploring scientific frontiers while also leading a team, was something I recognized as a rare and fulfilling opportunity,” explained Sean. “He was a great scientific mentor who facilitated technical discussions based on deep subject matter knowledge and impressive scientific rigor, tempered with patience and a collaborative spirit.”
Over time with Henry’s team, Sean worked on numerous projects in sample preparation and Human Genetics, and contributed to the development of DNA based PCR tests for donor-recipient matching in tissue transplantation, as well as genotyping tests for HPV, for use in cervical cancer screening. He felt good about going to work every day and built his career with Roche.
It was exciting – we were growing and there were great opportunities for advancement.
“As long as I felt there was a positive medical impact from my work, I didn’t feel pressure to leave. I knew that Roche had a special combination of top-notch science and the pursuit of strong collaborations, and that’s why I’ve stayed here. I’ve been lucky to work with some of the brightest scientists in the world, learned a lot and have truly enjoyed what I do.”
The place to Work
Sean credits some of his success to simply networking and seizing opportunities: “I don’t know if it’s accurate to say that I really ‘planned’ my career moves within Roche. I was opportunistic and I had great people helping me along the way. Whatever you want to do in your career here, make sure to do your due diligence. Talk with people. Find out what it takes to be a good fit for that role. There are resources available to facilitate that now.”
A final and important piece of advice from Sean - employees can grow a great career at Roche without making a drastic change to their current role. “There isn’t anything wrong with staying in your role and at Roche, you can develop your skills and expand your knowledge base without changing jobs, you just have to make a conscious effort.”