Pushing the boundaries of science through curiosity

Our purpose to push the boundaries of science isn’t just for scientists. No matter their role, background or aspiration, everyone at AstraZeneca follows the science – it’s one of our values and guides all that we do. Femi D-Etti, Vice President and General Manager, has had an eventful 10-year career at AstraZeneca in a variety of Operations roles, and has always pursued his passion for science through being curious and proactive with learning. We spoke to Femi to learn more.


During your ten years with AstraZeneca, what has enabled such a variety of opportunities for you?

I’d describe AstraZeneca as a meritocracy that supports people to continuously learn and grow within their roles, underpinned by great leaders. When you seize those opportunities to learn every day and develop yourself, doors open for you. We enjoy a learning culture, which is enabled by a vast number of resources available for growth and development. This year for example, we were given access to a new learning platform with thousands of virtual courses, alongside all the existing talent development programmes, email learning digests, mentoring schemes… I could go on listing for a while! One of our company behaviours is ‘I am curious and push the boundaries of science.’ I think that really sums up AstraZeneca’s approach to learning. Being curious and proactive about your development is actively encouraged and means that we’re always innovating for patients.

What about pushing the boundaries of science – how do you relate to that in an Operations role?

I studied Biochemical engineering and my passion for science lives on. Even in Operations, science is all around us as we manufacture medicines. I still brush up on scientific principles by proactively reading up on topics and learning from the resources that AstraZeneca offers. You don’t have to work in a lab to be close to the science.

Can you give us an example of a time that being curious has helped push the boundaries of science?

Early in my career, I was fortunate that AstraZeneca chose me to be in one of the first cohorts of a global supply chain development programme. I’m the kind of person who naturally asks questions – why is it done this way; how can we apply it; how can we make this better; what if we…? That programme further inspired and equipped me to think differently about supply chain management and I was able to develop new processes which are still used at the company today. It doesn’t need to be lab-based science to be innovative. Everything we do here contributes to how we deliver life-changing medicines to patients and have a positive impact on society.

What is your advice to anyone considering joining AstraZeneca?

If you want to positively impact people’s lives and be part of a great team, then you can find an incredibly rewarding career here. Having started my career outside of the pharmaceutical industry, I feel that joining AstraZeneca was my best career move because what we do truly matters when it comes to the patients that depend on us. I’d say that showing how you can add value, that you’re willing to be accountable and hold others to account is important. Be yourself – diversity of thought is truly valued here. Be curious – ask questions and offer solutions. Finally, show that you’re passionate about our purpose and honing your skills to help us deliver on it.