By Erin Harris, Editor-In-Chief, Cell & Gene
Follow Me On Twitter @ErinHarris_1
In part one of my sit down with Dr. Bobby Gaspar, CEO of Orchard Therapeutics, I explained how he officially took over the reins on March 18, 2020. You’ll also want to listen in to our podcast with Dr. Gaspar for an update on the company’s pipeline progress gives way to an in-depth discussion on the process challenges his company faces in the production of hematopoietic stem cells to treat neurometabolic disorders, primary immune deficiencies, and blood disorders.
In part two of our series, Dr. Gaspar answers my questions about how a focus on core values helped Orchard Therapeutics to implement a streamlined strategy in the wake of a global pandemic.
How does implementing a streamlined strategy help to bring Orchard to where it is today?
Gaspar: Becoming CEO at the start of a global pandemic came with a unique set of challenges, but also the opportunity to reset and take a fresh look at our organizational priorities and strategic approach. You can read more in our May 2020 press release unveiling our strategic plan and 2020 Q1 financial results, but ultimately our focus is to realize the full potential of our hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) gene therapy approach by applying it to areas of significant medical need where it can have the greatest impact for the communities we serve.
How does Orchard engage and support its team in meaningful ways in the midst of a global pandemic?
Gaspar: The challenges of the last year have impacted us all in a variety of ways and to varying degrees, particularly as it relates to mental health and work/life balance. It is incumbent on company leaders to truly understand the needs of their workforce and develop tailored solutions to help make their lives easier. At Orchard Therapeutics, we were proud to introduce a new suite of benefits to help our people seamlessly transition to a virtual working environment while providing a platform for our team to stay connected even while remote. These benefits and initiatives included sharing tools, tips, and techniques to promote well-being and mindfulness, virtual childcare options, improved global paid family care leave, workplace flexibility, and improved professional development offerings.
Orchard Therapeutics is known for its focus on core values and company culture. How was company culture impacted by the pandemic?
Gaspar: As a global company with colleagues across multiple continents, we already had many of the systems, tools, and processes in place to collaborate remotely. However, the pandemic brought to the forefront larger issues around racial and health disparities which was an opportunity for us to evaluate ways we can help address these larger societal challenges. We undertook a major assessment and refresh of the organization’s values, and prioritized diversity and inclusion efforts to further identify opportunities for engaging our team and encourage them to bring their authentic self to the workplace. Paired with a new weekly CEO video blog for our colleagues covering everything from the latest issues in the industry to internal updates and educational information about our business and the science being done, we saw tremendous engagement across all levels and geography.
Working virtually also gave us opportunities to achieve a fun, mission-centric atmosphere. For our first regulatory approval in Europe, we hosted a virtual launch party. We have also been able to virtually hear from families with patient stories. This has been a great motivator for our team and kept everyone engaged. We maintain connection, especially with the communities we serve.