News & Insights

Perspectives

Diversity makes us better

  • 01/30/2017
  • David Schenkein
  • via LinkedIn

At Agios, we are doing incredibly important and difficult work that is only made possible by our people, who represent a diversity of thought, skills and backgrounds. I – like many Agios employees – am a first generation American. I am only here because my parents escaped the holocaust and came to the U.S. I strongly oppose any regulation that discriminates against individuals based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or nationality. Diversity makes us better.

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Arete: The Spirit of Agios

  • 07/08/2011
  • David Schenkein

Over the last few months, I"ve been privileged to share my perspective on the values that define Agios. I talked about how values, like absolute integrity, focused execution and collaborative spirit form the foundation of our company. I also talked about how being dynamic and having passion, respectful irreverence and edge differentiate us from other companies in our industry. At the apex of this pyramid of important qualities sits Arete – a Greek word whose many meanings reflects all the values we hold dear. It is a concept you may not have been familiar with before you joined Agios, but…

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Differentiating Value: Respectful Irreverence

  • 04/19/2011
  • David Schenkein

Our values of absolute integrity, focused execution, incisive leadership and collaborative spirit combine powerful words. Our next value, respectful irreverence also shares this attribute. I believe we’ve done something unique by linking these two words—and in the process we created a value that aptly describes an important characteristic of our culture. Albert Einstein conveys one meaning of this value. Einstein was a disruptive thinker, a revolutionary – but he was also someone who didn’t take himself as seriously as he took his science. Our science—and our mission—are serious. But we don’t always have to be. Like Einstein and many other…

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Differentiating Value: Edge

  • 04/19/2011
  • David Schenkein

Our values of absolute integrity, focused execution, incisive leadership and collaborative spirit combine powerful words. Our next value, respectful irreverence also shares this attribute. I believe we"ve done something unique by linking these two words—and in the process we created a value that aptly describes an important characteristic of our culture. Albert Einstein conveys one meaning of this value. Einstein was a disruptive thinker, a revolutionary – but he was also someone who didn"t take himself as seriously as he took his science. Our science—and our mission—are serious. But we don"t always have to be. Like Einstein and many other…

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Differentiating Value: Passion

  • 03/15/2011
  • David Schenkein

Acting with "passion" means throwing ourselves into ventures with high energy, enthusiasm and commitment. This passion applies whether you"re talking about starting or sustaining a relationship, exploring new ideas, developing novel cancers treatments or trying to win a Grand Slam in tennis. Think of John McEnroe, whose passion for a traditionally staid game—and for winning—propelled him to number one in the world and seven Grand Slam singles titles. Passion can be a little intimidating (especially if you are a tennis umpire at the wrong end of a McEnroe tantrum), but it"s also something to be admired and something that can…

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Differentiating Value: Boundless

  • 03/05/2011
  • David Schenkein

Boundless makes me think of disruptive technologies and their capacity to turn fields upside down. People often talk about "coloring outside the lines" but operating with boundless spirit means we have to forget that there even are lines. Our approach to targeting cancer metabolism takes that boundless view – a dramatic departure from a two decade-long focus on transcriptional pathways. Boundless also applies to the kind of work environment we are trying to create. It means that each of us is not just allowed to push the limits, but is encouraged to do so; that we can reach as far…

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Differentiating Value: Hyperconnected

  • 02/15/2011
  • David Schenkein

When we developed our differentiating values, why did we insist on "hyperconnected" rather than the simpler "connected?" For the same reason that we describe our integrity as "absolute" and our execution as "focused"—because we want to be as precise in our description of what we are and what we will become as we are in our science. Hyperconnected can be a difficult value to illustrate – but a good visual is the brain: the amazing connections between billions and billions of neurons. The term can also be used to describe the huge increases in bandwidth required as we "connect" with…

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Differentiating Value: Dynamic

  • 02/05/2011
  • David Schenkein

Musicians are said to have dynamic range if they can vocalize or produce notes across the register from low to high. We are determined to make Agios into a company with a dynamic range that is analogous to that of a virtuoso musician. We won’t be pigeonholed with one idea or program, but will aim to create many products, performing successfully "up and down the scale." Dynamic can also mean constantly changing. For Agios to succeed, all of us must expect and embrace change. We have already seen tremendous change, not least of which is illustrated by the company tripling…

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Foundational Value: Pursuit of Excellence and Innovation and Guided by Trust, Respect and Compassion

  • 01/15/2011
  • David Schenkein

This is the final post about our "Foundational Values," those that comprise the bedrock of our culture here at Agios. In my next post, I will begin discussing the values that differentiate and define us. Pursuit of excellence and innovation In a way, I think this value states the obvious – we will always strive to be the best at what we do, and our focus will always be on doing things that no one else has ever done. These are very ambitious goals, but they are what we hold ourselves to and how we want the world to see…

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Foundational Value: Collaborative Spirit

  • 12/15/2010
  • David Schenkein

A collaborative spirit is central to achieving our vision of building a company that brings together different scientific disciplines to advance the treatment of cancer. One of the core principles on which Agios was founded was the melding of two previously disparate areas of biology: metabolism and oncology. It has always been my belief that one of our key competitive advantages is the ability to work collaboratively and without any silos. Continuing to live this value will require constant work and attention as we grow the organization, always making sure that we fight the natural tendency of working in silos.…

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Foundation Value: Incisive Leadership

  • 12/02/2010
  • David Schenkein

In identifying our core values, we purposefully modified "leadership" with the adjective "incisive." Leadership alone is vital for any company with goals as ambitious as ours, but that is not enough for Agios. It is incisive leadership that separates the good from the great. The word "incisive" invokes precision and focus, and it suggests a sense of urgency. As incisive leaders, we recognize that we do not have the luxury of slowly weighing our options, eventually coming to important conclusions and making long-awaited decisions. Of course the other end of the spectrum isn’t an option either – we can’t be…

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Foundation Value: Focused Execution

  • 11/15/2010
  • David Schenkein

Back in the spring, while golfing with my son, I successfully landed a golf ball on an island green in Ponte Verde, Florida. I was nervous facing that green across all that water, but I knew what I had to do to execute and I made it happen. I’ve been thinking about what it would have been like to take the same shot the way the professionals do, with thousands of spectators lining the fairways, millions watching at home and a huge cash prize on the line. I’m not sure I would have done quite as well. But the pros…

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Foundational Value: Absolute Integrity

  • 11/01/2010
  • David Schenkein

Absolute Integrity is a critical guidepost for us as we embark on the tremendous task of building a great company. We are trying to do two incredibly difficult things at the same time – create breakthrough drugs in a brand new space and build a unique company. Vital to both goals is a culture in which we treat everything we do and everyone with whom we interact with absolute integrity. We are deeply committed to developing treatments that will change patients’ lives and we can’t do that with anything less than absolute integrity. We must approach this mammoth task ethically,…

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