5 Questions with Katy Strei EVP, Human Resources/Global Communications & Public Affairs and Chief Human Resources Officer, Emergent BioSolutions

“5 Questions With……” is a weekly BioBuzz series where we reach out to interesting people in the BioHealth Capital Region to share a little about themselves, their work, and maybe something completely unrelated. This edition features 5 Questions with Katy Strei EVP, Human Resources/Global Communications & Public Affairs and Chief Human Resources Officer, Emergent BioSolutions.

Ms. Strei joined Emergent BioSolutions in 2016 and has served as executive vice president, human resources and chief human resources officer since April 2017. She previously served as senior vice president and chief human resources officer from January 2016 to March 2017. Prior to joining Emergent, Ms. Strei was an independent consultant, specializing in leadership and organization development from February 2014 to January 2016.

Ms. Strei has extensive experience in human resource leadership roles, having previously served as vice president of global leadership and organization development at MedImmune from June 2005 to January 2014, director of executive development at Fannie Mae from May 1999 to May 2005, and program director, director of training, as well as corporate manager for ManorCare Health Services from August 1992 to May 1999.

Ms. Strei received a B.A. in Sociology from Lawrence University and an M.S. in Organization Development from American University/NTL Institute. Ms. Strei also holds a certificate for Leadership Coaching from Georgetown University.

1. What was your first job/role in the biotech/pharma/life-sciences industry? Tell us about it. (How you ended up there. About the role and company).

I joined MedImmune in 2005 to build the talent and organization development function in what was then a stand-alone, aggressively growing biotech. I had worked previously in health care service delivery and financial services but was intrigued by the growing life sciences industry in Montgomery County where I grew up and was now raising my family. The intersection of business and science, the mission-focused opportunity to make a real difference in addressing unmet medical needs and the chance to help build a business by developing people, leaders, and organization capabilities made it an easy decision to take the leap into industry. In the last 15 years I have had the opportunity — at MedImmune from 2005 – 2014 and at Emergent since 2016 — to work with the smartest, most creative, focused, and dedicated people.

2. Tell us about your current role and company/org? (highlight what the company is working on, maybe career opportunities there, location, history)

I have responsibility for Human Resources and Public Affairs/Communications at Emergent. I have amazing people on my team, and they make a huge impact on our business every day.

Emergent has grown from our earliest days more than 20 years ago as a private company with a single product and a single location to a diversified business with four business units (Vaccines, Therapeutics, Devices, and Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization or CDMO), 10 marketed products, a growing R&D pipeline, and more than 2,000 employees across the globe.

Today we’re acutely focused on winning the fight against COVID-19. We are partnering with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology innovators in the development and manufacture of their COVID-19 vaccines and are developing two COVID-19 therapeutics of our own. With our longstanding history of providing solutions that address public health threats, we are going all-in to beat this pandemic – and we’re looking for like-minded people to join the effort. We are currently searching for talent to fill nearly 300 open positions across the company.

3. What is the most common HR challenge people come to your team for help with?

Every day in our business we solve difficult, complex problems that require discipline, intellect, technical knowledge, and trial and error. It’s easy for people who are really smart technically to forget that we’re all humans who want a sense of purpose, respect, and trust from our colleagues and a fair opportunity to do our best to grow and learn. Often when my team is working with a colleague on an HR (i.e., people) problem, it’s really helpful to keep this in mind.

4. Tell us something about your job (other than money) that inspires you to work there.

Two things: our people and the patients we serve. 
I am humbled by my colleagues every single day – their courage, their dedication and commitment, and their resilience. Together we are wholly dedicated to developing and manufacturing products that protect and enhance life.

5. What have you learned in the last 6 months as we’ve all dealt with living through a pandemic?

10. Human beings are amazingly resilient

9.  Strong teams (and companies) can get stronger – even though they are 

physically distant

8.  Spending time outside every day is a necessity

7.  I’ve become an awesome foosball goalie

6.  Having all attendees join a meeting virtually is a great equalizer

5.  My colleagues have the cutest dogs, cats, children and spouses

4.  The Floor is Lava – Netflix and The Daily podcast from the NYT

3.  Curbside pick-up at Total Wine

2.  To have the basics is to have everything — health, family, friends, and colleagues

1.  Together we can win this fight against COVID19

Thank you to Katy Strei for participating in the ‘5 Questions with BioBuzz’ series and stay tuned for more interviews with others from across the BioHealth Capital Region.

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Andy Eckert

Andy has worked with BioBuzz for the last decade to help spread the word of the BioHealth Capital Region even before it was branded with that name. His background includes years at MedImmune supporting the Commercial Operations Organization before becoming a BioHealth Nomad working with various clients in Operations, Communications and Strategic Services.

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