BioBuzz by Workforce Genetics

Kite Launches Program to Attract and Hire Veterans

Kite, a Gilead Company, is not only a life sciences leader, but also an industry pioneer in workforce development programming, robust and effective diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives and sustainable building practices. This commitment is evident at its facilities around the globe, including Kite’s Frederick cell manufacturing facility, where a passion for environmental awareness, workforce development, and building a diverse and equitable workplace is palpable. 

Kite’s corporate DE&I platform includes a variety of initiatives, including Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) that advocate for traditionally marginalized communities. Current ERGs include GLOBE (Gilead Leadership of Black Employees), W@G (Women at Gilead), PRIDE Alliance, GAIN (Gilead Asian Interest Network), the GILEADOS (Latinos at Gilead Sciences), and GVET (Gilead Veterans Engagement Team).

DE&I platforms sometimes overlook—or talk less about—veterans and their spouses as a source for life sciences talent. For Kite, this is not the case—hiring ex-military talent is a focus for the company. 

For example, Kite’s cell manufacturing facility in Frederick has recently launched what it calls its Veteran Pathways Program. The program is led by veteran hiring program strategist Bre Cameron. Cameron is a Navy veteran with more than a decade of experience in talent acquisition. 

RELATED: Are You a Veteran on the Job Market? A Biotech Career Could Be the Perfect Fit

“Our mission is to serve veteran candidates and military spouses to help them find employment at Kite. We are creating pathways into the company, such as our fellowship program, onsite veteran networking events, an internal training series about the value of hiring veterans, and other initiatives. We are partnering with a lot of great organizations that support veteran candidates as well,” shared Cameron. 

Cameron is uniquely positioned to help veterans and military spouses transition into a biotech career from the military. As a veteran herself, she understands not only the amazing talent veterans have but also the challenges they face transitioning from the military into industry.

Bre Cameron

“I have been in their boots! No matter which branch you served in or what your rank was, the transition from the military will be similar. It’s scary, emotional, and frustrating. I use my own experiences from my transition to help guide veterans on how to overcome a lot of the hurdles I faced,” Cameron stated.

Veterans and their spouses represent a rich talent pool for the life sciences industry, particularly in advanced biomanufacturing, which is highly regulated, strictly regimented, and governed by standard operating procedures that require rigorous attention to detail and discipline. These attributes and skills are extremely valued in regulated manufacturing settings as they are the same as those instilled by all branches of the military, making veterans and their spouses perfect matches for a host of manufacturing positions. 

What’s more, a life sciences career offers deeper meaning as well, which resonates with veterans and their families who have spent their collective military career serving a purpose larger than themselves. 

“Biotech is a great industry for veterans because it gives them a chance to keep serving in a mission-driven environment. Kite is seeking veteran talent because of their high adaptability, their strong leadership, and many other skills that veterans learn when serving in the military,” added Cameron. 

Not all roles in biotech require a PhD, MD, or an advanced scientific degree. There are many opportunities at Kite within operations and manufacturing, which are critical roles when it comes to delivering on Kite’s pipeline and ensuring that the company’s products remain compliant and are safe and effective for patients. Veterans and their spouses are great fits for roles in supply chain, manufacturing, engineering, and quality, according to Cameron.

RELATED: Three Local Biotechs Focused on Improving Military Performance and Medical Care

Matching ex-military talent with opportunities and moving through the hiring process is just the first step for veterans and their spouses. While this group has the transferable skills that will make them successful, that doesn’t mean that the transition will be easy. Kite and Cameron understand this and strive to ensure that veterans and spouses joining the Kite team are onboarded properly and receive the necessary training to get them up to speed quickly and effectively.

Kite’s Veteran Pathways Program is an evolving initiative, according to Cameron, and there are a myriad of programs in the works to make the transition to a civilian job at Kite as easy as possible.

Cameron added, “Our plan is to offer mentorship programs to newly transitioned veterans to help them acclimate into the civilian workforce. Our Veteran Employee Resource Group will allow veterans, military spouses, and allies a chance to work together to support each other and their community. Members will be able to assist the Veteran Pathways Program to continue with the leadership and mentorship that they loved doing in the military.”

For Cameron, support from Kite’s leadership has been invaluable as she has worked to stand up the company’s veteran hiring platform. 

“I am grateful to have received a lot of support and engagement from Kite leaders since joining the team in February. Leadership engagement is key; they are as passionate as I am about bringing more veterans and their spouses into the Kite family. Our leaders see how it’s a wonderful opportunity for this group to launch a new and rewarding biotech career, and that it’s also a win for Kite when we gain new, highly skilled team members that are mission-driven to help patients in need.” 

Kite has a host of job opportunities at its Frederick cell manufacturing facility, many of which are perfect fits for veterans and their spouses. Check out the site’s job openings if interested.