It’s no surprise to us that Cubist has been ranked on The Boston Globe’s annual list of the “Top Places to Work” in Massachusetts 5 years in row and that we’ve been on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list for 8 consecutive years.
How do we maintain this level of excellence? We hire exceptional people. Our extraordinary talent has landed some of our very own employees on the Healthcare Business Women’s Associations Rising Star list and the Boston Business Journal’s 40 under 40 year after year.
Our reputation for innovation and a highly differentiated culture is well known and constantly recognized both in and outside of Cubist.
Behind every Cubist milestone is a cubist employee with a story to share. From decorating the Cubist walls with beautiful artwork to using novel concepts in clinical trial designs, the special skills that our employees embody is what makes Cubist so unique. Check out how our employees make a difference both inside and outside of Cubist.
Director of Quality Assurance
Carlos joined Cubist in mid-February and was drawn to the cultural elements demonstrated by those he met during the interview process. Affirming his inclination, Carlos continues to appreciate the ways employees get engaged in and take ownership of their projects.
Q: How did you decide if joining Cubist was the right fit?
Carlos: Every company thinks they have the best culture so I ask probing questions that help me identify how well I connect in a variety of situations. I am most productive when working with competent, calm and happy colleagues, who take a mature approach to any solution process.
Q: Why is a results-oriented approach critical to your role?
Carlos: Our group is responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) internally and at our outsourced contract manufacturers’ sites in the U.S. and abroad. So many challenging decisions are made each day that logical, fact-based decisions are critical to achieving the best results.
Q: What do you like most about Cubist so far?
Carlos: Definitely the culture! My group and the people I work with have sound technical knowledge, which allows us to apply a mature and simplistic, but structured approach to solving problems.
I also like how Cubist is positioning itself for continued success in the future. It is great to see a company our size investing heavily not only in the business, but also in maintaining a differentiated culture. Being part of the Cubist team is a great feeling.
Q: What is it about the Cubist culture that you most identify with and why?
Carlos: The Cubist traits I most identify with and am most proud of are honesty, integrity and transparency. These drive our everyday decision-making, even when and most importantly when the decisions are difficult ones. In addition, when it comes to those difficult decisions, I have been struck by the level of support from senior management who encouraged us to not be afraid to call the tough shots.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Carlos: My wife and I like to travel. Rather than acting like tourists, we prefer to learn about different cultures by eating what they eat, listening to their music and even struggling with their language. It’s the best way to truly experience any destination.
Senior Research Associate II
From cake decorating to microbiologist, Carmela believes her choices — good and bad — have led her to the best place to work that she could imagine. Recently she discussed the choices that helped her form her view of an ideal employer.
Q: Growing up, at what point did you decide to focus on science?
Carmela: I was very lucky as a child because the elementary school I attended had a lot of enrichment programs. It was a small public school in New Hampshire, but they had the resources to help students explore areas that you normally don't have time to dig into in the regular curriculum. The program that got me interested in science was called the Light Bulb project. If you had an idea or a question (thus the light bulb), you were allowed one-on-one time with a teacher before or after school to explore your idea. In third grade my first 'Light Bulb', in all its originality, was on electricity. Each year after that I chose different topics, mostly relating to animals. Science and the scientific method really made sense to me in terms of asking a question and then pursuing the answer. It was more concrete than writing a poem and receiving subjective feedback.
Oftentimes a question leads to more questions, but that is part of the fun science provides for me. Also in third grade, one of my teachers came up with an assignment to teach the concept of genetics and recessive and dominant traits. This was a difficult concept for third graders to grasp. She developed a really neat idea, whereby she took pictures of animals and divided them into pieces. Then we would start picking pieces from a hat to come up with a new animal. I recall one of mine being part cat and part fish (Get it? A cat-fish.), which didn't seem really satisfying at the time when others got crazy combinations like dog-snakes and frog-horses. My teacher was always teaching us how things come together in a very basic sense. I was really lucky to be somewhere that embraced asking questions and my inquisitiveness just sort of carried on throughout my life.
Q: Are there any scientists in your family?
Carmela: No, not even a little — I am an anomaly in my family. My dad is in construction and my mom is a restaurant manager. They are both Italian immigrants, and they were kind of learning along with me when I was in elementary school. My parents were very good about instilling how important education is because growing up in Italy they did not have an opportunity to go far in school.
They came to America to fulfill the American Dream, and they wanted to make sure their kids took school seriously. They were firm in letting us know that having an education is important and that doing well in school is important.
Q: What attracted you to microbiology?
Carmela: I attended the University of New Hampshire, planning on a career as a pediatric dentist. I was drawn to the field because in high school I had a part-time job as the care giver for children of a pediatric dentist. I also worked in his office. I loved the idea of working with children, especially after seeing how he made visits fun for the kids.
So I enrolled in the pre-dental program at UNH, but soon realized dentistry wasn't for me. I was fortunate to have a fabulous teacher for freshman biology. He was gregarious, and literally rolled into class on rollerblades, wearing jean shorts and a tie-dye shirt. He was very excited about this area of microbiology, which was completely foreign to me. I found myself literally at the edge of my seat saying 'I don't want to be a dentist. I don't want to be doing the same thing everyday. I want to do what he does!' I set up a meeting with him to talk about a career in microbiology, and he pointed out a UNH publication that discussed scientific research going on within the Microbiology, Genetic and Biochemistry departments. The booklet also listed the professors that would be willing to take on undergraduates. I ended up in a microbiology lab doing research studying the bacteriostatic effect of tumor necrosis factor (TNF-a) on Legionella pneumophila. So began my introduction to bacteria.
After graduation I was contemplating entering the work force when one of the professors in the department came to me and urged me to stay on as a Master's degree candidate and finish a project I started. My husband and I discussed the financial ramifications and came to the same decision — two more years now would be easier than going back later.
Q: What led you to your current position at Cubist?
Carmela: The path has not been very long. When I graduated from UNH, I went to a very small biotech company. Small means there were 12 employees. It was essentially a contract manufacturing company that companies like Cubist could call on to aseptically manufacture their drug product. I became their microbiology department and did all the QC microbiology testing. Because I had a microbiology background and understood the importance of aseptic technique and working in a sterile manner, I ended up having to work in their sterile fill rooms, which was not what I signed up for. Being a microbiologist I wanted to work with bacteria.
I am a firm believer that you have to go through some negative experiences in life to really appreciate the good ones. And so after about two years there, I decided I had made a horrible decision in my career path and I thought, 'Had I wasted all that time getting a Master's degree? I don't like my job and I don't like what I am doing. I am going to cut my losses and go back to professional cake decorating.' In a more sane moment I realized that this was only my first job out of school. I needed to try again, and so the next time I changed my strategy when looking for a job.
When starting my job search, instead of looking for the perfect job description, I looked for the perfect company description and I came upon Cubist. Based on what I read on the website, I felt I had found the culture I was looking for. When I came for my interview, I fell in love with the people and the culture during my visit. One of the main reasons I got into the sciences was because I love the pursuit of learning and at Cubist we embrace that. How many companies out there have embracing a culture of learning as part of their core values?
Q: You mentioned cake decorating — what was that about?
Carmela: It came about from needing a job. When my husband was working at Sam's Club part time while in school, he noticed they had an opening for a cake decorator and he said, 'My wife is artistic — she could do that.' I knew how to mix colors, but nothing about how to put them on a cake, but I went in and we talked. I was willing to learn and they were willing to train me. I was there for about a year, and then I started at UNH, where a local grocery store was looking for a cake decorator. Between classes I needed something closer to school, so I took the job there. Eventually I landed a job as a cake decorator at a professional bakery, which helped pay my way through school.
Q: What do you find is the most satisfying part of your job?
Carmela: It's a combination of working with a great group of people and the actual work we do. I love that what I am doing will help people — being a microbiologist is just a small piece of the puzzle. But it is pretty powerful to think that what you do may save lives some day.
Q: What is the greatest challenge you face in your job?
Carmela: Most immediately, writing tech reports and learning how to use ISIWriter (chuckling). I am currently working as part of the CDAD project team, and that has been a very big learning experience. We had no anaerobic bacteria testing capability in house before 2007. In March (2007) we started talking about getting anaerobe testing capability up and running and now, here we are 16 months later pushing toward filing an IND — it has been a very fast pace.
Additionally, I'm challenged with adjusting to and learning how to practice science differently. I love problem solving and my training and experience is how to do problem solving in the lab. As my career has progressed, I have started to get pulled out of the lab more. At first, I saw this as being pulled away from that which I love, but my challenge has been learning how to apply that same love for problem solving to a different scope of responsibilities.
Q: As a scientist, which is more satisfying, the search for a solution or finding the solution?
Carmela: Don't get me wrong, finding the solution is great, but it's really about the chase because you come upon solutions so rarely. The people who know me well know that my favorite quote is from one of my professors at UNH. I remember banging my head against a wall when I was trying to purify a protein during my graduate work and saying, 'It just doesn't work.' He looked at me and said, 'Carmela, if it worked first time, every time, we wouldn't call it research, we'd just call it search.' You should not enter the sciences if it is quick gratification you are seeking.
Q: What do you do for fun?
Carmela: Anything I can do to spend time with my husband and our two dogs. We love outdoor activities like hiking, camping, canoeing and rock climbing. I also have a bit of a beading habit and enjoy making jewelry. Additionally, we love to entertain. There is something special about bringing people together over food for lighter moments. To make entertaining easier, we remodeled our kitchen to include a professional 48 inch, duel fuel stove.
Carmela's favorite book(s): I've just recently gotten back into reading for fun and have really enjoyed books by Gregory Maguire (Wicked, Son of a Witch, Confessions of the Ugly Step Sister) and because I love cooking I really liked The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family by Laura Schenone.
Carmela's favorite movie(s): I'm going to have to cop out of picking a single favorite and break this up into categories.
Favorite animated films: The Lion King and The Nightmare Before Christmas (I know it's a weird combination).
Favorite romantic comedy: Sweet Home Alabama and Pretty Woman.
Favorite super hero movie: I can't pick one — but I prefer movies based on the Marvel characters rather than DC Comics.
CBM, Birmingham West Region
A Clinical Business Manager in the Birmingham West region, Keith sees himself as one of the “faces of Cubist” with the targeted institutions, key accounts and physicians he represents. Keith joined Cubist from Adolor Corporation, where he had a similar role.
Q: Why did you want to join Cubist?
Keith: Soon after joining Cubist but before going through training, I had conversations with both a well-respected physician and pharmacist I had worked with previously. Both of them said without hesitation that Cubist values their employees, produces great products and takes a focused approach to execution. Having multiple, esteemed customers speak so highly of Cubist was a “wow” moment and affirmed my decision. That insight from non-employees is a moment I always will remember.
Q: What changed in your role upon joining Cubist from Adolor?
Keith: At Adolor, I served as a regional sales manager and was responsible for nine direct reports across eight states. Now part of the Cubist team, I am an individual contributor using my collective experience to thrive in this role.
Q: What are some of the core skills helpful to do your job well?
Keith: It is essential to have a clinically sound background as well as to build solid relationships with your contacts by providing clinically-useful information and demonstrating integrity. A physician, clinician or pharmacist is more inclined to start a dialog or make a clinical assessment with someone they trust because of their demonstrated industry knowledge.
Q: In your time here, what do you like most about Cubist?
Keith: Both of the companies I worked with previously developed individuals and came together to meet corporate objectives. Cubist has a similar high performing, entrepreneurial spirit that resonates across the company. It is rewarding to be part of a team that strives together toward success.
Q: What aspects of Cubist's culture do you best identify with and why?
Keith: Promoting three products is something I have not done in more than 12 years. Thanks to Cubist’s targeted approach, nimble execution and teamwork, I was able to get up to speed quickly. My colleagues, who all are senior, tenured and knowledgeable, reached out to me proactively, answered my questions and proposed ideas to address initial challenges. Our regional team is highly collaborative in sharing best practices, which has fostered great success.
Q: What keeps you busy outside of work?
Keith: The schedules of three kids ages 5, 10 and 16 fill my time quickly. An avid sports fan, I coach my youngest son’s baseball team, watch my middle daughter cheer competitively and enjoy my oldest daughter’s fast pitch softball games. As a family, we enjoy the great outdoors in a four-wheeler, dune buggies, at the beach or on a local farm.
Sr. Manager, EU GMP Compliance Quality Assurance
Working in Cubist’s contract manufacturing facility in Anagni, Italy, Domenico is one of only a few non-U.S.-based employees. The perspective he brings to both the company and his job is unique. What is much more common, but equally apparent, is Domenico’s passion for Cubist and the work we do.
Q:Why did you decide to join the Cubist team?
Domenico: I started to work on the daptomycin project in 1999 when I was still at my former company and oversaw the building of the production plant from a QA and documentation perspective. Even then, I could appreciate working with the Cubist team. I was very excited to be contacted about joining Cubist in 2005 and became an employee in February of that year. I am proud to work for a company that makes an important contribution toward saving so many lives in the world.
Q:What makes working at Cubist different from your other experiences?
Domenico: At Cubist, I feel my work is taken into account more. What makes Cubist different is that this company considers each employee a real “asset.” Everyone contributes to making working at Cubist an interesting experience every day, but mainly I still have the same feeling I had the first days I started to work at Cubist, even though Cubist has grown a lot since then: the feeling of living in a big family, with the same values of a true family!
Q:What is unique about your role?
Domenico: The unique aspect of my role is that I am one of only two Cubist managers located in Europe, specifically in Italy, where I oversee the quality aspects of the production of daptomycin API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient), the key component of CUBICIN®. The fact that I am both located in Europe and a Qualified Person [one who is authorized by the Italian Minister of Health to release batches of drugs to the market] also makes my role important for other Cubist pipeline products in clinical trials in Europe.
Q:What do you do for fun outside of work?
Domenico: I love reading books, which is my favorite activity to which I cannot give the time I would like, because I have two children! I also like several sports (including tennis and table tennis) and going to the cinema, but for these activities I have even less time!
Q:What has been the most amazing experience or day you've had at Cubist thus far?
Domenico: In January last year, I was finally able to participate in my first Cubist Holiday Party. It was, I would say, a “Hollywoodian” experience for an Italian Cubist employee. I felt like I was in a movie! Next time I would like to bring my family.
Clinical Research Scientist, Clinical Research
After completing pharmacy school, Jenn, PharmD chose to embark on a two-year post-doctoral fellowship with Cubist. That choice has led to not only a full-time job in an unexpected field, but also the start of a meaningful career.
Q: Why did you decide to join the Cubist team?
Jenn: After graduating from pharmacy school, I was lucky enough to complete a two-year fellowship at Cubist. During the fellowship, I was able to see many different functional areas of the company and spend time where I could not only see myself working full-time, but also making a contribution. The second year, I ended up in Clinical Research, which is an area I never expected to be, but ended up really liking. As my fellowship ended, a position opened up in the department, so I immediately applied for it, because I knew Clinical Research was where I wanted to stay. The two very happy years I spent here provided me with a passion for this organization, and a sense of investment in the growth and development of the products I was working on. I knew Cubist was where I wanted to stay and start my career.
Q: What makes working at Cubist different from your other experiences?
Jenn: The support system here is unlike any other that I have seen. From senior management through the summer interns, everyone is willing to bounce around ideas and work as a team to accomplish a common goal. I think the fact that Cubist is a small company helps, by giving employees face-to-face interactions and the opportunity to be involved in the exciting changes going on.
Q: What is unique about your role?
Jenn: Although pharmacy fellows have been a part of the clinical research group for the past few years, I am one of the first pharmacists to join the group as a full-time employee. I bring a different perspective to a group that is predominantly MDs and PhDs, which allows me to make a clinical contribution to product development.
Q: What do you do for fun outside of work?
Jenn: I love to travel and visit with family and friends. I find that a visit with good friends is the best release after a busy week.
Q: What is your favorite Cubist benefit?
Jenn: The annual holiday party - It gives you the opportunity to spend time with your colleagues and meet their guest in a social, rather than a business, atmosphere.
Q: What has been the most amazing experience or day you've had at Cubist thus far?
Jenn: The five-year celebration of CUBICIN’s launch - It was very rewarding to see the success that CUBICIN has brought to Cubist, and to meet the employees that made CUBICIN the success it is. Cubist is great for that – giving reward where it is due, and celebrating its accomplishments across the entire organization.
Sr. Sales Director, Western U.S.
Phyllis' love of learning and passion for her position stem from both a substantial career of varied experiences and a thoughtful team of "creative and determined people."
Q: What are your title and job responsibilities?
Phyllis: I'm the Senior Sales Director for the western half of the United States. I have responsibility for the supervision of 10 Regional Business Directors and 81 Clinical Business Managers.
Q: That's a lot of people! There must be a lot of pressure as well...
Phyllis: Actually, it's a healthy tension. I enjoy working in an environment of meritocracy, which holds everyone accountable. I believe the transparency Cubist provides is extremely healthy in the industry in which we work. Because we are totally accountable for what we do, each of us has a direct impact on the success of the organization. In larger companies that reality is not as closely felt. Knowing that you're making an impact on the health and well-being of patients and helping to grow a wonderful company is more meaningful than anyone can possibly know. My only regret is that I didn't get to Cubist sooner!
Q: When did you start?
Phyllis: That's a good question... I celebrated my four-year anniversary on August 16, 2009.
Q: I imagine it's been a very fast four years...
Phyllis: It's been fast in the sense that Cubist has continued to grow and evolve very quickly. In that time period, we expanded the sales force, added more regions, began promoting an additional marketed product, and expanded the market access team. All of these dynamics roll into our area of job responsibility. It's certainly challenging in terms of one's leadership role. Not to mention watching the time fly.
Q: How large was the sales force when you started?
Phyllis: When CUBICIN was first launched, there were 75 Clinical Business Managers at Cubist. When I joined Cubist in 2005 there were 99 Clinical Business Managers at Cubist, and now there are 164 Clinical Business Managers as of October 2009.
Q: What led you to come to Cubist?
Phyllis: I had been with large pharmaceutical companies my entire career. Many of my colleagues had gone to smaller biotech companies. We were fellow directors and when I checked in with them, they would say "You really need to look into biotech." I started to research different organizations on the web to find out more about some of the opportunities that were out there in the biotech world.
I actually first came across Cubist in an internet job posting. The company was rather intriguing to me, as I had prior antibiotic experience from another pharmaceutical company. I began to research the opportunities with Cubist, and was pleasantly surprised and excited about how my experience aligned with the needs of the organization.
I originally came to Cubist as the Regional Business Director for the Southwest Region. Three months later, I was promoted to Sr. Sales Director for the West Area.
It was certainly very exciting to have things move so quickly. I have held many different positions in my career. I started out as a sales representative (much like Mike and Rob), and worked my way up from Territory Rep, Hospital Rep; Account Manager, District Manager, National Account Manager; Marketing Liaison; Regional Director and Director of Account Management. In my spare time, I earned my doctoral degree in Organization and Leadership.
Phyllis: Thank you. I look back and think, "Where did you find the time?" They also call the doctoral degree the "terminal degree." I can attest to the fact it almost killed me, as I was also working full time. [Laughs]
Q: What is your undergraduate degree?
Phyllis: I have a Bachelor's in Education and a Master's in Administration. I went to Michigan State University for my Bachelor's and Master's degrees. My doctorate was conferred at the University of San Francisco.
Q: So you've had a varied career in terms of the areas of responsibility. Have you felt that has helped you in your current role?
Phyllis: Oh, most definitely. I believe the variety of responsibilities I've held has given me a greater degree of insight into Cubists' strategic direction. I can draw from my past experiences to offer experiential insights to the organization. I truly enjoy the opportunities this position affords me.
I certainly don't want to overlook the quality of the people on my team and at Cubist. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by creative and determined people who have so much foresight into what our organization should look like in the future. That continues to spur my quest for knowledge and keeps me on my toes!
Q: What is a typical week like for you?
Phyllis: Well... there's no such thing as typical. [Laughs] Let me run down the sundry of activities that constitute a week. I spend time in the field with my Regional Business Directors, and as often as possible, with some of the Clinical Business Managers. Coaching, data analysis, strategic planning, managing performance, and working with external customers takes a considerable amount of my time. There is also a lot of involvement with Cubist's home office via conference calls and membership on various committees in the organization.
Q: Where are you from originally?
Phyllis: I'm from Grosse Ile, Michigan, which has a population of about 10,000. That is where I was born and raised, and where my family still resides. Grosse Ile, which means "big island," got its name from the French when they inhabited that part of the world. We can see Amherstburg, [Ontario] Canada, right across the channel.
Q: Where do you reside now?
Phyllis: Austin, Texas.
Q: Texas must be very different from Michigan.
Phyllis: Yes. Yes, it is. It's a little bit warmer than Michigan; I can assure you of that! Austin is a beautiful city. It's the capital of Texas, the University of Texas is here, we have the lakes and the hill country, and it is also the Live Music Capital of the World. So it's a very eclectic, vibrant city, and often voted one of the top four cities in the U.S. in which to reside.
Q: Are you a big music fan? What type of music do you follow?
Phyllis: You name it. I like every genre of music. I can't say there's anything I dislike, except I might be stretching the truth to say I like Rap. Being in Texas, country music is big. For a little factoid, Willie Nelson happens to be my neighbor. There are local restaurants and hangouts - He'll just show up for a hamburger or his warm-up band will take the stage. He's just a normal, everyday guy living on 500 acres down the street.
Q: What's your absolute favorite music? If Grosse Isle were to be cut off from the rest of the world, what CDs would you have with you there?
Phyllis: If I didn't say "Madonna," my team wouldn't believe it. Let's just say my favorite song is "Material Girl" (from her Like a Virgin CD). I'm a very fun-loving person and I like bling, so it all kinda fits in. [Laughs] I went to two Madonna concerts this past year - she's absolutely on top. So: Madonna's Madonna, Madonna's Like a Virgin, Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA, Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison, and Journey's Greatest Hits.
Q: What are your favorite books?
Phyllis: I keep up with the Top 10 business list on the professional side. However, I travel on airplanes so often that I read "diversion" types of books to pass the time: Tom Clancy, Mario Puzo, Robert Ludlum, John Grisham, James Patterson, Jonathan Kellerman, Stephen White, etc. When I'm not working on the plane, these books help me forget where I am - I hate the thought of being in a tube at 35,000 feet in the air - and pass the time quicker.
Q: Seen any good movies lately?
Phyllis: You know, I have to admit I do not go to the movies very often as I tend to spend my time outdoors. I've always been very athletic and have to be outside. I play golf every chance I get - it's truly my passion. I spend the majority of my free time at the golf course, so if I rent a DVD, it's one of the big hits. Rest assured, I do watch all the PGA and LPGA tournaments on TV!
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to mention?
Phyllis: I would encourage everyone in the organization to appreciate the opportunity that we have here at Cubist. We are very fortunate to work for a company that believes in the life-work balance and provides an opportunity to really demonstrate your skills and your abilities. I believe this is truly, truly a unique place to be. That's why I tell people "embrace it," as this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Senior Medical Director, Clinical Research
Q: What are your basic job responsibilities?
Hernando: I am a senior medical director working in clinical research at Cubist, where I am responsible for key aspects of clinical development for new compounds, particularly CB-183,315 and pediatric clinical development activities for daptomycin. As a physician trained in pediatrics and critical care, I have dedicated my entire professional life to clinical research serving different organizations in public health, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions. I have spent the last 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry helping to develop anti-infective compounds for serious diseases.
My main role at Cubist is to provide the best risk-benefit path for new therapies from discovery to clinical practice in order to provide safe and efficacious therapies to patients in need by envisioning, designing, and implementing effective clinical programs in all phases of clinical development (Phases 1-4). Through internal networking and team collaboration, I am responsible for creating clinical protocols using either standard clinical trial designs or by using novel concepts in clinical trial designs to later on negotiate with internal and external key stakeholders.
In general, my job requires constant review of the medical literature and constant assessment of data gathered for the new compounds in development. On a regular basis I produce documents to support clinical trials, and important documents to communicate with regulatory authorities. Among those documents, perhaps the most rewarding of all is the write up of the clinical study reports, submissions to regulatory agencies and scientific articles submitted for publication in medical journals once a trial finishes.
Q: How long have you worked at Cubist?
Hernando: I have worked at Cubist for 6 months (as of November 2011).
Q:What attracted you to Cubist?
Hernando: While most pharmaceutical companies have lost interest in the infectious disease space because there is more of a financial incentive to pursue other classes of drugs, I viewed Cubist as a company standing up as one of the big players with an interest in products for acute care specially antibiotics that are having and will continue to have a big impact in public health.
The successful story of daptomycin, a drug that has become a great commercial success, the three additional compounds for clinical development (CXA-201, CB-183,315, and ADL5945), and the atmosphere of innovation and creativity fostered at Cubist and the passion showed by the new clinical team assembled were the key factors in my decision to join Cubist.
After working several years for a big pharma company, I wanted to keep a balance between innovation and efficiency where I could nurture my inquisitive mind and at the same time be welcomed to provide new ideas in an open environment where innovation is part of the DNA. That place, is Cubist.
Q: Growing up, at what point did you know that you wanted to be a doctor?
Hernando: I have two decisive moments that coincided with the desire to learn the “art” of medicine or becoming a doctor and the desire to “study” medicine or becoming a scientist. At age 7, I underwent surgery for an appendectomy but had to stay in a community hospital for a week. I still have vivid memories of the care provided to me by the general surgeon and the nurses. Perhaps, my childish magical thinking that I was cured almost instantly made a footprint on my desire to be a “powerful healer” or healthcare provider.
My interest vanished over the years by not having a doctor or a role model to follow in my family. However, my interest woke up again in my teen years, when I found myself attracted to the biology concepts and the research involved. I got the passion every time in high school when I was asked to provide reports for lab practice to the point that my teachers said I did not have to provide extensive and detailed reports.
Q: Name one (or two) thing(s) about yourself that most employees may not know about you.
Hernando: I dedicate daily time to continue learning classical guitar. In November 2011, I was accepted to be part of the rehearsals of the Boston Classical Guitar Orchestra which is composed of 12 players. I hope one day I will be part of the group for performances. My interest now is to learn all varieties of flamenco rhythms, a style of music born in Spain. In general, flamenco is considered one of the most difficult styles to play with nylon string guitars and the longest to learn. I spend easily two hours a day practicing and enjoying listening and watching flamenco guitar players.
I jumped 13 times from an airplane as part of airborne military training. After I graduated from high school at age 16, I was drafted for military service. I had the opportunity to do airborne training where jumping five times was the minimum requirement to “pass” the course. The first five jumps are not enjoyable since you jump because you have to and basically you follow others. However, I was selected to have additional jumps and be the first in the airplane group to prepare the jump for others to follow me. This experience gave me the opportunity to enjoy the scenery from the plane and air.
Q: What do you do for fun outside of work?
Hernando: Spending time with my family and while many people enjoy solving puzzles (word, sudoko, etc), I do enjoy programming computers as a way to develop effective algorithms and troubleshoot for errors. I do it for fun rather than for business. Over the years I have developed about a dozen real applications. A key component of my hobby is to develop conceptual data models that are independent of the technology used. This type of thinking has helped me in my career for organizing my ideas and for coming out with efficient and innovative ideas. Recently, I developed an application to browse a medical vocabulary (MedDRA) that I implemented for Android smart phones and hope to port it to iPhone devices.
Q: What information might you share with prospective employees or with new employees who have just started to help them decide to work at Cubist?
Hernando: There is an incredible social network group of talented people interconnected at Cubist with high professional standards willing to help you or to listen to your ideas.
Q: What is your favorite Cubist benefit?
Hernando: First Friday! I love the social interactions and the efforts the company put to communicate or celebrate.
Q: Have you always held your present job?
Hernando: At Cubist, yes. However, in the pharmaceutical industry I have had the rare opportunity as a physician to work in areas like data management, the medical coding team, as well as in working in other therapy areas in a variety of projects in the US and outside US.
Q: What are your favorite movies?
What Dreams May Come (1998)
Fiddler on the Roof (1971)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Kolya (1996) Czech Republic
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) Taiwan
Devdas (2002) India
Turtles Can Fly (2004) Iran/Iraq
Departures (2008) Japan
Milennium Series (2009, 2010) Sweden
Q: What makes working at Cubist different from your other experiences?
Hernando: The easy accessibility and the level of interaction with all members of the multidisciplinary team I work with.
Q: What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Hernando: Knowing that we are making a difference in the life of patients.