Nurturing a Collaborative and Results-Oriented Culture that Attracts Top Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Talent

by | Oct 6, 2022 | Articles

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Krystle Humphreys, PHR, SHRM-CP, and Director of Human Resources for Seqens Innovative and Generic Pharmaceuticals (I&GP) Division, North America.

 Krystle joined Seqens in January 2022 and had recently completed a certificate program at Cornell University in Strategic HR Leadership. She brings more than 13 years’ experience in human resources (HR) and has more than eight years of experience as a business partner within public, private and global corporations.

 Tell us a little about why you were interested in joining Seqens?

Given my experience working with global companies, as well as companies that were becoming integrated with each other, I found it exciting to join Seqens at this time in its journey, as it works to integrate previously separate organizations across the globe, and presents a unified team with consistent goals and values. I wanted to be a part of this pivotal moment in the company’s 25-year history of operating in the U.S.

 What are some of your goals for your first year?

A priority is to simply assess operations across our sites in Devens and Newburyport and benchmark current operations and determine where we want to be one year from now. This involves not only speaking to employees at every level of the organization, but really hearing them – their goals, hopes, frustrations and needs. I understand that change can’t happen right away, but by understanding the most critical needs, we’re able to move forward one step at a time.

One concrete initiative I’ve undertaken is to re-examine the total compensation and rewards package, creating a consistent grading and banding structure for each role and making it clearly defined and transparent. I’ve listened very closely to employees, and conducted benchmarking research to ensure that Seqens is very competitive when attracting the best talent. Another major element of this initiative is establishing clearly defined annual objectives and KPIs ultimately for all roles within the organization, making the objectives data-driven and incentivizing staff to meet key metrics.

 A third major initiative is a recommitment to our culture of safety. We bring on-board only staff qualified to understand and adhere to safety regulations. Within the first two days of joining Seqens, every employee has a mandatory safety training. We also hold regular safety update presentations and we’re updating our equipment to ensure we’re using new and safe systems. 

How would you describe Seqens’ workplace culture? 

Today I see it as an evolving culture moving in a very positive direction. Seqens has gone through a lot of changes over the last few years as an organization, not to mention the trials of a pandemic, but we’re in a special spot right now. New, diverse talent is coming on-board and there is renewed excitement and enthusiasm with people willing to embrace change. In fact, since January, we’ve hired 31 new hires across all levels. For an industry as traditional as manufacturing, we’re proud that we’ve brought many more women on board, as well employees with diverse ethnical and regional backgrounds. In May we held a company pot luck meal where employees brought in delicious food to share from their cultures.

To see that hopeful change is in the air, you only need to look at our lunchroom. When I started, it was a pretty silent place, and people were heads down in their work. Today there is a lighter feeling, with people chatting over their lunches and sharing ideas. It’s really becoming a solutions-oriented culture. We’re also planning a Chili Cook-Off in the Fall between Devens and Newburyport. 

What did you see as needing to change about the company culture, and what steps are you taking to address that?

The company went through a lot over the past two years.  Previously, it appeared that there was a trust issue and employees didn’t feel valued or heard. But with an almost entirely new leadership team in place, including managing director Bob Huang, Seqens is committed to building that trust, For example, there is a global company-wide initiative, “A Great Place to Work,” that has made great strides to rebuild that trust. We took to heart the feedback employees shared in surveys that they didn’t always feel valued, and company leaders now work daily to listen to staff, hold monthly meetings, quarterly town hall meetings and report on our actions to make employees feel valued through regular rewards, recognitions and compensation.

One thing I’m committed to is making sure that every employee – from production operators working shifts to all levels of the organization – shares equally in the success of Seqens NA. Everyone has a seat at the table and each voice matters.

What qualities do you look for in new employees?

We’re always looking for those individuals with the fire to make change and be change makers. We’re also looking for those who are flexible enough to work with us through a transition point in our organization’s development. They need to be able to embrace that change. Employees who are willing to raise their hands, share ideas, collaborate with others and work together as a team are key to our success. 

How are you aligning the New England culture in Newburyport and Devens with the culture in France?

While we work to assimilate the two cultures, we also understand that regional differences are what make global companies interesting and stronger. On a regular basis, colleagues from France come to North America to give presentations, and network with our staff and we do the same. This summer I had the opportunity to go to headquarters in Ecully, France, and I met company HR leaders based in Israel, Canada and France. 

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

While I’m now an HR leader, I studied Advertising and Communication in college. I’m a wife and mother to a three-year-old and a six-year-old, so I understand the need to balance family and career – and how challenging that can be. I’m pretty active, lifting weights and kick boxing regularly and I love camping and skiing and watching New England sports – especially the Patriots.

I get my commitment to hard work, empathy and inclusiveness from my family.

 My dad was a third-shift manufacturing worker and my mom stayed home to raise 3 kids.

I put myself through college and worked hard to get to where I am, so I can relate to the struggles of people at different levels of the organization and from different backgrounds.

It takes hard work and perseverance and some grit to succeed and we need to work together to build each other up. Nothing is impossible. The question is, how can you be a part of the possible?