Five For Six

So, one of the hardest things for a lot of people to deal with when they start working in the biotech and pharma industry is the constant upheaval.  Companies always seem like they are in a state of flux – expanding, contracting, merging, collapsing.  After a while, it makes for a pretty thick hide.
During my ~15 years in the industry, I’ve been exposed a constant stream of changes – some good, many not-so-good.  I had gone through the lay-off (“down-sizing” “right-sizing” ”re-structuring”) process five times.  Each time I’d been retained and moved forward, trying to be successful in a diminished environment.  Sometimes, you just choose to move on to another company when it stops working.
Well.  Yesterday was Number Six – and I’m looking at the envelope that contains the details of my severance package.  It’s not at all a surprise – anyone with experience saw this lay-off coming a mile away.  And when a company such as mine has to circle the wagons to protect its clinical assets – Research always bears the brunt of the cuts.  If I was in charge, I would have laid-off my whole group too. These are the way things are in this business.  I’m not unhappy – it is the right call and the severance was generous to say the least.  
And so, it’s on to the next thing – whatever that might be.  I will miss the chance to see the projects I’ve worked on advance further in the clinic (or not) and maybe even make it to market someday.  I will miss the folks that I work with, especially my minions.  It will be strange not to be able to strike fear in their hearts with a glare.
For now – at least for a while – I think there will be healthy doses of  piano, and hiking, and reading, — maybe I’ll do a little volunteer work (at our library?) – oh and maybe some blogging… :)

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60 thoughts on “Five For Six

  1. Sorry to hear that! I hope you have some enjoyable time off, at least. If you're looking for volunteer opportunities, I recommend Volunteer San Diego (dot org) – they have opportunities across just about any interest, most of them not requiring a long-term commitment.

  2. I would say sorry (and I am) but you seem very philosophical about the situation and it seems as if you feel pretty good, all things considered. Good luck securing your next position and in the meantime enjoy those hikes!

  3. Sorry to hear that Steve, but like Hannahbanana I also hear optimism in your post – it seems like this will turn into some really cool opportunity for you – goodness knows you're a very talented scientist with a lot to offer, personally I think you'll go on to more great things. Plus your piano is calling you. :D

  4. I don't know I could adjust to that much uncertainty. I guess in the long run the thick hide could be good for me, though.
    Glad to hear you got a good severance package, at least.
    I'm sorry you're losing your minions. I mean, what's an evil overlord to do without his minions? (Play piano, hike and read I guess.)

  5. I'm so impressed with your big-picture view of your situation. I know I'd need a good day or two to rant and rave and throw things before I was ready to start hiking or reading. Guess I'm just immature that way … But seriously, I truly hope this is a step toward something bigger, something greater, and that the time between the pink slip and the bigger and greater is short, but filled with rest, day-dreaming, and a happy hour or two.

  6. I too am impressed with your optimism! You have a great perspective about what has happened, and I have a feeling this will lead into something even better for you.

  7. sorry to hear, Steve. as you say, biotech/pharma is an industry in constant flux. good to hear your severance package is a generous one and that you are keeping perspective.time to put those mixology skills to practice!

  8. On to bigger and better things, but first enjoy your extended "paid vacation." Love the optimism in your post. Hey, when life gives you lemons make lemonade or one of those fancy drinks you like. After your well deserved rest, happy and successful hunting.

  9. Talented people are never out of work for long. You'll soon be wishing you had time to go hiking, play the piano, and read fun books. Enjoy it while it lasts!John

  10. That's a major bummer! I was laid off in '88 for like 16 months. Talk about dazed and confused. I didn't know what to do with myself. The ironic part is that the phone calls started within a week "How do you do this?" "How do you do that?" Finally I went back part time as a consultant for them and eventually just went back to work, but I was making like 33% less than when they let me go. Hope you enjoy your reading – that's definitely a benefit (in a round about way).

  11. Oh, wow. Never fun, but I'm sure John's right. You won't be out of work long. And if you experience what dewitte did, CHARGE FOR YOUR TIME!!!!!!!!!! At an hourly rate that is higher than your salary was. The truth is, if you don't they'll treat you as if you aren't really all that valuable after all.

  12. Thanks Ellie — I feel like I'm optimistic and pragmatic at the same time. Also, part of me knows you don't get the opportunity for this sort of "break" too often.

  13. LOM — the uncertainty really isn't for everyone — but if you know how it is going in, you can expect it — I had a good run at this place and really don't regret much at all.The minions thing is going to be tough — who's going to get my coffee and wash my car and mow my grass now??? :p

  14. Thanks BBL — its an interesting transition. I really can't complain with the cuts (though objectively I would have cut more – but I'm cold-hearted i suppose…)— we have until the end of next week to clear out — so you go in, straighten up, talk to your friends — people are more sad than angry.

  15. Thanks John — the one thing that I know is that you don't get the opportunity for a break like this very often, and I plan on enjoying it. It will be interesting to see how long I can go before getting squirrely!

  16. Dewitte — yeah, I'm not sure I'm mentally prepared for THAT long of a lay-off — though with the current job climate in Southern California, I can't kid myself. I'm already prepared for what I think my "consulting" hourly rate should be… :)

  17. Thanks QofB! I have good friend in HR and she's already given me the primer for "consulting" and how not to just use what had been your benefit-laden hourly rate… :)

  18. Thanks GB — I am very ready to take a month or two off — and maybe even longer. Thanks for the tip on finding good opportunities. I'll be clearing out of the "old" place through next week, but after that, the sky's the limit. :)

  19. I'm truly sorry this happened, but like everyone else, encouraged by your optimism. And hey, you will have lots more time to beat me at Scrabble and Scramble now.

  20. I think of you every time I hear a drug rep mention how many lay offs his or her company has gone through and I'm sorry to hear one finally caught you. :(On the plus side you can get up at the crack of noon every day, watch game shows well into the evening, party on a Tuesday night…Kinda making me miss being unemployed.

  21. Sorry, very behind in reading, and just caught this post… as the chorus says, glad for your positive attitude, and crossing fingers you're on to your next stop before you get squirrely, but after you get a couple good weeks of tennis/reading/blogging/piano in.

  22. Sorry, very behind in reading, and just caught this post… as the chorus says, glad for your positive attitude, and crossing fingers you're on to your next stop before you get squirrely, but after you get a couple good weeks of tennis/reading/blogging/piano in.

  23. Thanks Janette — I still don't think it's really sunk in as there's a bunch of stuff to do this week — outplacement, check-out, etc. After this week though, I wonder how strange it will feel.

  24. Wow Steve. It's awesome that you have such a great attitude. As a manager, my DH would love an employee like you who sees both sides of the fence. I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason so I have no doubt something better awaits you! GL!

  25. Ugh is right, Steve! Sorry to hear about the news. I'll keep my fingers crossed that this is just the stepping stone to something even better for you…Definitely keep up the great attitude…

  26. I am WAY behind in my blog-reading! I'm so sorry to hear about your job, but man, you have a great attitude about it. You're in my prayers! Looking forward to seeing you and Susan this summer. :)If you need someone to play tennis with, I'm a mere eight hours away.

  27. Thanks jacolily — well, in several of these I've had to make those decisions and notify employees about the bad news. So, maybe having been on both sides gives a little perspective.

  28. Yep — happily ensconced in San Diego — which is good from a "find another job" perspective — assuming that the biotech and pharma sectors actually pick up over the next quarter or two.

  29. Thanks Cori! It's been since I was ~15 since I haven't had a job, so I think that will be the weirdest thing. If there's another upside — it looks like I could have plenty of free time when you guys are in town!

  30. Thanks, Bookish! After all the paperwork gets taken care of this week, I think I'll head down to our library and see if they can use any volunteers. :)

  31. As a Pharmacy Tech, I've been on a completely different end of those upheavals — we never knew from one week to the next which shelf we'd be putting that same bottle away on or which rep would be coming in for what company. It was plenty confusing for us but I never really thought about the situation at the merging and/or contorting company's staff. I'm sorry that you aren't working there any more, but kinda happy that you got a huge severance and a chance to do other stuff (more! different! strange! fun! stoopid! creative!) that you didn't get to before. I agree that smart, talented people are never out of work for long, so get your fun in while you can :) Enjoy and I hope you still have this same, positive outlook for the rest of your days! :)

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