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Once great company with many talented people diminished by ineffective management

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Macclesfield, England (UK)
Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Macclesfield, England (UK)

I have been working at AstraZeneca full-time for more than 10 years

Pros

The Alderley site in the UK is a beautiful location to work at. Nice restaurant, gym facilities etc. The people there and at other sites are by and large great people with the majority of them very dedicated to the company and also to what it stands (stood) for and the work that it was doing. Quite a few ago, it was a great place to work..

Cons

Short sighted management - which started long before the cuts started happening is bringing a once excellent company to its knees. Morale is at extremely low levels. Short term cost savings in critical areas whilst squandering resource in non critical areas. Continual reorganisations at ever increasing frequencies. Cutting of staff beyond functional levels mean internal processes are falling over. Failing infrastructure and facilities, and dysfunctional/ un-managed/unclear systems and processes combined with insufficient staff have created an environment where it is extremely difficult for remaining staff to carry out their roles. Infighting between and within groups and "toxic" environments becoming more common.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Senior management within AZ have for a number of years been attempting to present to the world a unified image of a company that is “drastically changing its internal processes and structures to create a very new and different AZ.” The reality within AZ is very different.

The new structures (usually described as for example "up and running”/”going live”/”gearing up”/etc) are usually a twinkle in some managers eye, whilst precious little is actually happening on the ground. The leadership capabilities (that we have told the stock market it is our priority to recruit and nurture) thus far have come to very little. In our area, one new manager (I can’t remember whether he joined us with “devastating insight”/”remarkable intutition”/”choose your own random glib expression”) simply answers every question put to him with – “Well tell me what you think”. This was novel when first heard; many months on that same expression used ad infinitum is illustrative that AZ is still employing/positioning managers that are uncomfortable making decisions and taking a lead.

AZ has for several years now been running on short-sightedness in the extreme. You can con the market analysts for a short period of time by painting pictures. In the long term, the company needs to deliver products based on good science. An organisation that exists only on the power point slides of senior and middle managers is not capable of doing this. And when this doesn’t happen – which it won’t whilst AZ is more focused on the stock market than on its core business – the bubble will burst. If you think that has already happened at AZ, think again. It can fall a lot further and internally the company is creaking at the seams.

AZ desperately needs leaders: It needs leaders who understand science. It needs leaders who are going to preserve the future of the business by looking at the long term and the bigger picture. It needs leaders who value their staff, who support their staff, and who have the courage to put themselves on the line for their staff because they understand the work that is being done and they believe in the value of it.

What AZ desperately doesn’t need if it wants to return to good science is a continual series of reorganisations, fashionable acronyms, buzzword projects and gut-wrenchingly idiotic phrases (Inspire to Innovate??). What it also doesn’t need, if it is going to survive the decade is another CEO, (or board members) who receive extremely large financial rewards irrespective of whether the company performs well or badly under their leadership. What is an utter tragedy is just how many people's futures disappeared to fund the last under-performing CEO's pay-off?

And at the risk of being crude, the other thing AZ could really do with “rightsizing” is the significant number of “parrot managers” who simply repeat the latest corporate mantras – Passion for Customers, Courageous Leadership, blah blah blah. This is not the voice of leadership. It is the noise that sheep make when they are in a field together.

In my experience across several varying departments, cuts have gone so deep within AZ that critical jobs are now unfilled. By critical, I mean that those jobs constitute an essential link in a chain, without which a process or system will fail. IT services have been victim to short term cost savings without senior AZ managers being prepared to stick their head above the parapet and fight for the reliable IT infrastructure and support that are critical to a research and development organisation. Huge numbers of man years are being wasted as staff do battle with email systems that are constantly falling over, IT infrastructure that is completely inflexible and inappropriate for people needing to work with novel and experimental software, call centres in India who have no grasp of the problems. The situation is similar with Facilities Management: key staff who understood the site and the facilities have been replaced by generic/on-call engineering staff who do not have the detailed/expert knowledge to support the kind of specialist processes at the sites (or to work safely around the hazards) The result? Staff who have studied to postgraduate level and beyond, whilst being paid salaries to reflect that, are devoting significant percentages of their time in work trying to make arrangements to get a burst pipe repaired, or gain security access to a building where there is a fault with the door (again), or get the toilets fixed (again).

And what about the scientific and clinical expertise? AZ has been haemorrhaging talent for the last couple of years. Newly installed managers, with no knowledge of current staff abilities and limited understanding of their own roles, are understandably failing to recognise key staff and hence stem the loss of the talent that will be critical for the company to survive in the future. Now recreate that mix of management inexperience and lack of individual staff awareness and marry it up to a large scale paper-based redundancy program, (managed by external HR contractors for who it is irrelevant whether AZ survives or not). You get the same problem but at a significantly greater order of magnitude......and the long term consequences present a vastly greater hurdle. If AZ were to find itself sitting on the world’s greatest blockbuster tomorrow, where would the talent come from to develop and get it to market before the competition?

There is a continuous drive from AZ management for leadership at all levels of staff from bottom up. It is time for the people at the top who have been pushing this philosophy to start walking the walk and demonstrating what's expected on this. Leadership is a top down process – instead of telling AZ staff what to do, it’s time to show them.

Can AZ make a comeback? At this moment I think its poised on the brink, however I also think there is still a chance it can be turned around - BUT (and it's a big "but") it needs someone at the wheel to make that happen...... rather than the ships officers asking the crew to collectively steer the boat.

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
Disapproves of CEO

439 Other Employee Reviews for AstraZeneca (View Most Recent)

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  1.  

    AstraZeneca

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at AstraZeneca

    Pros

    Good work Life balance and learning/development processes. Better salaries paid than in most other industries.

    Cons

    Less secure with a lot of ongoing change

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Cut out so many layers of management and keep your skill base.

    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2.  

    Supply Chain

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Manager  in  Toronto, ON (Canada)
    Current Employee - Senior Manager in Toronto, ON (Canada)

    I have been working at AstraZeneca full-time for more than 10 years

    Pros

    Great experience builder with fantastic people.

    Cons

    Minimal job opportunities and growth on a decline. Western markets given less focus.

    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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