Cambridge nonprofit Addgene aims to make a big impact on science by collecting, cataloging, and sharing tiny snippets of DNA called plasmids. Flexible policies keep employees happy, but the sense that their work has a higher purpose really engages and motivates them.
Thoughts from the top: “We treat everyone here like they should be learning and growing all the time, and give them opportunities to stretch,” says executive director Joanne Kamens.
A magic moment: A few months ago, senior scientific project lead Eric Perkins got an e-mail that confirmed he made the right choice to go to work for Addgene. His PhD supervisor got in touch to tell his former student Addgene’s work has changed the way he does science. “For him to say that was really important to me,” Perkins says.
Office space: Walk past the ordinary office in the front of Addgene’s space, and you will come to a room where the tables are piled with hundreds of brick-sized white packing boxes. All of the organization’s plasmid orders are fulfilled from the main office, an arrangement that gives employees a tangible connection to their mission. And during busy periods, everyone — including Kamens — helps out with the packing.
Balancing act: A self-described “vocal feminist,” Kamens wants to make sure both men and women have ample opportunity to balance work and family. To that end, Addgene recently increased parental leave to eight paid weeks for new mothers and new fathers alike.
In a word: Mission