Did you know that BioAgilytix’s ‘deep bench’ extends beyond those we have working in the lab? Many individuals in our operational departments, from business development to QC, are also formally trained scientists and able to offer real-world scientific expertise to help our customers address and overcome their bioanalytical challenges. One such team member is Jelle Hempenius, who recently joined BioAgilytix as Business Development Director, Europe. In this Q&A we learn more about Jelle’s science background, what brought him to BioAgilytix, and what he is most excited about for his future here.
Tell us a little about your background. What made you want to work in the pharma/biotech industry?
I’ve really spent my whole career in the pharma/biotech industry since graduating in Analytical Chemistry from what is currently the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen. After school I took a position at a local contract laboratory as a bench scientist/laboratory technician, and I spent the next 15 years in the lab. During that time I held a variety of positions, including management roles, and it made me want to broaden my view from the business management perspective. I decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences as well, and following graduation I was asked to join my organization’s Business Development team.
Since I had never envisioned myself in a commercial role, I accepted the position with a contingency: if I didn’t like the position, I could go back to the lab. Well, I ended up not needing that option. I truly enjoyed forging customer relationships and applying my in-lab knowledge to support many bioanalytical projects, and I never looked back.
I’m also a strong believer in lifetime learning and continuous training to stay intellectually “in shape,” which is why I decided to earn my MBA from the State University of Groningen in 2015. After a short move to sales of Formulation Development and GMP-Analytics for about two years, I’m now back in the bioanalytical domain and part of the Business Development team at BioAgilytix.
What initially drove you to join the BioAgilytix team?
BioAgilytix is a science- and quality-driven contract laboratory with an excellent reputation. When I was approached for the position of Business Development Director, Europe, I did my desk research and visited the BioAgilytix website. From the content on the website, I was able to easily conclude the high scientific level the company upholds. It was clear that the scientific team is very skilled and also extremely customer-focused. These initial impressions were only reinforced during the interview process, and I have been happy to be part of the team since joining them in mid-June of this year.
Tell us a little about your current role.
I am currently Business Development Director, Europe and responsible for both acquiring new customers and maintaining and expanding business relationships in my assigned territory in Europe, which covers the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Scandinavia, and Israel.
I have had the opportunity to work with our very skilled scientific team, which helps support the Business Development team in teleconferences and meetings with clients. I am a firm believer in this team selling approach where business and science come together for the benefit of the customer. It’s easy to converse with clients when they see the sound scientific backing behind the services we’re offering. Our BD assistants are also excellent at supporting our efforts to build strong customer relationships as we look to serve sponsors in new European territories.
What opportunities do you see coming for BioAgilytix in the industry?
Currently, 4 out of every 10 drugs in development are biologicals, and this statistic will grow to 7 out of 10 in the next couple of years. Of the 18 biologics that were approved by the FDA in 2018, BioAgilytix supported 8 of them. Our focus on large-molecule development and strong expertise in biomarker analysis, cell and gene therapies, and immuno-oncology puts us in a very strong and exciting position to support the anticipated influx of such therapeutic products in the coming years.
What do you think sets BioAgilytix apart from other CROs in the industry?
The expertise of the BioAgilytix scientific team and our true customer-centric approach on one hand, and the employee engagement of the company on the other. Our employee retention rate is over 90%, the highest in the CRO industry, and it supports our ability to provide customers with continuity across projects, which is necessary for successful drug development programs.
What is your favorite thing about working at BioAgilytix?
Although I have only been with BioAgilytix for a few months, I already really enjoy the open and encouraging atmosphere. The lines to senior management are very short, and people like Jim Datin, our CEO, and Dr. Arno Kromminga, Global Chief Scientific Officer and Managing Director of BioAgilytix Europe, are very accessible and supportive. Within the Business Development team, there is also a strong culture of team spirit and supporting one another however possible. The people I work with on a daily basis are definitely my favorite part about working at BioAgilytix, and I believe that it is because of the people that BioAgilytix is perceived in the pharma and biotech industry as a top provider of premium and high-quality science.
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Want to hear from other BioAgilytix team members? You can find other Q&A sessions from our employees here.