Female scientists shatter glass ceiling

Female scientists shatter glass ceiling

< Back to Articles | Topics: Positive business environment

A small biotechnology company in the heart of Halifax is advancing therapies for muscular dystrophy patients around the world, while seeing their business grow by about 30 per cent each year. The key ingredient driving their success is the young women graduates they have hired.

“Halifax produces the highest quality life sciences grads we have ever seen,” says Kanneboyina Nagaraju, Founder, President and CEO of AGADA Biosciences. “Our company benefits from their strong attention to detail, their thoroughness and their ability to do multiple things at once. In our line of business, you have to be adaptable and these women grads do it best.”

Seventeen of the 20 employees at AGADA Biosciences are women in scientific roles.

Nagaraju and Co-founder Eric Hoff man, who live in Washington, D.C., launched AGADA Biosciences in Halifax six years ago to provide research services and support to clients across the world, to ultimately improve the quality of life for patients suff ering from rare neuromuscular diseases.

“When we opened our company, people said, ‘How are you able to run things remotely Female scientists shatter glass ceiling from Washington?’” says Nagaraju. “But it is simple. We find that if you hire responsible young people, give them independence and train them well, things rarely go wrong.”

Hiring a team was made easier by the Graduate to Opportunity program (GTO), which helps startups, small businesses under 100 full-time employees, non-profits and social enterprises offset the cost of hiring a recent graduate.

Employers receive 25 per cent of a grad’s first-year salary (35 per cent if the grad is diverse) and 12.5 per cent of a grad’s second year salary from the province.

AGADA Biosciences recently hired four international grads with GTO, all of them female research associates from Dalhousie or Saint Mary’s University: Ashley Maloney, Donika Shala, Candela Suarez and Heather Nadeau.

“In school we learn the theory behind things, but here we get the opportunity to apply these learnings in a practical setting,” says Maloney. “It is also encouraging to see young people in manager positions. I can see myself progressing in the company much faster than I thought.”

“At AGADA, we aggressively promote our staff ,” says Hoffman. Shala, a Senior Research Associate, has been promoted twice since joining the company in 2018.

“Advancing in the company like this makes me work even harder,” says Shala. “It feels nice to be recognized for the job we are doing. I am the sole lead for a clinical trial project right now, which involves a lot of responsibility.”

All of the new grads are participating in preclinical testing, research and training to prepare for human muscle testing.

Nadeau didn’t know she would be setting foot into such an influential, women-led environment until her first day on the job. “Many of us are not from Canada, either,” she says. “It makes me feel more comfortable being in an environment this diverse and welcoming.”

To date, over 1,000 recent graduates have been hired across Nova Scotia by employers like AGADA Biosciences using GTO funding. GTO could save you money on the next person you hire. Applications are typically turned around within five business days. Learn more at: www.novascotia.ca/GTO.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Positive business environment

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