Our ongoing “Meet Me in 5” series covers 5 people, topics or questions to illustrate how Covance nurtures exceptional people, provides an energizing purpose and enables extraordinary potential in its employees’ careers.
In this article, we spoke with Honggang Bi, PhD, Corporate Vice President and General Manager at Covance China. He shared his career development and discussed the recent milestone of reaching 1,000 employees in Covance China.
1. An interest in helping patients
“I’ve always been interested in helping people and making a difference to patients,” said Honggang. “I first became fascinated with the drug development process when I was working on my degree in drug metabolism and chemistry. It’s an amazing process to create a chemical compound that finally becomes a drug. You are developing therapies and medications that are saving lives and improving health – it’s a great feeling.”
2. Expanding his scope
In his early career, Honggang worked for several pharmaceutical companies and witnessed the gradual progression of compounds but felt limited by the number of programs he could impact.
“Working at a pharmaceutical company, I was typically supporting 5-10 programs, but the scope was often limited to one therapeutic area. I wanted more scientific variety and to make a difference at a larger scale,” he explained. “Covance has allowed me to support many more programs and get the satisfaction of helping more patients.”
3. Accelerating global trials in China
Honggang joined the Covance China team in 2007, about nine years after Covance first established its presence in China. Since then, he has witnessed many changes in China’s drug development landscape.
“As the NMPA (National Medical Products Administration) – formerly called the CFDA – has sped up the drug development approval process, I have seen how our team has improved the quality of clinical trials and streamlined our processes and procedures. Earlier this year, we helped two major immuno-oncology treatments gain approval in China. The approval time was only a few years after the US approval, which, in the past, would have typically required 5-6 years.”
“Being a part of this patient-centric approval process is a rewarding experience,” said Honggang. “The evolving regulatory environment represents an unprecedented opportunity for Covance employees to interact with more international and domestic biotech and pharma companies. Our team serves as a great partner to help these clients not only move their programs forward, but also keep in pace with China’s rapid market development.”
4. Recognizing people as a differentiator
As the number of Covance employees in China has increased and recently reached the milestone of the 1,000th employee, Honggang recognizes the importance of working with a talented and passionate team.
“I think our people make all the difference. We have very motivated people and exceptional teams that help drive our growth and make innovative scientific contributions. I believe our career development program is a big piece of our team’s success. We’ve clearly defined the path for career progression. During my 11 years here, it’s been very rewarding for me to see people progress in our organization.”
5. A culture for learning and growing
Beyond helping employees fulfil their career goals, Honggang recognizes how Covance culture contributes to personal growth.
“I view Covance as a learning organization, where we are willing to explore new ideas and improve our approaches. Our employees are also encouraged to help each other be creative in our processes. New ideas are not limited within our own departments. Anyone can make a difference across various business units to share ideas and expand their knowledgebase.”
Now, with 1,000 employees in China, Honggang believes Covance has reached a critical mass in China.
“Our business is expanding rapidly and next year the Shanghai team is moving to Aland Center – a large, new facility which will bring the majority of our team members together under one roof enabling even greater collaboration. We are eager for more talented people to join us as we grow and support cutting-edge therapies in areas like immuno-oncology, cell therapy, vaccines, rare disease and precision medicine.”
“It’s an exciting time for us to focus on bringing new and innovative medicine to patients sooner – and to provide greater access to treatments for patients.”
To learn more about careers at Covance, visit careers.covance.com.