“Dynamic” Aimmune focusing fully on the future
The October 2020 integration of Aimmune Therapeutics with Nestlé Health Science created a global leader in food allergy management and treatment, as well as a key player in the GI and metabolic disease areas. As anyone who’s been involved in a large-scale merger or acquisition will tell you, however, signing the paperwork is just a starting point. Creating an integrated company with a shared mindset and culture is a different, and often longer, journey altogether.
You can multiply the complexity many times in Aimmune’s case, because numerous legacy cultures were involved due to previous acquisitions.
Has Aimmune reached its destination? Probably not, just yet. But we’re well on the way, and Jim Dunn knows how you can tell. “People are talking in plurals now. It’s ‘we’ and ‘us’, not ‘I’ and ‘me’,” the Vice President of Commercial Operations & Sales says.
Having been through no fewer than 21 integrations or restructurings in his career, Jim knows what he’s talking about. “There’s no more referencing of ‘legacy’ companies. We’re speaking the same language, building one strong, diverse team,” he explains. “Perhaps most importantly, we have what I call the same ‘strategic state’… we’re running in the same direction.”
This is good for business, obviously, but also good for patients. “We can move quicker, make decisions faster. Especially now we’re all on common systems… if we make a mistake, we only have to adjust one thing, rather than several,” says Jim, whose U.S. military background has taught him a thing or two about the need for speed and the power of diverse thinking. “This all builds trust.”
What makes the integration particularly unusual is the fact that it’s happened during a global pandemic, with lengthy lockdowns. Jim himself didn’t actually get to meet his sales team until August 2021 – a full 18 months after becoming their head. “It’s like moving into a new neighborhood – you want to meet people straight away. As humans, we need social interaction. Relationships flourish when you come together and we couldn’t do that at all for a long time,” he explains. “It was tough.”
Aimmune now offers employees in specific roles, whose duties can be performed without the need to be permanently present in a facility, the opportunity to choose where they work. FlexFit, as it’s called, empowers employees to choose working remotely up to 100% of the time, in an environment where they feel most engaged and productive to achieve the best possible results, or in an office. Or they can do a mixture of both!
Now that the integration is largely complete, of course, Aimmune can focus fully on the future – leveraging its constituent strengths to better serve patients. While these strengths might come from different places, they are inextricably linked. “Nestlé is all about consumers and nutrition, while Aimmune is about patients and treating illnesses. But food is at the core for us both,” Jim says. “That’s what makes it the perfect marriage.”
As it continues an accelerated hiring process to fuel its expansion, the company is also rapidly carving out a reputation as a great place to work. You don’t have to look far to see evidence of its claim to be a home for fast-track career development – more than 30 promotions, new hires and role changes were celebrated at a recent quarterly meeting, along with nine people celebrating ten years’ service or more. For Jim, Aimmune is also just an exciting place to be. “We have the mindset and agility of a small biotech, but with the support of a big corporation. That’s a great value proposition,” he says.
“We’re a dynamic, growth company. You’ll find your skillsets stretched, you’ll be involved in a wide range of areas, and you’ll be constantly challenged. If you like things slow moving or static, we’re probably not for you. But if it’s helping build things you like, and doing so quickly to help patients, then we should definitely be on your list.”