What They Do

Use human genetic information to discover, develop, manufacture and commercialize medicines to treat patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions.

Headquarters: South San Francisco, California
Founded: 1976
Employees: 11998
Annual Revenues: $14778 Million.

FORTUNE's 100 Best Companies to Work for ® 2014

What Makes Genentech Great

genentech employee photoWhen the Food and Drug Administration approved Genentech’s newest breast-cancer drug, Kadcyla, in February 2013, the biotech company and its 12,000 employees celebrated with a ceremonial bell ringing across the entire company. 

But in Genentech’s Hillsboro, Ore., distribution center, the celebration was quick. Three patients with advanced breast cancer in Los Angeles had been waiting for the drug’s approval, so employees there hustled to ship the medicine out that very night. 

Within a few weeks, one of the patients was able to garden, go out to eat and play with her pets—none of which she’d been able to do before she starting taking the medication.

And that, in a nutshell, is why employees love working at Genentech.

“We all recognize that these products change lives-—and it could be someone in our own family or ourselves,” one employee says. “Such an attitude is energizing and empowering. Our jobs have great meaning to each of us.”

genentech employee photoInside Story

That kind of sentiment is not an exaggeration at this pioneering biotech company, which was founded in 1976 in South San Francisco. The company has developed groundbreaking medications for everything from cancer and arthritis to age-related macular degeneration and asthma, and employees know the work they do benefits people everywhere. Ninety-four percent say they feel a sense of pride when they look at what they accomplish, and 90 percent say their work has special meaning. 

“I don't get up and come to work just to get a paycheck,” one employee says. “I am motivated to make a difference in people's lives with the work we do here. I personally know some people who are still alive today only because they received and are still receiving [Genentech drugs] Activase and Avastin. The fact that I helped to bring both products to market and help them stay there means a lot to me.”

Not only do employees understand the difference their jobs can make, but they also appreciate the effect they have on the community in other ways as well. Ninety-seven percent of employees say they feel good about the ways they contribute to the community—and it’s easy to see why.

Genentech matches employee financial contributions to nonprofits dollar-for-dollar up to $2,000 per employee per year. In 2012, employees contributed nearly $1 million in volunteer time and donations. Workers here also take part in the company’s annual Genentech Gives Back Week, a weeklong stint of employee involvement in fundraisers, volunteer efforts and other philanthropic efforts in their surrounding communities. In recent years, the week has been capped off with a family concert event in AT&T Park in San Francisco, home to the San Francisco Giants.

genentech employee photoCelebration Time 

That alone might be enough for nine out of 10 employees to say that people celebrate special events at Genentech, but there’s more to it than an annual concert. Every year hundreds of commercial employees gather in Las Vegas to celebrate the successes of the past year; one group converts the company’s campus event space into a German beer garden for Oktoberfest every year, and twice a month, various locations host “Ho-Hos,” Friday afternoon gatherings that range from casual beers to parties at an indoor ice rink.

“This place is truly a work hard, play hard environment,” one employee says. “It's tough work, but people come in to work every day wanting to make a difference. We celebrate our accomplishments and reward hard work."            

Speaking of rewarding hard work, Genentech offers employees a six-week paid sabbatical every six years they work for the company. After all, working hard and playing hard doesn't work well without some recuperating mixed in.

Since it was fully acquired by the Swiss company Roche Holding in 2009, some employees have noticed a burdensome increase in bureaucracy and corporate processes at Genentech. Some say managers could be better about treating people and distributing promotions equitably across the organization, although two-thirds or more employees report that in their experience, managers are reliably fair in this regard.

When 98 percent of employees say the company is a safe place to work and 94 percent say it’s a friendly place—and when they think about how much they’re helping others through the work they do—it’s not hard to see why people enjoy putting their time in here.

“Employees here believe in helping patients every day,” one employee says, “and that is why I enjoy coming to work here.”



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Employees at this biotech giant work to improve people's lives while enjoying solid benefits, intelligent and friendly colleagues and a sense of pride in what they do.


Great Challenges


Great Atmosphere


Great Rewards


Great Pride


Great Communication


Great Bosses

Often or Almost Always

This review is based on 972 employee surveys, with a 95% confidence level and a margin of error of ±3.00. It was published on Jan 9th, 2014. Our methodology

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