Eileen Yang: Spearheading Corporate Citizenship at Genentech
Published 04/16/2019 in Alumni Features
Eileen Yang, MS '00, is Senior Manager of Corporate Citizenship at Genentech—the world’s first biotechnology company. In her role, she spearheads Genentech’s efforts to create innovative, engaging, and hands-on science curriculum for K-12 students.
“In addition to supporting teachers and providing scholarships, we’ve created a four-year, laboratory-based, medical biotechnology pathway curriculum that high schools can implement,” Eileen explains. “When students complete the program, they will be more prepared for entry-level jobs in the biotechnology sector than the typical Biology major graduating from a four-year university.”
As Eileen ponders ways to scale Genentech’s science education program beyond schools in the Bay Area, she says that virtual reality will likely play a major role in the company’s efforts. “In order to reach more students, we are considering software that will allow students to conduct virtual labs online.” Eileen notes that data analysis and critical thinking—skills that can be honed and developed through virtual reality—are crucial skills for future employees of the biotechnology sector.
“One of the things we try to impart to students in our program is that there are numerous, non-laboratory based jobs at Genentech,” Eileen notes. “In fact, only 30% of our employees are actually conducting laboratory research. One of our fastest growing sectors is data science – we need individuals with the skills to analyze the massive amounts of data we collect on the human genome, especially as medicine is becoming more personalized.”
For Milken Scholars interested in corporate citizenship jobs, Eileen has some sage advice. “Have some perspective regarding the job market. Positions like mine are very rare. I am on a team of 15 in a company with roughly 25,000 employees,” she explains. Eileen states that some of the largest and most reputable social sector employers—like the Gates Foundation—often require several years of work experience and rarely hire entry-level employees straight out of college. “For anyone hoping to go into corporate citizenship, my advice would be start out first in the private sector where you will develop a highly marketable and transferable skill set. Then, if you are seriously interested in corporate citizenship, get some relevant experience by volunteering or serving on the board of a nonprofit organization.”
Reflecting on her career trajectory—which included several years in management and nonprofit consulting, as well as significant roles at LinkedIn and fintech startup NerdWallet—Eileen said she is happy where she has ended up. “I feel very privileged to work at a company that is trying to find cures for cancer and neurological diseases, like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. In addition, it’s very rewarding to work on a corporate citizenship team that is preparing the next generation of biotechnology industry leaders.”
Through her work on Genentech’s Corporate Citizenship team, Eileen Yang brings meaning to the Milken Scholars Program motto: Lifelong Leaders for a Better World.