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Bayer colleagues are more than just their careers, they are influenced and shaped by their personal life stories. These stories are the drivers behind each of our employees Passion to Innovate and Power to Change.
Our business success is largely attributable to the knowledge, skills and passion of our employees. It is their ability to innovate and their willingness to embrace continuous professional and self-development that drive our position as a world-class innovation company. This is clearly reflected in our employer brand “Passion to innovate | Power to change,” which shows what the Bayer group expects from its employees and new hires but also what it can offer them. It translates Bayer’s mission statement “Science For A Better Life” into the world of work.
On December 31, 2021, we employed 99,637 people (2020:99.538) worldwide. In North America we had 23.116 (2020: 23.398) employees, which was 23.2% of the total Group workforce (2020: 23.5%).
But let's forget the numbers and facts for a while. Meet some of our employees and get a taste of what it is really like to work here.
How I Found my Family and Actual Family at Bayer
By Jillian Millikin, Production Associate, Bayer Crop Science
Growing up in the St. Louis area Bayer/Monsanto had a big presence in the area. I knew people who worked with the company who always talked about how they loved it. So, when a family friend encouraged me to pursue a career in agriculture, I had my heart set on working for Bayer. I was already very active in showing draft horses which made me believe animal science would be my best fit. But that changed when I became the Missouri Mule and Draft horse queen. This experience introduced me to the American farmer by joining in events such as the Missouri State fair.
After that, I quickly found a passion for farmers and helping tell their stories to non-agricultural communities. This led me to attend the University of Missouri to pursue an Agricultural degree. While at “Mizzou” I learned about all the internships at the fall career fair. When looking to the companies that would be at the fair, I was instantly excited when I saw Bayer Crop Science. I then set a goal my sophomore year of school to get an internship with Bayer no matter where I had to go or what they needed to me do. I wanted to experience all the great things I had heard about the company for myself.
When career fair day arrived, I felt excited, ready and nervous all at once. When I walked into the fair, I quickly scouted out the Bayer booth and then ran to the other side of the gym because I was so nervous. I didn’t know what I was going to even say. Then I recalled a professor’s advice to practice my pitch to other booths before going to the company I was most interested in. This worked well and gave me time to relax before I made my way over to the Bayer booth. I walked up to the first person I saw at the Bayer table and confidently introduced myself. Next thing I know, I am getting an interview followed by an offer for my first internship with the company in Williamsburg, IA. I was ecstatic! I had no idea where Williamsburg was nor had I ever been to Iowa before, but I had an internship with Bayer!
In Williamsburg I worked with the pre-foundation team, leading crews for tissue sampling, and hand pollinations. Pre-foundation is a branch of the product supply chain within Bayer that is responsible for supporting the development and advancement of new corn in-breds through the product pipeline. One Saturday I volunteered to help with planting. Apparently, it was clear I was the excited intern because of the hundreds of pictures I was taking to capture this experience. The seed tech sitting on my left named Adam casually asked if I would send him some of the pictures I was taking. I didn’t think anything of it and shared my many photos.
Then as time passed Adam and I started to chit-chat after work sharing about our backgrounds, finding we had a lot of similar interests. He later introduced me to some of his friends and we started hanging out at the lake on the weekend. This helped blossom our relationship into dating long distance after my time in Williamsburg ended and I finished college. Then the summer before my second internship with the company Adam proposed. Today we are newlyweds who both work for Bayer. I am a Production Associate in Grinnell, IA and Adam is an ASR in Williamsburg.
It’s crazy that by working hard, I was able to accomplish my goal of working at Bayer and gained an amazing husband along the way. Often you hear Bayer is like a family, but to me that statement is even more true. The team I work with is like a family and I found my actual family with Adam through Bayer.
How My Dad’s Stroke Can Help You Prevent One
Lisa Perez, Marketing Director, Bayer Aspirin, Bayer Consumer Health
My father is a proud man, and he certainly doesn’t want to reveal any weakness. The story of my dad’s stroke started with a call from my aunt late one evening. She told me she spoke to my dad and he seemed off. Since my aunt rarely calls, I knew this had to be serious.
I immediately called my dad to see how he was doing. He didn’t sound great to me either. But he explained it away with reasonable excuses, so off to bed I went. When I checked in on him the next day, I still didn’t like how he sounded. Since I live about two hours away, I asked my cousin to check in on him. And of course, with more excuses and great acting skills, he fooled us once again.
Since my mom passed away the year prior, there was no one to keep my dad honest. After a few more phone calls, we knew something was definitely wrong when he couldn’t remember his granddaughter’s name. At this point, I knew timing was critical, so I called another relative to get him to the emergency room ASAP and I drove directly to the hospital.
When I got to the hospital, I learned that my dad had a TIA (Transient ischemic attack) a few weeks prior. This is a temporary period of symptoms similar to those of a stroke. He was experiencing the impact of short-term memory loss and numbness on his left side. He was immediately admitted to the hospital for further tests and suffered a stroke in the middle of the night. After many more tests and consultations with several doctors, I was shocked to hear that his physician’s treatment plan included an aspirin regimen to help manage his risk factors. As the marketing director for Bayer® Aspirin*, I know what this powerful molecule can do to save and extend lives, but I never thought the tiny little pill would be front and center for my dad.
Perhaps the most valuable part of this story for those of you who are reading this blog is my father’s ignorance to his risk and the months of warning signals. We must all pay attention to our family medical history and associated warning signals. My dad has a family history of strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and undiagnosed diabetes. In recent months, he had been experiencing dizziness and moments where he would ‘black out’ for several minutes. And his poor lifestyle choices only put gasoline on this ready to explode fire.
Thankfully his stroke didn’t cause major damage, and we’ve learned to be more patient with his short-term memory loss and the need for lots of repeating. He knows his limits, is making smarter lifestyle choices, and is more vocal when something isn’t feeling right. On top of that, he clearly knows his sweet granddaughter’s name, Charlotte.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Research shows that as much as 80 percent of coronary heart disease and 70 percent of strokes can be avoided with healthy lifestyle behaviors.
The solutions for preventing cardiovascular disease seem simple and include:
Understanding your family history;
Managing high blood pressure and high cholesterol;
Staying physically active;
Maintaining a healthy diet; and
But they aren’t always easy.
To drive preventative heart health awareness, I’m proud to share that Bayer recently joined the Alliance for Million Hearts campaign, a newly formed public-private coalition aimed at preventing a million heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular events by 2022.
Understanding your risk factors, as well as warning signs of heart disease, is so important. With this knowledge, you can take action before a stroke or heart attack escalates further.
Learn more about the CDC Alliance for Million Hearts.
Link to website here.
* Aspirin is not appropriate for everyone, so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.
Starting with a Virtual Internship and Stepping up to an International Role at Bayer
Esther Ma, International Procurement Management Trainee, Bayer
In November of 2019 I stepped onto Bayer’s Whippany, NJ campus for my final round interview to be a Master’s Procurement Intern. Little did I know that it would be my last time seeing anyone from Bayer in person and my only time stepping on Bayer’s campus, but the start of an amazing experience.
When I accepted my offer with Bayer, I did not expect the world to be shutting down and completing my entire internship virtually. I have never had the experience of working virtually, let alone onboarding, and trying to meet people in a brand-new company all through Microsoft Teams. However, from the start HR, the internship team, and my buddy made sure that I was set up for success and I always had someone to reach out to.
The virtual internship was a unique experience. Everyone at Bayer was still adjusting to work from home but everyone on the internship team tried their best to make sure we onboarded smoothly and had all the resources we needed. During the internship, attending the Emerging Leader’s Network happy hours and hosting our own game nights allowed us to not only get to know people during work through networking and coffee chats, but also in a more relaxed setting.
The virtual internship allowed me to experience Bayer’s culture and the willingness everyone has to set up time to share their experiences. In addition, the internship projects were thought provoking and impactful for the business. The workshops that were hosted by the Emerging Talent Network not only helped in learning more about Bayer, but also provided guidance on personal development. It was such a great experience that when the International Procurement Management Trainee role opened after my internship, there was no hesitation to apply and come back to Bayer to work with amazing people.
In May of 2021 I came back to Bayer to start my full-time role as an International Procurement Management Trainee. This 18-month rotation allows me to explore various areas in procurement and work on different teams. Although I onboarded virtually again this year, everyone I spoke to last year was very kind to allow me to reconnect and offered their help. I am having a great time learning through my projects and workshops and I am excited to continue my journey with Bayer.
Skin Cancer and Modern Medicine
Mike Hyder, Global Vegetable Seeds Control Tower Process Lead, Crop Science Division, Bayer U.S.
In September 2017, I went to my primary doctor for a routine check-up and I asked about a spot on the side of my face. He looked at it and told me not to worry. I didn’t think anything else about it until one morning in October when I cut the mole when I was shaving.
After that, I decided to get a second opinion. A dermatologist in my area took a core sample of the site and discovered melanoma. They didn’t get the margins, so I had to have surgery. I met with a plastic surgeon and the doctor who would remove cancer from my face. They decided to remove a lymph node as well to be sure they got it. I left the surgery with 12 stitches across my face and a scar that will forever be present. I was thankful they got it all.
At that time, I had been doing regular check-ups, chest X-rays, and bloodwork every four months to ensure the cancer had not returned. In September I went to the oncologist when my cancer indicator in my blood dehydrogenase went from 174 to 214. No one made a big deal out of it, so I didn’t worry much. Unfortunately, I was also diagnosed with diabetes because my blood sugar was in the 300s.
In October 2019, I began having pain in my left leg, I thought I had torn something. I went to my primary physician again to get it checked. He said it was a pulled muscle and to take ibuprofen, ice and elevate it. I did that for several weeks, and it only got worse. In early November, they took X-rays but could see nothing wrong. The doctor sent me for an MRI, where I found out that cancer had spread to my femur and had eaten a hole in my bone.
A few days later, I met with the surgeon who was going to biopsy my leg to make sure what we were dealing with was melanoma. I went into surgery and they removed a piece of my femur for biopsy. In recovery, as I was getting ready to put my shoes on, I adjusted in the bed and because of the weakened bone, my femur snapped in half.
I was admitted into the hospital and had to wait a few days for my surgery to place a titanium rod and several screws. They closed my leg up with 63 staples. While waiting, they decided to do a Pet Scan of my entire body to see if the cancer had traveled anywhere else. I was in the hospital with my friends and family when the doctor came in and gave me the news. The cancer had moved into my pancreas, lungs, lymph nodes, adrenal glands and liver. The most prominent spot was in my pancreas, causing my blood sugar to skyrocket to the point I had to be put on 4X’s daily insulin injections. I spent six days in the hospital that time and was released the day after my surgery. I had to be able to walk on my leg to leave.
This is where my journey of testing, radiation, immunotherapy, bio-chemotherapy, scopes, liver biopsy and imaging began. I started out doing radiation on my leg and immunotherapy on my inoperable tumors. I did four rounds of radiation on my leg and one round of immunotherapy. My body’s immune system reacted so violently to the immunotherapy that it started to deteriorate my liver. I went to the hospital emergency room on January 5 because I got a case of hiccups that lasted over 16 hours. I was admitted because I had elevated liver numbers. I was starting to go into liver failure and turn jaundice. I stayed in the hospital taking antibiotics and immune-suppressing drugs to slow down my immune system. I had to stay in the hospital until my numbers came down. In the meantime, I was rehabbing my leg, walking up and down the halls going up and downstairs. And every day, they would come to me with the bad news that I couldn’t leave. I felt helpless.
Finally, my oncologist came to see me and told me to make sure my wife was there on day 12. I thought we would hear the news that I wouldn’t be able to go home and that I most likely needed to get my affairs in order. As we were talking that day, he said I seemed more coherent than my liver numbers would indicate. If he had only gone by the numbers, there was no way I would be able to leave. I told him I did not want to die in a hospital. I wanted to be home. Since I looked good and could do all of these things, he decided to send me home as long as I kept getting blood draws every day, and that is what I did.
Gradually my numbers started turning around, but without any treatment, my tumors were growing. My pancreas tumor doubled in size in just a month. We had to get aggressive quickly, so my next best option was to do bio-chemotherapy for five rounds. This meant staying in the hospital for five consecutive days with this drug administered 24 hours a day. I wasn’t giving up no matter what this took out of me.
As I was getting ready for the first round of treatment COVID-19 happened and along with it no visitors. I was all alone during some of the scariest times in my life. My wife, Stace, would drop me off and pick me up when I was done. We were able to Facetime, which helped tremendously. I did this two other times, and as I was going through the third round of this treatment, I got bad news that we had to stop the treatment because I was given the wrong Chemo drug! It seemed something always happened to get in the way. I retook scans to see where we were, and the tumor they were so worried about had stopped growing.
In the meantime, as my leg was healing, a screw was working its way out of my leg. I had to have another surgery to have it removed. Because of COVID-19, they could not put me completely out. They stuck a needle the size of a pencil in my back; something like an epidural. I could hear the doctor working on my leg, it sounded like a construction area. When I asked him if I needed a hard hat, he laughed and said he was not used to patients talking to him while he was operating.
Despite everything, we had come to a point where my options were dwindling. I had to choose to try the immunotherapy drugs (that almost killed me) one more time. My doctor recommended we reduce the drugs and the amount in which I received them. I started this program in April of 2020 by getting a weekly COVID-19 test before I could get treatment. I would go in twice a month for the infusion, as well as have my blood checked every other day to see if anything was going on with my liver numbers. All was steady with no increase in my blood work so we continued on this treatment path including getting scans to see how things were progressing. On July 6, I received a text from my oncologist nurse practitioner, saying, “Text me back when you can. I have good news!” I called her back, and she said that all my tumors were gone, they were not visible on my scans. I couldn’t believe it but I didn’t tell anyone until I met with the doctor that following Monday and he could confirm. I have been receiving treatment for the past 18 months and have recently had my third set of clear scans.
I owe my life to science, positive thinking and never giving up. I was told if I came to the doctor in this condition just as little as five years ago, I would not have survived. Advances in medicine are truly amazing. This is just one of the primary reasons I love working for Bayer. I genuinely believe we are looking to do the right thing.
Cancer has changed my life, both physically and emotionally. I think about it every day, in some capacity. I worry that it will come back so I try to live my life to the fullest, at least while I still have it.
October 11, 2021 update: I recently had an MRI brain scan and a PET scan, both came back with no evidence of disease — I am officially cancer free! I went into the University of Kansas Cancer and my doctor has decided we can officially end treatment. I am excited to move on from this experience and look forward to seeing what else I can accomplish.
I am very blessed to have the support system I have. Please share this story with anyone that you know who might be going through a dire situation. Anything is possible with modern medicine and the power of your own mind. Never ever let the negative outweigh the positive. Great things happen to those who believe.