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Veterans Day 2021

Foundation Medicine is proud to honor our veterans, and to share their stories of how they continue to make an impact through their dedication to our mission to transform cancer care. Thank you to all veterans for your service to our country. 


Veteran Spotlight: James, Program Manager, Development Lifecycle Project Management (DLPM)


Tell us about a memorable moment from your time in the service. 
I started off in the Navy as an enlisted nuclear electronics technician and later became a submarine officer. As such, I had to go through submarine school. We had to mimic escaping from the sub through a missile tube in the event of catastrophic flooding. Let’s just say my approach was less than stellar and I learned that my chances of getting out of a flooding sub alive are probably pretty slim. One of the instructors had to pull me choking from the pool before I drowned. 




Why did you decide to join Foundation Medicine?  
I was previously a CPMO director at a small pharmaceutical company. I enjoy leading programs of all kinds, and since my educational background is in pharmaceutical chemistry and biomedical engineering, I like incorporating that into my work. Foundation Medicine not only provides me with that opportunity, but I also get to be part of a mission of transforming cancer care. Like most, I have close family experiences with cancer, so I’m passionate about anything we can do to impact patients living with cancer. 


What is your current role and what transferable skills from the service have helped you excel? 
I’m currently a program manager within Franchise Development on our Research & Development team. Just like at Foundation Medicine, the Navy benefited from having people of very diverse backgrounds – cultural, educational, and professional. I learned early on to always check my personal assumptions and to over-communicate. Since about 80% of what I do as a program manager is some form of communication, the exposure to diversity has helped me considerably. 

During my enlisted time, I had several non-commissioned officers who were expert leaders and people managers. One of them made it a regular practice to describe not what we were to do day-by-day, but rather what needed to be accomplished that week. By framing the work this way, we were empowered to self-manage our time. We could, for example, decide as a team to work long hours Monday through Wednesday and have more time off later in the week, and everyone got what they wanted. It taught me how empowering teams makes them more effective and boosts morale, and it made me a much better officer later. I try to incorporate flexible working options into my work now whenever possible. 


Was there anything that really surprised you when you joined Foundation Medicine? 
I was hired during COVID and have never actually visited an office. Personally, I like working remotely, but it did add a layer of complexity when it came to figuring out who does what across different pockets of the company. The onboarding process was done so well that I was amazed how fast I was able to come up to speed and start making an impact with our tools. Since then, I’ve been surprised with how fast and often a growing organization like this changes. Growth can be a bit anxiety-inducing, but it’s a real opportunity to have a lasting impact on the organization while helping to shape its direction. 


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