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Strengths, Engagement: Catalysts for Growth at PTC Therapeutics

Strengths, Engagement: Catalysts for Growth at PTC Therapeutics

Webcast Details

  • What's the success formula for a company that's been thriving during the pandemic?
  • How have Q12 and employee engagement enabled the company to improve employee conversations and development?
  • How are CliftonStrengths and strengths coaching moving the company forward?

Organic chemistry and CliftonStrengths. A worldwide pandemic and employee engagement. What do these have in common? Meet Martin Rexroad and Noam Farago of PTC Therapeutics, a drug-discovery and gene-therapy company founded in 1998. Faced with a workforce that was growing exponentially, the company reached out to Gallup in 2017. Using Gallup's Q12 employee engagement tool, its advice on managers, and a strong emphasis on CliftonStrengths, PTC Therapeutics has seen results that would seem to defy logic: Its employees' engagement has increased, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn how this company has applied an engagement, strengths and employee wellbeing approach to forge ahead and meet changing workplace and workforce demands in this episode of our webcast.

Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series -- Season 9, Episode 41.

Yes, we are doing the full 34 for all new hires. So it's definitely something we are very proud of and working very hard with.

Noam Farago, 48:00

The beauty of the Q12 is that it's a survey process that is only completed with the conversation after you have the results.

Martin Rexroad, 46:31

We went into the pandemic focusing on an employee [in] ... a broad sense. We come out of it focused on the whole person.

Martin Rexroad, 31:38

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our Gallup studios kind of around the world today, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on August 24, 2021.

Jim Collison 0:21
Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. There's just a link right above me there to get that done. Sign in and let us know your questions live. If you're listening after the fact, you can always send us an email: Don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast app or there on YouTube; that way you never miss an episode. Ceb Castleberry is our host today. He works as a Market Leader with Gallup. And that's a fancy title. Ceb, welcome to your first Called to Coach! Great to have you here.

Ceb Castleberry 1:00
Thanks so much, Jim! I tell you what, I am pretty excited about being here. So thanks for letting us do this.

Jim Collison 1:06
Yeah, good to have you. We've got some fantastic guests. So let's not waste any more time. Why don't we get them introduced?

Ceb Castleberry 1:12
That sounds great. Again, thanks so much, everybody, for joining our Called to Coach session today with PTC Therapeutics. I tell you what, I am pretty beyond delighted to be joined by our friends and partners, Noam Farago as well as Martin Rexroad. So, Martin, Noam, we're gonna have a lot of questions for you; we're going to cover a lot of bases today. But I think let's jump into the first -- before we jump into the partnership, I would say, let's start with both of you maybe sharing your Top 5 and a quick background of yourself as well as your roles at PTC. Martin, you want to jump into that first?

Martin Rexroad 1:50
Sure. So first off, thanks for having us here. We, we're delighted to be here. And we really value and appreciate our partnership with Gallup. So I've been at PTC, it'll be 8 years next month. The company's 23 years old, went 16 1/2 years before its first approval. Founded by Stuart Peltz, a medical school Professor nearby at Rutgers University. My Top 5 are Achiever, Responsibility, Restorative, Ideation and Strategic. I always like to go below those 5 and also highlight Belief, Woo and Connectedness are in my Top 10. And I am now -- I was, for my first 7 years here, the head of HR, and almost a year ago moved over into the Chief Culture and Community Officer role and have had the pleasure of working with Gallup for almost 4 years.

Ceb Castleberry 2:54
Perfect. Noam, how about you?

Noam Farago 2:56
Great, thanks again. Great to be here. My Top 5 are Individualization, Maximizer, Arranger, Context and Communication. I'm currently the Head of Talent Management and Organizational Development at PTC therapeutics. I've been here for about 2 years. And in terms of talent management and OD, what I do is, I'm responsible for different development initiatives, both for employees, as well as for leaders in the organization, as well as a variety of organizational processes that drive global consistency, process improvement and employee engagement. I'm a certified HBDI facilitator and a Gallup Strengths Coach. And I use CliftonStrengths across all the different processes that we are involved in. In terms of my career, before joining PTC, I did roles both in organizational development and HR in a variety of companies and industries.

Ceb Castleberry 4:00
That's fantastic, Noam, and I think I will share my Top 5. I am Competition, Achiever, Strategic, Restorative and Woo. Again, I've been here for 5 years, and I'm a Market Leader for the New York and New Jersey market there. So, Martin, we've had a lot of conversations in the past, and I don't think there's anybody better that can explain a little bit of PTC's history. And let's go a little bit into the mission and purpose of PTC. I think it's going to be really valuable for our audience to really know the background of PTC. Would you be able to share that with us?

Martin Rexroad 4:35
Absolutely. So, as I mentioned, PTC founded 23 1/2 years ago by a medical school professor who was trying to leverage science to create new drugs for patients with rare disease. And, and so, and -- and we still have our founder. So very few biotechs survive 23 years; almost none do so, prosper and hang on to their purpose, grow, become a commercially success organization, but the purpose has really been important to us throughout. And it's always been a company that's, that's valued its relationships and, and we didn't, we didn't, we didn't understand this, this terminology until, till we met you. But we always have, have, have worked to have people be able to do their best at work every day.

Ceb Castleberry 5:32
Well, that, it's, it's a great mission and purpose. I'll tell you what: We are truly honored to be partnering with you for, for so long. So I think what might be a next, next step here is, let's jump into the first time when we, when we first partnered with you, I think, let's go back, Martin, to 2017 for that. And let's jump into what sparked your interest, really, in employee engagement? What was some of maybe the challenges that you were facing there at PTC back in 2017, where there was a bit of an interest to partner with an employee engagement vendor?

Martin Rexroad 6:07
Yeah, so, so Jim, maybe we could pull up the first slide. And, and, and this kind of builds all kind of -- I'll, I'll tell you as, as you go along. So this is a picture of our workforce at PTC, going back to 2007. And if you, if you click, Jim, the first, like, you can see that in 2013, in June of 2013, PTC went public 15 years after being founded. That's 15 years of challenges, you can see, a fairly small research company. We got our first European Union drug approval August of 2014. If you click again, we got our first approved drug in the U.S. And then if you click on the next one, you can see Martin and Noam and others started calling Gallup.

Martin Rexroad 7:03
So what's important to point out is that when I joined, there were 135 people in two buildings here in New Jersey. And I remember telling people that I did not believe that you needed to do surveys when you had 135 people. If you can't, if you can't keep your finger on the pulse when your organization's that small and by, by meeting, and our CEO is a master of having breakfasts and teas and lunches and kind of roundtable sessions to really kind of keep the finger on the pulse. But if you go back, you can see that we were, we anticipated growth, and we, and we guessed right.

Martin Rexroad 7:42
So you can see in the upper left, that in an 8-year period, we grew ninefold. We grew from two labs near Rutgers University to 25 countries now with 5 approved drugs. And thanks to the partnership with Gallup, engagement's increased over those 4 years. And Ceb, really, to answer the question directly, we always felt like we were keeping our finger on the pulse of engagement. But at the time we called you, we had already started a commercial organization in Europe and in Latin America. We've always valued benchmarks. You know, one of the things that we value so much in this partnership with Gallup is to be a drug discovery company, you have to be incredibly good with empirical data. You've got to be incredibly good with statistics. And you have to know what to do with them.

Martin Rexroad 8:37
And so if one of our core competencies is all this empirical data work that we do to discover and get drugs approved, you all provided us the empirical evidence and data that we needed and insights and suggestions and tools. And so the partnership is really matched up, if you will, around core competencies that, that Gallup and PTC both have.

Ceb Castleberry 9:01
That's fantastic. And, you know, when we think about using the Q12, it's been around for a while; we do have a pretty large database. But also, I think, what's, what's really important about the Q12 -- it's, it's very actionable and, and driven at that local level of management. I just think that PTC has done a remarkable job, and we'll kind of delve into the impact of those results down the line in this conversation. But, you know, let's fast forward a bit. And let's talk about 2020. I think 2020, for many organizations, many people personally and professionally, were pretty challenging. One thing that struck me about PTC is, is you continued to focus heavily on learning and opportunities for your employees. So, Martin, we met in person, end of 2019, I believe, and my, our good friend, Mike McDonald and myself brought you It's the Manager book. If you remember that, I'd love to hear a bit of your takeaways from that book.

Martin Rexroad 10:05
OK, so I'm obviously a big fan of Gallup. So what I would tell my friends that are listening is about every 2 years, just get their book and read it. This is -- if you haven't read this one, go ahead, go ahead and get this one and read it. So we were reviewing our Q12 results. Mike and Ceb and I were meeting right outside our CEO's office, and they presented me a book. I'm a Learner -- that's one of my Top 10 -- so they know I'd read it. So they knew the money was well spent. And, and on the back of this book, if you don't have it, these, these changing demands of the workforce. I read this, and it was like, "That's it. That's it." I used this in global presentations that year, and all these trends are spot on. And quite honestly, we looked at that, we looked at strengths, we looked at, at From, you know, Boss to Coach. The book is written so you can read it quickly and get great insights; the data's there.

Martin Rexroad 11:06
And again, you know, the next, the next book on my shelf is, that there were, you know, in the future, trying to sort through, is Wellbeing at Work. But that book had a huge impact. And it really highlighted that you had a good handle on the future trends. And if we just paid attention, if we just listened, if we just reviewed the data and think about some of the tools and resources you're providing, we'd be OK. And I think that's, that's, that's, that's where, where we've headed.

Ceb Castleberry 11:38
I love to hear that. And, and Noam, this one's, this going to be for you. Because like about a year ago, we planned on a weekly conversation. And about every week for a year, you and I and, and your colleague Jessica Moore have been beating and discussing on a quick check-in, 30 minutes. And it's been a, quite a pleasure. But we've discussed a lot about CliftonStrengths. And let's, let's jump into that a little bit now. I think one remarkable thing -- and I know you're gonna share this a little bit, but -- 98% last year, in a very challenging time, of your employees completed CliftonStrengths. Let's talk a bit more about, maybe Martin and Noam, some of the challenges that you were trying to alleviate when you introduced CliftonStrengths. What were your goals maybe around becoming a strengths-based organization there?

Noam Farago 12:33
I think that Martin really touched upon it before, but, you know, the growth of the organization -- I think many organizations that are growing in such a fast pace, they have the question of, How do we look at our culture? And how are we proactively managing our culture and making sure our culture is moving in the right direction? And I think for PTC, the combination of that question and the answer provided by CliftonStrengths and by the philosophy and methodology behind it, were key in terms of how we want to define our culture. We really want to be a strengths-based culture. And I think we did a few things, even before 2020, to make that happen.

Noam Farago 13:18
First of all, the development of the PTC expectations. So really have a clear set of expectations for every employee at PTC, and it's something that was done from the executive committee and all the way down to the leaders and then cascaded down to the organization. We have the establishment of the Culture and Community function, and Martin as a leader, and there couldn't be anybody else that's better in that specific position.

Noam Farago 13:46
And then last, but definitely not least, the introduction of CliftonStrengths across the organization, and really having that message out there, that this is who we are, this is the way we want to, to work together in terms of seeing the strengths and seeing the areas that each one of us can bring to the team, rather than focusing on the weaknesses, and what do we need to fix about each other? So I think in that sense, that's, that is one big element that really was a driver in terms of helping us incorporate and roll out CliftonStrengths across the organization. Martin, anything you'd like to add to that?

Martin Rexroad 14:27
Yeah, so, so, so Jim and Ceb, nobody else is ever going to answer a CliftonStrengths question using organic chemistry. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna be your first, right. So if you think about what we do, so I'm going to give you a little bit of a setup because I think part of this partnership, a part of the power of what, what's going on here is that some of what we're talking about with CliftonStrengths just naturally works with what we do as a company. If you think about it, when we develop -- we're both a small-molecule and a gene-therapy company. And small molecules, you create a molecule and there's a moment where organic chemists are trying to make the molecule either stronger or less toxic -- or both, right?

Martin Rexroad 15:05
And they have the ability to look at the periodic table and they, they, they pick an atom. They say, "I'm going to use a nitrogen atom to reduce the toxicity of molecule." If you're on Jeopardy, and they ask, "What's a molecule you can use to reduce that?" it's nitrogen, just trust me. They look at the periodic table; they say, "I need that molecule to make this," sorry, "that atom to make this molecule better." And they have a way of -- when you think about a team like a molecule; when you think about having a new functionality of a team, it's a strength you're looking for. Right?

Martin Rexroad 15:41
And so our mindset is, so we're led by molecular biologists. I mean, the, the notion of trying to discover strengths and assembling strengths in a certain pattern in a team, in an organization, it fits our, our, just, just our core scientific purpose. So that really, really resonated with many of our leaders. And again, nobody's ever going to compare CliftonStrengths to, you know, building a molecule, but when, when you hear it that way, you can see -- it just, it just made sense to us.

Ceb Castleberry 16:17
I love that. And, and we don't, we don't -- this, this one award, that huge, where every recent recipient of, this year, the Don Clifton Strengths-Based Culture Award. I mean, that is phenomenal that you were able to receive that award. But also, you were, you were able to receive that enthusiasm and excitement around CliftonStrengths. And, and Noam, what was the communication like, initially, when you begin introducing CliftonStrengths to your organization, and how did that rollout take place?

Noam Farago 16:55
Yeah, and maybe we can show a slide that we have about kind of the rollout. So first of all, I think a great way to start was really focusing on our EC, which is the executive committee. So again, our CEO and his direct reports, they did the CliftonStrengths, and they started on the Boss to Coach Journey. And I think that was key, you know, leadership sponsorship, and specifically the CEO's sponsorship. And Stu is a big believer in Gallup and CliftonStrengths. So his excitement about it really led to the next step, which was now rolling it out to the direct reports.

Noam Farago 17:37
So again, all of the direct reports for the EC, they also had the CliftonStrengths and Boss to Coach. And then finally, the idea was, How about we roll this out to the whole organization? Have all of the organization take CliftonStrengths and take the Discover Your Unique Strengths half-day session. And that's a big commitment. And I think a big part of making that happen was, first of all, as I mentioned, the leadership sponsorship. Stu did a few great videos about why he believes this is important. And he spoke very candidly about his experience with CliftonStrengths, his view about CliftonStrengths, and also, he shared his report, which I thought was, was great.

Noam Farago 18:24
So in addition to that, of course, there's a lot of work in the back, back side, you know, following up, making sure everything move, and I think, I'll just mention Jessica Moore, who was instrumental in making this happen and, and following up with people and making sure we really reach those numbers. But again, an amazing achievement, in terms of 98% of the employees in the organization completing the CliftonStrengths assessment. And then in addition to that, having 85% of them also attend the Discover Your Unique Strengths sessions. And that was just the beginning.

Noam Farago 18:59
So after we did this for all of the employees, including our executive committee and their direct reports, we also wanted to provide the managers some more help there. So first of all, the feedback we got about the Discover Your Unique Strengths session was, was phenomenal as well. Great feedback there. But then also, in terms of the managers, we did two sessions. And again, this is in 2020, where everybody is, is trying to kind of figure out what's happening. And I think that actually helped us in a way, because it allowed people to focus on their development in a way that's a bit different than usual.

Noam Farago 19:36
So we had additional two half-day sessions specifically for managers. One was Leading With Strengths, really understanding their own strengths as leaders, as well as How can they leverage the strengths of their team members in order to help them on their professional and personal development? And then the second one was the conversation -- 5 Conversations That Drive Performance. So we had those rolled out for all the managers in the organization. And a, again, great, great participation -- I think we had, yeah, about 90% of managers joined the sessions. And again, great feedback on both of those. So I would say, just to kind of sum it up, leadership sponsorship, as well as a lot of hard work in the background to make this happen. But the feedback has been phenomenal from employees and managers alike.

Ceb Castleberry 20:28
That's, that's amazing. And if everybody's not familiar, necessarily, with the Boss to Coach Journey, but the three areas that we really like to focus on here at Gallup are our strengths-based leadership, engagement-focused, as well as performance-oriented type of leadership learning path. And, in my opinion, PTC has really been world-class in terms of delivering that and really believing in that. And you can kind of see the numbers and how their employees really jumped in and owned this type of progress. And we really appreciate that.

Ceb Castleberry 21:03
With this next phase -- Noam, this one's a bit more to you -- you just finished your certification; you became a certified coach. This is an addition to 30 of those half-day sessions that all employees participated in -- that's really those foundational strengths-based sessions for all employees. But for this continuous type of learning, Noam, tell me a little bit about your, your journey becoming a certified coach. I believe there's 15 others within PTC going through the same type of journey. How are you going to use that training for ongoing coaching and development?

Noam Farago 21:39
Yeah. First of all, I think it's a great opportunity to become a strengths coach. Personally, I think it's something that goes beyond the workplace, just in terms of my interactions with people around me, as well as, as just thinking around the philosophy of strengths and understanding myself better. I think specifically at PTC personally, I try to bring my knowledge of CliftonStrengths and my strengths coach certification into any, everything I do -- so if it's the different processes I have, if it's with my interaction with my colleagues or my employees. And then finally, part of what we're looking on, in terms of leveraging the great coaches we have, and again, as you mentioned, we now will have 16 internal strengths coaches in PTC. We want to use that strength and that power to continue to spread the words and, and increase the understanding of CliftonStrengths across the organization.

Noam Farago 22:44
So it really starts with, with the onboarding. Right now, we added CliftonStrengths as part of our onboarding. In the U.S., it's something that we're doing actually before the employee joins. We already provide them with the opportunity to take the CliftonStrengths assessment. And as part of their first week, we assign one of our internal coaches to reach out and, and meet with them and really help them understand their report -- setting them up for success, both personally, in terms of them understanding where they can focus, but also in terms of their interaction with their team members and with their managers. So setting it up for success in the first days in which they join the organization. And then moving forward, we are looking at additional ways of how can we really leverage this power in ongoing assimilation of CliftonStrengths and the Gallup philosophy within PTC.

Ceb Castleberry 23:40
That's amazing. And Martin, when we think about that strengths-based, engagement- focused and performance-oriented type of learning path for leaders, you also went through the Boss to Coach Journey, really kind of following through that journey that we outline within that It's the Manager book. Tell me a little bit about your experience with the Boss to Coach Journey.

Martin Rexroad 24:02
Yeah, so I think that this, this, just this notion that our roles continued to evolve, right. And we kind of suspect that the, the tools that we have, the tools around engagement, you know, what, what I would say that, what I appreciate from the Q12 and, and as well from, from the Boss to Coach Journey, is that there are structured conversations we know we need to have. We kind of just intuitively know it. We're not always exactly sure which ones to have. When you do the Q12, it highlights the areas that you should focus on, and I think the methodology going through Boss to Coach, they're just, there's just a nice pulse of reminders -- I think of them as reminders. They're, they're, you know, some of what we're focusing on, we, we, we kind of know. But the way it kind of lays it out, in, in kind of a nice cadence and rhythm, I think is really helpful.

Ceb Castleberry 25:11
That's fantastic. And when we kind of jump into more of that evidence piece, now, of last year, you really rolled out a significant learning program for all your employees during a really challenging time, during COVID, during a pandemic. Let's maybe take a deep dive into, What are some of the outcomes that you're, you're seeing there at PTC? What are some of the behavior changes that you're seeing, even some of the engagement scores that were monitoring during last year's disruption? Let's go into that piece if you don't mind.

Martin Rexroad 25:45
Yeah, so, so Jim, if you could pull up the, the slide -- so, so here's, here's another PTC story that highlights our partnership with Gallup. So if you, if you rewind the tape, the end of February 2020, we knew that there was a pandemic. We knew things were happening in China; we knew things that were happening in Europe. They were happening in Washington. March is when things really started hitting home for us in the New York-New Jersey area. Remember, we were, we were getting disproportionately crushed with COVID, COVID-19 about that time. So March, we pretty much shut down our facilities other than putting in a handful of people working in our labs.

Martin Rexroad 26:37
And I remember, you know, Ceb, talking to you and Mike McDonald, and, and it really was, "Hey, we've got some research you want to share with you. There's this, this concept of, you know, engagement during moments of disruption." And what I remember most, and what really resonated with me, is that there was a lot of doom and gloom, and people were not sure what was going to happen. And you all had the audacity to call me and say, "We've got research that can help you thrive in a pandemic." "Wait a second, 'thrive' in a -- ? If we just survive, that would, that would, that would" -- "No, thrive."

Martin Rexroad 27:21
So March, things get hit in the Northeast. April, we started the internal conversation. June we did the first pulse survey. And then the, this was focusing on 4 of the 12 Q12 questions. And we had a 12-week process -- again, as I mentioned before, the questions, you all provided. We knew what the questions -- we knew areas we needed to focus on: have, knowing what's expected; having the right resources; being able to be your best every day; do you see your purpose? And, and we did our second pulse, pulse survey in, in November-December. All 4 questions increased twice, during a pandemic, while we grew 9% in 6 months. That's crazy!

Martin Rexroad 28:11
If you, if you click again, Jim, you know, here's some of the, here's some of the stats. And one of the ones that we're really, really proud of -- and Mike McDonald is one, the one who kind of really pointed this out -- if you look at Mission and Purpose, and you know, Ceb set this up: This is a mission- and purpose-driven company. 80% of our employees in the second pulse survey, November-December of last year, 80% gave that a "5," right. And you can see that the change, which is about two-thirds across in the table, right -- everything went up. Now, what you don't see is that everything went up in the current means from the previous Q12, right. So we went up, had an intervention, went up again.

Martin Rexroad 28:59
Now, what I would offer to you is 2020 was a very good business year at PTC. And a lot of things were done to help us through the pandemic. But you guys delivered on, on that, that opening statement in April of 2020, you know, How do you thrive during a pandemic? And, you know, and this is our evidence that, you know, you can do that if you focus on the right things, you structure the right conversations. And I think that it actually has set us up to really think about this new Wellbeing at Work concept and broader concepts. I'm glad you guys called us, Ceb. Glad you guys called us, really.

Ceb Castleberry 29:47
That's fantastic! And when we think about the, these 4 elements and measuring that during, during the time of disruption, our research shows -- and Mike does a great job of illustrating this, but -- we know that if we can get through a disruption during, you know, tough times using those 4 elements of engagement, on the back end of that, it's -- we're going to turn out, we're going to turn out a lot positive. And again, you've done really best practices in terms of measuring engagement during times when there's a lot of hesitancy, there's a lot of concern and there's a lot of uncertainty within organizations. That if you have those conversations, I think that's, that's really important.

Ceb Castleberry 30:27
Let's focus a bit more on those 4 elements, Martin and Noam. Tell me a little bit about maybe some of the conversations that were had with managers around that -- some of the feedback that they were, that they were receiving and, and how they were driving those 4 elements forward. Because you can see firsthand: Those were improved dramatically throughout the year. So how did that, how was that driven, I guess, locally by those managers?

Martin Rexroad 30:55
You want me to go first, Noam?

Noam Farago 30:57
Yeah, go ahead, Martin.

Martin Rexroad 30:58
Yeah, so let me, let me start and maybe, Noam, you can, you can jump in here as well. So the pandemic -- here, so here's, here's a, here's a phrase I've used many times. We're a company that cares deeply about patients. And as it turns out, if you can care about a patient, you can care about your, your, your, your own employees and families. And during a pandemic, some of your employees and family members become patients, right, not, not for our treatments, but for, for COVID-related treatment. And what I say is the companies that went into the pandemic that cared about their employees and their families were challenged to care more in new ways. And we went into the pandemic focusing on an employee as this is a broad sense. We come out of it focused on the whole person.

Martin Rexroad 31:47
And I think part of what the genius of those questions in this process was -- and I'll give you full credit that you knew, you knew all this when you, when you made the recommendation in April -- is that it's structured conversations that open up dialogue that we'd never had. So if you want your opportunity be your best at work and you're a working parent -- maybe a working mom with a young child -- if you open up the dialogue that says, "What do you need to be successful? What do you need to be -- your child is not in school because of a pandemic; what do you need to be successful? You need the morning off? Fine? We'll flex schedules; that's fine. We want you to be successful. Want your family to be OK. We want you to be OK." Right?

Martin Rexroad 32:31
When you think about the resources, right, one of the things we realized was we stopped just asking, "Do you have the resources?" We actually started asking people, "Describe what your resources are." "Well, I'm standing at the end of a, you know, a coffee table with my laptop on a bunch of books." "Well, we told you we'd buy you a monitor; we'd buy you this --" "I don't have a desk." "We'll get you a desk, right? You need a desk? We'll get you a desk. We'll send you something from Amazon." Right? It opened up this Mission and Purpose. If you can -- remember, this is a company that went 16 1/2 years before it had its first approval. This is a company that knows how to weather some tough storms. Right?

Martin Rexroad 33:14
But what, what, what these 4 questions allowed us to do is to start focusing on the larger issue of the whole person. And, and, and, and, and, and opening up dialogue that probably always existed, always needed to be opened up in a structured sort of way, in a way to where we're still small enough that all of this makes it back up to all the right people to where you say, "You need this? We can help you with this." Right? "We're gonna help you get through this," because we know if we invest in our employees, ultimately, they're going to be able to do their best. And when they're at their best, our patients ultimately benefit from that. So it, that work last year has set us up for bigger and more complex conversations, which all companies should be having today. Noam, jump in here. What would you like to add?

Noam Farago 34:12
I think first of all, it's just, it was an incredibly powerful message, just in terms of the fact that even during a pandemic, we are still focusing on development. We're still focusing on engagement, where many other organizations weren't. And I think it was a great retention tool and also helped people feel that they're being taken care of. And I think that was done incredibly well. And I think it was done incredibly well by, by senior leadership.

Noam Farago 34:43
But that, that was not enough. You also had to have the more junior leaders, the midlevel managers do a lot of the work there. And I think setting them up for success was a lot of the courses we did, both with Gallup and outside of Gallup, in terms of helping them have the conversations, have the interactions with their employees -- and also, by the way, strengthening the community of managers and leaders within the organizations. I think having those different sessions allowed for managers to interact and connect and learn from each other and use each other as resources to better realize how they can work better together.

Noam Farago 35:25
So I think in that sense, people were really excited about the different questions and about the different sessions we provided. You know, not everybody did; there's always a variety. But I think, overall, people were really excited, and we heard it both from managers as well as from the employees, who, to this day, are telling us how they had this great conversation with their manager about their strengths or about how they realized that they were missing something. So they were able to get them what they needed. So I think it's, it's connecting back to the, to our theme of the moments or the stories at PTC -- it kind of adds into that element of how do we create the story? How do we create the people-value proposition of who we are and what we, what we stand for?

Ceb Castleberry 36:17
That's fantastic, Noam. Thanks, thanks so much for that. And, and I don't know if I could have said that any better by both of you. That's, that's really great. And, you know, for the audience as well, you know, Do What I Do Best Every Day is, is question No. 3. And that was part of these 4 elements that we measured throughout the year. And I think that's really where the, the exciting, where the enthusiasm can really take place is when we deliver on the strengths-based approach. You know, a remarkable statistic is, is one in every 33 million people have the same Top 5 strengths and order.

Ceb Castleberry 36:53
So if you think about during the times of disruption, or when we're working from home, how can we get, give the managers the ability to put their employees in the position to "Do What I Do Best"? And that's really, I think, a lot of where the strengths-based development can come through, as well as from a remote setting as well, as, you know, there's so many times I heard throughout 2020, "Our managers really having a challenging time to connect with their employees. How do you have a meaningful conversation remotely, when there is so much uncertainty in the workplace?" And I think that's really where strengths can have a strong impact, and I think, firsthand, Martin and Noam, we see that directly from your engagement improvements through using those 4 elements of engagement. So, you know --

Martin Rexroad 37:40
Hey, Ceb?

Ceb Castleberry 37:41
Yeah, go ahead, Martin.

Martin Rexroad 37:42
Let me just add, let me just add one not-so-obvious benefits from that third question, right. So it's bad enough that 2020 was a pandemic, but in the United States as well, we had a civil rights moment. And because we were in the midst of these 12 questions when George Floyd was killed, we were, we were prepared to engage in a dialogue with employees within our workforce, who said, "Listen, I can't be my best at work when this is happening in my life." And we heard it. We responded in a really, really powerful way.

Martin Rexroad 38:27
But again, the power of that question and the power of being open to the responses, and if your focus is really trying to support all of your employees with whatever unique situations they have and unique needs, you hear that, and you respond in a really, really powerful way. So it's not obvious that a response to a civil rights moment can be tied to Q3, but that's exactly what happened here as well. So I just want to highlight that for, for your listeners as well.

Ceb Castleberry 39:03
That's great. Thank you, Martin. And, you know, if we consider what's next, you dropped a little bit of the Wellbeing at Work book that you recently unpacked. Tell me a little bit about your reaction to that book as we start winding down here.

Martin Rexroad 39:21
Yeah, so, so when you think about Wellbeing at Work, for those that haven't read it, you know, it starts with career wellbeing, right, and, and this notion that when, when things aren't right with, with your career, it's hard for everything else to kind of fall together. It talks about physical wellbeing -- that kind of goes back to yesteryear's wellness programs. Our personal fitness is important. Our mental health is important. Financial fitness, we've known that one of the big stressors in people's lives, so, so we, so we've done some of the work. Community work.

Martin Rexroad 40:01
So part of what we've started is a Global Outreach Team. You know, when you're, one of the ways it's, you know, I've heard people say that one of the, one of the antidotes to getting through this, this pandemic is to be grateful. And one of the ways you can be grateful is by helping those in need. And, and if your core competence is focusing on unmet medical needs, you can drop the unmet medical needs and put in whatever -- unmet hunger, unmet, you know, the, we've got, we've, we've started that community. And as well, social, you know, wellness. And so we've started building, and I think as well, what we recognize is some of this, we were already doing.

Martin Rexroad 40:44
And, and, and so when you think about the amazing work that Noam is doing and leading here, it really focuses on career wellbeing. I mean, when there are 135 people, you don't focus a whole lot on careers; you just got a big long list of things to do, and you wear a lot of different hats to get them done. We're not that company anymore. And we need, you know, the leadership and the great skill of Noam and the partnership with you all to start, you know, developing people so that, they, that base that career wellbeing base, is set. So again, I think part of the power, you know, and to the listeners, you know, just, just read one book every 2 years; you're gonna be fine. And, and it's, it's there. and all of a sudden, you realize: We're already doing some of this. But we didn't really, we didn't really talk about it that way. And that's, that's part of the power of the research that you all do.

Ceb Castleberry 41:36
That's fantastic! And Noam, I know we talked a little bit more about the Train the Trainer program that you're going through and 16 internal coaches. Pretty soon you'll be going through our CliftonStrengths Discovery Train the Trainer Program, where we'll actually train you to facilitate a lot of our half-day sessions there internally. How do you plan on using those sessions, as we start winding down today?

Noam Farago 42:01
Yeah, just in terms of what we're planning for the future, considering CliftonStrengths, I already mentioned that we, we added it into the onboarding. But I think the next step is seeing how we can continue to integrate the Gallup language and practices into our culture, into all of our different practices and processes. Right now, a lot of it is focused on the onboarding, but, but what we're really looking at is, How can we do more moving forward -- if it's with organic teams, or if it's with, with, with teams in different stages of development?

Noam Farago 42:35
Another thing that we're looking at is, How can we become more data-oriented? So in terms of talent management in general, how can we look at all the data points and really see how, how the different things that we do actually impact the organization? So becoming more data-oriented, connecting the data and analytics, and really being more qualitative in our nature. So those, those are some of the things that we are looking at in terms of our future and the work we're doing with CliftonStrengths.

Ceb Castleberry 43:08
That's great. Jim, I know, I jumped in -- a lot of questions there. Any questions from you or maybe from the audience?

Jim Collison 43:15
Yeah, a couple, a couple from the chat room coming in. Lisa had asked, and Noam, maybe I'll throw this over to you: What are the roles for the, do your 16 coaches play? How do they balance coaching with their other work? Are they full time -- that, that's a great question, Lisa. So how are you guys handling those other 16?

Noam Farago 43:31
Yeah, so right now, all of the other 15, we are all talent management or part of the HR organization. So definitely not, not their only role. And they have a lot on their plates. Right now, we are really focusing on, as part of the onboarding process. So when a new hire comes, we, we match them with, with a coach. Moving forward, we might expand that. So as, as Ceb mentioned, we have our Train the Trainer, so they're also going to facilitate some sessions. But also, maybe not just for new hires; maybe for people who are in their career for a long time, the opportunity to meet with a with a coach and talk about their strengths and, and really think through how they can focus on their strengths in order to achieve their professional and personal development and, and goals. So that's what we're looking at in that sense.

Jim Collison 44:29
I mean, there's a lot of organizations that don't, wouldn't commit to that many -- that's a lot for your size, but it's, it's a bench, right? It's bench strength; you can always, you can always go to it. Nate had asked the question. And Martin, I'll throw this one to you. Where do you -- well, hold on, let me, let me ask this one first: What challenges did you have and how did you overcome those? So if you were thinking about challenges during this time, you probably alluded to a few of them, but can you highlight a big challenge and how'd you get through that?

Martin Rexroad 45:00
So with, with engagement or strengths, or can I, can I choose?

Jim Collison 45:04
Whatever, whatever you want.

Martin Rexroad 45:05
So I, I think that I, a small company, I believe, lives in dialogue. I used to say, in my early years here at PTC, when we were very small, everybody was working on what was important but very little that was written down. Right? It's a high-dialogue company. You can do things really fast and really accurate, if you take out the typing and writing, right? I mean, it's just, and that's the, the epitome of the watercooler conversation. The challenge we had was, you can't be in a watercooler when you've got two dozen people scattered in Europe and another half-dozen or two dozen in Latin America, right? So how are you going to replicate, in a way, this desire to keep your finger on the pulse, know what's going on, in a very, very tough organization? Remember, when it comes to small-molecule development, only about 5% to 8% of all development candidates ever get approved.

Martin Rexroad 46:14
o this is a business where 90+% of time, you're failing. It's, you know, I say it's only a real failure if you don't learn something; keep moving on. So, you know, our challenge was, how do we capture that? But I think the beauty of the Q12 is that it's a survey process that is only completed with the conversation after you have the results. So voila, the dialogue pops out in the right areas. And we can see where the hot spots are, and we can -- and, you know, this is a business where, you know, you, you try to jump on a little problem, not a big problem. So if you, and I think that was, that was, you know, the great, great strength. And, you know, we, our first Gallup survey, we had less than 400 people; we have about 1,200 now. So it's, it, we needed it then; we need it even more now.

Jim Collison 47:11
I hadn't really thought through that failure. You fail a lot in, in, in what you're doing, right? It's, it's expected it -- because you're just, you're going to try something that's not going to work. And you're going to do that 100 times until you find the one thing that does work. I think in a lot of organizations that, you know, any failure is seen as negative. And yet, you live in that all the time. So that unique world of constantly trying, constantly experimenting, I think you'll have a good, a good opportunity to experiment with people's strengths, too, as, in the engagement pieces. Two questions in one, and Noam, I'll throw this to you: All 34 or Top 5 for new employees coming in? And then Lisa asks, Have you adopted the or looking at the CliftonStrengths for Managers report? Noam, that, those two questions to you.

Noam Farago 47:59
Yeah, so for the first one, yes, we are doing the full 34 for, for all new hires. So it's, it's definitely something we are, we are very proud of, at, and, and working very hard with. In terms of incorporating the, the manager element, so first of all, all of our managers have the full 34 as well. We're also looking at eventually looking at, for example, 360, and looking at the leadership competencies and how can we utilize those, both for leaders and managers, but also in terms of part of the succession planning moving forward. So that's another element that we are looking at for next year.

Jim Collison 48:46
Ceb, any questions, anything left that you have to ask on this? We'll give the chat room one more shot at it. But anything, as we think about bringing this in for landing, any other thoughts from your side, or any questions you want to ask?

Ceb Castleberry 48:59
One last thing to add on to Noam's -- all employees, I would say all employees now completed their all 34 strengths. They have the full report at hand at all times. So I just wanted to add that in there.

Jim Collison 49:14
Noam, how are folks managing? So they get this information. They've got it in a report. It's available through Gallup Access. Are you guys doing anything else with that, as far as, you know, name plates or name tags or those kinds of things? Can you talk about some of those fundamentals of kind of keeping it front and center?

Noam Farago 49:30
Yeah. So first of all, one thing that I know that we've been working on -- and some have been using it just because they like it so much -- it's in the signature. So people have been adding it to their signature. Another thing that we've been doing, especially with all of us being on Zoom most of the time, is actually we created -- not an official, but it's been pretty widespread. Many people have been using their CliftonStrengths as well as our complimentary assessment, which is the HBDI. So we've been using both.

Noam Farago 50:03
So usually, if I'm on Zoom, I have both of those on my side. And then when I interact with people, I can really see their strengths; they can see my strengths or, or my HBDI profile, and sort of figure out, What's, what's the way to best communicate with me and get the message across? Or maybe why I'm taking so much time explaining about the history of things, discussing that context there. So I think that's, that's from a visual perspective. In addition to that, we have been offering different sessions, again, for both nonorganic teams -- for now it's mostly with Gallup, but moving forward, we will have it also internally after the Train the Trainer. But also we are doing sessions for organic teams, which, I think, from my perspective is, is really the next level. Because doing it for a nonorganic team is great, and people learn about themselves. If you bring it into an organic team, you really have the opportunity, first of all, to learn about your colleagues some things that maybe you didn't know, and it helps you better understand some, some dynamics you might have; why this person is behaving in a certain way; where they're coming from.

Noam Farago 51:12
And then finally, looking at the team grids -- that is a really powerful tool that we're, that we've been using to, to have a conversation both about, How are we doing as a team? What might be some of our blind spots? And also when we interact with stakeholders, What do we need to take into accounts? Especially if we can maybe look at the stakeholders and their team grids, that's a really powerful tool. So that's, that's another thing that we've been doing with CliftonStrengths in the organization.

Jim Collison 51:44
Martin, anything you want to add to that? And let me pile on this question from, from Mark a little bit earlier in the conversation: When, when you think about all these things that you're doing, and they take time, like, how do you justify that time away when they could be busy inventing things? That's -- in a lot of organizations, that's the tension, like, man, all these conversations; these strengths things; the engagement stuff -- all takes time. So Martin, let me throw that to you. How do you justify that time, the time spent on this away from inventing things?

Martin Rexroad 52:21
Yeah, so I, we don't think, we obviously don't think of it that way. I mean, as, as Noam said before, the, really the only thing we've gotten fussed at from the CEO of late is that we didn't have every new hire with their CliftonStrengths done before they came through the door. Right? Say that out loud, you know, go and tell your friends at Gallup, I met some people that got in trouble because they had some people show up as new hires and they hadn't completed -- right? So it's like, well, we, we're like that.

Martin Rexroad 52:50
So -- and, and why? Because understanding strengths is part of how we manage, is part of our dialogue. I mean, I moved into my role because there was a moment we realized we needed certain strengths in HR and talent management, and we wanted to have a certain focus on culture and community and voila, here, you know, I, here I go into this new role, leveraging my strengths -- that was the conversation. So it's, it's not like something we do when we're not inventing, you know, or doing drug discovery or commercializing drugs. It's how we do it, right, that, that if you believe in it, which we do, it's as important how you go about your work, how you collaborate, how you set up teams, how you understand each other that, as it is the what you're doing.

Martin Rexroad 53:45
And we, I mean, we really believe that. It's always, it's always been the case, and it's a really, really powerful tool. I will add, for your, your listeners' pleasure, you might expect in a biotech that goes through some of the challenges we are, Harmony is not one of the highest strengths in a biotech. If you, if you ever wanted to, needed any empirical evidence, I can share that with you. There are a lot of other strengths, but you got to be able to roll through some, some really, really tough whitewater rapids, you know, at times here, so --

Jim Collison 54:18
Have you guys rolled it up? Do you know what your, organizationally, what your -- the most common theme is?

Martin Rexroad 54:24
I'll -- that's a Noam, as he's pulling up a spreadsheet real quick. I'll --

Noam Farago 54:29
We did, actually. I'm trying to, I'm trying to bring it up. I remember, Achiever is one of them. Learner is one of them. I think there's a few more that are really the majority of our team.

Jim Collison 54:42
I think those kind of match. Go ahead, Ceb.

Ceb Castleberry 54:44
Yeah, you bet. And I know we mentioned a lot of onboarding and new hires. Where are the managers going to land in that process?

Martin Rexroad 54:57
So the managers are expected to have a conversation the first -- start the conversation the first week. That's not gonna be the full, you know, the report analysis. But it's, it's, you know, this is important. This is how we, this is how we manage. And it, and then there's, you know, I'll turn it over to you, Noam, for the rest of that. But it's, I mean, it's, it's, it's part of what we're expected to do; it's part of what managers are expected to do.

Noam Farago 55:20
Yeah. And I think there is an understanding and an appreciation for managers, in terms of the development they are receiving, again, both with, with the work we're doing with Gallup, as well as the internal. We now have a Learning and Development Senior Manager, Cindy Lafora, who is doing a fantastic job in terms of setting up additional skills training, both for leaders and for, for employees. And they really appreciate it. And I think it really allows them to work well with their employees. So in terms of the onboarding process, again, they'll have a bit of an interaction just when the employee joins and then later on, a more in-depth conversation, sharing their report, looking at the report of the employee, but also then looking at how the employee fits into the team grid, and what are the strengths that that employee can bring into the team? And how can they leverage that to, to make him or her successful and the team more successful?

Jim Collison 56:17
Well, this has been a packed full, like, if, if you're listening to this, and you've just, this is your first time, you probably need to go back and listen to it again. There has been so much great information. And thank you to Noam and Martin. Thanks for doing that. Ceb, why don't you take a second, would you thank them for coming as well? And then we'll wrap this up.

Ceb Castleberry 56:36
Absolutely. Noam, Martin, we talk a lot. And again, we value your partnership. We really appreciate it. And this is really designed to recognize the great work that you do at PTC Therapeutics, as well as your continued partnership with, with Gallup. And we greatly appreciate that moving forward. So thanks again for taking the time to speak with us today.

Martin Rexroad 56:58
Yeah, thank, thanks for having us. And Ceb, thanks to you and Mike for the great partnership over the years.

Noam Farago 57:04
Absolutely. Thank you, everybody!

Jim Collison 57:07
The great Mike McDonald -- he shows up in a lot of these things without even having to be here. With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantage of all the resources we have available now in Gallup Access. And so we keep adding to those every day. Head out to While you're there, at the very bottom of the page, you can sign up for the CliftonStrengths Insight Newsletter. That'll come out once a month; great way to kind of stay up to date on everything that's happening. If you're interested in coaching, master coaching or you want to engage with us, with Gallup, in some way, send us an email: We'll get right back to you. And if you want to follow the webcasts -- if you're like, "Oh, man, this is great! I want more of this!" We have tons of this material available for you. Head out to If you want to catch the recorded version, they're all on our web page at We want to thank you for joining us today. If you joined us live, thanks for being out there; some great questions from the chat room. If you're listening to the recorded version, we probably have another one of these for you ready right after it; just hit Play, and it will go for you. Thanks for coming out today. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Martin Rexroad's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Responsibility, Restorative, Ideation and Strategic.

Noam Farago's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Individualization, Maximizer, Arranger, Context and Communication.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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