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'Focus on the People': Savvy Advice of 1 Agilent VP Who Leads the Team That Fights Cancer
Nina Green, VP and General Manager of Companion Diagnostics at Agilent Technologies. Photo Courtesy of Agilent Technologies.
Fairygodboss
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Nina Green has over 20 years of business leadership experience. But so far, her work as VP and General Manager of Companion Diagnostics at Agilent Technologies has been the most rewarding:

“Agilent is a company whose mission is to improve the human condition,” she told Fairygodboss. “Our employees are passionate about being able to contribute to this every day because their work connects directly to helping patients with cancer… serving these patients makes it very personal.”

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Green shared how companion diagnostics is at the forefront of helping patients get answers that direct the course of their cancer treatment sharing how she gets results from her team, and how she manages to balance this with her personal life. Plus, she offers some unique advice to women on the job hunt: go with your heart. 

How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?

I joined Agilent Technologies in 2017 as the Vice President and General Manager of the companion diagnostics business. Prior to this, I held the position as Chief Operating Officer for a GE Healthcare business specializing in cancer diagnostics. I also served as the VP of Operations for a Novartis diagnostics business and as the SVP of Operations for Genzyme Genetics. Prior to that, I spent 20 years in a variety of business leadership roles including General Manager of multiple operating units within with Quest Diagnostics.

For those who may not know, can you explain what companion diagnostics is?

A companion diagnostic is a diagnostic test, used as a companion to a therapeutic drug to determine its applicability to a specific person. Companion diagnostics are co-developed with a drug to aid in selecting or excluding patient groups for treatment with that drug on the basis of their biological characteristics that determine responders and non-responders to the therapy. Companion diagnostics are often characterized as “precision” or “personalized” medicine because these tests identify those specific patients who will likely benefit from a treatment. This provides treating physicians the ability to tailor treatment regimens to those  that have the highest likelihood of being successful in treating each patient’s condition or disease.

What inspired you to work in this field?

My entire career has been in healthcare and leading healthcare businesses. I grew up in a medical family with many physicians and health care professionals – my mother was a registered nurse and my father was a radiologist. As is often the case, my family’s dinner conversations were centered around my parents’ workday, so I was exposed to the importance and the realities of medicine at an early age. 

How is Agilent doing this work differently? 

Agilent is a company whose mission is to improve the human condition. In the companion diagnostics business, our team partners very closely with leading pharmaceutical companies to develop, manufacture and commercialize highly regulated medical devices which are critical for physicians to help select therapies for their patients. 

What’s the most interesting or unique aspect of your job?

We are a dedicated team that does truly inspiring work in the field of precision medicine.  Our employees are passionate about their contributions because there is a very direct connection to helping patients with cancer. All of us have been touched in some way by cancer, perhaps a loved one or friend has been diagnosed with this disease, so serving these patients makes it very personal.

Your office is located in the Santa Barbara, CA area. What’s the best part about working there? 

We all feel very fortunate to be working and living in such a beautiful area.  Our campus in Carpinteria is nestled between a long stretch of coastline and the beautiful Santa Ynez mountains. Our employees and their families live in Carpinteria and the surrounding communities of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Ventura and Thousand Oaks. This metro area attracts a diverse mix of families, retirees, and students and graduates from the University of California- Santa Barbara, as well as several community colleges.  When my husband and I relocated to the area for this position with Agilent, we could not believe our good luck. This is truly the best place we have ever lived!

What I enjoy the most is the friendly atmosphere, the ideal weather, and the proximity to many outdoor activities. It creates a dynamic environment for great work/life balance. We have the art and culture of the big city with the heart and hospitality of a small, coastal town. I have lived and worked in many cities during my career and this area truly has a quality of life unlike any other.

What do you love most about working at Agilent?

I joined Agilent because I personally and professionally share its mission of improving the human condition. Agilent is an innovative company with a long history and track record of success. Our culture of innovation encourages employees to stay at the top of their game through continuous learning and development. It is truly a privilege to work with so many smart and talented people who – through their unique talents and diverse experiences – create and deliver products and services that have a positive impact on the world. 

What’s your #1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?

Seek opportunities within organizations that resonate with your personal and professional values. It has been my experience that there is nothing more important than ensuring you are aligned with a company’s ethics, integrity, mission and culture. You can quickly assess and determine these things about a company by talking to its employees and its leaders. Ask questions about the role, but even more importantly, ask about what it is like to work there. If you really listen, you can trust that your head and your heart will tell you what you need to know to make the best decision for you.

If you could go back to the beginning of your career, what would you tell yourself? 

Don’t just focus on the work, focus on the people — your employees, your colleagues, and your leaders. Take time to reflect on what you do and what you learn every day. Take something from every experience (good and bad, successes and failures) and use it to make yourself a more effective and trusted colleague and leader.

Who’s the best boss you’ve ever had, and why?

As I am sure it is true for everyone, I have had great bosses and bad bosses over the course of my career. One of the most powerful things a good boss taught me was to require excellence in both results and behaviors – from yourself and from others. No one can be successful in the long run unless they achieve the right results using the right behaviors. Regardless of the situation, you must be diligent in staying equally balanced in both of these critical competencies. 

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