In this series, current Putnamites share their experiences during the ongoing COVID-19 health pandemic.
Dian Huang, a Life Sciences Consultant based out of our San Francisco office, shares some of her experiences.
Can you please tell our readers a little bit more about yourself—your background, your role at Putnam, how long you’ve been with the firm, and where you’re located?
I joined Putnam’s San Francisco office as a life science consultant a year ago. My background is in bioengineering and I obtained my PhD from UCLA in 2019. I’m currently working remotely in Los Angeles.
How has the ongoing pandemic been for you? First, have you been staying safe and healthy? What was Putnam’s response like?
The pandemic has been full of ups and downs mentally and physically. I’ve been staying safe at home during the week, but still going outdoors to get fresh air and going on adventures in a socially distanced way. Putnam’s response has been great in helping me set up an ergonomic home office and reminding me to take time off at home even with nowhere to travel to.
At what point during the pandemic did Putnam transition to remote work? How did the firm facilitate the transition and what kinds of resources, directives, and support were Putnam employees offered?
I was able to start working remotely in mid-March when both SF and LA went into lockdown. The firm and my local SF office were very supportive of my decision of continuing to work remotely and offered all the employees a generous budget to set up a home office. I have also received snack packs and little gifts from Putnam throughout the pandemic. The fitness challenge and wellness initiatives were also motivating.
How would you describe leadership’s handling of the pandemic? What was communication like, what sort of directives were issued, and how did the firm’s response and actions affect your experience of the pandemic?
The leadership handled the pandemic well with effective weekly communications. The firm’s swift decision of working remotely until summer 2021 has eased a lot of anxiety. It also provided me with the opportunity to move back to LA, where I would be saving a lot of living expenses and spending time with family.
What do you believe was the key to Putnam successfully navigating the unprecedented turbulence brought upon by the pandemic?
I believe the key to success in the pandemic was early, proactive and decisive actions. It helped give employees clear answers, so we could all form our own plans as best and as early as possible. It saved me a lot of time, money and anxiety.
One of the elements of life at Putnam that consistently stands out is the firm’s outstanding firm culture—in fact, Putnam Associates ranked No. 3 last year in Vault’s Best Consulting Firms for Firm Culture. Given how integral culture is to your firm, can you please tell us how the pandemic has affected that? How has Putnam worked to preserve the core values of the firm’s culture, as well as an overall sense of connectedness, while everyone is working remotely?
Not being able to spend face time with coworkers have been difficult. But with Zoom and Teams, they’re just a call away. There have been virtual happy hours and even in-person socially distanced events that still connect us. I feel like I can still be myself on a virtual platform in front of coworkers, cracking jokes with each other as if we’re still in the office. However, I do miss the coffee and pastry runs very much.
As a life sciences consultancy, Putnam is in an interesting position in that many of the biopharma, diagnostic, and medical device clients you work with are likely to be on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.
Without divulging any confidential information, can you talk about what that’s been like? Are you involved in any projects with clients that directly pertain to the pandemic? What sorts of issues and opportunities are you encountering? How is Putnam serving clients that may be working to develop a vaccine, more efficient testing, or any number of pandemic-related initiatives?
I have been on a few projects where COVID impact was a key area of study. It has been eye-opening to help our clients understand the short-term and long-term effects of the pandemic, as well as how different stakeholders in the health care industry have been addressing those issues.
Read Part 2.
Read Part 3.