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My Greatest Professional Adventure—10 Years in the Making

My Greatest Professional Adventure—10 Years in the Making

Adventure of a Lifetime - Ken Keller

I love new adventures. They’re part of who I am and how I find purpose—whether it’s seeking new terrain for an unforgettable mountain bike ride, exploring somewhere I’ve never been, witnessing my once “babies” grow into adults and set out on their own voyages, or recently watching my twin grandsons overnight for the first time (OMG). That feeling you have as your adrenaline spikes the moment the new adventure begins is exhilarating and unforgettable. Each new adventure shapes who I am and increases my energy, enthusiasm and optimism to be the leader, father, grandfather, husband and explorer I aspire to be.

Joining Daiichi Sankyo and being part of its evolution into something far more impactful than I could have imagined has been the adventure of a lifetime. I’ve been blessed each day for the past 10 years to be part of this adventure, tackling challenges once thought to be unobtainable, with a group of special people who share the same ethos and ambitions. Our experiences have bonded us together and fueled our passion to achieve the remarkable, to push a little further and question the conventional way of thinking to break down barriers.

Ken Keller at ASCO ASCO has been a critical part of our Daiichi Sankyo adventure.

An Adventure with Limitless Opportunity

Ten years ago, I took a leap of faith and joined what was then an unknown entity in the oncology community. At the time, the science behind our medicines discovered in our research labs in Japan (which led to the development of our proprietary DXd ADC Technology) was in its infancy and a hidden gem even within the hallways of Daiichi Sankyo. Fast forward to where we are today, and how this technology has allowed our medicines to reach new heights of “what is possible” for the future of patients living with cancer. It was the vision of Daiichi Sankyo leadership, many of whom had been with the organization decades longer than me, some nearly their entire professional careers, to make the decision to invest in this technology and reimagine “who we are” as a medicines company.

And there it was, the adventure I had been seeking, one with limitless opportunity to be part of building a global oncology leader and transforming the treatment of cancer. To be part of something incredible. To make history. The best part? Our path wasn’t paved, it was up to us to create it. A true, uncharted, success-not-guaranteed adventure. We embarked on a number of “firsts” for Daiichi Sankyo to get to where we are today; each playing a distinct role in the company’s future. Together we:

  • Established the 2025 Daiichi Sankyo Vision of becoming a “Global Pharma Innovator with a competitive advantage in oncology”
  • Founded the Oncology Business Unita unified global team solely focused on advancing medicines for people impacted by cancer
  • Advanced our oncology pipeline at an unprecedented speed; watching our medicines mature into the practice-changing treatments they are today
  • Solidified our DXd ADC Technology as best-in-class across a highly competitive ADC landscape
  • Established three global oncology development and commercialization collaborations for five of our DXd ADCs, massively accelerating the speed and increasing the reach of our medicines to patients in need
  • Received a standing ovation at ASCO 2022 Plenary Session following the presentation of our breast cancer data
  • Created our unique culture, led by our compassion for patients, that encourages fearlessness to turn science into medicine

Ken Keller meeting new hires Welcoming new hires always energizes me.

Always Onboarding Approach

I routinely welcome new people at our onboarding events and thank them for having the courage to join us and for entrusting us with their personal aspirations in their new adventure. I have much to share about “who we are” and provide a picture of our future together. But more importantly, I listen. I hear the hopes and dreams they have for their new careers (also the normal anxieties) and am always impressed by their thirst for information, how they lean into our discussion, their genuine desire to understand how Daiichi Sankyo works and how they can make an impact.

I leave every onboarding event with that new adventure adrenaline “high.” I find that fascinating because this is the first hour of the first day for my colleague and I am marking my 10th anniversary. The new employee adrenaline has taught me a valuable personal lesson—to bring an “always onboarding” mentality to my work every day.

Ken Keller hiking Keep seeking new adventures; I know I will.

Harness the Adrenaline of Today’s Adventure

With an always onboarding approach, each experience provides me with a fresh set of eyes to “look at the old and see new again.” To bask in our almost limitless opportunities more fully. To lean in and listen intently to others. To understand rather than judge. To see today for what it is, another opportunity to make an impact. Whether tapping into our new employees’ onboarding experience or strategic planning with a colleague who has been with the company a lifetime, I feed off their energy and how we can collectively shape the future and do amazing things together.

Regardless of whether you just started your journey, are 10 years in, or have spent a lifetime crafting your expertise, never stop learning, never stop onboarding! Harness the adrenaline of today’s adventure. That is life’s greatest gift.

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