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Astellas was once again ranked in Seramount’s 2023 list of 100 Best Companies confirming our commitment to creating a supportive workplace for working parents. This year, Astellas is proud to recognize Joseph Zenus, senior manager, Materials, Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Julie Budzynski, senior director, CIA Operations & Corporate Functions, Ethics & Compliance, as our respective 2023 Working Parents of the Year. Read below to learn more about their experiences as working parents, how they find balance and what lessons they’ve learned along the way that have helped them to succeed both professionally and personally.
Joseph Zenus, Senior Manager, Materials, Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Over the past six and a half years that I have been with Astellas, I have had the privilege to be the first materials management employee onsite, helping to build the program from start to finish. Today, I support the day-to-day operations within the General Manufacturing Practices Warehouse including shipping, procurement, managing inventory and supporting our site teams. I’m very appreciative of the people and the teams that I work with and honored to be nominated as the Working Dad of the Year.
In January 2019, my wife, and son Jaxson, tragically lost our first-born son, Aaron, at the young age of 12 years old. During this grief-stricken time, I was extremely grateful to receive an outpouring of support from family, friends and Astellas coworkers and leaders, who reached out directly to offer condolences and support. Receiving these gestures from colleagues showed me that it’s more than work, it’s a family here.
Everyone experiences ups and downs, and my team members and I pride ourselves on supporting each other as much as we can. Schedules can get crazy with kids, dropping them off at daycare, picking them up or if they suddenly get sick, causing you to leave work abruptly. I’m thankful that when something does come up, that my managers understand and are supportive of me taking the necessary time off to be there for my family.
As a manager of a team, I understand that we all may have competing priorities therefore I encourage my team to keep an organized schedule, to stay on top of things and most importantly, communicate with one another. Ultimately, you must take care of the people that take care of you - that’s what life is all about. After losing a child at a young age, I learned that some things in life are more important than work. You must dedicate time to be with your friends and family because life is too short and you never know what the future holds.
Working at Astellas, I am extremely appreciative of the mental health days offered. Over the years, mental health is a topic that has gained attention and is helping to drive change in the workplace. I believe it is essential for employees to take a day off to rest and reenergize, by whatever that may look like for them. For me, I reenergize myself by going on family vacations and day trips, spending time together playing board games attending sporting events with my son and wife. Growing up in Boston, my dad would always take me to professional sporting events, and I enjoy being able to create the same memories with my son.
My dad spent his entire career in the supply chain business – influencing me to follow in his footsteps and learn from his success. One of the best pieces of advice that I have received from my dad has been to ‘make yourself available.’ It can be as simple as giving people the opportunity to talk to me and allow me to listen and be there for them in a time of need. Living this motto, I enjoy supporting my team and working with them towards a greater work-life balance to achieve their career success.
I’m thankful to be a part of the Astellas family as they have supported me to take care of my own family.
Julie Budzynski, Senior Director, CIA Operations & Corporate Functions, Ethics & Compliance
As a working parent, it’s rewarding to hold both titles, although it’s not always easy and is by no means perfect. But, I love that I’m able to do both. I’m honored to be awarded the Astellas Working Mother of the Year for 2023 and thank my colleagues for this recognition.
Since I started working at Astellas in February 2019, my role has expanded from supporting the company’s corporate integrity agreement operations to global support to teams across our corporate functions including sustainability, patient centricity and Rx+. Working at Astellas has made me realize what a difference it makes to work for a company that supports its employees and provides a welcoming environment.
Being a mother of two boys approaching their teenage years, my husband and I have learned to lean on each other to help manage both kids. I’m especially appreciative of the flexible work benefits that Astellas offers for working parents. Some of the best support has been taking advantage of these benefits to allow me to be present and available for my kids by going to school meetings, leaving early for a band concert, and more. Astellas also offers half-day Fridays which have allowed my family and I with more quality time together whether we’re kayaking or paddleboarding on Lake Michigan, traveling, or attending our kids’ sports games.
In addition to the benefits, Astellas fosters a culture where employees look after one another and do not feel afraid to ask for help. Oftentimes, my manager will raise their concern for me and offer to support before I ask and reminds our team to put family and ourselves first. Not only am I supported by my manager but also by my colleagues as well. I’m thankful to work with such incredible talented individuals who understand when I need to log off early or handle an issue with my kids.
At Astellas, I feel trusted and empowered to manage my time appropriately creating a strong work-life balance. Personally, I’ve created habits outside of work as well to help avoid burnout such as prioritizing exercising and surrounding myself with a network of other women who are working parents. When connecting with these friends, I feel strength and energy from our conversations about our careers with raising children that supports my vision of being a successful working parent.
Overall, I try to be strategic in how I utilize my time which is helpful in growing my career and my family; staying focused is the key. When I’m at work, I concentrate on work and when I’m home I concentrate on my family so that I can be fully present at both. There are ebbs and flows – some days work may need my attention more and other days my family may need me more, but, knowing this and having my support system both personally and professionally allows me to successfully manage both.
Things may not always work out as planned, but I know Astellas will always have my back.
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