After two years, COTA was back together in NYC for an in-person all-hands meeting.
Last week we welcomed new and veteran team members from across the country to come together in NYC for an all-hands meeting we affectionately called CAMP COTA. The difficulty of the past two years felt like a distant memory–at least for two days–as we finally got the chance to reunite as a company.
We had a packed agenda: planning and strategizing for our continued growth, collaborating across departments with various team building activities, hearing directly from our clients and then from patients. All this followed by some seriously competitive ping pong matches (we knew we were in for it when someone asked if they could bring their own paddle).
As much as we have learned to adapt to the world of remote work, there is no substitute for the connection, collaboration, and energy that comes from physically being in the same space. Here are the highlights…
New CEO with a Fresh Outlook
In her first all-hands as COTA’s CEO, Miruna Sasu kicked us off with an energetic and inspiring presentation about the future of COTA and how we will continue to deliver on our mission to bring clarity to cancer care for patients and their families.
She talked about the importance of knowing who you work for–the person or people that inspire you to work hard even when things get tough. She told us that she works for her young son, Kallian, hoping that he will never have to deal with the devastating effects of cancer.
What Makes COTA Great?
Our mission! Our people! Our high-quality data! Our inclusive culture!
Those were some of the answers from a breakout session where we were asked, “What makes COTA great?”
Given that we have so many new team members, we separated into groups based on tenure with the company. We talked about everything from the hiring process, on-boarding, daily life, and growth at COTA. One employee remarked,
“I think this session is a great example of the company truly listening to its employees.”
Voice of the Customer
COTA has long-standing relationships with Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) and Miami Cancer Institute (MCI), and we were fortunate to have them share their experience of working with COTA and the future of real-world data in clinical research and patient care.
Kim Wilson, Executive Director of Translational Epidemiology, has worked with COTA since she was at Celgene, continuing after their acquisition by BMS. She was directly involved in developing the real-world data cohort in the successful FDA submission for the multiple myeloma drug Abecma.
Next up, we heard from Dr. Leonard Kalman, Executive Deputy Director and Chief Medical Officer at MCI, who talked about his long history with COTA and the partnership that resulted in the development of Real-World Analytics (RWA). MCI is now planning to use RWA to address disparities in cancer care across their institution.
Only a few of us are able to work directly with our customers, so it was a great privilege to have two key partners take the time to speak with the entire company about the impact COTA has on their organizations and the patients they serve.
The Patients Behind the Data
We often don’t get to hear from the patients behind the oncology data we work with, so we were delighted to hear from two breast cancer survivors, Tiffany Dyba and Trish Michelle, founders of Hip Hop Happy Hour. They shared how their show offers support, advocacy, and laughs to the cancer / chronic illness community around the world.
They spoke about the real, raw feelings patients and their families face when someone is first told, “You have cancer.” Their personal stories served as reminders of why our work matters–so that patients won’t have to make life or death decisions about their care in a vacuum. We are working toward a future where all patients and their doctors will be able to make data-driven decisions to determine the best treatments that will result in the best possible outcomes for patients just like them.
What Letter Are You?
In one of our most interactive and engaging sessions, we learned about our personality types and working styles in a DiSC training, which was facilitated by COTA’s director of people, Stephanie Barthelemy. All participants took a personality test before the event and shared the results on-site at CAMP COTA.
In the DiSC model, D stands for dominance, I for influence, S for steadiness, and C for conscientiousness. It turns out that COTA is fairly well-rounded, with solid representation in each category.
Stephanie taught us how to understand our own strengths and weaknesses and ways to work with each other more effectively.
CAMP COTA MVPs
We are so grateful to have the opportunity to gather in person. None of it would have been possible without the planning committee of Millie Kilic, Monica Matta, Stephanie Barthelemy, and Justina Lopez.
One of our employees said it best,