Daan Koper Drawn to Kite by Personal Touch of Cell Therapy Manufacturing, Open and Dynamic Culture

Daan Koper

Senior Manager, Manufacturing Technical Services (MTS)
Technical Operations, Kite
Location: Hoofddorp, Netherlands
Joined Gilead: July 2019

In his role at our manufacturing facility in the Netherlands, Daan Koper leads a team of process engineers working to support the production of our cell therapies and help Kite, a Gilead Company, expand its capacity to provide cancer treatments to eligible patients across Europe and beyond. Learn how joining Kite enabled Daan to grow professionally.

Q: What drew you to your field and how did you come to work at Kite?

Before joining the team here, I worked in monoclonal antibody production, but the personal touch of cell therapy really drew me to Kite. Learning about how one batch represents one patient was inspiring to me. When it comes to feeling connected to patients, it doesn’t get closer than this in manufacturing.

I started at Kite as a process engineer as the company was setting up a new cell therapy manufacturing facility in the Netherlands. Eventually I grew, together with the site, into my current role leading a team of process engineers.

Q: How would you describe the company’s culture?

The culture is open and dynamic – people are always willing to improve and challenge the status quo. My colleagues are very inclusive. Everybody’s voice is appreciated, including when offering an opposing perspective or advocating for a different approach.

Q: What was your most memorable day at Kite, and what made it special?

My most memorable day was when our facility in the Netherlands produced its first cell therapy batch for a patient. This happened exactly one year after I joined Kite. I checked in on the process every day, and at the end of the day the treatment was delivered safely to the patient. It was so rewarding to see all our efforts pay off.

Q: Tell us about a time you really felt the impact of your work.

When I started as an engineer, I was hands-on with the process. There were multiple occasions where I managed to resolve difficult manufacturing challenges and help save the patient batch. As a manager, my focus has shifted more to taking care of my team so they can do their best work. It always makes me proud when my team releases a lot on time, implements a quality enhancement or helps serve more patients through an efficiency improvement.

Q: Can you share your approach as a manager and team leader?

I borrowed my managerial approach from a great mentor I had in the past. I give everybody in my team freedom, trust and the safety to tell me anything without repercussion. In return, I ask that they seek help when they don’t know something or need support, tell me what I can do better, and let me know if they make a mistake so we can fix it together. I also make a point to prioritize connecting with my team members one-to-one and investing time in the team culture. With this approach, I believe positive results follow automatically.

Q: How would you describe the opportunities for career growth at Kite?

Kite offers a lot of opportunities for career growth, not only vertically, but also across different teams and functions. It’s also a place where you can gain a breadth of experience – some of the responsibilities I have at Kite I never had at my previous companies, even though I was in similar roles. We empower the experts in their areas to make decisions as much as possible. This helps them grow and be accountable for their own choices.

I was fortunate enough to grow into my managerial role with the help of some great coaches and role models. Being here also shaped me as a person more than I could have imagined. At Kite, my work turned into my passion. I come to work every day happy to be part of the Kite community.

Visit www.kitemanufacturingcareers.com to learn more about additional manufacturing roles at Kite.

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