AbbVie: 5 minutes with … Jason Cohan

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Meet the people who bring AbbVie’s Principles to life.

AbbVie is made up of 30,000 employees across the world, contributing in diverse ways to one collective purpose. In this series, we take a closer look at some of the incredible people who embody our company’s Principles.

In our fifth and final in the series, a conversation with Jason Cohan, scientific compliance specialist, AbbVie.

On his current role with AbbVie …

As scientific compliance specialist in our research and development sciences organization, I am tasked with overseeing the completion of necessary training requirements for a large volume of folks in my department. In addition, I am responsible for filing all proper documentation to verify workers are qualified to perform each of their daily tasks. Similar to the role of a teacher, I am responsible for keeping a large volume of “students” on track to ensure they are all consistently completing their “homework” and submitting their “papers” by the designated deadlines.

On which AbbVie Principle he finds to be the most meaningful and why …

In our business trust is everything. Our stakeholders, partners, investors, colleagues and patients are counting on us to conduct ourselves in an honorable and ethical manner so I would say the company’s Acting with Integrity Principle resonates the most. From a professional standpoint, our culture of data integrity is key to our mission of ensuring all products meet quality standards. And as my compliance group is tasked with handling, preparing and documenting vast amounts of the company’s records, our code of business conduct demands we do so in an accurate and moral manner.

Outside of work, my wife and I try to set good examples for our twin girls by teaching them the value in serving others. We try to instill that helping others (both human and animal beings) is not only a good thing to do, but the right, ethical thing to do. In fact, each year my girls celebrate their birthdays, in lieu of bringing presents, they ask guests to instead share donations. They then donate all birthday “proceeds” to the cause(s) they (and they alone) feel are the most deserving and mom and dad couldn’t be more proud.

Jason takes a moment to reflect on his impending 22-year anniversary with the company. (Photo via Abbvie)

On AbbVie programs most important to him …

I enjoy participating in the company’s annual Learn.Develop.Perform (LDP) week, a series of interactive webinars, podcasts, virtual meetings and live events designed to provide employees and managers with the necessary tools and insights to optimize personal growth and professional development. A personal favorite was last year’s “Brand You” workshop, an insightful event focused on sharing your personal career story. The key takeaway: your reputation can be your greatest asset or liability. Every day we come to work, every meeting, interaction, phone call and email has a direct impact on our reputation, positively or negatively. It’s up to each of us to decide how we choose to present ourselves.

On suffering the loss of a child …

In early 2007, my wife, Amy, and I were elated to discover we would be expecting our first child. While visiting potential locations for the upcoming baby shower, Amy went into pre-term labor and was quickly rushed to the hospital. Born just shy of 25 weeks, our daughter, Emma, lived for a short couple of hours before passing away quietly in our arms. This unexpected loss was completely shocking; an unimaginable loss with no words to describe the pain and heartbreak. So much excitement and joy, and within hours we were walking out of the hospital and tasked with making funeral arrangements. How do you make sense of something so devastating? Quite simply, you can’t.

Through the intense haze in the months and years following, we were convinced our healing was somehow connected to this idea of keeping our daughter’s memory alive; finding some way to ensure her short life had greater meaning. What better way to keep Emma’s spirit alive than to make a long-lasting impact in the lives of other children and families in need? So we reached out to friends, family and colleagues during the end of year holidays and ask them to donate gifts on behalf of our amazing little angel. When loads and loads of gifts poured in that first year, we were able to donate three carloads worth of toys and books to a behavioral health services organization focused on at-risk children, adults, and families. Donations would continue for the next decade to what would eventually become known as “Emma’s Toy Box” annual holiday toy drive. Though the pain of losing Emma will never truly disappear, we can forever celebrate her loving spirit through the kindness and generosity of others.

On being a father to twins …

I have fraternal twin daughters in the 4th grade. As you can imagine, they keep me very busy with swim meets, band concerts, dance recitals, homework, gymnastics practice and much more. I often joke that we have a couple of “Mini Me” clones, one who takes after each of us. Jordan very much resembles my wife in many of her characteristics: very easy going, open to new situations and willing to take risks for the simple adventure of it. Olivia more resembles her dad: a type-A personality and planner who must know everything in advance, and who takes a bit longer to feel comfortable trying something new. It certainly makes for interesting parenting skill sets. We’re often lighting a fire under one child, while putting a fire out with the other!

Jason poses with 9-year old fraternal twin daughters, Jordan and Olivia, for a daddy/daughter dance event before hitting the floor to perform the hokey pokey. (Photo via Abbvie)

On his Sunday morning pickup basketball games …

I’ve been part of a Sunday morning pickup basketball game for the past 7 years. But that’s small potatoes compared to some of the other players; some members have been playing since the late 80s. Originally created as an outlet for sports lovers in the neighborhood, it now even includes the offspring of some of the original players. Like clockwork, early Sunday mornings consist of five-on-five, full-court basketball games in our local gym. Anyone and everyone are welcome to join; dedicated players range in age from their early 20s to their not-so-early 60s. Over the years, we’ve experienced long-lasting friendships, not to mention a whole lot of sprained ankles and busted noses!

On working for the company for 22 years …

I will be coming up on my 22nd anniversary with the company in 2020. After all this time, I can honestly say I have never once felt static. In a company so large and diverse, I feel there are always new opportunities to tackle, new insights to discover and new frontiers to cross. One of the amazing things about working for a company for such an extended period: building your institutional knowledge over the years and becoming a trusted and reliable resource for colleagues old and new. There’s also the inherent relationship-building; I am so thankful for the amazing, long-lasting friendships I have forged with many colleagues over these many years.



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