Paula Green Guides Twist Bioscience’s Growth as Head of Human Resources
Image: Paula Green, Vice President of Human Resources, Twist Bioscience
It’s no easy task to manage the development of the workforce of a young biotech company, especially one that’s fast growing as it stakes out an innovative space in the bio-based economy and has recently gone public.
But for Paula Green, Vice President of Human Resources at Twist Bioscience, the work plays right into her wheelhouse. As an experienced biotech HR hand, she’s adept at operating in the hectic and highly technical environment of the biotech world. The San Francisco-based Twist Bioscience, with a portfolio of synthetic biology and genomic products propelling it on a heady growth path, presents a nonstop, yet exciting challenge for which she says she is well prepared.
Green grew up in a Los Angeles family as one of 16 children, an experience that imprinted an attitude that’s just right for the biotech human resources world, she says.
“Human resources was a natural for me,” Green explains. “Our household was run like a business, where there was a significant amount of organization required. The oldest were responsible for the youngest. We took care of each other. I spent a lot of time observing behaviors and understanding what was going to get my parents to say, ‘Yes,’ and what was going to get them to say, ‘No.’
The family experience of fostering wellbeing carried over into the type of career path she chose.
“That was really the impetus for me finding that I really loved people and loved organizational behavior and wanted to continue on that track,” Green says. “I wanted to work for organizations whose missions and values were in agreement with my own. From an early age, I loved people and medicine, and that made it easy for me to be in HR and in the world of biotech.”
Now, Green faces a continuing demand to recruit and onboard a bright, diverse, engaging workforce, skilled in a wide variety of disciplines, and then develop comprehensive benefits plans for those employees. Setting a template for staff development in this atmosphere demands particular attention. And initiating programs as the company expands in the U.S. and globally increases the complexity is essential. Finally, overseeing this process in the high-energy atmosphere of a public company only accelerates the pace.
“At Twist, the challenge is to maintain the nimbleness and culture we have today while remaining human and still giving the great benefits and great opportunities for advancement that we had prior to going public,” Green says.
Green served in HR leadership positions with biotech companies QIAGEN, where she was Vice President, Head of Human Resources, and as Human Resources Manager for Operon Technologies (acquired by QIAGEN) where her responsibilities included creating strategy, overseeing benefits for all employees and delivering training, recruitment and retention programs. Previously, she worked as a human resources consultant for the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.
In 2016, Green joined Twist Bioscience. “I was attracted by the opportunity to work with a dynamic female CEO - Emily Leproust - at a bustling startup and be given the chance to build a unique organization,” Green explains.
Twist draws workers from a wide variety of disciplines, including scientists skilled in molecular biology, engineering and related fields, bioinformatics and cybersecurity experts, as well as professionals in marketing, sales, finance, and operations. The company leverages its unique technology platform to manufacture a broad range of synthetic DNA-based products, including synthetic genes, tools for Next Generation Sequencing sample preparation, and antibody libraries for drug discovery and development. Additionally, it’s pursuing opportunities including discovery partnerships for biologic drugs, and new applications such as digital data storage in DNA. Its products are used in fields such as medicine, agriculture, industrial chemicals and data storage.
Green lives across the San Francisco Bay from Twist, in Oakland, where she is well-located to root for the Bay Area’s professional sports teams - the Golden State Warriors, the Oakland A’s, and the San Francisco Giants. “I’m an absolute sports fan,” she says. “I love seeing the teams play.”
Green says Twist’s accelerating growth success is presenting her with a unique opportunity to draw on her experience to guide its direction.
“This is an exciting challenge because we have ground-breaking products and we are creating our own story,” Green says. “There is a tremendous amount of passion and desire already here and that translates into making the story so much more easy to tell when you’re building a workforce.”