What it does: Develops biotherapies
Staff stats: 22,000 globally
The good bits: Doing interesting and important work
The not so good bits: Only has offices in one (Australian) city
The CSL story
Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) was established by the Australian Government in 1916, in the middle of World War One as a direct result of being unable to secure medical supplies during the war. CSL was initially housed in laboratories at the Melbourne Hospital but soon moved into purpose-built premises in Parkville, in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.
During the eight decades it was in government hands, CSL developed snake antivenoms, helped to develop or produce vaccines for tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio and human papillomavirus, and pioneered heat treatments to prevent blood and blood products becoming infected with HIV. CSL also produced insulin, penicillin and influenza virus vaccine as well as holding the deed for pandemic preparedness and response. CSL has long been an industry leader in plasma products and is the official plasma manufacturer of Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan.
The Keating Government privatised CSL in 1994. In 2000 it doubled in size as a result of its purchase of ZLB from the Swiss Red Cross . Four years later, it went through another growth spurt after acquiring the French -German medical company Aventis Behring. In 2014, CSL bought Novartis’s influenza-vaccine business, combining it with bioCSL to create Seqirus. (CSL Behring and Seqirus are the subsidiaries of CSL Limited which is the corporate entity listed on the ASX).
CSL is Australia’s biggest biotech success story and one of this nation’s largest public companies. It’s still headquartered in Parkville and remains committed to researching, developing and manufacturing medicines in Australia. That noted, its various acquisitions mean it now has facilities in the US, Switzerland, Germany, the UK, China and Japan. CSL supplies medicines to more than 30 countries. It describes itself as “a global biotechnology leader which develops and delivers innovative medicines that save lives, protect public health and help people with life-threatening medical conditions live full lives”.
In 2018, CSL had revenue of just under US$8 billion (A$11.5 billion).
CSL is “committed to creating a workplace environment where employees can fulfil their individual career aspirations and potential and are inspired by a purpose-driven organisation with a values-based culture”.
CSL’s workforce skews female but males are overrepresented in management roles and on the board which has three female non-executive Directors. CSL aims to create an “inclusive work environment where people have equitable access to career opportunities, training and benefits” regardless of their “gender, nationality, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, generation/age, socio-economic status [or] religious beliefs”.
The medicines CSL has created have saved or improved countless lives over the last century. CSL contributes to “humanitarian programs and relief efforts around the world”. It provides “monetary or product donations, sponsorships, research and education grants and scholarships as well as in-kind support to worthy and credible non-profit organisations”. It also matches and supports “charity contributions made by our employees to NFPs”.
The company seeks to minimise its environmental impact. It chiefly does this by “protecting and conserving the energy, water and other natural resources that are essential inputs to the production of our therapies”.
The recruitment process
CSL recruits grads with a background in:
- Engineering (particularly biomedical, chemical, mechanical and process engineering)
- HR/ Psychology
- Science (particularly biotechnology, chemistry, immunology, microbiology or pharmaceutical science)
- Supply Chain/Logistics
CSL seeks grads with at least a credit average who:
- Demonstrate self-awareness
- Adapt to change
- Express technical knowledge clearly
- Communicate effectively and work collaboratively
- Drive results and exceed expectations
On top of all that, you’ll need demonstrated work experience throughout university (non-professional) and to pass a medical assessment and National Police Check. You’ll also have to be willing to be based in Melbourne and be a citizen or permanent resident of Australia or New Zealand.
The CSL selection process involves the following five stages: online application > online cognitive ability testing > online video and behavioural assessment > assessment-centre visit > face-to-face interviews.
If you jump all those hurdles, you’ll be offered a place in CSL’s two-year grad program. All grads are paired with a buddy and mentor. Grads receive “focused career development, incorporating on-the-job technical training and specialist development activities [such as] job rotations that provide exposure to various teams and functions across the business, providing a strong technical foundation and learning”.
CSL is essentially a manufacturing company. The company doesn’t provide any details about grad salaries but appear to be high enough to prevent many online complaints. CSL staff have access to flexible work arrangements, study assistance and an employee share plan.
CSL has recently rolled out a comprehensive career-development program to allow staff “to develop skills and capabilities at every stage of their career”. Grads do tailored rotations where they take part in “real projects” and are given “real responsibilities”. They also receive structured coaching and regular feedback. If you’re interested in working overseas, CSL has a ‘Global Mobility Program’ that matches interested staff with international assignments.
The vibe of the place
Want to work for a Melbourne-based, world-leading biotech company with a values-based (those values being “collaboration, innovation, integrity, patient focus and superior performance”) culture? Excited by the idea of being able to “pursue meaningful work, realise your potential and grow your career”? If so, CSL might be the right place for you.
Star Rating: Not available
From the employer:
"The CSL (Australia) Graduate Program is a two-year program focused on providing you with career opportunities within our global business.
Our program is a chance for you to work alongside and learn from a diverse group of professionals who are leaders in their field. As a CSL Graduate you will be given:
- Tailored rotations
- Practical experience
- Real projects with real responsibilities
- On-the-job technical training
- Exposure to various teams and functions across the business
- Structured coaching and regular performance feedback
- Focused career development
- Specialist development activities
At CSL, we recognise the importance of having highly skilled and committed employees, our structured two year development program is focused on growing your personal and professional skills from the moment you join our program including:
- Graduate specific orientation plan
- Ongoing exposure to senior leaders
- Graduate Alumni Program
- Buddy Program
- Mentoring Program with senior leader
- Building Competencies & Individual profiling learning
- Business Innovation Challenge
- Career Transition
What we are looking for:
- Your ability to drive results and exceed expectations
- Your ability to demonstrate self-awareness
- Your capability to adapt to change
- Effective communication and the capacity to work collaboratively
- Your ability to clearly express your technical knowledge"