Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | November 17, 2010

Our tale of woe

Once there was a pharmaceutical company in Palo Alto. Mark went to work there because it was an excellent professional opportunity and much more stable than shaky biotech. He worked there for three years, and then the site shut down. He was one of lucky 200 employees offered a move to New Jersey. An all expenses journey with a one way ticket and moving bonus. “They must really want you,” everyone said.

Mark worked at this pharmaceutical company in New Jersey for 16 months. Then the company announced its Operational Excellence Program, which will “strengthen innovation and ensure sustained success in a fast changing market environment.”

That’s corporate speak for “we’re laying off thousands of people, including you.”

It was almost funny at first. I did have an ironic laugh.

And then I cried.

For the record, most of the people who moved out here from Palo Alto apparently still have jobs – their departments weren’t cut. And Mark will work through mid-December, remaining on the payroll a few months longer. They’re being generous with severance.

As for the future, stay tuned.


  1. Wow. I don’t know what to say, except…That sucks. Come back to Arizona.

    • Jackie -my parents would love that! My mom keeps telling us about TGen.

  2. Oh, crap! This pharmaceutical business is a killer. I’ll tell Michael to keep his ears open!

  3. And I should say that we know that Mark has the best track record of ANYONE we know at finding the next great job!! I know how very stressful this is (oh, yeah!), but I trust that things will work out well.

    • He also has the best track record of finding companies that will lay him off within 2-4 years. Thanks for having Michael contact him so quickly.

      • My husband’s record beats Mark’s record of being recruited to companies that go under very quickly. That’s probably just the nature of the biotech and big pharma industries these days. Yet, David found a job recently that we hope will break his miserable streak. We have faith in Mark that he will be able to find a new job soon, hopefully a job that is better and more secure than the ones he has held to date.

  4. Oh, I’m so sorry, Deb. Uncertainty sucks. But you could always sell the house, buy a boat and sail around the world:)
    Honestly though–I hope this means there’s a wonderful opportunity out there, waiting for you guys to find it.

    • It would be a great idea if boats didn’t make me puke so much! Another travel writing buddy is getting set to travel the world with her family for a year. Sabbatical time for us too???? Sorry Malaysia didn’t work out – you guys have your own share of ups and downs in an already wavy world.

  5. Hello Debbie, Having just gone through this ourselves, David and I really feel for you. All I can say is that David eventually found a new job, and so far, it’s looking to be a better job than all the rest. Hopefully, Mark will find a new job better than the one he had at Roche. Mark is very well qualified. It’s not easy to find a good chemist. He will find a new job.

  6. If what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, you guys are going for Atlas-strong at this point! I cannot believe that, Debbie. Hang in there!!!

  7. I am SO sorry, and SO mad!!! I can’t believe how companies can be so callous and come up with corporate jargon (no, bullshit!) like that!

  8. I hope you never lose your sense of humor. Unbelievable!!

  9. Debbie — I am happy to do any networking that I can with any of the people I used to work with…just let me know.

  10. Veyzmir.
    I hate the way people are treated as being so disposable. Screw corporate America!
    Hope it will all be for the best in the long run, but certainly difficult now. My heart goes out to you & Mark. Hope it may result in your return to FC.
    Love, M & Stargirl

  11. Ouch…I just read this and feel awful. Not exactly the “Welcome to Jersey” reception you were hoping for, I’m sure! I have several friends and neighbors who got caught in this layoff. It really stinks. I hope it doesn’t take long for Mark to land on his feet again…

    • Thanks, Hal! Hopefully we won’t have a need to call you up professionally as a result. Mark’s been busy networking, perhaps with some of those who came to look at the house down the street!

  12. Wow–that’s a bummer of a way to start the holiday season. I’m so sorry to read it (and to be late to the news). Keeping fingers crossed for you that you have good news soon (lots of pharma here near Phila, right?!).

  13. That just stinks, Debbie. What a nightmare.

  14. […] And then we moved it to New Jersey, where it passed inspection. And Mark took a 5th job after yet another layoff. And the Acura got flooded from Hurricane Irene, though a week went by before Mark realized it […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: