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NO. 2 LARGE | Fighting cancer, sparking discovery fuel Exact Sciences

NO. 2 LARGE | Fighting cancer, sparking discovery fuel Exact Sciences

From the Shining stars: Meet the Madison area's Top Workplaces series
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Exact Sciences is a leader in cancer screening and diagnostics, with the aim of helping people take life-changing action sooner. Here, one of Exact Sciences’ more than 3,000 Madison-area employees works in one of its laboratories prior to the pandemic. 

Exact Sciences, which rose from a small operation to a growing force in cancer diagnostics, thrives on a workplace culture fueled by innovation, teamwork and a common enemy.

“We have a mission-driven culture. We’re in the business of trying to eradicate cancer and the suffering it causes,” said Sarah Condella, senior vice president of human resources at the company, which employs 3,021 people locally.

“While we’re not a startup anymore, we act like a startup,” she added. “We’re very entrepreneurial. We have a culture where we rapidly experiment and try new things … giving people freedom to think and innovate and try new ideas.”

Exact Sciences also believes that collaboration is central to advancing the science behind the company’s products. Condella said Exact Sciences recognizes how teams work together to find solutions and new approaches.

“We don’t spotlight individuals,” Condella said. “We’re constantly recognizing teams and the efforts and milestones that we achieve. We know that there are many people who have fingerprints on those achievements.”

To help employees feel connected to the mission, Condella said, the firm has a strong employee stock ownership plan, a team-based bonus program and a peer-to-peer recognition program.

Exact Sciences also makes communication a priority, putting a heavy emphasis on patient success stories so staff members at all levels can see and appreciate the impact their work has on individuals.

The company aims to create opportunities for advancement and growth, and more than 35% of employees who have been at the firm more than one year have been promoted at least once. And it also focuses on employee training.

“We have a whole learning and development program that assumes everyone’s a leader in their seat, whether you lead people or not. It focuses on how we build a really respectful and inclusive workplace where people take ownership of their jobs every day,” she said.

Employees also take advantage of a company wellness program and two new state-of-the-art fitness centers. During the pandemic, it offered virtual fitness classes taught by its personal trainer.


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