Meet Andy Porter

PorterAndy Porter is Chief People Officer at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA which means he works with some wicked smaaht people. Some days, he indeed does wear short shorts around the office(call it a morale booster) but it really just makes people uncomfortable. Other days, he spits some mad game on cheese. No really – he’s somewhat of a cheese aficionado. But more importantly? At Broad he gets to his small part to help change the world of healthcare.

See Andy’s riffs and rants on Fistful of Talent here…



1.  The elevator just closed and you’ve got 30 seconds to pitch the random reader on whom you are and why they should read your rants.  Go..

Let’s see…well my rants will probably show up in your RSS feed so you’ll probably have no choice but to read it.  And even if you don’t like what I have to say you’re probably too lazy to take me out of your feed anyway.

Or you’ll read my rants because you’re tired of having to do things the way they’ve always been done in HR.  You question the status quo.  You’re looking for new ideas or a spark that helps you think about things differently because you believe there’s got to be a better way.

And you’ll want to read what I have to say because I’m one of you.  Yup, I am an actual, honest to god working right now; today HR Pro facing all of the same challenges you face on a day to day basis.  I’m fightin’ the good fight.

2.  Now for the mundane – break down your location, title, company/firm and what you do for a living.

I’m VP of HR for Merrimack Pharmaceuticals and our number one goal is to find a cure for cancer.  I’ve got a pretty cool job.  In addition to the usual HR responsibilities I get to spend my time thinking about how we can build an organization which can develop innovative products again and again.  I’m located in the heart of the biotechnology industry in Cambridge, MA.

3.  One more question that everyone expects. What’s the reason you’re in this game? (Why do you do what you do?)

Well, I can’t say that when I was 5 years old I dreamt of being in HR.  I actually wanted to be a trash collector and ride on the back of the trash truck.  I still do kind of.  But really it’s simple for me. I want to do everything I can to help our employees successfully get important medicines to patients.  Hire them, train them, create an environment where innovation can flourish and reward them for doing something great.  Since I’m no scientist this is my way to contribute.

4.  If you’ve ever been to a professional baseball game, you know batters from the home team get to pick their own theme music as they walk from the dugout to the plate.  If we ever have a FOT convention, what theme music will you come out to
pump the crowd up and why?

The first 30 seconds of Kasmir by Led Zeppelin – it’s about anticipation and build-up and you feel like something is about to happen.

5.  Let’s stick with the baseball theme. If you’ve ever been to a pro game, you also know that the visitor doesn’t get to pick their own music.  The home team picks that for them, and it’s usually less than stellar as a means of attempting to crush them.  If you could pick theme music for your arch-rival to walk into a conference room to, what would it be and why?

If my arch-rival was really trying to get into my head they’d play any kind of country music song.  Or any song that has a country music twang to it.  I’ve tried to like it but I really do hate country music.

6.  Finish the following sentence – “When I’m interviewing, I can tell within one minute that this thing isn’t going to work out because _________…”

The candidate can’t clearly tell me why he/she wants to work for my company.  If you’re answer starts with “I stumbled across your job posting online” you’re out.  Maybe that’s how you first heard of us but man, is that the only reason you came in for an interview?  Put a little thought into it please!

7.  Name the actor/actress that will portray you in the movie about you. Why the heck is that a fit?

This is a tough one since it turns out I have several male actor “heartthrobs.”  Yes, this confuses my wife as well.  If there was a movie about me today it would have to be Leonardo DiCaprio or Johnny Depp.  When they make the movie about the older me it would have to be Harrison Ford or Clint Eastwood.  All guys you’d want to have a beer with!

8.  List three of your favorite books to pander to the educated segment of our readership…

I love anything by Malcom Gladwell but especially Outliers.

The Emperor of All Maladies:  A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Guns, Germs and Steel:  The Fates of Human Societies

9.  List three of your favorite movies to connect with the segment of our readership that doesn’t like to read…

I like any kind of movie which deals with disaster or the end of the world like Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow or even 2012.  I know, pathetic.

10.  Let’s reach out to what remains of our readership. Who’s your favorite Old-School Rapper and why?

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.  Talk about creativity and innovation.  These guys created a whole new musical style out of things that were already in plain sight.
Just mixed ‘em all up. Classic.

10.5. My first car was a…  and here’s how it defined who I am….

1982 Honda Accord!  It was a manual transmission and I thought it would be cool to drive a manual.  But, I had no clue how to actually drive one.  So I meet the guy who’s selling it at his house, get in the car to take it for a test drive, start it up and proceed to rear end his much nicer (and brand new) car in front of me.  Didn’t really understand the whole clutch thing!  I bought the car and it was a rough ride home but I figured it out.  Now I only drive manual cars.  Just get in and figure it out.  Lesson I remember to this day!


See Andy’s riffs and rants on Fistful of Talent here…