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Jen C

Kannan K.

Director, Global Program Leader, Oncology Therapeutic Area Unit (OTAU)
Boston, Massachusetts
Employee Since 2009

On A Personal Mission to Help Others

In 2009, Kannan joined Takeda’s oncology discovery department. Fast-forward three role changes and years later, today, Kannan works as a Global Program Leader in the clinical development part of the organization. From strategy to operations to delivery, he is responsible for asset development specifically within the Oncology Therapeutic Area Unit (OTAU). As a Global Program Leader, he helps innovative medicines get to patients faster, so they can live healthier lives.

Though Takeda has a large global footprint, Kannan was drawn to the small company feeling he experienced during his initial interviews. After a decade, Kannan stays motivated and engaged by Takeda’s commitment to people -- patients, employees, and the community. He feels grounded in the company’s long history of patient-centricity, and appreciates the personal development and career growth opportunities available to him and other employees..


Inspired to find new ways to put patients first, Kannan, along with others, saw an opportunity within Takeda. Having many years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, they knew few organizations offer R&D teams the opportunity to connect with real patients. What if they could bring together employees and the patients who benefit from the treatments they develop?

In collaboration with colleagues from discovery, development and patient advocacy groups within the organization, Kannan created opportunities to bring patients into Takeda’s laboratories. This allows scientists, technicians, and R&D teams working on various treatments to have the chance to meet with and hear directly from patients. The program helps R&D employees better understand the physical and emotional challenges patients face while overcoming their diseases. These vital interactions lead to greater empathy and understanding, inspire them to do even more to meet the needs of patients, and bring further meaning to their work.

When asked what keeps him motivated, he shares that it’s Takeda’s commitment to improving the health and well-being of all people. He says, “When we hear patients are benefitting from the treatment we’re developing, it excites us and also reminds us that we’re not done yet.”

“When I hear patients are benefitting from the treatment we’re developing, it excites us and reminds us that we’re not done yet.”


As he reflects on his career path at Takeda, Kannan appreciates the managers who have mentored him along the way. “Leadership’s willingness to help employees find their passion is really important here, and something that sets Takeda apart from other companies.” The company’s size and environment empowers employees to learn about other parts of the business and helps them continue to grow.

Working at Takeda in the dynamic, biotech hub of Boston is exhilarating. “Takeda is not afraid of trying and exploring new things,” he shares. “We’re not afraid to make tough decisions and difficult choices. We haven’t shied away. We’ve been bold.” He believes the recent Shire acquisition is an example of being bold in becoming a global leader in the biopharmaceutical industry. It demonstrates how the company wants to continue to be innovative and to forge a new path on its already historic journey.

Kannan loves living and working in Boston. He believes it’s a one-of-a-kind place, where you can find smart, data-driven, opinionated people from all types of fields and backgrounds. Kannan says, “Boston is the one place where you can stop a random person on the street, and the chance of having a highly intellectual conversation is 95%.” He says being surrounded by so much brain power is energizing.

Kannan’s passion for helping others extends beyond Takeda. He has co-founded multiple non-profits in the Boston area to support education and careers in science and pharmaceutics.

When asked what the future holds for Takeda, Kannan says he is most excited about the acquisition of Shire; the largest-ever for Takeda and a truly transformational move for the company. He is eager for Takeda to bring Shire’s expertise in rare diseases into its portfolio. For Kannan, this holds the potential to impact millions of more people all around the world. He looks forward to seeing Takeda build upon its team, its expertise, and its R&D-driven approach to innovative medicines.