As the newly minted Director of Communications, Jordyn Lee owns the voice of Antheia and all of the ways the brand shows up, from industry conferences to digital content. With a deep background in technical communications and public relations, she brings a passion for scientific storytelling to the forefront during a landmark year, as Antheia moves into commercial operations and unleashes its innovations and voice in new, emboldened ways.
Jordyn recently sat down to share her thoughts on communications, creativity, and Antheia’s legacy.
How would you describe your career narrative and background?
I started my career in public relations on the agency side, which ended up being a great opportunity for exploration and on-the-job education, as I was exposed to a range of different companies and industries. My very first clients were consumer-facing companies in the food and beverage industry and I eventually ended up transitioning to B2B technology, focusing on clients in the big data and security spaces, which was where I really found my stride. I liked the challenge of telling an exciting story about something that was hard to understand and frankly, not all that interesting to 99% of the general public. My interest in these fascinating companies’ corporate stories brought me to New York where I landed at Mission North, my last PR and communications agency where I was introduced to my very first synthetic biology client. It blew my mind, and over time, it became a specialty for me at the agency.
I eventually decided to pursue an in-house communications role to get closer to the science and deepen my understanding – first at Amyris and now, at Antheia – a former client whose mission, technology, and team I’ve long believed in. Every day, at Antheia, I have the opportunity to unpack the various aspects of our corporate narrative and develop a strategy to brings that story to the world. I’m constantly learning at Antheia and that’s one of the best things you could ask for from a job.
How does creativity play a role in science communications?
Creativity is important in communications for every industry but it becomes even more critical in a field like synthetic biology where you’re dealing with concepts and even words that people have never heard of before. You have to look at things from different angles and be extremely intentional about what information is necessary, what can be misconstrued, and what can be stripped away without losing the scientific integrity or accuracy of your story. We recently launched our redesigned website, which allowed us to re-examine our story more closely and bring a sharper focus to areas like our platform and pipeline. It was an exercise in communication but certainly also creativity.
What inspired you to say yes to Antheia, and join the team?
I was already compelled by the company’s mission and technology from my days of working with Antheia as a client, but I also have immense trust and confidence in the company’s leadership team. Our Head of Strategy and Partnerships, Yen-Hsiang Wang in particular, has been an amazing mentor, friend, and trusted expert on both the science and business sides of synthetic biology.
My decision to go in-house was driven by a desire to get closer to the science and Antheia is a place where I’ve been able to do just that. Everyone here is extremely willing to share their time and expertise and there’s a deep sense of collaboration, transparency, and learning woven into the culture. While it feels like a natural part of our ethos, these types of corporate culture attributes have to be built intentionally in order to be successful – that in itself speaks volumes to Antheia’s leadership.
Joining the Antheia team was an easy decision – the team is brilliant, the corporate values are aligned with my own, and my role is expansive. It’s been very fulfilling.
What would you say makes Antheia a great company?
Where to start! I think we’ve all seen the dangers of companies that are bold to a fault and unafraid to put things out into the world, sometimes even before they’re proven. From our R&D team to the business side, the company is extremely humble and simply doesn’t do this. That’s not to understate the brilliance of the work that’s happening here, but we’ve done a great job of letting our science and our impact speak for itself. As a communications professional, it’s a dream to be able to amplify the work coming from this type of a company. Our mission is no small feat but our team is driven and focused in a world where many are vying to claim the spotlight.
Antheia’s culture is also really special. Everyone here is truly dedicated to the work and are motivated by the potential that it has for the future. That equates to a deep camaraderie and shared understanding of working hard for the right reasons. Where the tech industry has an antiquated mantra of “move fast and break things,” Antheia is more thoughtful and intentional because the pharma industry – and the patients and healthcare providers that rely on it – is urgently in need of new solutions where failure isn’t an option.
How would you describe your role supporting and bolstering Antheia’s mission, especially in such a critical milestone year?
I’ve found that science communications too often skews one of two ways: too far in the weeds for many people to understand or so high-level that it loses any meaning at all. This year I’m focused on bringing Antheia’s technology, mission, and vision to life by finding the balance between those two ends of the spectrum, working to be technical, credible, and accurate, in a way that is interesting, visionary, and exciting. My work includes bringing our story to life through our brand, website, content, events, and internal and partner communication to continue evolving our narrative as the company grows.
Where do you see Antheia’s greatest communications opportunities and challenges, moving forward?
We’re working to build our presence and influence in the pharma space, just as we’ve done successfully in the synbio space. As we continue to grow and move into these next stages of commercialization, it will become increasingly important to demonstrate our credibility and relevance in pharma. Recently, we’ve been looking back at history and identifying trends in how companies have leveraged new sciences to transform pharma over the past two centuries; it’s inspiring to envision Antheia as leading the next technical revolution for the pharma space.
But from a communications perspective, building eminence for a company that is in the midst of rapid evolution and growth is always challenging. It means you have to be ready to adapt quickly from one day to the next so that messaging stays consistent with the real-time happenings of the business. Teams have to be in lockstep and that requires consistent self-assessment to ensure that communication continues to support and advance the business. It’s a challenge, but certainly not impossible.
What do you hope to achieve in the next year, and the next five years with Antheia?
In the next five years, I hope that Antheia – and our brilliant leaders – will be known as trailblazers in both the synbio and pharma spaces. We have the technology, the team, and the proof points to make this a reality and our communications strategy will play an important role in bringing all of this to light on a national and eventually, global scale. In my role, my goal is for Antheia to be known for not just its industry-changing technology, but also its audacious vision and courageous leadership.