FOLLOW THE LEADER Presented By Masum Chowdhury Manager, SBMD Asiatic Laboratories Ltd.
Leaders never follow, goes the old adage. But on your way to thetop, it couldn’t hurt to emulate these senior biopharmaceuticalexecutives, whose career steps carried them to the top of theindustry. Marc Iskowitz reports
DIERDRE CONNELLY PresidentNorth America Pharmaceuticals GlaxoSmithKline
Career path: Deirdre began her career in the pharmaceuticalindustry in 1984 as a sales representative for Lilly in San Juan, PuertoRico. She rose within the marketing and human resources organizationsto become president of Lilly USA in June 2005. She was named presidentNorth America Pharmaceuticals for GlaxoSmithKline in February 2009.
Prior Management Roles:Prior to joining GSK as president North America Pharmaceuticalsin February 2009, Deirdre spent 26 years with Eli Lilly. She wasnamed president of Lilly USA in June 2005. She held a variety ofexecutive positions, including SVP of human resources for Eli Lilly,as well as VP of human resources for pharmaceutical operations,executive director of global marketing for Evista, and leader of thewomans health business unit in the US. Before that, she wasnational sales manager for the Puerto Rico affiliate of Lilly andlater became director of sales and marketing for the CaribbeanBasin Region. She was also general manager for Eli Lilly PuertoRico.
How did you get into healthcare/Pharma? What did you do before?After I earned a bachelors degree in economics andmarketing from Lycoming College in Pennsylvania in1983, I spent a year helping my father run his insurancecompany. Then I joined Lilly as a sales representative inSan Juan, Puerto Rico, where I was born.
What was your path to the top? What were thekey moments and turning points?The path to my current role began as a sales representative and progressed toa variety of marketing and human resources jobs at Lilly and now GSK.Some of the key moments in my career were entering the pharmaceuticalindustry, which set my career path; leading Lillys business in Puerto Rico andCentral America, which gave me my first general management experience; andtaking positions as head of Lilly USA and now GSK North AmericaPharmaceuticals.
How did you develop your leadershipskills?I embraced learning. Ive always focused on how I canlearn more so that I can be more effective as a managerand leader. I find that everyone I work with and am incontact with is someone I can learn from.
Did you have a mentor along the way?I would not say that I have had any specific mentors, nor did Iseek them out. My attitude is that anyone who has had moreexperience than me can teach me things. I did learn a tremendousamount from my sales supervisor, Bob Altman, when I was a salesrepresentative in Philadelphia. He helped me learn aboutmanagement, leadership, and myself. Fifty percent of what Ilearned about management and leadership came from him.
What is your No. 1 managerial strategy?Learn, listen and lead. The primary goal of my team is deliverthe results, develop the leaders of the future, and servepatients. To do that, I empower my team to make decisionsand challenge my decisions. I focus on simplifying ouroperations by asking; “why do we do what we do, why do wedo it this way, and can we do it differently?” I also emphasizea sense of urgency, discipline and accountability for results.
Any tips for others looking to move upthe org chart?Never miss an opportunity to learn and to contribute.Have the humility to know that youre not the only personwho can do a job well.
Is this industry still “all about the people?” Absolutely. This industry has to ensure that its medicines are delivering real value to patients, physicians and payers. We must demonstrate that our new medicines produce better outcomes than are possible through existing therapies and medical interventions. To do all of this, we have to earn and keep the public trust. People who take our medicine need to trust that their medicine is of the highest quality, that it is packaged with information of the highest integrity, and trust that they will feel better. Everything we do internally has to reflect that desire to earn the trust of customers and patients
How do you see the industry 10 yearsfrom now?Our industry today is facing many challenges and opportunities.How we respond to those will shape our role in the future, but Imconfident we will continue to make a significant contribution to thehealth and wellbeing of people around the world. That confidenceis based on my experiences with the highly talented anddedicated people we have in our industry who are working everyday to bring important new medicines to people who need them.
Reference: Marc Iskowitz Reportsmmm-online.com ❘ SEPTEMBER 2011 ❘ MM&M 61