ISPE presented the first in a series of planned annual events entitled, “The Women in Pharma” on Monday 19 September at its 2016 Annual Meeting. Key female pharmaceutical industry executives shared their stories at the morning session, focusing on the challenges and opportunities each embraced as they progressed though their careers.

The session was led by Charlotte Enghave Fruergaard, PhD, Partner, Process Technology Consulting, NNE Pharmaplan, Denmark, and a Past Chair of ISPE; and Frances Zipp, President & CEO, Lachman Consultant Services, USA, and a current ISPE Executive Board Member.

Panelists were:

  • Lou Kennedy, CEO and Owner, Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation, USA
  • Georgia Keresty, PhD, Global Head, Pharmaceutical Development & Manufacturing Sciences, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, USA
  • Lori Kim, Director, Global Engineering Assurance, AbbVie Engineering, USA
  • Robin Kumoluyi, Vice President & Global Head, Quality, Third Party Operations, Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp., USA
  • Mary Oates, PhD, Vice President, EHS and Global Quality Operations, Pfizer, Inc., USA
  • Alice Redmond, PhD, Vice President, European Operations, Commissioning Agents Inc., Ireland
  • Carmen Shepard, JD, Global Head of Policy, Regulatory Counsel, and Operations Auditing, Mylan, USA
  • Jana Spes, Vice President, Technical Operations GSO, Apotex Inc, Canada
  • Ingrid Zambrana, Director, Atlanta FDA District Office, Southeast Region, FDA Office of Regulatory Affairs, USA

Dr. Fruergaard’s opening remarks referred to the emotional keynote presentation made earlier that morning by Nicole Pierson, whose fierce and tireless determination, coupled with Pfizer’s compassionate use program, brought lifesaving therapy to her son, who was dying from an inoperable and incurable brain tumor. “I’m in ISPE because of stories like that,” she told the audience.

She turned the podium over to Fran Zipp, who opened with a quotation from Florence nightingale: “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.” In building a career, Zipp said, “there are sacrifices. We’ve all made them. But opportunities don’t happen, you create them.”

Zipp introduced the panelists, all highly successful women with different experiences, from different companies.

Lou Kennedy began in sales and now owns a pharmaceutical company. Seventy-five percent of her department heads are female. “We probably only have three men on our sales force. Although men might be faster closers, women get the job done and handle all the details,” she said.

Georgia Keresty encouraged her listeners take control of their careers: “You must make some decisions and there are difficult tradeoffs you have to consider. Do you want to be a professional of breadth, or a professional of depth? You have to make those choices.”

Lori Kim said that a well-rounded background and the willingness to “go for the next new thing” helped her get where she is now. A mentor was also a big help in balancing what’s critical to career and family. “Don’t be afraid to take new challenges,” she told the audience.

Robin Kumoluyi’s keys to success, she said, were “hard work, taking chances, and using your network.” After a move to Puerto Rico, she told attendees, “I was scared to death. I was in Puerto Rico alone, on my own. But I was in my element, managing QA processes.” You do have to make choices, she said, and you have to ask for what you want.

Mary Oates said that a series of what she initially deemed setbacks turned into incredible opportunities for growth, learning, and success. “My career has been purpose-driven,” she said, “and my purpose is to learn. I took some risks, and I thought at the time, ‘If I succeed this will be great. If I fail I’m doomed.’ But I had a great team and turned them around.”

Growing up in Ireland, Alice Redmond said her “stubborn streak” spurred her to insist that girls needed to learn higher-level maths and physics. “I knew what I wanted,” she recalled. With an engineering degree in biotech, her career has taken her all over the world. “Look for where you can make a difference,” she told he audience. “And don’t be afraid to change.”

Carmen Shepherd said her career was “about adding value, and about learning, but mostly figuring out what I like to do best, and how I can bring my energy to something.” She told attendees to “Make sure you have an environment that allows you to find your potential.”

Jana Spes said that “Every journey is personal; you’ll succeed in your own way. Find your leadership strength and philosophy, and be resilient.” She attributes her success to “Closing the experience gap, learning new skills all the time, and taking radical steps when needed.”

Ingrid Zambrana said she “found a passion to improve the quality of life” in the US Army. She sums up her approach to work in three key words: “Focus, faithful, and fearless. I navigated through a lot of unknowns. I asked questions and sought assistance. At the end of the day, you choose your opportunity.”

For more details on the Women in Pharma, check out the blog post Women in Pharma – Challenges and Opportunities. Stay tuned for additional Women in Pharma events.

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