Technologists

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PharmaVOICE Staff

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Sabina Ewing

For Creating a Global Impact by Leveraging Technology

Title: VP
Company: Pfizer
Family: Parents, John and Martina; grandfathers were Paul (Mary) and Randolph (Lucita); husband, Derby; daughters, Kerrine and Malia
Hobbies: Traveling, reading, spending time with family and friends, and being a chauffeur to her young daughters
Awards/Honors: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Luminary Award (2016); Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine Emerging Pharma Leader, 2016; Pfizer’s Global Blacks Council Award of Excellence, 2014; Inroads Business Advisor of the Year Award, 2008; Year Up Corporate Champion Award, 2015
Associations: Calibr Global Leadership Network, Information Technology Senior Management Forum, Jack and Jill of America
Social Media:
Tweet: @SabinaTech
Personal Brand: In constant pursuit of excellence

Sabina Ewing’s impact on Pfizer is evident in the numbers. As a leader in business technology and company VP, Sabina has successfully delivered enterprise solutions and capabilities impacting 90,000 employees, across 95-plus countries. She’s led multi-million dollar initiatives, including a big bang, 20-month, $40 million HR transformation program that enabled radical business process simplification.

She’s delivered digital and mobile solutions for some of Pfizer’s top brands, including Ibrance, Xeljanz, and Prevenar. She’s led the strategy and platform evolution for external corporate social and digital media: Pfizer.com; Get Old Campaign, Driven to Discover Campaign; internal social media platforms, such as PfizerWorld, Yammer, MyChannel (internal YouTube-like capabilities), and the corporate responsibility employee giving solution. Her team of employees and contractors provide 24 hour, seven days a week, 365 days a year support for more than 100,000 users around the world. And she does all of this expertly, receiving a 95% customer satisfaction rating for the global support function.

Colleagues note that Sabina inspires them by reminding them to know and understand their own worth.

“I set lofty goals, provide psychological safety to experiment, and always provide the feeling that I have their back,” Sabina says.

Beyond her success as a technology leader, she is a mentor who invests a lot of herself into bringing others up from all levels, ages, and backgrounds within Pfizer and outside of the pharmaceutical giant’s walls.

Despite how demanding her day job is, she also serves as the chair of Pfizer’s Global Women’s Council, which oversees all of the women’s leadership activities at the company. In this role, she provides incredible insight, passion, and leadership in helping drive change and inspire others around the world to continue to advance gender parity. She also serves as the Pfizer sponsor for the Girls Who Code summer immersion program, which hosts 40 high school girls who are interested in learning the fundamentals of computer science and inspires the next generation of female talent to consider careers in STEM.

She also was the former executive sponsor and founding member for Pfizer’s Business Technology Women’s Leadership Network, former co-chair of Pfizer’s African American Leadership Network, and a member of Pfizer’s Global Blacks Colleague Council, which provides oversight to colleague resource groups around the world. She is also the Pfizer sponsor for Tech Up for Women, supporting women’s advancement in technology and serves as the sponsor of Howard University’s School of Business Honors program supporting access to diverse talent for the BT Rotational and Summer Worker programs.

Being able to leverage her leadership role and equity within Pfizer to advance the progress of others is one of her career highlights. She feels it is imperative to share what you’ve learned and help others along the way. As Oprah says, “to move forward, you have to give back.”

Her most challenging assignment to date was on her first job as a technology consultant at Arthur Andersen. With no training, preparation, or supervision from her superiors, she was sent out to a client with no guidance and had to figure out how to successfully deliver a solution for the client all on her own. As the third African American ever hired into the practice, she did not want to fail and perhaps negatively impact the future of other candidates like her.

“It felt like I was sent into the deep end of the pool and I simply had to just figure it out,” Sabina says. “All of the learnings from that experience formed the bedrock of my success and believing in myself, leveraging all of my available resources, and finding creative ways to solve problems.”

Understandably, Sabina would like to see the industry’s reputation improve.

“The industry does so much to make a difference in the world with novel medicines and therapies that allow people to live longer, healthier lives, but that aspect of the work is often overshadowed,” she says.

To help solve the problem, she would focus on sharing more patient stories to bring more of a personal face to what the industry does and how it positively impacts lives.

Colleagues, peers, mentees, and management say Sabina is truly a leader who walks the talk. (PV)


Brett Kleger

For Tackling the Impediments to Clinical Trials

Title: Chief Commercial Officer
Company: DrugDev, an IQVIA company
Education: BS, University of Maryland; JD, Villanova School of Law
Family: His wife Karen, sons Troy and Cole, and their dog Axl
Hobbies: Playing basketball, coaching many youth sports, and doing anything with his kids
Awards/Honors: PharmaVOICE 100; IMS Excellence Award; Service Award for ARA Youth Sports Association
Associations: DIA
Social Media:
Tweet: @BrettKleger
Personal Brand: If you’re not having fun, do something else

As chief commercial officer at DrugDev, an IQVIA company, Brett Kleger is committed to building out a clinical operations technology to simplify the lives of sites and study teams. His vision is to change the status quo to find solutions and help bring new therapies to patients by making it more efficient and cost-effective for sponsors to conduct more clinical trials.

This goal was instrumental in what led to several acquisitions by DrugDev and then to the eventual acquisition of DrugDev by IQVIA. With IQVIA’s backing, DrugDev can continue to invest in new technologies to make it easier for doctors and patients to take part in trials with the ultimate goal of greater standardization across the industry, so doctors and study teams can use technology regardless of the sponsor or vendor.

With DrugDev now part of IQVIA, Brett has all the pieces in place to complete his vision to bring innovative ideas to market that can lead to new treatments for patients.

Colleagues say Brett is one of the industry’s unsung heroes, as it was Brett who had the idea to create a clinical operations platform where all technologies necessary to run clinical trials would sit in one place, vastly improving the cost and efficiency of clinical trials.

Brett has a deep personal understanding of the importance of clinical trials to advance vital treatments. When his wife was diagnosed with cancer, there was a drug approved only a few years prior and provided to her that increased the survival rate for patients by more than 50%.
This experience was profoundly impactful to Brett, and he has since strived to make changes that would simplify clinical trial administration to make it easier for HCPs to play a part. “The reality is that 90% of patients may not have access to new treatment options simply because the industry has made it difficult,” he says.

Brett didn’t set out to be an industry crusader. He began his career as a lawyer focused on defending medical practices from litigation by implementing data and technology to help manage their risks. But the more he learned about healthcare issues, the more frustrated he became and he thought he might be able to drive improvements from inside the industry. So, Brett left law and joined the patient recruitment start-up Acurian during its early days. He immediately began to make an impact by employing data and technology to counter manual and archaic industry methods to recruit patients.

As he oversaw Acurian’s creation and introduction of technology for physician researchers and study teams looking for patients and helped grow the company into a market leader, Brett’s idea of creating a clinical trial ecosystem was born. From Acurian he joined IMS Health, now part of IQVIA, and became obsessed with how data could be used in clinical trials for feasibility — another piece of the clinical trial ecosystem. He realized IMS Health could solve a huge problem by leveraging its massive data and technology assets to transform clinical trials.
Ultimately, his ideas led to him being invited by the CEO to start a new clinical technology division for IMS, which became Clinical Technology Optimization Solutions. This led to IMS becoming a leader in the planning of clinical trials.

After meeting with DrugDev Founder Melissa Easy, CEO Ibraheem Mahmood, and Executive Chairman Hugo Stephenson, M.D., he became excited about the idea of using the company’s technology as a basis for standardization and collaboration to transform clinical trials. He joined the company as VP of corporate development and began the next phase of creating the industry’s first clinical trial technology platform.

With financial backing, smart leadership, and industry input, the company was able to push through Brett’s vision. Under Brett’s commercial leadership, DrugDev grew revenue more than 50 times in just three years.

Colleagues say Brett has had a positive impact on so many of their careers. He encourages them to think outside the box and to challenge the status quo. When challenges arise, he helps colleagues put them into perspective. “Challenges that we have pale in comparison to the challenges for patients and caregivers that we help every day,” he says. (PV)


Erica Mercado

For Innovating Patient Engagement

Title: Director of Innovation
Company: BBK Worldwide
Education: Bachelor’s, International Business, University of Connecticut
Family: Mom Maria, dad Richard, sister Ali
Hobbies: Horseback riding, discovering new cultures, learning new languages
Social Media:
Tweet: @emercadobbk

In the world of patient-engagement, Erica Mercado is a self-made talent who has galvanized unlikely alliances across the industry to bring technology-driven breakthroughs to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

As director of innovation at BBK Worldwide, Erica has made a great number of notable contributions to enhancing the clinical trial experience for patients the world over. She spearheaded the creation of what has proved to be a game-changing document management module within TrialCentralNet, BBK’s patient recruitment management software. She also championed a customizable app platform for BBK, at a time well before the industry was taking social media seriously. Erica also led the development of My Clinical Study Buddy and Protocol Pal. Both apps have had a groundbreaking effect, establishing both demand and expectation for study-specific apps that are rapidly deployed without insurmountable financial barriers to entry.

“I am always trying to raise the bar for myself and for my team, pushing to bring to pharmaceutical and biotechnology R&D breakthroughs that enhance the clinical trial experience for patients,” she says.

Erica credits BBK Founders Joan F. Bachenheimer and Bonnie A. Brescia, as well as BBK President Matthew Kibby, for teaching her different ways of problem solving so that she could develop and implement a strong solution. “They’ve encouraged me to embrace new challenges head on and they have instilled in me the confidence and drive to succeed,” she says. “This year I will be celebrating my 10-year anniversary with BBK. It’s been an amazing opportunity to be able to contribute to the growth of not only BBK but to the industry at-large.”

Her team members say as a manager and leader, Erica is a great role model, a position she takes very seriously.

“I find that creating the most enjoyable and productive work environment relies on valuing everyone’s opinion and listening to everyone’s voice,” she says. “I was lucky to have mentors to inspire and motivate me — I hope I am able to have the same impact on others.”

One of Erica’s career highlights was the two years she led BBK’s Cultural Adaptation team. She was responsible for developing the process and infrastructure; identifying and training vendors; and managing and consulting with specialists to help achieve timely project completion.

“I really enjoyed the challenge and being able to put my operational expertise to work,” she says. “I was also able to leverage my interest in other cultures and languages — I also speak Spanish and Greek — in the process. My proudest moment was building a solid infrastructure and introducing it to the marketplace. The system and processes I built continue to support the industry today.”

Erica wants be remembered for pushing the industry forward, identifying and developing solutions that not only advance a segment of the industry, but the entire industry at large. “I’d also like to be remembered for my commitment to creating solutions that bring together members of the study community and strengthening those relationships,” she says.

Erica’s hope for the future would be one system that allows for the centralization of multiple points of information to help foster a universal platform and language. “Right now there are so many different systems — and different versions of those systems — that we’re losing the ability to speak the same language and promote knowledge-sharing within the industry,” she says. “This slows the overall process down, impacting clinical R&D timelines, impeding advancements, and slowing progress.”

Her colleagues say Erica fosters a true teamwork environment, which helps individual team members to work through challenges.

“If there’s a challenge, we try to work as a team — in harmony — to brainstorm a solution or strategize a potential approach,” she says. “I find that this collaborative approach is very helpful in keeping all team members motivated and engaged in overcoming the challenge. You also have to know your team well enough to know how to foster productivity and determine the most productive approach by leveraging strengths.”

Colleagues also say Erica gives 100% and she inspires them through her dedication, hard work, and ongoing curiosity.

“I feel that giving any less than 100% is doing a disservice to my team,” she says. (PV)

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