Welcome to our new series examining what makes successful leaders in the life sciences industry tick — from their personal and professional habits to their hobbies, the books they read and even their guilty pleasures. Today, we’re in conversation with Parexel’s Peyton Howell.
As one of the world’s biggest CROs, Parexel recently notched some notable wins around the globe. Last year, it was recognized with the “2022 India Workplace Equality Index’s Top Employers Award” for the third consecutive year and received the 2022-2023 Mercer China “Healthiest Workplace Awards for Outstanding Health Practice Award.” The company also marked a significant milestone with its 25th anniversary of operating in Japan, making it the longest-standing CRO in the country.
With the goal of maintaining this kind of track record, Parexel is also transforming through continued growth in the region. And at the center of that effort is Peyton Howell, the company’s chief operating and growth officer. Since joining the company about five years ago, the 2022 Red Jacket honoree has had her eye on ways to expand the organization organically and externally by meeting both employee and customer needs.
“Asia/Pacific is a strategically important region of growth and investment for our local and global biotech and pharma customers and for Parexel,” Howell said in a statement last October.
How does Howell manage this massive mandate? To kick off this new PharmaVoice series, we caught up with Howell to learn what makes her tick when she’s in the office and away.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
An episode of ‘House Hunters International’ before bed. They are only 20 minutes long and such fun.
What’s your favorite travel destination and why?
Bern, Switzerland. We lived there for two years as a family before the nest was empty. Beautiful city for walking and exploring.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
When my children were younger, I was the crazy Halloween party person in the neighborhood. I took vacation time to prep ‘mummy hot dogs’ and other ghoulish treats.
Do you collect anything?
Shoes! I really struggle to give them up even if they are too uncomfortable to wear.
What motivated you to get into the life sciences industry?
During grad school I worked for The Ohio State University Medical Center on some special projects to figure out how to address reimbursement gaps in new emerging technologies and treatments so patients could get better access to care.
What’s the most difficult part of being a leader?
What’s the biggest leadership mistake you’ve ever made?
Not being vulnerable early in my career and trying to do it all myself rather than asking for help.
What’s your biggest goal for this year?
What book should every leader in pharma read?
It’s not a new book and it’s a light read, but ‘Getting Naked’ by Patrick Lencioni is an inspiring business fable on authentic leadership that I think of every day.
What’s your go-to productivity trick?
I have a new one. As I age I find my memory is not what it used to be, and a few months ago I transitioned to digital notebooks on my iPad. It’s been transformational!
What’s your favorite rule to break?
All of them. I love being informal, accessible and authentic.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?
Barriers to access to care, like out-of-pocket burdens for medically necessary care.
How do you take your mind off work?
A game of Scrabble with my husband, Paul.
How do you get your team to think creatively?
I’m always working to create a safe and supportive environment to foster creativity and innovation.
Who do you turn to for advice?
I’m always willing to seek input from colleagues and friends — ‘ask an expert’ and ‘phone a friend.’