Headliner: Multi-skilled leader's diversity drive

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Headliner: Multi-skilled leader's diversity drive
Kimberly Ray

Kimberly Ray
VP, integrated site services, Quintiles
VP, global sales; VP, integrated patient/site strategies
various sales positions

There are few organizations in the pharma/healthcare world, or any other, that wouldn't like to see more gender diversity in the leadership ranks. It makes sense from a business perspective (according to the latest research, both men and women buy stuff), a morale perspective (nothing numbs an up-and-coming exec's ambition like knowing that certain jobs within a company are essentially unattainable) and  a basic-fairness perspective (the calendar reads 2014, not 1952). Being pro-gender-diversity is like being pro-ice-cream or pro-weekends: You're not going to run up against too many dissenting viewpoints.

But talking about increasing the number of women in leadership positions and taking action toward that goal are two different things. Which is why even competitors cheered when, last November, the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association honored Quintiles' Women Inspired Network (WIN) with its 2013 ACE Award. The award is given to an entity that strives to bolster women's career prospects in the healthcare business.

Formed in 2010, WIN's goal is to establish and foster a culture in which women are exposed to leadership opportunities, whether through formal coaching or informal conversations with higher-ups. It's not a program that exists so that Quintiles can say, “Look, we did something!”; company execs view WIN as an important part of its strategy to lure the industry's most talented people.

“Diverse leadership enhances business success and makes Quintiles an employer of choice,” says Kimberly Ray, the company's VP, integrated site services. “The idea is to make sure women have the skills and access they need to get any job in the company.”

No single Quintiles executive deserves credit for WIN's success—in four years, the program has influenced careers in most regions where Quintiles operates, including outposts in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America—but Ray has played a big role in its swift ascent. She became involved with WIN in 2011 and assumed leadership of the program last year. Now, in addition to her job responsibilities, Ray is shepherding WIN through its corporate adolescence.

Internally, growing WIN was a challenge, Ray recalls. “Getting something like this moving on the grassroots level in a company this large—that was a little tough.” That said, WIN benefited from upper-level support: the Quintiles executive committee is also WIN's advisory board. “We worked bottoms-up—through the media, networking, word of mouth—but we've also had the executive committee to help us top-down,” she adds.

Ray's next task is to create more “mini-WINs” in Quintiles locations around the globe. Given the host of roles she has held within the company, that assignment couldn't be more up her alley. She arrived at Quintiles nearly two decades ago, following stints at Becton Dickinson (as an analytical chemist) and Organon Teknika (as a medical writer). Initially she worked in Quintiles' regulatory group, then shifted to sales for nearly 13 years before heading to the operations side of the company.

Ray's current job—she coordinates Quintiles' myriad site relationships—and her WIN duties leave her with only so much time to pursue her hobby of nature photography, one which has made her popular with budding lenspeople throughout the company. “They show me pictures—they're like, ‘Hey, Kim, do you like this one?,'” she says with a laugh. That said, she has no plans to go anywhere anytime soon.

“Each bit of what you do in your career informs the next thing,” she explains. “I went into sales from a technical background, which helped because I was able to have in-depth conversations with customers. Now that I'm in operations, I know what customers are interested in and what's important to them…The breadth [of responsibilities] has helped.”

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