The 100 Diverse Corporate Leaders in STEM blog series features a new business executive Monday-Friday and the exemplary work his or her company is doing to support 21st century STEM learning and workforce development- particularly for women, minorities and under-represented groups. Learn more and download the whole copy at STEMConnector.org/100Diverse. Follow the conversation on social media using #100STEMLeaders. Today's Diverse Corporate Leader is Adele Gulfo, chief strategy officer at Mylan.
Chief Strategy Officer
Adele Gulfo serves as Mylan’s Chief Strategy Officer. Reporting directly to the CEO, she focuses on Mylan’s key growth drivers, including the company’s expansion in Latin America, the development and expansion of its global Specialty franchise and the development of global commercial strategies to maximize its upcoming launches of increasingly complex generic products, such as biologics, injectable and respiratory therapies. Previously, Gulfo served as President & GM of Pfizer’s U.S. Primary Care business unit, which included Commercial Operations and the Managed Markets organization for all of Pfizer’s Biopharmaceutical business units. Trained as a scientist, with experience in both operational and strategic roles, Gulfo serves as an advisor for Cleveland Clinic’s Innovation Center, Partners Healthcare and Springboard Life Sciences. She was recognized for work in developing medical and public-education campaigns that helped to establish the significance of lowering LDL cholesterol in preventing and managing heart disease, and has five patents. She serves on the Board of Directors for Volunteers of America and the Committee of 200 (C200), an invitation-only membership organization of the world’s most successful women business leaders.
Mylan is one of the world’s leading global pharmaceutical companies. Our medicines range from difficult-to-manufacture dosage forms, such as injectables and transdermal patches, to HIV/AIDS antiretroviral (ARV) therapies, and include generic, brand and specialty products. The company has exceptional research and development capabilities and is one of the world’s largest active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturers. Every one of Mylan’s 1,300-plus medications meets one global quality standard regardless of where it is produced.
Adele on Diversity and STEM
Why is STEM Education and Workforce Development Critical to the Future of Our Nation?
Ours is a knowledge-based innovation economy fueled by technology and technological advances. STEM education creates critical thinkers and provides the foundational skills for the next generation of innovators. Barack Obama said it best when he declared the need to increase STEM education, especially for underrepresented groups, including women. As President Obama stated, “Reaffirming and strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation is essential to meeting the challenges of this century.”
Medical, biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device industries are all predicated on STEM education and training. We are in the midst of a scientific discovery explosion. The opportunities and challenges of the next generation of STEM graduates are to apply these amazing discoveries to develop practical innovations that will advance health and society. We also have an unprecedented opportunity for cross-STEM disciple collaboration—information technology and biology, physical chemistry and engineering, math (big data), and neuroscience—to come up with cures for Alzheimer’s disease, all forms of cancer, congenital diseases and more. Our ability to interrogate huge masses (big data) of population data to find the genetic basis of disease is especially exciting.
How do we encourage students to continue their study of STEM fields, particularly women?
First and foremost, we need to explain the connection between STEM education and a fulfilling and exciting career. For students (I was one of them), it is very hard to connect the dots from a biology lecture or organic chemistry lab to running a multi-billion business in a Fortune 50 science-based company. Now, I make it my goal to share this insight anytime I can, especially with students who are taking sciences courses and are not sure why. It’s critical that we help students see what’s possible with the foundational skills of a STEM education. Who wouldn’t want to play a role in making the world a better, healthier place to live? Or be a part of the team that produces the next generation of Google Glass, as a practical and fashionable product. Or invent the first commercially available hover board or jet pack to speed through traffic jams. (With the help of my niece and nephew, I could go on listing more exciting advances.) America’s STEM industry leaders need to communicate more effectively with today’s students about the many exciting job opportunities available in STEM. And we must tap into the curiosity and creativity of our high school graduates and show them the fascinating parts of science and technology.
One of the biggest challenges we face in attracting women to STEM is a lack of role-models. Scientists today aren’t perceived as “cool” or “edgy” but as quite the contrary. We have Hollywood to thank for solidifying this image. Fortunately, TV shows are making progress in this area by casting women in leading roles as doctors, scientists and smart STEM-based professionals (more, please!). However, as important as role models are, we also need mentors. Studies show that sustained mentorship efforts help to achieve the goal of getting women to pursue careers in STEM. Beyond that, we can use the help of more enlightened men who are already playing a huge role in helping to create a culture of inclusion for women.
To end on an optimistic note, women are making significant inroads in biotech. In 2010, they occupied almost half (46%) of all positions in the biologic and life sciences fields. What’s more, those women are reaching out to our future scientists. Case in point: NexGene Girls is an organization that pairs young girls with women in biotech to expose the girls to the field early on, excite them and bring them into the field. Women in Bio (of which I am a member) takes on the challenge of helping women in biotech network and connect with each other, with a goal of assisting them to attain leadership positions.
Top business groups are also taking action. The Committee of 200 (C200), of which I am a board member, has turned its focus on highlighting the issue of women in STEM. In fact, C200 thanked Renee James, President of Intel Corporation, for her contribution to the field with the organization’s first-ever STEM Innovator Luminary Award during the 2013 C200 Annual Conference. The organization also hosted a first-ever STEM-focused Reachout event at UCLA, a daylong event discussion with C200 members on topics related to careers in Entrepreneurship and STEM. In conjunction with this event, C200 provided $10,000 Scholar Awards to female student leaders within STEM related careers, and welcomed six new Scholars into its Scholar Network, where they’ll receive valuable guidance and support in their careers.