Gilead Sciences Operations Team Turns to NC State for Fresh Perspectives and Research Applications

Jenkins MBA candidate Monica Smith presents her student team’s work for Gilead Sciences at the fall 2019 SCRC Gallery Walk

A new partnership between the Corporate Operations team at Gilead Sciences and the Supply Chain Resource Cooperative (SCRC) is bringing together the academic insights and research applications of NC State students and thought leaders with a leading biopharmaceutical company.

The new relationship is thanks much in part to the Corporate Operations leadership team at Gilead, which is embarking on a new strategy to address challenges and opportunities within the Engineering, Operations, Sustainability and Procurement spaces. Joydeep Ganguly, Gilead’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Operations, has a storied history of working with the SCRC: both as a student and as a professional, and is the executive sponsor from the Gilead side, with members of his leadership team sponsoring key efforts. Most notably, the 2006 Jenkins MBA graduate worked with SCRC Executive Director Rob Handfield to optimize supply chain and manufacturing areas while in a senior role at Biogen, where he worked for ten years.

Now at Gilead, Ganguly and his leadership team are hoping to leverage the SCRC to bolster his team’s efforts in preparing their operations workforce for the future.

Gaining diverse perspectives

When it comes to what the team found most attractive about the prospective partnership between Gilead and the SCRC — be it working with students, having access to thought leadership, innovative research or emerging talent — Jason Bruce, who leads strategy and business operations within Corp Ops, said it was, “more than a combination of all those things.”

First and foremost, the team is excited about the potential impact SCRC will have on the evolution of the Operations forward-looking strategy. “What we are about to embark on is a view on how we can take some of the macro-level changes going on in the industry — specifically when it comes to digital, industrial learning, and the role of technology in our way of working — and develop our strategy to programmatically address these changes from an Operations perspective,” he said.

Their approach to this new strategy is unique, according to Bruce, in that they’re using a combination of industry thought leaders and internal subject matter experts to augment an internal analysis of where they believe they need to be in 2025 to continue to add value to Gilead and its ambitions.

That’s where the SCRC comes in.

“We were looking for institutions that could provide both the academic perspective and fresh, diverse and interdisciplinary viewpoints,” Ganguly said, pointing out that NC State’s MBA program had a naturally multifaceted way of thinking, as a function of their curricula and practicum projects.

Colleen Wilson, who leads Change Management within the Operations leadership team, believes the opportunity to leverage a diverse set of inputs (including that from the SCRC) will help guide this leadership team towards articulating a new level of ambition, and “finding a way to make people feel that level of ambition deeply within the organization.”

What’s particularly interesting is that the “Supply Chain” piece of the SCRC’s name isn’t even what most appealed to Ganguly with the prospective partnership — it was the value proposition the SCRC offers as a “Resource Cooperative”.

“A lot of our new imperatives need a cross-functional and cross-disciplinary way of approaching problems. We need teams for a particular project that may require two operations research (OR) people, workspace planning, someone that has a good fundamental finance understanding, and someone that knows digital,” Ganguly proposed. “Having access to NC State allows us to call Rob [Handfield] up, structure a student team with an IT MBA student, a finance MBA student and two OR folks and say, ‘here’s our project team.’ So, I think having that consortium approach — along with the research aspects — is what really interested us.”

Leveraging the student experience

In addition to the perspectives and research applications the SCRC is poised to provide the Corporate Operations team in the long-term, the group worked with three MBA student teams for the fall 2019 semester on practicum projects to address other, more immediate areas of need.

Two of the project teams focused on sustainability efforts, with one looking at how Gilead quantifies emissions mapping, and the other at helping the company develop a strategic multi-year view for evolving their sustainability program. For the third project, students helped develop the company’s new supplier segmentation model, which they hope to refine and validate with a group of key suppliers.

“Our experience with the student teams is off to a great start,” said Ken Wu, Gilead’s executive director of Sustainability. “The student teams and the advisors have been helpful and really receptive as we’re trying to make sure these things are practically useful. It all sounds really positive so far. […] I’m looking forward to seeing what the teams have put together.”

With the fall 2019 semester coming to a close, Handfield, Ganguly and Bruce are mapping out more student projects for upcoming semesters that will fit into the company’s longer-term Operations objectives.

The fall 2019 student teams presented their solutions and recommendations for Gilead at the SCRC Gallery Walk on December 5th. The ‘Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) for Eco-behavior Initiatives’ MBA project team tied for first place in the competition.

The ‘Life Cycle Analysis for Eco-behavior Initiatives’ project team: John Zapko (Executive Advisor), Brian Keefer, Monica Smith, and John Kennedy (Gilead Project Manager). Not pictured: Vani Peri, Todd White

For information on how to become an SCRC partner, click here.

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