Student Profile: Strategic Insight
Courtney Williams í10
General Representative, Student Government
Summer Internship: Pfizer
As an undergraduate, I studied chemistry, with the intent of helping people lead healthier lives. After graduation I started a career at Pfizer pharmaceuticals, where I did drug discovery in antibacterials and oncology.
New drugs got their start with individuals like me. I took a project concept and made small molecules that target particular pathways. It takes thousands of small iterations to ensure that the drugs we made not only treated the disease but also were not dangerous for the body.
Doing research for six years, I got to see a lot about the business of pharmaceutical research, and I started thinking about ways to increase my impact in the pharmaceutical industry. I wanted to make the transition from the drug discovery side to the strategic management side. And an MBA was the best way to equip myself with the skills needed to achieve my goals.
My first year has been amazing. The curriculum has really disciplined my approach to solving problems. Thatís whatís so powerful about it. It teaches you not what to think, but how to think. Thatís critical when trying to lead the strategic direction of a company: thinking about how each business unit or each customer can be impacted by a decision that you make.
There are a number of critical issues that managers in the pharmaceutical industry are going to have to wrestle with, from healthcare reform to competition from generics and expiring patents. I see myself as providing strategic insight for dealing with those problems so individuals have access to the drugs that can treat complex diseases.
Interviewed on May 6, 2009.