Few things speak higher of a company than employee loyalty – and with 30 years at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) under her belt, Cristina Fernandez is certainly a witness to the pharmaceutical company’s inclusive culture. Fernandez’s story – from Cuban refugee to law student to GSK’s Vice President of U.S. Legal Operations Payer Markets (and a longtime LCLD Mentor) – was just one highlight in a day filled with candid anecdotes and advice from GSK leaders at the April 18 LCLD Fellows Learning Experience.

Daniel Troy, Senior Vice President and General Counsel at GSK, welcomed 32 LCLD Fellows to GSK’s Philadelphia campus to learn about the company’s commitment to diversity and leadership development. Like Fernandez, he spoke about his journey to GSK, sharing how his career path was guided in many ways by the jobs he didn’t get. Troy worked as an entertainment lawyer and was Chief Counsel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before coming to GSK in 2008. He now leads 350 lawyers in 50 countries.

While he spoke frequently about the role luck played in his career, he added a caveat for Fellows: “No successful person got where they are without luck. But you have to put yourself in the position to be lucky.” 

Daniel Troy, General Counsel and LCLD
Member at GSK.

After his welcome, Troy joined a panel of GSK legal and business leaders, who discussed career highlights and advice, the importance of authenticity, and what they look for in new hires. The panel also talked about work-life integration – starting with the fact that it should be called “integration.” 

“We are people who work, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it,” said P.D. Villareal, Senior Vice President, Global Litigation. “I want my kids to learn that what they contribute to society is important… So I push back on the [balance] notion, that we can divide our lives into two warring paths.”

“You have to recognize that you can’t be a superperson,” added Lisa DeMarco, Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Legal Corporate Functions. “Do your best, but know you can’t always be perfect.”

A second panel of six Fellows Alumni from GSK and one from Reed Smith LLP shared their experiences and impressions from the Fellows Program. 

“As a patent attorney, it’s sometimes difficult to engage in a room full of scientists,” said 2013 Fellow Andrea Lockenour, Assistant General Counsel, Global Patents. “But at the first LCLD meeting, I immediately got into interesting and engaging discussions with other Fellows – I still have relationships with people from that first reception!” 

The Fellows Alumni also spoke about their career paths, diversity in the legal profession, and the importance of mentoring and sponsorship.   

"Dialogue is what really changes the culture."

“A lot of clients demand diversity because it’s in line with business values,” said 2013 Fellow Jerome Maddox, Assistant General Counsel, U.S. Legal Operations. “We have a tremendous opportunity because we’re really talented lawyers who happen to be diverse.” 

The day’s program also included many discussions of diversity, both through questions put to the panels and presentations from diversity leaders at GSK. Ted Furman, Vice President, Global Consumer Healthcare, spoke about the variety of diversity initiatives GSK engages in, how the Legal Management Team evaluates the diversity of its outside counsel, and the importance of metrics.

One particular challenge for GSK as a global company, he said, is that what looks diverse in one country may not be diverse in another – which is why the company has regional chairs and sub-teams that evaluate diversity in specific locations.

Ultimately, Furman, said, “Everybody should be getting the lucky breaks that, historically, mostly white men have gotten.”

Cristina Fernandez, Vice President
of U.S. Legal Operations Payer
Markets and LCLD Mentor.

Fellows also participated in a series of exercises about uncovering unconscious bias, led by Tomas Leal, R&D Inclusion Strategy Lead. The exercises encouraged Fellows to talk about their impressions and experiences with one another.

“Most leaders go from head to hand and skip the heart of diversity and inclusion,” said Leal. “But dialogue is what really changes the culture.”

Highlighting GSK’s commitment to inclusion both in and out of the workplace, two GSK employees wrapped up the day by sharing their experiences with GSK’s PULSE Volunteer Partnership. Employees accepted to PULSE spend three-to-six months working with nonprofits around the world. GSK not only pays their full salaries and holds their jobs while they volunteer, but also provides stipends to fund their nonprofit work – whether it’s providing clean water in Africa or taking care of marketing needs for a California-based relief organization.

“GSK’s efforts and dedication in creating a truly diverse environment and promoting inclusiveness throughout the world is exemplary,” said Joseph Hanna, 2014 Fellow and Partner at Goldberg Segalla LLP, after the Learning Experience. "It was a transformational day and gave all of the participants a lot of great insights to use in both our professional and personal lives."

LCLD wishes to thank the following individuals at GlaxoSmithKline: Daniel Troy, LCLD Member and Senior Vice President and General Counsel; Ashley Woodill, 2015 Fellow and Associate Managing Attorney, Global External Legal Relations; and Steven Thomas, Senior Counsel. 

Additional thanks to Reed Smith LLP and the following individuals for co-sponsoring the event and hosting a welcome reception: Leonard Bernstein, Managing Partner of Reed Smith’s Philadelphia office; and Sonja Weissman, Partner at Reed Smith. 

Photo Gallery 

Photos by Caitlin Puffenberger.