The first LCLD Learning Experience of 2017 set a high standard, as more than 30 Fellows gathered in Indianapolis on April 19-20 to visit Eli Lilly and Company, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. The event was organized by LCLD Fellows Alumni Sonia Chen Arnold, Andrea Castetter, Averie Hason, and Kiamesha Colom, with an assist from Ashley Garry, a 2017 LCLD Pathfinder.

The Learning Experience kicked off on April 19 with a reception at the prestigious Skyline Club overlooking downtown Indianapolis, hosted by LCLD member firm Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP.

Benesch Partner Kiamesha Colom, a 2015 Fellow whose collaboration with Lilly GC Michael Harrington began at an LCLD event, set a tone for the Learning Experience with remarks stressing perseverance, innovation, and relationship-building. Managing Partner Gregg Eisenberg and many Benesch attorneys were on hand, along with Indianapolis LCLD Fellows Alumni, to welcome and share with the incoming Fellows.

The next day, LCLD Board member Michael Harrington, Lilly’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel, welcomed the Fellows and set the stage for a day packed with insights into the workings of this 85-billion-dollar corporation.

The program began with an overview of the pharmaceutical industry in general and Lilly’s business strategy, followed by a presentation on the company’s history by Michael Overdorf, Vice President for Corporate Strategy & Business Transformation.

Overdorf shared the story of the company’s founder, Eli Lilly (1838-1898), a pharmacist and Civil War officer who set out after the war to make medicines safer and more effective—a mission that still drives the company and its leaders.

Anne White, Vice President for Next Generation Development & Project Management, shared Lilly’s approach to Research & Development and described the advances in medicine it could generate over the next 20 years. She also gave the Fellows a look at the company’s corporate strategy for continuing its growth and success in the pharmaceutical market.

Next, two Lilly research scientists made a presentation on an approach to Alzheimer’s and structure-based drug design. Donning 3D glasses (above), the Fellows were led through the world of plaques and tangles as the presenters outlined theories about potential causes of this degenerative disease.

During lunch, LCLD President Robert Grey joined Harrington on stage for a Language of Leadership dialogue (below) on subjects ranging from personal influences to the most effective way to champion diversity and inclusion.

Harrington urged Fellows to be themselves in the workplace.

“If you don’t express your authentic voice, you won’t be effective,” he said. When asked for examples of transformative leaders, he mentioned Anne White of Lilly and LCLD Founder Rick Palmore. According to Harrington, the most important trait they share is courage. Asked what he values in an up-and-coming leader, Harrington looks for people who “run to the fire,” and those who have the courage to develop superstars behind them.

Afterwards, a panel of business and legal advisers spoke about how the company’s business units and Legal department work together to further Lilly’s goals. Alex Martinez, Assistant General Patent Counsel, explained the challenges of deciding when to share innovation and when to file patents—and the importance of working with the business side to make wise decisions.

Later the Fellows were treated to a tour of Heritage Hall, where they learned more about Colonel Eli Lilly and saw a replica of his first pharmacy. They also heard from a Marketing and Commercialization panel about the challenges of marketing to modern consumers and getting Lilly drugs to the marketplace.

Finally, the Fellows heard from attorneys who lead legal departments within Lilly about effective leadership and how to bounce back from mistakes. Douglas Norman, Lilly’s Vice President and General Patent Counsel, offered Fellows some parting advice.

“Be willing to learn from your mistakes, but don’t be defined by them,” he said. “And as much as you're willing to give advice, be twice as willing to take it.”

Mike Harrington, who spent the entire day with the Fellows, closed out the program by urging Fellows to invest in their careers and make the most of opportunities such as this one.

“I was amazed at how many of Eli Lilly’s top talent made the time to share information and ideas with us,” said 2015 Fellow Lisa Ann LaVigne. “I learned a lot about partnering with business teams, and gained insight into a whole new industry.”

For more information about the Fellows Program or to host a Fellows Learning Experience, contact program manager Nichole Velasquez

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