24 Jun 2016
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Reinventing Pharma

Diversity, inclusivity, and some disruptive thinking are driving change at Novartis Pharma

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(photo by Claire Pearson for eyeforpharma)

The newly appointed Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Novartis Pharma is bringing ideas from her time at HBS to drive an evolution of the company’s talent pool and spur innovation.

Miriam Donaldson (MBA 2004) began her career as a research scientist. Eventually expanding her responsibilities into business development led her to HBS, where she hoped to solidify her understanding of the intersection of science and business. Following graduation, she joined Novartis, working first in drug development and commercial operations before becoming the firm's head of operations and planning in 2014.

In a recent interview, Donaldson told the industry website eyeforpharma.com that she credits Professor Clay Christensen and his work on disruptive innovation with shaping much of her new approach at Novartis, and in her family life.

“It’s a fascinating theory and one I think about a lot, in terms of how it potentially applies within Pharma,” she said.

“What inspires me most about Clay though is how he has applied this same theory to how to live a happy life. He points out that it’s easy for individuals to end up focusing all of their efforts on their professional successes because we tend to get feedback very quickly (in the short-term). Other things in life, like relationships and family, tend to payback over the long-term and we can have a tendency to de-prioritize them because of this. Having a happy, fulfilling life requires planning and priority-setting, including setting boundaries and sticking to them.”

She added, “I’ve applied these theories to my personal life, making sure to set boundaries around quality time with my husband, my children and, most recently, myself. I also want to help other people to do the same, which is linked to diversity, inclusion and my passion for my new role.”

Read more of her interview.

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Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2004, Section B
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