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The 2020 We Work for Health Champion Awards showcase the best of our industry

Giovanni Caforio, M.D.
Giovanni Caforio, M.D. August 27, 2020

The 2020 We Work for Health Champion Awards showcase the best of our industry.

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We are living through an extraordinary moment as COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States. During this time, frontline and essential workers across industries have bravely stepped up to meet the urgent needs of our society: from the emergency room to the supermarket to the post office, these everyday heroes deserve our gratitude and praise.

At the same time, our industry’s workforce has met the challenge head on. And thanks to our industry’s dedicated employees, we have taken collaboration to new heights to help ensure patients can continue to access their medicines during COVID-19 while also working on widespread testing, research and development for COVID-19 treatments, and searching for vaccines around-the-clock.

So much of this work happens behind the scenes, and it can often go unnoticed. That’s why I am pleased to announce this year’s We Work For Health Champion Awards, which recognizes individuals in our industry for their exceptional work. This year’s champions include those who have served as our industry’s essential, frontline employees and others who continue to their important work from home in the context of an unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Their contributions reflect the preservice and tenacity our industry’s workforce embodies daily.

As CEO of Bristol Myers Squibb, I first want to congratulate two colleagues on my team, Jeff Perdue and Rondu Vincent, for being selected as champions this year.

Jeff is our senior regional director and accounts manager for Bristol Myers Squibb’s cell therapy program, which is offering new hope to cancer patients. He is a passionate advocate for patients and frequently represents Bristol Myers Squibb at meetings and events with elected officials, ensuring that policymakers understand what we do and why it matters.

Rondu is our director of global supplier diversity and has been with Bristol Myers Squibb since 2014. During his time with Bristol Myers Squibb, Rondu has forged partnerships with more than 25 international and national advocacy groups for small and diverse businesses. In 2019, he was recognized by the Diversity Alliance for Science as Program Manager of the Year. This year, Rondu has been an instrumental figure in our company’s COVID-19’s philanthropic response, including working to secure over $1 million in personal protective equipment (PPEs) for frontline healthcare workers and supporting small and diverse suppliers impacted by the pandemic.

It’s also important to note that many of this year’s other We Work for Health Champions exemplify an inspiring commitment to take on COVID-19 directly. We owe so much to these essential workers who have helped lead the fight against this virus from the very beginning, and I’d like to highlight a few of them below:

  • Chris Otto and Janelle Sabo, from Eli Lilly and Company, helped develop Indiana’s largest COVID-19 reference lab and the state’s largest drive-through testing facility. Because of their work, the company helped the state almost immediately ramp up its testing capacity from 300 tests per day to 5,000 tests per day. In addition, they constructed a lab design strategy and a supply chain management program that increased Indiana’s capacity to almost 30,000 tests per day.

  • Brendan Monahan is a member of the Novartis Emergency Management team, which was called on to lead the company’s U.S. COVID-19 response team. His contributions included establishing medical triage and maintaining response; procuring and delivering 125,000 cloth face coverings, 16,000 thermometers and 5,000 field force kits and instituting an active on-site pre-screening program to support critical activities, totaling over 25,000 screenings across 17 sites.
These individuals are just a sampling of the 2020 We Work for Health Champions (link to video), who themselves are just a small portion of the hundreds of thousands of the over 800,000 employees who are a part of the biopharmaceutical industry. As the year rolls on, our country will continue to rely on the dedication of today’s 14 awardees and their colleagues to beat this pandemic. As these stories demonstrate, our industry’s workforce continues to deliver for patients while painstakingly pursuing ways to combat COVID-19. We remain grateful and thankful that our employees continue to selflessly take on this extraordinary challenge, and we are confident that our colleagues’ unwavering dedication to science will help us prevail.

 PhRMA CEO Stephen J. Ubl presenting this year’s We Work for Health Champions.

To learn more about the efforts underway to fight COVID-19, visit www.phrma.org/coronavirus.

Topics: Coronavirus