February 26, 2016

Why I am Doing This

Christine Hurley's Why I am Doing This

I am one of the most enthusiastic RTSM professionals in the universe. That’s what Ed says, anyway, and several other people too and I wanted to push back on them – I am calm, cool and collected…hardly this effusive, talkative, passionate person they speak of! – but then I started thinking about all the ins and outs of RTSM and how we are going to do it better than it’s ever been done before, and before I knew it, it was midnight.

Ed and Dave came to see me at Biogen out of the blue and said, ‘we need you to quit your job right away and come join us at 4G. You were born for this.’ I pretended to think on it, and I did — I thought and thought and analyzed it from every direction. But the truth is, after one day I knew I would do it. I had to. 4G is a dream opportunity for me.  I’ve been trying to think of a way to characterize it more elegantly – a little less cliché – but that’s really what it is. 

Way back when, I accidentally fell into clinical technology and IRT/RTSM – and I have stayed for 17 years. My first ‘real’ job was programming RTSM at PAREXEL; it was a very small group at the time and I was given lots of opportunity, suddenly swept up into the world of clinical trials. I look back on that time and get nervous for my young self…one of the first blinded RTSM systems I programmed was for a pediatric ADHD trial. I was building a system that was assigning drug to children. I had unwittingly fallen into one of the most (if not the most) complex clinical systems…randomizing patients into trials, dispensing medication and managing clinical drug supply; complex math enabling critical clinical operations; a highly regulated development environment with lots of rules and SOPs. I was hooked. I now christen this paragraph “My Contribution to the 4G Geek Factor.”

After initially programming and leading development teams, I’ve been very fortunate to have lots of personal and professional growth in the clinical technologies space.  I’ve spent the last 9 years or so on the sponsor side of clinical trials. While I’ve been responsible for adjacent technologies (ePRO, CTMS, etc.) RTSM remains my favorite.  I have referred to the RTSM capability I created at Biogen as ‘my baby’ and I totally mean it. 

I have been very involved in speaking and chairing industry conferences, especially CBI's IRT/RTSM conference (please see ‘talkative’ description, paragraph 1). I absolutely love meeting people in this space and figuring out how to manage all the challenges of operationalizing such specialized technology in clinical trials.  One of my favorite panel topics over the last couple years has been innovation in the RTSM space, specifically, when are they coming?  What is the next ‘thing’ that is going to offer something truly differentiated that will address critical issues that we all face?  Well, I believe it is 4G.

I have long held the position that state of the art technology is nothing without the highest quality standards and impeccable service.  I now have the opportunity to build world class quality and operations organizations to compliment a truly innovative RTSM offering; to tackle all the things that have made me crazy over the years, implementing approaches and a services philosophy that I truly believe will make a difference.  In addition to wanting to dive into this work itself, I should share about what motivates me beyond that; solving problems, building teams, doing something meaningful, learning, mentoring…and being a role model for my daughter.

Ruby is almost 10.  I could write 43 blog posts about her but for this post I will share just this; Ruby is a competitive gymnast and one night recently she had a really tough practice.  They grouped the team into little practice groups and hers was the more advanced.  She was struggling with a bar skill and wasn’t able to do the next more advanced move and all the other girls in her group were able to.  She was near tears and really frustrated driving home, going on and on that it wasn’t fair that she had to see them do it and she couldn’t.  I pointed out to her that she was practicing with a pretty impressive group of girls so, first, she should be proud of that.  And second, being with them will make her better a better gymnast, will challenge her to try harder.  I then said something like “I don’t want to be the smartest person at work” and she (truly shocked) was all “Mama, you don’t?!” I said no.  What would I learn if that was the case?  How would I get better - be a stronger leader, solve the big problems - if I wasn’t around incredibly smart people that could challenge me and teach me?  I am in awe of this 4G team; not only do they bring impressive technical expertise, I am surrounded by smart, accountable and passionate leaders. 

One last thing (sorry, I lied about the single Ruby reference); when I showed Ruby the picture of the first 4 “Gs” at 4G she said “Whoah, you’re the only girl!  That’s so cool.”  I hope that by the time she’s out there conquering her world, whatever that may be, that a woman in leadership doesn’t elicit a ‘whoah’; in the meantime, I’m proud of the example I’m setting for her.  It is, indeed, so cool.

 I am not a doctor, nor a scientist…but I have the chance at 4G to use my experience in a space that I accidentally fell into to make significant RTSM improvements and speed up the drug development process to get crucial medication to patients faster.  How lucky am I?

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