Emerging Leaders

ISPE’s Emerging Leader (EL) community is for students, recent graduates, and anyone transitioning into the pharmaceutical science, engineering, or technology industry.

The Emerging Leader community caters to a diverse range of professionals seeking to expand their network, experience, and knowledge within the pharmaceutical industry.

Through in-person and virtual engagement opportunities, ISPE’s Emerging Leader community allows you to build your leadership skills and acquire the cutting-edge experience you’ll need to fast-track your path to success.

Affiliates and Chapters can host virtual and local events, hackathons, run mentorship programs, and provide networking opportunities for their local and regional Emerging Leaders.

    ISPE Student/Recent Graduate Grant Program

    ISPE with partnership of the ISPE Foundation is passionately committed to investing in the future of the pharmaceutical industry through our student and Emerging Leaders programs.

    ISPE is pleased to announce a unique opportunity for students and recent graduates to experience an ISPE conference in person. For 2023, ISPE is providing grants for students and recent graduates to attend our two largest conferences: 2023 ISPE Europe Annual Conference or the 2023 ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo.

    ISPE has received funding for 100 students to receive the opportunity of a lifetime!

    Learn More & Apply

    International Hackathons

    The ISPE International Hackathons are events for recent graduates and students. The main objective of a Hackathon is to divulge knowledge, in an innovative situation, on the trending topics of the pharmaceutical sector, and to provide and promote networking opportunities between students, recent graduates, and industry professionals

    Upcoming Hackathons:

    ISPE EU Hackathon 2023 in Amsterdam

    The ISPE EU Emerging Leaders Community is inviting participants with less than 5 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry to take part in the next ISPE EU Hackathon 2023. The hackathon is organized in Amsterdam RAI during the weekend of 6-7th of May preceding the main program of the ISPE EU Annual Conference on 8-10th of May 2023. This time hackathon will be organised as a competitive event in which participants will work in small groups solving a problem statement formulated by one of the leading local companies producing Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs). The goal is to solve the problem over the weekend under the guidance of the coaches in ATMPs and experts in Pharma 4.0 using different scenarios. By collaborating with each other on a proposed challenge within 24-hours all teams have to present their innovative solution to a problem to the judges and industrial partners. Based on predefined criteria the winner team will be selected to present their work during the ISPE EU Annual Conference 2023. Do not miss this unique hands-on learning and networking opportunity.

    The theme of the ISPE EU Hackathon will be Challenges of the Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs)
    Max # of participants: 30

    Learn More & Register


    ISPE Emerging Leaders Podcast Series-Episode 2 (John Clarke)

    In this episode Tom McDermott from the ISPE Emerging leaders talks to John Clarke the former Global Chair of ISPE Emerging Leaders on his career and his experience with the ISPE.

    Listen Now!


    ISPE Virtual Student and Recent Graduate International Hackathon

    We had TWO winners for the 2021 ISPE Student & Recent Graduate International Hackathon - the Overall Winning Team is Team 6 - Digi-Engineers, AND the Best Video Winner is Team 1 - Lemniscate! Congratulations to both teams! And congratulations to ALL the teams, you all did a phenomenal job! Thank you all - you are ALL winners! 

    • 2021 ISPE Student & Recent Graduate International Hackathon

      On February 8, 2021, the ISPE Emerging Leaders Committee launched ISPE’s first virtual International Hackathon. 51 ISPE Student and Recent Graduates participated in the event; they were split into six teams and 14 ISPE Emerging Leaders and Industry Professionals served as dedicated coaches to the teams. Bayer generously provided the problem statement and challenge. On February 26 at 12:00 midnight PT, each team provided a recorded video of the solution the team had identified. Two of these videos were selected by a team of eight Judges; these two teams will present additional information to the Judges via a virtual meeting on Friday, March 5. An Emerging Leaders Task Team spent a few months preparing for this Hackathon – this dedicated group of volunteers did a fantastic job creating a highly educational, challenging, exciting, and collaborative program. Our thanks to the Task Team, the Coaches, the Judges, and the Hackers! This could not have been accomplished without you!

      Team Overviews

      Team 6:  This team identified a system innovation solution - Digitalisation – which is a single-user interface that provides automation, advanced analytics, and continuous process verification. Real-time collaboration, interactive dashboards and reports, automation, advanced analytics, and continuous process verification equals increased productivity and profitability.

      Hackers: Prudence Edwards, Pablo Benitez, Giuseppina Elena Dragonetti, Stephan Huelber, Domiziana Piili, Nadin Osman, Andrew Svetozarov, Andrea Tanzini

      Coaches: Stuart Hall, Jean Francois Duliere

      Team 8: Optimus Prime Team approached this challenge for a digital transformation that will incorporate quality & compliance, system innovation, change & transformation, and economic viability. Using a Veeva Quality solution, which offers single-user interface, real-time collaborative authoring, and interactive dashboards and reports.

      Hackers: Fabian Kick, Francesca Sibilia, Lira Nigmatulina, Marie Lopato, Sandy Sahai, Miguel Costa Martinez, Armel Assoum-Nguema, Elisa Prencipe

      Coaches: Claire Iles, Michael Atzor

      Team 4: This team looked at reducing costs and manual processes while improving quality oversight by transforming paper-based documentation into digital readable form using ABBYY Flexicapture OCR/ICR Technology.

      Hackers: Jared Wine, Kholoud Mohamed, Ice Sutthirat, Gowtham Yenduri, Ke Wen, Carolina Serrano Martinez, Sophie Chabot, Martin Maccarone

      Coaches: Steve Hall, Hamid Teimourian

      Team 5: BatchCheck – provides reliable AI handwriting recognition for review of existing paper batch record, automates paper records to avoid record-related holds/recalls, skims paper record for key insights and metrics, utilizes trusted hardware providers, and requires no MES implementation. It serves as a secure, cloud storage solution for this teams’ paper to digital process recommendation.

      Hackers: Jed Tran, Alecsander da Silva, Namya Syal, Noella Masengesho, Neil MacDonald,Joel Borja, Etchi Ako

      Coaches: Eamon Judge, Thomas Zimmer, Michael Cseko

      Team 1: Lemniscate – decided the right solution is to store data that is integrated through every step of production. Manual, printed, digital; the team’s goal is to digitize and store all of these in the company database. A third-party vendor provides cost savings and increased quality; it’s a platform for the future that can be integrated with MES to drive Pharma 4.0 solutions!

      Hackers: Moneem Ahmed, Veneshia Alison, Teri Del Rosario, GP. Wahyunanda, Joanne Patricia, Firena Setyanti, Charlotte Gallardo, Tania Hamdhani, Fenny Mulyo

      Coaches: Jesus del Valle, Cy Rodriguez

      Team 2: Dinnovation has enabled the implementation of a masterbatch record that encompasses different elements from various functions within the organization. An EBR System with technological enhancements in raw materials, dispensing, and in-process quality controls, it includes holistic control strategies and lifecycle management. Dinnovation has identified that the system’s strengths result in compliance, reduction in errors, simultaneous generation of documents, and the streamlined ability to trace actions.

      Hackers: Janelle Lilith Fernandez De Leon, Andra Dwi Githa, Amethyst Sekar Jever, Fortuna Oktanilina, Rachel Anne Fernandez

      Coaches: Alexander Vorobyev, Tom McDermott

      Task Team



    • 2020 ISPE Student & Recent Graduate Hackathon

      ISPE and the International Emerging Leaders Committee is pleased to share the presentations developed by ISPE Student and Recent Graduate Members who participated in the first ISPE Virtual Student and Recent Graduate Hackathon. Two teams, Team A and Team B, spent three weeks developing solutions to a challenging problem statement, provided by Avexis.  After reviewing the problem statement, watch the video presentations below to see the solution presented by each team - and scroll down further to find out who was crowned the winner for the ISPE Virtual Student and Recent Graduate Hackathon.

      CONGRATULATIONS TO TEAM A for winning the first ISPE Virtual Student and Recent Graduate Hackathon.

      Task Team



      A special thanks to Avexis for the Problem Statement, the International Emerging Leaders Committee Task Team, Team Coaches, the Judges, and of course, our Student and Recent Graduate Hackers, each of whom did a fantastic job!

    ISPE Eurasia Affiliate Emerging Leaders Holds Event for Moscow Students

    ISPE Eurasia Affiliate Young Professionals

    On 17 June, the ISPE Eurasia Economic Union (EAEU) Affiliate welcomed students from Moscow State University and RUDN to an ISPE Emerging Leaders networking event. Attendees were introduced to ISPE, events the Affiliate is planning, and the principles of ISPE Student Chapters. “ISPE appreciates the driving power of youth and we are happy to collaborate with active students to contribute to the brighter future of the Eurasian pharmaceutical society,” said Oxana Pryanichnikova, Vice Chair of ISPE EAEU.

    The EAEU Affiliate was established in March 2020, and Emerging Leaders have been a main focus from the beginning. The upcoming EAEU conference in Moscow (24-26 November 2020) will include sessions for recent graduates and students.

    ISPE EAEU thanks all participants for their curiosity and energy and looks forward to more universities and students becoming a part of ISPE Student Chapters, then Emerging Leaders! 

    Learn More

    Emerging Leaders Editorial: Career Development Goes On

    Emerging Leaders Committee Past Chair LeAnna Pearson Marcum highlights key emerging leader participants who are continuing career development virtually through the corona virus pandemic.

    Read More

    Membership Key Benefits

    Emerging Leader CoP vs. Recent Graduate Membership Type

    • The term, Recent Graduates, describes the membership type of individuals within 1-5 years of university graduation.
    • The Emerging Leader CoP is a place for all ISPE’s members whether you are just starting your career in the pharmaceutical industry or a seasoned professional wanting to provide mentorship and guidance to the workforce of the future.

    Join Now

    I joined ISPE because I wanted to be part of an organization that involved local industry leaders and hopefully be mentored by them. When I graduated from university, my focus as a member shifted to gaining technical knowledge by participating in seminars with both local and international speakers. Through attending one of these seminars, I was able to secure my first job. I served as Chair of the ISPE Philippines Affiliate Emerging Leaders Committee, and I urge students and recent graduates to become members of ISPE to enjoy the benefits of being part of an international community.

    Rachel Ann Fernandez, Philippines Affiliate


    • New Job Success Strategies

      I finally landed a great job. How can I get started on the right foot?

      Placeholder Person Graphic
      David G. Smith
      Talent Acquisition Leader
      Biogen Idec

      Congratulations on accepting a new position! Your first days in your new role will go a long way to shaping your career with the new organization. Here are some ideas for a successful transition.


      Do your homework. Complete any required forms and find the required documents before day one. Review the benefits summaries and other information so you can ask questions during orientation.

      Revisit the job description and your interview notes, including position responsibilities and interview key points. Prepare a checklist of key learning areas to prioritize for your specific job function and the organization. Bring a portfolio so you can keep your checklists, agenda, and other items organized and handy.

      Plan how you will present yourself on your first day. Get a good night’s sleep so you can start your first day refreshed and ready. Plan for a little extra commuting time. Make sure you review any dress code (especially for manufacturing-related roles).


      A formal new employee orientation (NEO) for new hires can provide a consistent new-hire experience and key information about employment with the company. If your new organization offers a NEO, you’ll receive an agenda and a list of items you will need to bring with you on your first day.

      In addition to the usual paperwork related to benefits enrollment, tax forms, proof of work authorization, and company compliance documents, you’ll set up your phone and computer to access required systems and information. Capture the names and contact information that you may need to follow up with later.

      Get a tour of the facility and orient yourself with the major department locations, including those you will work with and key support functions such as IT, finance, and HR. Also ask to see areas for lunch, company amenities, and parking.


      Take ownership of your development and establish how you will work with your new team. Here are some focus areas:

      Understand the business. It is critical to thoroughly understand the company’s products and/or services, goals, and structure. This will help you learn the interdependencies and value of your responsibilities, which should help you communicate with key stakeholders and prioritize your work.

      Learn how to work with your boss. Make sure you understand your boss’s communication preferences (in person, phone, IM, and emails). Establish what you need to report or inform about and how often. Communicate what you need, your best learning methods, where you would like to develop your skills and contributions, and your own communication style.

      Learn and train. Look for learning that fits your personal learning style: For visual learners, seeing an activity firsthand is best, audio learners might learn best in a classroom, and others may gain the most from reading. Be sure to take breaks from learning activities and vary your day to ensure you stay fresh and attentive.

      Seek understanding before you suggest change. Process improvements are always a goal, and as a new employee, you will be eager to make a quick impact. Take time to understand before you suggest or act. Credibility is based on knowledge and trust, so be sure to see the larger picture, ask questions, and solicit stakeholder feedback.

      Build relationships with your team. Good relationships are essential. Learn how your team communicates, and determine their interests and strengths. Understand how your role intersects with the rest of the team and how others depend on your work. Establish credibility by meeting deadlines, keeping your commitments, and seeking feedback to ensure you are delivering what is needed. You probably will ask a great deal from others during your early days, so look for ways to reciprocate.

      Immerse yourself in the company culture. Your manager will likely review and provide expectations related to the company culture as part of your performance plan, and you will need to look for ways to adapt them to your daily interactions.

      Seek balance. The urgency of getting up to speed and the burden of performing in your new role can take a toll if you’re not careful. Get proper sleep, exercise, and fulfill non-work priorities—these are key to keeping motivated and engaged. Many companies provide on-site wellness programs and other benefits that can help. While you will learn best practices and become more efficient over time, make sure you are reviewing your workload with your manager and requesting help before you find yourself in a pinch.

      Congratulations on the new opportunity, and I wish you the best of luck.

      Do you have other career questions? Feel free to email me at david.g.smith@biogen.com.

    • Career Pivot: 4 Steps for a Successful Transition

      Hi David, I am trying to make a career change. I want to move into a different area of engineering, and I am not having any luck. How can I be more effective?

      Placeholder Person Graphic
      David G. Smith
      Talent Acquisition Leader
      Biogen Idec

      Transitioning to a new functional area can be difficult; it requires a different approach than pursuing opportunities in the same space.

      Gather Data

      First, gather data so you can assess the change you want to make; it’s critical that you understand the job function you want to pursue. Job descriptions are a good source of information, but you will likely need to dig deeper. Use LinkedIn to research the background of people currently in a role that you want to pursue. Examine their job histories, education, and training— how do they compare to yours?

      Informational interviews are also important. There often is no better source for understanding job requirements than top performers who are currently doing the job. Asking about their career paths, how they obtained their positions, and what they learned along the way can provide a great deal of insight. A personal connection might also be able to help with a resume review or even a recommendation.

      Attending ISPE conferences or other networking opportunities can also help focus on the area you are pursuing. These events are often excellent sources of information about the kind of work performed, new technology, and best practices.

      Look Inward

      Once you’ve gathered your data, you will need to look inward and complete a thorough gap analysis. Ask yourself several questions

      • What projects, training, and technology would be directly applicable in my new function?
      • How critical is this knowledge to the core function of the role I am pursuing?
      • What have I not been exposed to? Hi David, I am trying to make a career change. I want to move into a different area of engineering, and I am not having any luck. How can I be more effective?
      • Am I being realistic? Do I have the knowledge and experience to be successful?
      • How would I close these gaps? Do I need to take a course? Should I consider job shadowing or taking on a project to gain knowledge or experience?

      There are many tools on the internet that can help you with this exercise. Whichever one you choose, however, make sure it helps you understand what you would bring to the role on Day One, what support you would need to transition, and what gaps you can reasonably close by your own means.

      Before applying, there are several other ideas to consider.

      Here Or There?

      It is usually easier to pivot into a new department within the company you are already working for. You likely already know about its systems and procedures, which will make training in other areas easier. You also probably have internal connections that can provide help and advice. Your track record and demonstrated learning agility are also known.

      Sometimes an internal move is not possible—the firm may be too small or the desired function does not exist. In this case, you will need to find a way to obtain the necessary knowledge and relationships with another company.

      While organizations often look to external candidates that offer a different background and fresh way of thinking, hiring managers to know that they take on potential risk when they hire someone without direct experience. You will need to utilize the information from your assessment, your knowledge of the company, and any connections you’ve made to help frame the argument that you would be a great fit with minimal risk of failure and a high potential for long-term success.

      If this bar is too hard to clear, you may want to consider a lateral move to an organization that would allow you to move internally once you have gained knowledge and a track record. You will need to use your data-gathering method to assess the potential for such an internal pivot.

      Focus Your Resume

      Focus on where you want to go in relation to where you have been. Review the job description you are considering and go through an exercise of turning each job duty and requirement into a question. Your answer should indicate the training or experience you have to prove you meet the requirements. Where you lack direct experience, think about what you have done that is similar and transferable. Don’t forget to add real outcomes (cost savings, improved safety, reduced errors, etc.) to enhance the value of what you choose to highlight.

      This should help translate your experience so that the hiring manager can better understand your qualifications. It can also tell you what to eliminate from your resume. I can’t overstate the importance of customizing your resume in this way. I have heard countless comments from hiring, managers, wondering why a candidate applied for a certain job with a resume so focused on irrelevant skills and experiences that he or she appeared to be seeking a completely different kind of role.

      Thank you once again for your questions. I hope you will find this guidance helpful. If you are curious about other topics, please email me at david.g.smith@biogen.com, and I will likely answer in a future column.

    • How to Run a Virtual Meeting like a Pro!

      In the current climate, I am sure that we have a packed calendar of virtual meetings. Since this all started, I have used the following platforms to meet: Zoom, GoToMeeting, WebEX, Google, Slack, SKYPE, Adobe, and good ol’ facetime! I have meetings that start at 6 am and others that start at 6 pm. Below are some tips and best practices to help you run your next virtual meeting like a Pro!

      LeAnna M. Pearson
      Associate Director Quality Compliance and Regulatory

      1. Choosing the correct tool/platform. This is tricky as there are so many out there but below are some great points to think about when selecting.
        1. Do you need video conferencing?
        2. Will you need the ability to share presentation control or multiple screens?
        3. How many people need to be at the meeting?
        4. Are you familiar with it? HINT: if you are new to using a platform, I suggest doing a dry run to avoid the technology learning hurdle during a meeting that can detail a productive meeting.
      2. Be thoughtful of time zones. There are a lot of great tools to help you with this.
        1. Every Time Zone – this tool has a slider function to allow you to see what time it is across time zones
        2. World Clock meeting Planner: You need to know everyone’s location to use this, but you can enter them into a table, and it will create suggested meeting times.
        3. Worldtimebuddy: Works very similar to World Clock Meeting Planner.
      3. Create an Agenda to stay on point. When you are working in person there is plenty of time to stop and chat but now that opportunity often is only presented during our meeting times. So, a well-laid-out agenda can help keep the meeting on time and on topic.
        1. Meeting Purpose and/or what problem statement you are tackling.
        2. List key talking points
        3. Meeting structure (for example: next to each talking point list the duration you plan to spend on it and who is leading it)
        4. Team members who are invited
        5. Pre-Reads or Attachments If you are expecting to discuss a paper or PowerPoint often it helps to send it out as a pre-read so that it is not the first-time people are seeing it.
      4. Meeting Guidelines. This is a new topic I have been seeing with virtual meetings. This is a list of rules/expectations on how the team is expected to contribute during our virtual meetings.
        1. Camera on. Many people want that Face to Face interaction that using a webcam offers.
        2. Ensuring your phone is muted when you are not speaking. It is very distracting to hear the kids yelling or your dog howling at the doorbell.
        3. Be present: This is a kind way of asking people to not multitask. I have seen people microwave their lunch, change a diaper & accidentally share this screen while shopping. It is best to stay focused on the meeting you are in.
      5. Meeting time. Tips 1-4 get you ready for a meeting but how do you keep engagement during the meeting?
        1. Introduce everyone if it is the kickoff meeting.
        2. Make time for a bit of casual conversation. This can help build rapport for a successful team collaboration.
        3. Ensure you are including everyone in the meeting. For some, you might need to ask them directly if they have any thoughts on a topic or anything they want to discuss.
        4. Keep an eye on time! Give yourself about 5-7 minutes before the meeting ends to wrap up any loose actions or items.
      6. Post Meeting. You want everyone to leave you meeting knowing what happened and what comes next.
        1. Send out post-meeting notes within 24/48 hours
        2. Include action items with who is responsible
        3. Check-in with attendees to see how the meeting went, if something didn’t work then you want to figure that out sooner than later.
    • Virtual Meeting Etiquette.

      Now that work is home and home is work, here are some of the top tips for ensuring your virtual meeting etiquette is flawless.

      LeAnna M. Pearson
      Associate Director Quality Compliance and Regulatory

      1. Look the part! This means combing your hair, putting on a presentable top, and if you are going to be up moving around making sure your full outfit is presentable. We have all seen the jokes about people not having on pants and getting up or their shirt being pinned on and falling down to reveal an old tee or no tee at all. While these are funny to see they are not funny when they happen to you. Remember this is still YOUR JOB. You should not show up on your video conference to anything less than what you would show up to work in.
      2. Right Time/Right Place. Ensure that you are in a location in your home that is not the hub for activity so as to not distract yourself or others with what is going on in the background. Your focus needs to be on the meeting. If you have repurposed your bedroom as your new home office then make the bed, pick up laundry and ensure the space is representative of who you are.
      3. Mic Check 1-2, 1-2. Most meeting platforms give you an opportunity to check your video and audio prior to the meeting. DO THIS, EVERY TIME! It is so frustrating when you are on a call and it is your time to speak up and you cannot, or your video won’t work. You lose valuable time during the meeting and it can be disruptive. This also allows you to check and see if what you see in the camera is what you want your boss and coworkers to see!
      4. FOCUS. Once the session starts keep your eyes on the screen and webcam. Do not multitask or be on your phone. People can not only see you, but a lack of attention is disrespectful to the meeting organizer and other participants.
      5. Bio-breaks. Okay, we have all been on that LONG meeting where you just need a bio break and maybe one has not been scheduled into the agenda. How do you handle it? If your meeting platform allows you to send a message to the meeting organizer or team it is best just to say, “please excuse me, I need to step away for a moment”. Place your computer on mute and either ends your video feed or if you have a webcam cover just slide it over. This allows you to get up without everyone seeing an empty seat or not knowing why you just got up and left.
      6. Give everyone a little Grace. What does this mean? Well, we are all learning how to navigate this new landscape so do not be impatient or too harsh on someone when technology is not cooperating with them. I have had my webcam just decide it hates GoToMeeting and was not able to be seen during a meeting. Was it ideal? Nope, but I knew it early and sent the organizer and team a message that I was having some issues, but I was present. I have a team member who is in a small home with 7 other adults, there is no private space to have a meeting. So just remember everyone is doing their best during this time, yourself included.
    • Enhance Your Value in the Marketplace

      You are not your resume Presentation

      Presented at the 2016 ISPE Annual Meeting by Ken Ewan, Principal, KME Leadership LLC

    Emerging Leaders Steering Committee

    Zen-Zen YEN
    Head of Engineering
    Bayer AG
    Monique L. Sprueill, PMP
    Director, GCP Quality Lead
    Bristol Myers Squibb
    Heather L. Bennett-Kelley
    CQV Manager
    ACCO Engineered Systems
    Immediate Past Chair
    Emer Somers
    Senior Manager, Principal Process Engineer
    Bristol Myers Squibb - Ireland
    European Representative
    Amanat Kaur
    Bioprocess Consultant
    Hyde Engineering & Consulting
    North America South America Representative