January / February 2022

Emerging Leaders Editorial: Building Connection & Support

Heather L. Bennett-Kelley
Emerging Leaders Editorial: Building Connection & Support

The past two years have turned things upside down and forced change in a way that has made many aspects of our lives become unfamiliar. The unforeseen stresses of these changes have pushed many people and companies to their breaking points. Some of these challenges were expected, but came on like a train that we couldn’t stop. I’ve been there, feeling like I don’t have the tools to deal with the task or situation at hand, knowing that change is coming because of my own decisions but not realizing I need help until I’m already at rock bottom.

How do we build and support our people and companies to deal with the changing tides? How do we know when to batten down the hatches for an oncoming storm, or when to open up the windows again? How do we know when to ask for help before it is an emergency?

We need to build a strong network in our personal and professional lives (and in our companies), connecting pieces, supporting these pieces, feeding the pieces so they grow, and building resilience to bounce back. ISPE is a unique organization because it assists its members with these. The Emerging Leaders (EL) professional community provides a place to build this network.


In relation to ISPE, and especially Emerging Leaders, the word connection embodies many different definitions:

  • Connecting of ideas, specialties, and innovations to manufacture life-improving therapies.
  • Connecting with individuals and companies in the same industry to learn about different ways of doing the same things.
  • Connecting with colleagues and mentors to create lasting bonds that help us get through a challenging project or time.
  • Connecting the dots with technology, industry partners, and knowledge sharing.
  • Connecting strands of DNA, neurons, cells, and biological systems to forge a new way of being.

This industry and the people and companies in it have to be connected in order to do the work we need to do. To build the future, we need to build these connections and teach our Emerging Leaders how to build them. Continuing the connection building will ensure that we keep innovating, learning, and growing.

Continuing the connection building will ensure that we keep innovating, learning, and growing.


For connections to stay in place, or to build new ones, a support system needs to be in place. This system acts as a scaffolding or bridge to provide strength and guidance to those starting their careers or to companies pushing off with a new idea. Support can be one person acting as a sounding board, bringing someone lunch when they are buried in a project, participating in mentor circles, or reaching out to the members of Communities of Practice to find the nuances of purified water. Mechanical or automation systems and training or professional development programs are forms of organizational and procedural support. All of these work in tandem, which means we each need to do our part so the whole system works.

Let us reengage in 2022, and use the tools that we learned over the past two years to build new connections and strengthen old ones. Maybe some of these virtual tools have helped us to better understand some aspects of Pharma 4.0™, and how the support systems go far beyond IT concepts. We had to change the way that we do things and how we interact with others; maybe we have stepped out of our old habits enough to know how we can improve on processes, procedures, and business practices. I challenge us to help build the future of our industry, so that our members and patients can rise to their full potential.