May / June 2020

Women in Pharma® Editorial: Find the Light, Be the Light

Jeannine Hillmer, B.Ch.E
Women in Pharma® editorial banner

Did you know that Women in Pharma® (WIP) has launched a program to initiate Mentor Circles around the globe? While great strides have been made to support women in the workplace, women are still significantly underrepresented in upper management in the pharmaceutical industry. The ISPE Women in Pharma® Mentor Circle program is a way to promote growing relationships and career development for women scientists and engineers.

The hope is that this will result in higher retention of women and more women in leadership positions in the future. Men are critical to supporting this cause and are encouraged to participate in Mentor Circles.

What Are Mentor Circles?

Mentor Circles consist of about 10 women and men who meet four to six times per year either face to face or virtually. These small groups will spend half of their time together networking and the remaining time discussing relevant career advancement topics. To keep things exciting, guest speakers and subject matter experts will be brought in to support the circles. The groups will also be encouraged to network outside of official meetings and use tools such as LinkedIn groups to support career development and relationship growth.

Each group will be a little different, reflecting the needs of people who come together. For example, the Boston Mentor Circle has decided to go with smaller groups of five people called professional “Moais” (social support groups, a popular concept in Japan), and the Midwest is primarily hosting Mentor Circles virtually because the members are geographically dispersed. During this unprecedented time when people are working from home and cannot congregate in groups, virtual Mentor Circles are a great option to stay connected. Ultimately, each Mentor Circle’s makeup will differ based on the needs of the group. Watch your local ISPE Chapter and Affiliate publications for surveys of interest to help local volunteer leaders plan their Mentor Circles across the globe.

Especially during these tough times, it is important to bring light and inspiration to our community.

Mentor Circles have begun at the Boston, Midwest, Seattle, Bay Area, Delaware Valley, and Carolina South Atlantic (CaSA) ISPE Chapters. There have also been planning discussions with leaders identified for Chapters and Affiliates in San Diego, Los Angeles, Germany/Austria/Switzerland (D/A/CH), Atlanta, Miami, and Singapore. Jennifer Clark, the current ISPE Women in Pharma® chair, has even started a monthly virtual Mentor Circle within her company, Commissioning Agents, Inc. (CAI). The opportunities to grow your career and help others are plentiful.

Get Involved

You can become part of the Women in Pharma® Mentor Circles by:

  • Starting a Mentor Circle in your area or at your company
  • Joining a Mentor Circle
  • Volunteering to be a guest speaker

Don’t think you have time to lead a Mentor Circle? A Mentor Circle Toolkit will help with planning and facilitating your group. It is available under ISPE Affiliate & Chapter Resources. Many additional tools are under development.

Especially during these tough times, it is important to bring light and inspiration to our community to enable people to be the best they can be and to help get life-changing drugs to market as quickly and safely as possible. Please email with any questions, and to receive support to start your local Mentor Circle.

“We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.” —Whoopi Goldberg

Get Involved

LeAnna Pearson Marcum’s Young Professionals Editorial will be returning in the July-August issue of Pharmaceutical Engineering.