Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lilly's Connelly: The Diversity Issue

Some heat in the Pharma BlogosphereTM is being generated by Dierdre Connelly's keynote presentation at the recent Marketing & Sales Summit hosted by Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine. Mostly the "news" is about her dissing reps that speak out on Cafe Pharma.

It started with the article "Lilly's Connelly blasts reps mouthing off online" posted by MM&M's Editor-in-Chief James Chase, in which Chase quoted Connelly:
"Lilly USA president Deirdre Connelly yesterday took a swipe at online forums that attract disgruntled, venting sales reps, describing sites like as 'outlets for people who don't have the courage to speak out with their ideas' for improving their roles and the performance of their companies."
Ed Silverman at Pharmalot also pointed out that a doc once belittled Connelly once when she was pretending to be a sales rep:
"When Connelly told the doc she didn’t have samples but just wanted to talk for a minute, he stepped back, seemingly offended, and asked her why she was there and where was his regular rep? Eventually, he asked to see Connelly's business card. 'President, Lilly USA,' he read. 'President? President of what?'" (See "Lilly’s Courageous Connelly: President Of What?")
I was present at Connelly's presentation.

Pat Clinton, Editor-in-Chief of Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine, read Connelly's resume when he introduced her -- it was quite chock-full of promotions up the corporate ladder, starting off as a sales rep. Connelly grew up in Peurto Rico and, according to her, was overwhelmed when she was first hired. Her family and friends were proud of her then and probably even more so now. I wanted to hear more about her life and how she made it to the top -- more in her own words telling her personal story. Unfortunately, I didn't ask her when I had the chance!

I think more pharmaceutical employees and executives need to tell their stories in their own words and have urged pharma companies with corporate blogs to allow that to happen (see "A Primer on Pharma Employee Blogging").

But Connelly's story must also be viewed through the lens of some of those cowardly Cafe Pharma denizens who are now engaged in a discussion of the merits of diversity at Lilly. The thread is entitled: "Diversity is killing Lilly." It's a very popular and heated discussion with over 6,600 views since it began back in May, 2007, with this comment:
"As a long term employee, it absolutely kills me to see what diversity has done to Lilly. Over the last 10 years or so, the increase in diversity (read blacks and females - not thought) has been inversely proportional to the effectiveness of the company. It looks like it will only get worse with the quotas we have at every level of the company."
Connelly may have benefited from this program, I dunno. But instead of dissing reps who post problems on Cafe Pharma, Connelly should study the criticisms and use her own story to counteract them. In her keynote speech, however, she said she used to look at Cafe Pharma but stopped doing that when she became president (of whatever).

That's too bad. Connelly can learn more from "disgruntled employees" (who may typify Andy Grove's "Wild Ducks") than from underlings who glad hand her whenever she asks how things are going.

If Ms. Connelly reads this, I hope she
  1. tells her personal story in her own words (not the dry facts, which anyone can find on Wikipedia here, but how she overcame obstacles to get where she is and what motivated her to do it), and

  2. reads the following comments from anonymous Cafe Pharma cowards:
Who in the hell is she trying to fool? If she was indeed ever a rep, what planet or at least what era was it in?


If a rep did indeed complain about something in this company that was clearly broken, like reach and frequency expected above all else, you would run them out of here ASAP! Everyone knows this, especially INDY, so if we don't get s spot on the podium at a national meeting, don't expect us to quit venting here!

I am not holding my breath waiting on her reply

At least she was indeed a rep. The industry has changed a bit since she was in the field every day. Pissing off a doc every-once-in-a-while doesn't qualify as keeping a finger on the state of the field reps!

Being a rep in 2007 is a little different than being a rep in 1983. I have been both, she hasn't!

My requirements back then carrying everything that the company made were: GET THE BUSINESS. That history is just that, HISTORY!

Do you agree Diedre?
And what about that "diversity issue" at Lilly?


  1. Anonymous1:02 PM

    I have been a sales representative for Lilly for 6 year as of this fall and I can tell you that nobody in the field is going to tell you what is on their mind for fear of getting demoted or fired. I have seen it before many many times.

    Dierdre is a legend in her own mind and has no idea what we do anymore. My day has come down to sitting in doctors offices and handing out samples.

    Don't have the courage to speak out? What a joke, it should be "don't want to lose their jobs by speaking out"

  2. Anonymous8:38 AM

    Please see this link for cafepharma's thoughts on this issue:


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