Once CU Pharmacy alumnus Kevin Henderson graduated and became established in his career in the pharmaceutical industry, he made a goal: “I made a commitment to make sure other pharmacy students knew about all their career options, including industry.”
It’s a promise he kept.
A handful of years after he completed pharmacy school, he attended a CU Pharmacy career fair and met Sierra (Hill) Hennon, then a student interested in pursuing a career in pharma.
Now, just three years later, Hennon works at the same company as Henderson: Genentech, a biotechnology company dedicated to discovering and developing medicines for people with life-threatening diseases.
Henderson (Class of 2011), a Medical Science Liaison Director, is based in San Francisco and leads a national team of clinical and scientific professionals focused on medical information and research collaborations. He is also a preceptor for the Rutgers Institute for Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowships.
Henderson’s path to pharmacy
With a background in business, Kevin spent a portion of his career in management consulting, working with companies such as Kaiser Permanente and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Already working in the business side of health care, he went to pharmacy school to gain skills that would impact patients.
“I was in the business of health care,” he said, “but I wanted to add a clinical component to my skill set, and pharmacy seemed like a practical option.”
It wasn’t long before he realized something: “I loved how you can impact patients.”
Now, in addition to his business knowledge, he said, “I have skills that help people in their day-to-day lives.”
The medical science liaisons who work under Henderson are responsible for providing drug information — from working with healthcare providers to answer questions about medicine and dosing to connecting researchers to funding. They specialize in malignant hematology, a branch of medicine focused on blood cancers.
Eight years after graduating, Henderson is on a mission to get the word out about opportunities available in industry — especially to CU Pharmacy students. He works closely with the school to talk with students about industry positions.
It’s that type of outreach that led him to meet Hennon: About four years ago, he attended a CU Pharmacy career fair on behalf of Genentech, and another career in industry was soon launched.
Sierra Hennon finds a fit in industry
When Sierra Hennon (Class 2016) attended the fair — and met Henderson — it was the beginning of a pharmacy career path that would lead to a pharmaceutical industry fellowship and, eventually, to her current role in US Medical Affairs at Genentech.
“I attended the fall career fair on campus and met Kevin,” she said. “We instantly hit it off.”
As a pharmacy student, Hennon was already thinking outside the box, working closely with CU Pharmacy faculty to determine which pharmacy career might make a good fit. Genentech was always a dream opportunity.
At the career fair, everything clicked.
“I realized that the one on one mentorship that the program offered would accelerate my professional development,” she said. “My preceptor inspired me to reach beyond my comfort zone while still drawing on my pharmacy knowledge.
After Hennon met Henderson, she applied — and was accepted — to the Rutgers Pharmaceutical Industry Fellowship Program, where she worked at Genentech to provide scientific support for a drug in late-stage clinical development.
Now, three years after graduating from CU Pharmacy, Hennon is based in San Francisco and works as a Medical Science Director in neurological rare diseases at Genentech.
As part of her current role with the company, she is required to have deep therapeutic knowledge of Huntington’s Disease (HD). Her responsibilities include driving medical strategy, providing scientific and clinical support, leading scientific exchange with HCP and working directly with patients and family members affected by HD.
Getting the word out about pharmacy
“I love pharmacy,” Henderson said. “You can do so much with a PharmD — it’s so versatile.”
Hennon has helped shine a similar light on the profession.
Less than a year after she attended the CU Pharmacy career fair, Hennon came back to campus to participate in the same career fair that helped launch her current career.
“Being on the other side of the table shows how committed the program and Genentech is to growth and professional development of pharmacists in biotech,” she said. “I finished pharmacy school, and less than a year later, I was on the other side to interview candidates. My preceptors and mentors, like Kevin, have helped to propel my career as a pharmacist.”