Lilly leader to discuss career path and advice for undergrads

INDIANAPOLIS — Open yourself up to new opportunities. Seek out challenging courses. Try something new.

These are just a few of the messages Christine Mears, chief operating officer of Nasal Glucagon at Eli Lilly & Company, hopes to share with Kelley School of Business undergraduates.

“I believe that challenges make us stronger,” explained Mears. “Don’t ever become complacent. Challenge yourself in everything you do: Don’t try to skate by. Take a language you haven’t taken. If you can travel internationally, do that. Every moment is a building block in both your collegiate career and your professional career, leading you to where you want to be. You may think something is insignificant on a day-to-day basis, but you don’t know what it’s leading you toward in the future.”

Mears will speak to Kelley students September 29th on the IUPUI campus.

During her presentation, Mears plans to discuss her career path—a path that took her from studying chemistry at Illinois State University to Eli Lilly & Company. She says it was an internship that served as the foundation for her career.

“During my time at Illinois State, I had an internship at Illinois Water Treatment, a subsidiary of Alcoa Steele, where I studied separation technology. The knowledge I gained from that internship led to my recruitment at Lilly,” said Mears.

“In the last semester of my studies, I was recruited to come to Eli Lilly to help in its oncology division. At Lilly, I started as a chemist in 1989, and I have gotten to experience many different roles throughout the years. I enrolled in a master’s degree through ITT Tech, sponsored at Lilly, in project management. It was after that, I became a procurement manager, with nearly 30 people reporting to me in all aspects of procurement. I later served in multiple project manager roles before becoming a COO.”

Mears also will discuss traits—such as persistence, attention to detail and focus—she believes make people successful, whether they’re students or leaders.

“It’s important to have a passion for whatever career area you want to move into,” said Mears. “I knew I had a passion for science and understanding the technical reasons behind why things happen, so I chose to major in chemistry. Having a dedication to your field of choice will make it fulfilling and so much more enjoyable over the years.”

Challenge yourself in everything you do. Every moment is a building block in both your collegiate career and your professional career, leading you to where you want to be.

Christine Mears, chief operating officer of Nasal Glucagon at Eli Lilly & Company