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

One of Mears’ sons graduated from the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI, and another son will soon apply.

The image caption follows
Christine Mears and her son, Conner, after his graduation from the Kelley School at IUPUI. Courtesy: Christine Mears

“My son who graduated from Kelley recently got a job at Monarch Beverage,” explained Mears. “He interviewed for a training-in-sales position, but after they interviewed him, they decided to move him directly into a sales management position because of his Kelley foundation and the multiple internships he’d had. That meant an increase in salary and a potential for bonuses. It just goes to show how internships can truly pay off in the long run.”

Mears will also discuss the importance of building your network and seeking out mentors, as well as the ever-challenging balance between life and work (or life and school, for that matter).

“Start now, and make sure you understand your priorities,” she explained. “That will make it easier in the future. For me, it’s a trade-off. You have to prioritize what you want to do. As a working mom, I wanted to make sure I was involved at my children’s school, so sometimes I couldn’t do the book clubs or after-work activities. It’s all about balance and making decisions based on what’s most important to you.”

All Kelley students are invited to attend Mears' presentation at Hine Hall Auditorium, located at 850 West Michigan Street. It will take place on Friday, September 29th, from 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM.

About the IU Kelley School of Business at IUPUI
The Indiana University Kelley School of Business has been a leader in American business education for more than 105 years. With over 107,000 living alumni and an enrollment of more than 10,500 students across two campuses and online, the Kelley School is among the premier business schools in the country. Kelley Indianapolis—based on the IUPUI campus—is home to a full-time undergraduate program and four graduate programs, including master’s programs in accounting and taxation, the Business of Medicine MBA for physicians and the Evening MBA, which is ranked 11th in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Learn more at