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Sharon Ayd, PhD 1997, has broken barriers in pharmaceutical industry.
Now, she hopes to help other women do the same.
Earlier this year, Ayd, a seasoned pharmaceutical and biotech executive, committed to endowing an annual scholarship at the UIC College of Pharmacy – The Ayd Scholars – for women pursuing PhDs in pharmacy or life sciences and pledging to work at a U.S.-based pharmaceutical company.
“I was fortunate enough to get to the top,” Ayd says, “and I hope this program helps other women reach executive positions.”
Ayd, in fact, pursued her own PhD in Pharmaceutics after years of being tied to middle management. Soon after securing that degree, Ayd became a director at Apotex, where she guided pharmaceutical development in the U.S. and savored her first executive position at a company that boasted $1 billion in global sales.
“The PhD validated me,” Ayd says. “It allowed me to wipe out my competition and break through the ceiling of middle management.”
And there Ayd has remained, filling a variety of executive roles at publicly traded companies like Advanced Life Sciences and Hospira, multinational corporations like Fresenius Kabi and at three spin out/startup biopharmaceutical firms. She is currently the chief scientific officer at Regulatory Compliance Associates, where she provides full-spectrum solutions to pharmaceutical, biologics and medical device companies in areas such as regulations, R&D compliance, quality assurance and operations.
“You do not stumble your way to the top,” Ayd says. “It is nothing but hard work and sacrifice and learning every day.”
Ayd is also a member of Women in Bio (WIB), a national organization for executive women in pharmacy, chemistry and the biological sciences. She was recently one of 20 women invited to participate in WIB’s inaugural Boardroom Ready Program, an initiative aimed at helping executive women land on corporate boards, particularly at biotech companies where females represent only 10 percent of directors.
For Ayd, securing a corporate board seat would represent the continuation of a journey she began at UIC more than 20 years ago and further spotlight the prominent roles women can play in industry, something she hopes the Ayd Scholars Program fosters.
“These women don’t have to do what I did, but I would like them to be competitive, successful women in the pharmaceutical industry,” Ayd says of future Ayd Scholars. “I just hope my effort here helps makes their journey to the top a bit easier.”