January 23, 2024 • By Kali Navarrete
When Merage School alumnus Eric Williams (MBA ’21) was laid off in 2018 from Daiichi Sankyo, a pharmaceutical company, he saw it as an opportunity to combine his passions and start his journey into higher education.
Williams realized that an MBA would be the right way to accomplish that goal.
“I realized that I loved what I was doing,” he said. “I loved the healthcare industry, I love helping people, but I wanted to have a broader impact and serve more patients.”
Williams was able to leverage his education at the Merage School to land a job with a multinational biopharmaceutical company, enabling him to have the widespread impact on patients that he envisioned for himself.
Finding a Passion for Business
Williams’ career journey hasn’t been typical. While he graduated with two bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and exercise science from Northern Arizona University, he found himself working at Enterprise Rent-a-Car in 2013. He wasn’t able to utilize his skills in science, but he developed a passion for business that he would later combine with his scientific background.
After working his way up through the Enterprise Leadership Training Program to an assistant manager of a store branch, Williams decided to transition to a field in which he could use the knowledge he gained as an undergraduate student. In 2015, he started working as a speciality sales territory manager at Daiichi Sankyo, which produces new and generic medicines and develops new methods of drug delivery.
The experience was critical for Williams, but he had to pivot again when he was laid off. He realized that he needed to fine-tune his business acumen by earning his MBA. He chose the Merage School’s program because it had a strong sense of community and a potential for networking with its alumni.
Networking to Success
In addition to the skills he learned while earning his MBA, Williams felt that his individuality was recognized and faculty actively sought to learn his wants, needs, and goals within the program. It felt tailored for him.
In particular, the counselors at the Career Center and his professors were very encouraging of Williams and helped connect him with his current position. Through guidance from the center, Williams attended the National Black MBA Association’s Annual Conference and Job Fair.
“All the professors were very understanding and encouraging me to go,” he said. “Through my participation in that career fair, it unlocked a lot of opportunities for me.”
During the job fair, Williams interviewed between six to ten companies, Amgen being one of them.
“I attribute a lot of getting my current job to attending this one conference and I wouldn’t have done this if the Career Center hadn’t pushed me to go to it,” he said.
Williams learned about Amgen’s Leadership Development Program through the Merage School and it became the focus of his career journey as Amgen became the primary company he wanted to work for.
“I was able to bring that to fruition through the help of incredible faculty and academics at Merage,” he said.
Currently, Williams is finishing up his last six months of Amgen’s three-year rotational Leadership Development Program. During the program, Williams has completed one-year rotations in different functions and brands within the company. He spent his first and second year as a marketing manager, switching to oncology products for his second year. He is now finishing up the remainder of his third year as a global marketing manager for one of Amgen’s brands.
Networking wasn’t the only way Williams benefitted from his MBA. He said the interpersonal skills that he developed while at the Merage School, particularly when it comes to working with a diverse group of people, has enabled him to navigate workplace conflicts. Furthermore, the hands-on experiences and real-world knowledge passed down by his professors has been invaluable when it comes to managing people and products.
“Those are still skills that I use to this day and continue to use as part of my core work for managing timelines, managing deliverables, scoping deliverables, and managing people across functional stakeholders,” he said.
With his business skills from the Merage School, Williams has been contributing to important and influential work that aligns with his values and goals. One project that he is particularly proud of was helping patients of color attain better representation in medical textbooks.
“I think it was something that was novel, both a bit to the company and to the particular marketplace that we were operating in,” he said. “I was really proud, and it felt very rewarding to have the opportunity to help other individuals, other minorities, and people from underrepresented groups get the visibility that they needed.”
At the conclusion of Amgen’s Leadership Development program, Eric will become a senior manager within the company. From there, he will have the opportunity to lead and be part of teams for multi-million-dollar brands within the company.