Clark Golestani, executive vice president and chief information officer (CIO) at Merck, is responsible for the company’s global information technology. Clark is a member of Merck’s Executive Committee, Innovation Venture Board, and reports to Merck chairman, president and chief executive officer, Kenneth C. Frazier.
Previous responsibilities included global head of IT for Merck’s Research & Development division including Basic Research, Pre-Clinical, Clinical and Regulatory, spanning target identification through post marketed trials/ pharmacovigilance; Vice President, Corporate IT supporting Finance, HR, Procurement, Legal, Public Affairs, Site Services, Real Estate, and Shared Business Services operations; leadership and development of the Company’s IT strategy, portfolio, and enterprise architecture as Chief Architect; leadership of the company’s global computing services, eBusiness, and information security as Exec. Dir., IS Global Computing Services; leadership of the company’s technology architecture as Sr. Dir., IS Architecture; and various leadership and management roles within Merck’s Research Labs as IT Director.
Prior to joining Merck, Mr. Golestani was responsible for establishing and managing strategic client relationships from business development through consulting services engagement delivery as a principal with Oracle Corporation’s consulting practice.
Clark serves as a director on the Board of Directors of Liaison Technologies (www.liaison.com), NPower (www.npower.org), and serves on Sierra Ventures CIO Advisory Board and the Oracle President’s Council. Previously, he served on the Stevens Institute of Technology Service Management and Engineering Masters Program Advisory Board, Intel’s Enterprise Advisory Board, Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab / Sustainable Computing Consortium Board of Governors, PhRMA Foundation Informatics Advisory Committee and Juice Software’s Advisory Board.
Mr. Golestani has a degree in Management Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, and is a co-founder of Cross Road Technologies, Inc., in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
We are at the precipice of major information technology shifts, especially in the healthcare and life sciences industry. That makes it an exciting time to be in these arenas, and it also provides many opportunities for those in the STEM space.
Let me give you an example from my own organization. We realized that there was a tremendous opportunity for IT to innovate and add even more value to Merck, and to the healthcare industry at large. But in order to capitalize on that opportunity, we had to rethink the traditional organization structure, and move to one that allows IT to focus on both near term and long-term innovation, and both top-line and bottom-line value. As such, I structured my organization across three horizons. Each of those horizons plays an important role, and each requires a different mix of talent.
Horizon One – Optimizing the Core
In this horizon, our teams look at maximizing the value of the existing capabilities we have. The goal is to drive productivity throughout the company, while taking costs out. These teams must have a broad understanding of the company’s technology footprint, while keeping an eye on trends that are reshaping our industry. For example, they might look at how the enterprise could leverage the cloud to drive better systems of engagement or the right end-to-end security standards that will ensure compliance while managing risk.
Horizon Two – Drive the business
In this horizon, we look at how information and new technology can help our business colleagues overachieve on their goals. How can digital platforms help us connect better with our customers? What big questions can an analysis of unstructured data help us answer? The exciting thing about this horizon is that I am seeing more crossover from other business areas than ever before. As divisional colleagues rotate into IT to advance their technical acumen and provide unique perspectives, traditional IT employees are moving into other areas of the company. This cross-pollination is an excellent way to increase the overall skill sets of our teams and our company.
Horizon Three – Disruption
Teams in this horizon help us look ahead and forecast what changes are coming that can disrupt our industry. What new capabilities will we need? What new revenue streams might evolve? They also look at where there may be long-term value in some of our intellectual properties or solutions.
We have a broad mix of talent in this horizon, and have hired people with accounting, tax, marketing, legal and other backgrounds. Most of them share an entrepreneurial mindset and are always looking at what’s next. This horizon presents even more opportunities for people to get involved in healthcare technology that might not have a traditional IT background.
One area that is becoming hypercritical to all three horizons is analytics.
As a healthcare company, we consume scientific data to advance our medicines, as well as business data to drive operations. More recently, we established a cross-functional Analytics Practice to help use business performance analytics to deliver even greater value to the company.
But it does not end there. We’ve seen health data grow at breakneck speeds with the proliferation of electronic medical records, the growing ubiquity of biosensors and the affordability of genome sequencing. Data scientists can now detect depression based on an individual’s changes in movement and phone call patterns. They can also predict illness the day before onset due to mobile devices sensing less physical movement of their owners. As more and more data are created, companies need data scientists now more than ever to not only make sense of it all, but to ask – and answer – bigger questions than we ever thought possible.
None of our successes would be possible without our talented employees, and we have implemented many programs focused on their growth. For example, we have an emerging talent program, where recent graduates spend two years rotating through various divisions and teams to broaden their knowledge base. We also have leadership development programs that help drive change across a large, global enterprise. And, like many companies our size, we have knowledge sharing platforms and communities to leverage our varied backgrounds.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to foster a passion for STEM education – not only across the Millennial/post-Millennial generations, but across experienced professionals as well. I sit on the board of a company called nPower (whose volunteers work with schools and nonprofits across the country to help them use technology more effectively and inspire the next generation of science, technology, engineering and math professionals) and I am energized every time I hear a success story from one of their graduates. A STEM background can provide a strong foundation for a rewarding career, not only in IT, but any other area as well.
Today’s Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visitwww.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.