Seven years before America landed two men on the moon, President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation by saying “we choose to do [it] not because [it’s] easy, but because [it’s] hard.” And while no one who participated in the recent ACRP All-Star Challenge for Sponsors and CROs is likening it to an Apollo manned module launch, part of the reward was the hard work of the competition itself.
“I’m the first one to tell you that it’s a long day, but that’s because you care so much and because you’re putting in some much effort,” says Christy Macias, senior director of global talent acquisition at Syneos Health, of the competition, which was held during the ACRP 2019 meeting in Nashville. “I don’t think anyone goes into this not wanting to win. On the other hand, I didn’t go into this necessarily thinking we would win.”
Syneos Health competed against four other teams of talented professionals from top sponsor companies and contract research organizations (CROs). During the one-day competition, teams were provided with three real-world scenarios and presented solutions to a judging panel of industry leaders from across the clinical research spectrum. Teams were judged on their ability to work together and collaboratively solve problems, while exemplifying operational efficiency, teamwork, effectiveness, cost constraint, and communication.
Macias and her team, dubbed the “Protocallers,” emerged victorious after an exciting day. “It was a true bonding experience for ourselves and our company—it was testing our skills, it was learning something new, it was going outside your comfort zone, and it was putting yourself out there,” Macias says.
Their path to victory might have begun during the process of coming up with a team name, she says. “We chose the name Protocallers, which was a lot of fun, and the way we looked at it was the protocol is the life blood of a clinical trial and you need that before you can do anything else…so our thought was, let’s start from the beginning and let’s be cheeky.”
Winning was a goal, but not the only goal or benefit. Competing was a “great opportunity to bring together folks that don’t necessarily work together each and every single day on projects or have that rapport…it was a nice cross section of what represents our company,” Macias says. The competition brought together “different viewpoints, different expertise, and we all brought something from different roles, experiences…and I think it helped us in the end.”
Macias says she and other team members appreciated the vote of confidence they received from top leadership. “It shows a commitment from management,” she says. “Obviously it costs money to participate and to get people there, so for your company to back you up and support you in doing this, I think that’s also a great thing because it shows the employees that our company stands behind us.”
The winning Syneos Health team of All-Stars represented the company’s clinical offerings, and in addition to team leader Macias, included Amy Larrison, executive director of clinical development; Jennifer Ripple, associate director of clinical operations; Wayne Wise, associate director of clinical operations; Katie Andrews, project manager II; and Katey Stazzone, senior project manager.
Author: Michael Causey