Q&A: Kendall Whitlock, Boehringer Ingelheim

Kendall Whitlock is Associate Director of Business Innovation at Boehringer Ingelheim in Edgewater, New Jersey, which describes itself as an innovative, research-driven, global pharmaceutical company.

Knowing who you are is as important as what idea or what business idea you may have.

Kendal Whitlock, Associate Director, Business Innovation, Boehringer Ingelheim. USA, portrait

LSE Executive Education Courses sat down with Kendall to hear about her experience attending the week-long Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Age of Change course.

How do you feel right now after you've just completed the course?
Energised! I didn't come here with specific expectations. I came with an open mind and I feel my mind has been expanded in ways that I feel like I'm still reflecting on those ways. I just feel energised.

Why did you choose LSE and this particular course?
The course for me spoke to two specific elements that I'm working on currently in my role. In business innovation, we have responsibilities for working with integrated delivery networks as well as digital technology partners. As well, we have an ambition for the company we're looking at becoming and how we teach our employees to become more agile, more accountable and more 'intrapreneurial.'

In my role I'm currently planning a business innovation forum, and I thought, "How might we teach our employees to be more intrapreneurial? What kinds of shifts in mindset can we inspire in the respective functions that they work in?" I thought that this would give me a more solid foundation in preparation for that work.

There's a number of guest speakers on the course, what did you think of them?
Where do I start? Guest speakers this week have ranged the gamut. Monday, one of the guest speakers was Rennes Rowe coming from Disney. I have somewhat of an entrepreneurial bend in my personal life but part of the expertise in hearing people like Rennes go through what he's done in his career let me know that, you don't have to do one thing, you can pivot. You can change and evolve.

Yesterday we heard from Loraine [Ansell, Visiting Entrepeneur] and for me the takeaway was honing in on knowing one's self. Knowing who you are is as important as what idea or what business idea you may have. I don't think that becoming an entrepreneur is easy. I don't think identifying or anticipating things that may be considered innovative is another easy thing, these are very critically difficult things.

The theme seems with all the presenters was knowing who you are and knowing who to bring in so that your team is successful in whatever your endeavour. That's what I took away for the speakers this week.

If there's one thing that you're going to take away from the course that you feel like will immediately impact your organization, what would that be?
The one thing I can say if I have to only choose one thing, is being receptive to learning. It's easy to get stuck. It's easy especially when you are successful at what you do or you enjoy what you do, it's easy to stay where you are and be good at something. But by being open to learning and being receptive to learning, you become conscious about your movement from where you are to where you can be.

It takes a proactive push upstream in one's self to be able to be open to new things when you're comfortable doing what you do as an expert. That's the one thing I think I can take away from this week and the professors, particularly Susanna  and Saul, are shining examples of people who despite their expertise, still seem to have an enthusiasm for being open to learning new things.

As I watch them listen to students in the classroom, you could see their light bulbs going off on things that they were exposed to.

And to see people who were seasoned experts and seasoned faculty actively learning, it's like we all have something to take away from each other. That someone with that much expertise and experience both of them differently did that and you watched the light bulbs, it was just a joy to be around not only the fellow students but the two of them.

It's such an excellent representation of this institution, I couldn't be happier.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Age of Change is running in 2019 from 15 - 19 June.