Debbie McCollough

Senior Director, Movement Disorders and Brand Marketing/Planning, Teva Pharmaceuticals

2021 Teva Rising Star

Debbie McCollough

How did you get your start in your career?

I graduated from Syracuse University with a BS in Biology and decided not to purse Medical School. After spending a summer in a lab conducting research on leeches, I learned that time alone in a lab all day was not for me. Pharmaceutical Sales brought together my passions for science and connecting with people. I started my career as a Sales Representative in Northeastern, MA with Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals.

What is one risk that you have taken during your career journey thus far?

I developed my pharma career in Sales, Training, Management, and Managed Care. At one point, I had a team of 30 people and responsibility across the full portfolio of brands.  It was at this point I was asked to consider a role in marketing where I didn’t yet have any experience. It was a role where I would be responsible for HCP and Scientific marketing for only one brand and three direct reports. I was concerned at first that it would not be enough of a challenge, but I was dead wrong.  Today, I love focusing on customer insights and solving challenges in the marketplace and that ultimately bring our brands to patients through marketing.

What are some factors that you attribute to your success in pharma?

I’ve always surrounded myself with those who can enrich and enhance my professional experience, whether direct reports or project teams. And I approach the people, the work, and the role with honesty and transparency. Focusing on the little things that can have a big impact such as a handwritten note of thanks and putting people first has helped me in my career.

Collaborating with purpose has also contributed to my success as a leader. Define your role on a team in order to ensure you are contributing based on your ability and knowledge.

What has been one of the greatest challenges you have faced in your career and how did you overcome that challenge?

Being a wife and mother of two boys, while working full-time and pursuing my Executive MBA was a great challenge. I was the only mom in the class, but not the oldest! The role I was in at the time, AVP of Managed Care Marketing, was a demanding one, so it was even more difficult to balance family, work, and school. I found ways to bring my family into the program, such as studying with my boys at the table at night or bringing my husband and the boys to study team dinners. When I was selected to speak at graduation by my class and saw my family enthusiastically sitting in the audience supporting me, it was all worth it.

What is one piece of advice you would give to the next generation of women starting their career in the pharmaceutical industry?

Ask for what you want to help you grow, develop, and prosper. Many people will play a role during your career journey, but no one as important as you. Don’t wait to be rewarded and recognized – make it known what you want and ask for it. Your boss is not the one responsible for getting you to where you want to go – you are. Invest in yourself each and every day.