When Julie Kim ’97 MBA graduated from the Kellogg School of Management, buzzwords like purpose, engagement and connection weren’t yet popular in professional circles. But in retrospect, she says, these are exactly the types of ideas that Kellogg inspired her to incorporate into her personal leadership style.
“You learn that it’s important to understand that how you are doing what you do is equally impactful as what you’re doing — and you learn how important this is when working together as a team,” said Kim. “Individuals can be smart, but no one individual is smarter than an entire team of people who may have diverse experiences and backgrounds and can contribute to a much more robust outcome or answer. The way Kellogg orients its classes helps you to learn this. It’s part of how you succeed at Kellogg, and you can carry that forward into your career. You can sense this in other Kellogg graduates when you meet them out in the world.”
President of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company’s U.S. Business Unit and U.S. country head, Kim — who has spent nearly three decades in the healthcare field — noted that she still looks to these guiding leadership principles today. Moreover, this same sense of dedication and commitment proved to be a driving force in 2020, when she worked to bring together some of the world’s leading plasma companies to help Takeda co-found the CoVIg-19 Plasma Alliance to conduct collaborative research in search of a potential plasma-derived therapy for people at risk of serious complications from COVID-19. This global collaboration served to strengthen scientific and collegial relationships across the pharmaceutical industry and has provided a blueprint and operational mechanisms for future alliances to address urgent needs.
At the heart of Kim’s work is creating a stronger sense of shared vision, purpose and community, so it’s no wonder that she was recently named to Fierce Pharma’s list of Fiercest Women in Life Sciences. “You don’t have to sacrifice high standards and results to create a sense of community and engagement — you can do both,” she said proudly. “And I think that’s what it means to be a Kellogg Leader: You deliver results, but in the doing and delivering, you also build a sense of community . . . that connection, that engagement, that inspiration for people to want to do more.”
Kim, also a board member for Croda, a FTSE 100 company in the U.K., said the skills she gained in business school have served as key foundational tools that she still uses to build winning strategies. “As a leader, it’s about creating a sense that everyone on the team cares about each other as much as we care about the results that we are delivering,” she said. “When you look at topics that are important to the business world today, whether it’s diversity and inclusion, psychological safety, sustainability or any other subject, it all starts with having a fundamental sense of trust in your organization. That’s what unleashes all the other good things because caring and trust are interlinked.”
She credits Kellogg with consistently reminding students that they’re part of a larger network, and that it’s OK to reach out when in need. “Coming into Kellogg, my instinct was not to reach out to people. I worried it would be viewed as a weakness if you had to ask for help or collaborate. But what I learned at Kellogg is that it’s not a weakness, and as a leader today, being able to effectively collaborate is a valued skill.”
That lesson remains one of the most valuable she’s ever learned, Kim said. “To this day, as a leader, I’m comfortable with saying, ‘I don’t know. Let’s get a bunch of people around the table and talk about it.’ It’s part of having a learning mindset and pushing yourself and your team into unknown territory. This is something that Kellogg helped me to develop. It takes humility and vulnerability to behave in this manner, and it’s a part of being a Kellogg Leader that is so important today.”