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“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” For Vidhu Bansal Dev, an Indian girl surviving prejudice, bullying, and racism from both classmates and teachers, these aren’t just motivational words from Helen Keller, but a hard-lived truth. These comprise only a few extremes that forged her immense grit and fortitude.
Yet, despite the difficult environment that forced her family to leave their New Jersey hometown in the 1980s, the first-generation American found great inspiration from her parents. Their significant sacrifices to advance the family’s future, while simultaneously supporting loved ones back in India—their constant ability to give—impacted her forever.
Bansal Dev wouldn’t encounter blatant racism again until faced with microaggressions that arose in her career journey. Those meant to put her in her place and keep her in her lane.
“It’s hard to let those instances pass by because by not addressing them sends the message that it is ok when it isn’t. I’ve learned to smile and stay focused on delivering on my mission,” she says. “I just had to learn early not to take on other people’s biases and always move forward with conviction and determination.”
It’s these traits—grit, fortitude, creativity, character, perseverance, discipline, faith, and humility—forming the bedrock of Bansal’s Dev’s approach. Not only to her life and relationships, but the transformational advancements she drives at GlaxoSmithKline as the vice president of Rx to OTC Switch and Digital Transformation, R&D. A position she may never have held, had she let other’s past prejudices inform her identity.
At her most pivotal career point, she received the offer of a high-level promotion and could only think of one hundred reasons to turn it down. Following, she called her parents and a former senior R&D leader she greatly admired.
“He said to me, ‘if you were a man, you would have said yes instantly,” she remembers. “You can absolutely do this role with your eyes closed, so accept it without hesitation, otherwise, we will continue to lack talented women in higher-level roles.’ So, I said yes and started mentoring women to support them in a similar way, as I’m inspired by ordinary people, who do extraordinary things.”
For over twenty years, she’s supported the pharmaceutical giant’s focus on developing proven medications to help people do more, feel better, and live longer. Her multitude of roles—ranging from clinical, medical, therapeutic area lead, innovation, and digital—provided her with a breadth and versatility of skill, positioning her as a strong partner with the commercial team.
Bansal Dev played a critical role in bringing prescription drugs to the OTC market both in the US and globally, including Alli, Flonase, Veramyst, and several other medications in the pipeline. The pharmacist-by-training’s vision and strategic thinking help enable a broader why: making medications easier to attain.
“A significant passion point for me is creating new treatments for unmet needs and widening access to medicine for people in a way that’s equitable and affordable,” she says. “I didn’t have a clear predefined career path, but that mission has informed the kind of work that I want to do, which is centered on purpose.”
“I’m willing to champion a cause with passion and grit for all the consumers we serve, who are relying on us to bring innovative products that fulfill their unmet needs,” she continues. “Rx to OTC Switch is an untapped opportunity improving public health and healthcare expenditures, empowering people to have treatment options at their fingertips.”
Bansal Dev also has a goal to enhance R&D capabilities with a digital lens. This involves predicting consumer trends, automating key processes, and enriching early decisions with relevant data and AI-powered analytics.
Her growth mindset and curiosity for continuous learning led the VP to spearhead the development and rollout of a specialized R&D digital transformation upskilling program accredited by the University College of London. The first of its kind, it serves as a testament to Bansal Dev’s unwavering determination.
The upskilling program outlines many ongoing pilot initiatives, with innovation as the main driver. “The whole point of the pilots is to fast fail or scale-up successes, and this will grow a culture of risk taking,” Bansal Dev says.
“This program aims to change mindset and imbed digitization in R&D ways of working,” she continues. “It’s about creating a highly differentiated innovation pipeline with greater efficiency, better decision-making early on, and a highly consumer-centric approach. As finding better ways to predict whether certain product compositions will have a more favorable experience with consumers.”
With the same compassion and empathy, leveraging her numerous experiences, both personal and professional, the VP also advocates for diversity and inclusion at GSK Consumer Healthcare. An executive sponsor of the Asian Employee Resource Group known as FUSION, she also sits on the inclusion and diversity council.
In a large company, it’s easy to go with the flow, saying “no” to new ideas and considerations. There’s no risk in that. However, Bansal Dev believes real, meaningful change inevitably ruffles feathers.
Yet, when done with credibility and facts, she thinks, “You should, by understanding the reasons behind the decisions, lean into it. I think people should give themselves permission to take a stand on what is best for our consumers, customers, community, and shareholders, and not let perceptions of others or their own stemming from cultural norms drive decision-making.”
Medica Communications LLC congratulates Vidhu on this well-deserved honor! We are proud to partner with her and GSK—to help develop quality strategic initiatives. As a leading full-service medical communications firm, we can enhance your current strategic plans or create new targeted programs designed to help you develop necessary relationships for future success. We understand your business and strive to validate your strategic and tactical concepts by delivering results-oriented national and global programs and materials. For more information visit us on our website medicacommunications.com.