Partner School Q&A

Q&A with Dr. Lawrence Awopetu, interim dean School of Business and Management, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff


Q. How will this strategic alliance help your student population’s understanding of the biopharma industry?

A. Tomorrow’s Innovators will build awareness of the biopharma industry among UAPB’s student population. This will allow them to better understand the industry’s core mission and importance as a critical developer of therapies and innovations helping to cure disease, prevent infection and maintain our collective health. 

The biopharma industry is one that affects global populations, so it’s critical our students and alumni have the tools, resources and real-world opportunities to learn more about it—including its science and research, regulatory bodies, work on behalf of patients and business models. By collaborating with BMS on the Tomorrow’s Innovators program, it’s our hope we can create more experiential, educational and recruitment opportunities for our students to spur lifelong interest and careers within biopharma. 

Q. How do you plan to leverage the expertise and experience of commercial leaders at BMS to further shape your university’s business curriculum? 

A. At UAPB, our goal is to ensure students have not only developed proficiency in core competencies and skills in the classroom, but also have access to the necessary, real-world opportunities where they can practically apply knowledge and theories. 

With Tomorrow’s Innovators, we’re deepening collaboration with and access to BMS commercial leaders who have had those real-world experiences and can apply their expertise to help educate and mentor UAPB students—through things like guest lectures, identifying and supporting cooperative or internship opportunities, and working with student leadership to identify industry engagement opportunities within biopharma.

Q. What are the critical needs, of both your faculty and student body, that this strategic alliance could solve?

A. Our faculty look forward to collaborating with BMS to develop more biopharma related curriculum and research opportunities, as well as more enrichment and practical training experiences like faculty summer internships. 

For students, this collaboration means more opportunities to experience cutting-edge biopharma research and fields of study, a dedicated, sustained bridge to  internships within BMS, and support to increase UAPB student access to biopharma technology and resources.

It’s an incredibly mutually beneficial collaborative in that it allows us to strengthen our overall programming and curriculum while supplying BMS with a pipeline to source and recruit Black talent. 

Q. From a career development standpoint, what are the gaps or challenges your students may face when considering a career in biopharma?

A. The biggest challenge UAPB students often face is the lack of information and exposure to the biopharma industry in order to even consider it as an option. Business students, for example, often don’t readily think of biopharma as an industry in which to have a successful business career—but of course it is. They often just need the exposure to better understand that every company has a business aspect to it regardless of the field of study. 

Q. So for those students not pursuing STEM majors—like the business students you just mentioned, how can Tomorrow’s Innovators introduce biopharma to those future Black leaders? 

A. Tomorrow’s Innovators ensures the profile of the biopharma industry and various career paths within is elevated among UAPB students of all backgrounds. By better understanding biopharma’s mission and vision through our work with BMS, we hope to drive interest in biopharma as a sector where Black leaders apply a wide range of academic skills all in support of that mission and vision. Tomorrow’s Innovators will broaden the horizon of their future career goals.

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