By Deidre Coleman, Contributing Writer
“Leaders with empathy,” Daniel Goleman, the godfather of emotional intelligence, wrote, “do more than sympathize with people around them; they use their knowledge to improve their companies in subtle, but important, ways.” That’s what Christi Shaw intends to do as senior VP of Eli Lilly and president of Lilly Bio-Medicines, having signed up in April of 2017 to replace newly minted CEO David Ricks as head of its Bio-Medicines business.
In April 2016, Shaw stepped down as U.S. country head and president of Novartis to care for her older sister Sherry who was suffering from multiple myeloma. Sherry’s condition had deteriorated since her 2013 diagnosis, and she was accepted into a promising clinical study in early April with the proviso that she have a full-time caretaker during the three-month trial. Shaw took up the mantle of caretaker, moving to Philadelphia with her sister where they stayed in Cancer Hope Lodge for the duration of the trial. “My own mother died at 51 of breast cancer, and this was back in 1996 in rural Iowa in the Midwest, and we didn’t take her anywhere. I now know, had she gotten into a trial, the drugs they were studying were approved the same year she died, so she could have lived another 18 months to five years longer. That was a mistake that I’ve reflected on, and I wanted to be there for my sister.”