We like to think that business and politics are separate. In truth, organizations are made up of human beings who can be affected by the political climate of the communities where they live and work. When we support our vulnerable coworkers and become allies, we help create a future that values inclusion, equality, and justice over discrimination. In this thought-provoking episode, host Elizabeth Bachman is joined by Alaina Kupec, a senior director at Gilead Sciences, to explore the profound impact of politics on businesses and the crucial role of allyship in supporting vulnerable colleagues. As America faces a surge of right-wing pushback against transgender people, Alaina discusses the business case for supporting transgender employees amidst discriminatory laws and restrictive rules. She goes beyond the realm of LGBTQ+ rights and delves into pressing issues such as reproductive rights and racial justice. From navigating gender perception challenges in corporate America to advocating for equal rights and fostering inclusion, Alaina shares practical strategies and real-life examples that listeners can apply within their own organizations. Join us in exploring the intricate relationship between politics and businesses and the role you play in it!
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When Politics Affect Business: On Transgender Rights And Allyship In Corporate America With Alaina Kupec
How To Be An Ally For Vulnerable Colleagues
My guest is Alaina Kupec, who was one of my early guests in the first year of the show, where we talked about Gender Perception in Corporate America. This is in 2023. As we are recording this, America is dealing with a lot of right-wing pushbacks against transgender specifically. I asked her to come back and talk to us about the business case for supporting your transgender employees and how you manage if you are living in a state that has these restrictive rules, not just LGBTQ discrimination, but also people who need abortions, racism, or any of that.
Her bio is extensive. The highlights are Alaina Kupec serves as the Senior Director and Portfolio Strategy and Analytics at Gilead Sciences. She leads the Portfolio Strategy and Analytics Team for the company’s virology and inflammation issues. She leads a team that works across Gilead to enable asset and portfolio optimization for the company’s development of new therapies.
Prior to that, she was in global value and access and focused on new medicines that the company was developing to treat inflammatory conditions. During the unprecedented pandemic time, she also led the value in excess work in the US and all ex-EU countries for Remdesivir, which is Gilead’s treatment for COVID-19. Her work ensured that new medicines would fit an unmet need for patients in a way that improves upon existing medicines that are already in the market while also ensuring that it’s affordable and accessible for patients and governments around the world.
When first joining Gilead, Alaina was Head of Market Access for the Therapeutic Inflammation Area at Gilead and was responsible for coordinating the access strategy in the US for all inflammation products. Before coming to Gilead in 2018, Alaina spent a long career with Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, where Alaina had roles in access, sales, leadership, public affairs, and communications.
Over the course of her career, she has used her strategic and tactical skills to analyze complex challenges with variables across different markets to make assessments, develop strategies and tactics, and lead the implementation of her work. She is a collaborative leader who focuses on ways to engage and meet stakeholder needs.
Outside of her workplace, Alaina is a tireless advocate for the transgender community. Alaina is a decorated Navy veteran. In 2016, Alaina was living quietly in North Carolina with her spouse when the North Carolina legislature passed the now infamous bathroom bill called HB2. This was a bill that required that anyone who used a bathroom had to use the bathroom that coordinated with the gender they were assigned at birth, not necessarily the gender they are now.
It was then that Alaina made the decision to be public about her status as a woman who happens to be transgender, helping to bring awareness and education about what it means for one to be transgender. Alaina has also appeared in articles for Rolling Stone and Salon and was featured in a video that Out Leadership used at their 2016 summit in New York City, as well as an online video for the Raleigh, North Carolina News & Observer. She has also spoken at multiple press events.
Alaina and her wife endowed a transgender positive collection at North Carolina State University. In doing so, they hope it can help students, faculty, and parents of transgender children, and importantly, anyone who has an interest in learning, understanding, and researching what it means to be transgender. We had a fascinating conversation. I know you will enjoy it. Onto the interview with Alaina Kupec.
Alaina Kupec, welcome back to the show. I’m happy to have you back here.
Thank you. It is great to see you getting me back.
I have a lot to ask you, but before I get into that, let me ask you, who would be your dream interview? If you could speak to someone who is not ordinarily available to you, who would it be? What would you ask them? Who should be listening?
For me, it would be Pope Francis. I was raised Catholic. I still consider myself Catholic. I’ve been trying since my gender transition several years ago, given some of the Catholic churches’ beliefs around somebody who is transgender. I was early in my transition when Pope Francis became Pope. One of the first things I heard him say was when he was asked about the LGBTQ community and what his thoughts were. He said, “Who am I to judge? That is not for me to judge.”
Through the last several years, that has always stood by me at my core because that is true in these trying times that we face now with a lot of challenges to my own community as people passing judgment, making laws, and banning things, not only my community but other communities. I always go back to that. At the end of the day, there is one person who is going to judge me. In my belief, that is God. I live my life in a way that treats others around me with love and compassion, no matter what background they are or what their faith is. It is a live and let live.
The Pope has done an amazing job in a challenging time for the church. He has faced a lot of pressure within the church to not necessarily exhibit that compassion for all that they are trying to change an organization that size in a way that has been aligned against the LGBTQ community. He has faced a lot of pushback for doing that. In many ways, what he is trying to do with the Catholic church is what the CEOs have to do for their companies. How do you navigate challenging times and make sure the organization is moving the way you want it to go without donating all your constituents along the way?
Let me go on to the questions I have for you. I am careful not to go into politics most of the time in this show, but we live in the real world. Politics affect who we are, where we are, and the situations that our companies are in. It is not all on the internet, irrespective of what country or state you are in. We are recording this in May 2023, where there is a big resurgence of antisemitism, racism, and especially legislation against transgender people, lesbians, gays, bi, and LGBTQ+.
It’s specifically against transgender people, especially led by Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, who is positioning himself to run for president. You live in Florida. I thought this would be a good time to check in with you and ask you what you are seeing living in that state where Ron DeSantis is banning human rights for everybody. What are you noticing? What do you see?
Governor DeSantis signed that legislation into law and the expansion of the Don’t Say Gay Bill, the one that bans gender-affirming care for children as well as a bathroom ban in public universities and schools for people who are transgender in public government-owned buildings. It was difficult emotionally, not only for myself but for my wife, who has been by my side for the last several years. We have been together since I transitioned.
It has been demoralizing and tiring. It confirms that there is no merit to any of these bills. There is no substance to any of them. These are all pieces of legislation that, at the end of the day, the only thing they do is stigmatize an already marginalized and at-risk community with no public benefit whatsoever. It is all smoke and no fire. If you look at the issues behind here and gender-affirming care for children, children aren’t receiving surgeries. That doesn’t happen.
For our international readers, can you define what the bathroom bill is? We have seen this before. This came around in previous years.
It’s my luck. I lived in North Carolina when they passed the famous bathroom bill. I now have a cloud that follows me and states where I go to that have played bathroom bills are passed into law.
What is a bathroom bill for our international readers?
A bathroom bill says someone like who is me, who is transgender, has to use the bathroom to my gender assigned at birth. In my case, having been a woman who is transgender, having been assigned male at birth, if I was to go into a school or a university, I would be breaking the law by going into a women’s restroom now. It is under the guise of protecting people from men in women’s rooms. They never talk about the fact that there are transmen and transwomen, but it is all about protecting children and people from the menace. What you are looking at here, I’m the menace they are talking about.
The irony is, here in Florida, I’m not out to my neighbors across the street. I have lived here for several years. Being transgender is a small part of who I am. It is not what I am. That is the case for 99.9% of people who are transgender. You would never know. All of these things are efforts to stoke up a political base on an issue that, at its surface, people can identify with. They say, “I don’t want a man in a woman’s room.” If you look at me, hopefully, you think, “That is not a man I’m looking at.”
They have also been codified here in Florida that what it means to be a man and a woman is what reproductive capability you have at birth. If you were a man, you had the ability to produce sperm at birth, and this is how they define it in the law. The fear of birth and you had the potential to have eggs at birth. They have tried to codify and simplify gender as a binary that is immutable. Science tells us that that is flat-out wrong. It is much more complex than that.
There are people who are intersex. There are people who have disorders. Being transgender is a medical condition recognized as such by every reputable medical association across the world. You only have these fringe anti-transgender groups who try to define it differently. To go back to the question you asked, it is horrifying for people here in Florida. The sad thing is people are becoming numb to it. People, not only in Florida but other states, see this extremism as politics at its worst. Politicians are trying to appeal to a small narrow base. It is unfortunate because elected officials hopefully are there to lead all, not a select minority of people that might be the most fervent part of their base.The sad thing is people are becoming numb to this extremism and politics at its worst and politicians trying to appeal to a very small, narrow base. Click To Tweet
If you look at the record of Governor DeSantis before he ran for governor and what he ran on his first term, he said, “These issues were not a problem. They were distractions that shouldn’t be focused on.” Now that he is going to plan to announce his run for the presidency, he is elevating these things because he thinks that he had to score him political points, which is the same thing that we see across the country.
These are all bills. At the end of the day, they are not going to do anything to protect the general public in any way whatsoever. What they are going to do is ultimately lead to oppression and suicide in the transgender community, especially young transgender people who are already at risk. Forty percent of homelessness are in the LGBTQ community. The majority of those are transgender, who have been kicked out of their house by their families.
Why does that happen? It is because of the stigmatization by politicians who try and other us and make us feel less than instead of embracing the unique individuality that all of us bring and recognizing that there is a biological root in people who are transgender. Every reputable academic medical center across this country has experts in this field, whether you are talking about Mayo Clinic, Mount Sinai in New York, Duke University, Chapel Hill, or UCLA. Every reputable medical center in this country recognizes this as a medical condition. The only people who don’t are the politicians who are using this as a wedge issue to bring attention to themselves and their campaigns.
Since we have been talking about this, I have been thinking a lot. You and I are both old enough to remember various cycles. There was President Clinton and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Bill. It is about gays in the military. There was a big thing about whether gays could get married and the early bathroom bills in North Carolina, which damaged the economy of North Carolina.
One thing I’ve been thinking about is it has been part of the conspiracy theory playbook for quite some time to threaten children. One of the things that the Russians do and have been doing for years is if there is somebody that the big boss doesn’t like, they are accused of being a pedophile. That is where QAnon started. That says, “These Democrats eat children and babies for breakfast.” It is crazy, but it is an issue that you can run on when people are afraid.
It is an issue you pick on children because they can’t fight back. They have no voice in the political arena. They can’t vote. They can’t hurt you politically. They don’t have a forum to fight back.
I was thinking about picking on marketing to parents to protect the children.
At the end of the day, who they are picking on are children who are relying on their parents to fight that fight. In the last several years since I have been public and transitioned, I have spoken with many parents of children. Oftentimes, these are parents who are politically aligned Republicans in the past. They have heard this narrative that everybody is here across the country now. Their child comes out to them, and they love their child unconditionally, but they are mortified because they see the world that their children are going to grow up in. They are scared of what their children are going to face, bullying, and rejection.
The irony is, if you are talking to people, 32, 33, and below, they all get this. This is a non-issue for them. The children amongst their peers are going to be fine, but it is the fear of how the adults are going to treat their children. That comes out in my discussions with them. What are the politicians going to do? How is the world going to be cruel to their child? Are they going to have the ability to grow up as a normal child? It is all driven by the bullying on the adult side. Sadly, it is hard to get those voices heard through the public dialogue. That is one of the challenges, quite honestly.
Nowadays, you are not supposed to go out and say something bad about somebody with another skin color, but because that has been normalized enough and people have pushed back to say, “This is not good. We don’t want this.” You could say that about trans people. A lot of people know gay people. You can’t say it about gay people because my uncle, my brother, or my coworker is gay. You can still say it about trans people because few people know somebody.
I’m going to get to the business case for this in a minute, but I want to ask you another sociological question. In terms of historical cycles, one of the things that many years in the opera business did for me was spending many years with the literature of everything from Roman literature to the 18th and 19th centuries makes me look at historical cycles. One wonders how these issues were dealt with before they came out 1 or 2 centuries ago. I’m curious if you have any thoughts about that.
Transgender people have always existed. If I say the name, Joan of Arc, I wonder what comes to people’s minds. If you think back to Joan of Arc, I don’t know how they identified whatsoever, but Joan of Arc was, in many ways, gender nonconforming. She didn’t fit the stereotype of the gender norms at that time if you look at her physical description of her. That is one of the historical figures that I would point back to and say, “She was revered for what she did, but she didn’t fit that social norm.”
I also happen to be part Native American and part Cherokee. In the Native American community, people who are transgender are considered enlightened. They are called two spirits. In the Hawaiian culture, it is the same way. In many other cultures outside of the White Christian culture, people who are transgender are seen in a different, oftentimes positive way because we do have a unique perspective.
I lived, operated, and navigated this world the best I could for the first several years of my life as a White man and had a White male privilege. I know what that looks like. I felt and experienced that. I will tell you that I didn’t know what I was feeling and experiencing at the time, but until I lost it, it became clear to me what I had.
You lost it by claiming your true identity and looking to the outside world like a woman.
Nobody in their right mind makes a choice to give up that positional power of a White man. I had to be true and authentic to myself that I could no longer live that lie to myself and to those that I loved around me, my children, and my family. I knew that was to come with great sacrifice. It has opened my eyes in many ways to the challenges of living, working, and navigating this world as a woman is completely different than a man, much less a White man.
I think that so much of what we are seeing in this country for the last several years has been this fear of many White men losing that traditional power that they have held within the society, whether it is this legislation we are talking about in Florida or other bills like it in other states. It is the racism, antisemitism, and anti-immigration rhetoric we are seeing. All of those are manifestations of White male power being put on a level playing field and that fear of giving something up.
The irony is there is no fear to be had there. The world is a better place where we can love and embrace each other for who we all are and accept that there is beauty in our differences. Not be caught up in the things we may enjoy because of the societal status that has traditionally been passed down from generation to generation in this country for the last many years. With progress comes setbacks. That is what we are experiencing right now.The world's a better place when we can just love and embrace each other for who we all are and accept that there's beauty in our differences. Click To Tweet
You could look back at the Obama administration. You had a Black American president. A lot of things started after we had a Black American president. Some of this is the whiplash of the country pushing back against that. If you make steps forward, there are going to be steps back. The question in my mind is, “How long are we going to continue to step back? Can we weather this storm until we can come out the other side?”
I’m an optimist. I believe that at the end of the day that we will. Even here in Florida, where we are living through these challenging times in my community, we will weather this storm. We will come out stronger on the other side. To the point that you made about visibility, it is challenging because, as you mentioned, the transgender community is small. The visible transgender community is even smaller.
For every person you may see like me on this show, there are probably 7 or 8 other people who are transgender who may be living like I was up until several years ago in the closet, scared to come out. I know professionals who are airline pilots, who are in the finance business, and all kinds of people who hide who they are because they are scared to accept who they are. They find ways to express themselves in private because they fear losing their careers, marriage, and children.
One of the reasons why I made the decision to be visible in North Carolina during the bathroom bill is if people don’t have the opportunity to see someone like me, know, look at me, and hear my lived experience, the narrative that they are going to have when they think of transgender people is what they hear from the politicians. I’m hoping to do my part to be visible in an appropriate way. People can say, “That law makes no sense. It would be crazy to have Alaina go to a men’s restroom.”
When I was living in North Carolina after they passed that bathroom bill, I met with several Republican lawmakers who supported that legislation. I sat across from them. I will always remember this. One of them said to me, “I would never have a problem with you using a woman’s bathroom.” I said, “That is the problem. You have now legislated that it is illegal for me to do that.” They haven’t reconciled what they have voted for and what it means in people’s lives. The disassociation is crazy. That is why I’m hoping to do my part to put a face on what it means to be transgender.
It is no different from any other medical condition. It is a medical condition that appropriate medical experts in this field are trained to treat. How can we deny people? Appropriate medical care is beyond me, much less children who are only getting psychotherapy and potentially puberty blockers that will delay their puberty until they can get to the age of consent and make an informed decision for themselves. It does nothing to reverse anything about them.
They are going to be surgical sparing. If you go through puberty and transition, you have to have a number of surgeries to undo the effects of estrogen or testosterone, depending on the way you are transitioning. That requires a lot of expensive surgery. In many ways, those puberty blockers are surgical sparing. Why would we deny people appropriate psychological care and the ability to pause, get to the age of consent, and make an informed decision? It is a boogieman that is being used for political gain. That is not based on anything that is real or tangible in this world.
Let’s go to the business case here. There are some people, usually entitled White people, who say, “Why should we bother with diversity, equity, and inclusion? Why can’t everybody be okay? Why does it matter that no one is teaching that in the schools and the universities in Florida?” That is the first question. Why does that matter? What should we do?
That matters because companies and corporations are made up of people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, and experiences. If we don’t have the resources available for people to recognize that somebody who is non-White, what we are saying to those people is, “There is one view of the world. It is the White straight world.”
Schools are places of knowledge and learning. If we don’t have the ability for children to have resources that help them understand who they are, I’m not talking about gender. I’m talking about having an appreciation for their own history and culture. We don’t expose people to other cultures. What we are saying is that one culture is better than all the others. The other ones are worth learning about. The scary part is there is a conscious effort to stamp out diversity here in Florida and other states. That has a damning effect. If you are somebody who is a minority in any way, that means your ability to feel seen, heard, and valued in your everyday life, your growth, and your development.
One of the things that we were talking about earlier is, as a company, how can you help families who say, “I need to move to another state to protect a child?”
That is where these issues, like the ones in Florida, hit home, and Texas is the same. It is not only transgender-affirming care for children. It is the abortion issue and other issues that have been dividing the country for the last several years. These issues hit home for companies because what do you do in those cases? Do you have employees working in a state where they don’t have access to care? Hopefully, companies have policies that are supportive of that care.
It is a financial and a real issue for retention with those companies. Do you pay for that colleague’s move to a state where transgender children can grow, thrive, and be valued for who they are, not what they are? Do you provide transportation to people who need to access medical care in a different state, whether that is transgender-affirming care, abortion, or any other type of care?
Companies are at a crossroads now. They are, in some ways, having to make choices around what is best for their business and colleagues, sometimes in opposition to each other, because companies are reticent to take a public stand because they don’t want to get drawn into a political fight. If you look at the Walt Disney Company here in Florida, the battle that is going on with the governor here, the special tax district, and stripping the special tax district away from Walt Disney Company, who spoke out against the Don’t Say Gay Bill.
It had a damning effect, not only on Disney but on other companies who were already a resident to put their toe in the water publicly to support their colleagues to say, “We see you. We value the LGBTQ community that works for the Walt Disney Company. We are going to support you.” By doing that publicly, they faced a real backlash. That has affected their earning statements.
Companies and boardrooms are trying to wrestle with how they navigate these challenging political waters where you are trying to support and take care of the people that are the heart of your business, you hope, and at the same time, do in a way that doesn’t bring backlash to your bottom line as a company.
In boardrooms across the country, this has been a discussion for the past several years. In many ways, since these bathroom bills first started in 2016, it was the first time that this was put on the radar. With Roe versus Wade being overturned, it was brought to the forefront yet again. You are seeing companies like the Walt Disney Company here in Florida fighting back and suing for corporate free speech. Companies don’t want to be in the business of doing that.
You are not the size of Disney. You don’t have Disney’s financial resources.
You want to be in the business to satisfy the customers that you have as a company, not in a battle of protecting First Amendment rights for the company’s free speech. It is a paradox that is interesting to see how companies are navigating it at the moment. I see on my side a deliberate and conscious effort, only the word diversity out of anything companies do. The other thing is, at least from what I have seen, nobody in our initiatives from human resources any longer. The word diversity is not used much. It is all about inclusion now.
This is an important point. Tell us why you can’t say inclusion. Why do you have to say, “Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging are important?”
My personal perspective is inclusion applies to everyone. We should all be inclusive. When I hear inclusion as a woman who happens to be transgender, it strikes me as all lives matter. It doesn’t recognize the crises that some people are going through, the support, the need to lift and focus on Black equity, for example. Black equity and inclusion in this country is a big issue that has been pushed behind the scenes.
Let me interject here for our international readers. All lives matter was something that some politicians said we should say instead of, “Black Lives Matter,” which devalued what the Black Lives Matter protestors were saying. If you say, “All lives matter,” that means we go back to the same old system. Not recognizing how much harder you have to work if you are Black, gay, trans, Latino, Asian, or any of the minorities that we are now recognizing and accepting, lumping it into all lives matter means that the same power structure takes us back to the same old power structure.
That is why here in Florida, they have banned diversity training being done by companies. Companies can no longer do diversity training in the State of Florida. The government has banned any diversity training at schools and universities. They have made the word diversity taboo, but you can’t do it, or else you are going to face legal repercussions for doing so. You will be fired from your job if you are a public educator and you talk about diversity.
We can talk about inclusion, but it is a triangle. It is a three-legged stool. If you take away the other legs of that stool, it falls upon itself. That is the challenge. For all the growth that we had as a company of a country and coming together and recognizing the value of diversity and inclusion, we are seeing a strong push towards stifling that and putting it back in the closet as something that is bad. It goes back to those that are traditionally held power and that effort to hold onto that power.Inclusion is a triangle, a three-legged stool. If you take away the other legs of that stool, it falls upon itself. Click To Tweet
It is ultimately destined to fail, but it is painful going through it. Alaina, this has been fascinating and important. If you are a manager, director, or in the leadership of your company, what can you do safely without damaging the company?
The biggest thing you can do is to be a visible ally that people can see. That is for all communities, Black, Latino, and LGBTQ. It is through words and actions. Visible demonstrations of support are critical. It is easy to take for granted. You can think, “People know I’m an ally.” They don’t. These are turbulent times and changing times.The biggest thing we can do is be a visible ally that people can see. Click To Tweet
I don’t think anybody takes for granted who may have been an ally in the past, but they are still an ally now. Whether it is through words, actions, or signs, make sure that people know that you are empathetic to the situations that they may be in, acknowledging that in one-on-one discussions with direct reports, checking in people, and asking them, “It may be a tough time, but how are you doing? How are you holding up?”
We don’t want to interject politics into the workplace but open up a dialogue with colleagues and check in with them. We are getting ready to go into Pride Month. Putting a pride flag as a background on a remote Zoom teleconference or putting a pride flag in your office somewhere or something that says, “I’m an ally.” Small things like that are important. No matter how small you may think they are, they mean so much to us that maybe come from marginalized communities.
Another thing is if your company has employee resource groups, and I hope they do, visit employee resource groups for people who don’t look like you. Sponsor if you can, but visit at least.
I always remembered a conversation when I was walking out of my office years ago. I was talking to a White male colleague. I had talked about our employee resource group. They said, “What is that?” They had no idea what an employee resource group was. If you work at a company, you probably see invitations for lunch and learns or educational sessions for these different employee resource groups. Take the time to join one of those, learn, and pay attention to the messages being heard.
Take a look at that list of people who are there and see if you know people in those meetings or see people you know if their meetings are live. Have that conversation and talk about what you saw or heard at that meeting. Tie it back to a conversation you can have with a colleague that shows them you are not only over there, but you listened and learned from that too. That is critically important.
I should define what an employee resource group is for those who don’t know. It is a group of Black employees in your organization, the Latinx, the gay employees, or the veterans. You and I first met through a veterans employee resource group. It is where people of similar backgrounds can get together and talk about what their experience is. If that is not your background, you will learn a lot. Go and listen.
It is a good way to get visible. There is a little plug from my career development work, which is, “Be one of the people who leads an employee resource group that fits who you are.” That is a good way to meet the upper management, who come to listen in. They know who you are. You are not invisible. You become a visible person.
Seek mentors within those employee resource groups. It is a great way to find mentors and people that have experiences that you can learn from that are outside of your traditional leadership tree. It is a safe place for people to broaden their social network and, at the same time, learn. I have nothing but great things to say about them.
I have long said that within my own company, they are one of the secret sauces of the culture. If a company has a strong employee resource group base, it is a sign of health for the company. The company’s willingness to empower those and fund the work that they do is a telltale sign of their commitment to how they view their employees and diversity within their corporations.
Diversity is not just a, “This would be nice to do for those little people over there.” Statistics have shown that if you have diverse voices, especially in the leadership of the company, the profits go up. There is study after study that shows us that profits go up if you have diverse voices because you may miss something if you are only talking to people who look and think like you.
We can all benefit from a diversity of thought. If we all bring something different to the table, we can solve problems in different ways that we could never solve if we had one way of thinking.
That is a great line to end on. Alaina Kupec, thank you very much for being a guest. Readers, if you enjoyed this, follow us, subscribe to us on YouTube, tell your friends, subscribe to the show wherever it is, and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. That is the one that matters. Tell your friends. We’ve loved having you read this. I will see you on the next one.
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About Alaina Kupec
Alaina currently serves as a Senior Director, Portfolio Strategy & Analytics at Gilead Sciences in Foster City, CA. She leads the Portfolio Strategy & Analytics team for the company’s Virology and Inflammation assets. She leads a team that works across Gilead to enable asset and portfolio optimization for the Company’s development of new therapies.Prior to that she was in Global Value and Access and focused on new medicines that the company is developing to treat inflammatory conditions.During pandemic time, she also led the value and access work in the US and all ex-EU countries for Remdesivir, Gilead’s treatment for COVID 19. Her work ensured new medicines will fit an unmet need for patients in a way that improves upon existing medicines already on the market, while ensuring it is affordable and accessible for patients and governments around the world.When first joining Gilead, Alaina was the head of Market Access for the Inflammation therapeutic area at Gilead. She was responsible for coordinating the access strategy in the US for all inflammation products.
Before coming to Gilead in 2018, Alaina spent a long career with Pfizer, where she had roles in Access, Sales Leadership, Public Affairs and Communications.
Over the course of her career, she has used her strategic and tactical skills to analyze complex challenges with variables across different markets to make assessments, develop strategy and tactics then lead the implementation of her work. She is a collaborative leader who focuses on ways to engage and meet stakeholder needs.