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Author: Gillings, Dennis, interviewee
Interview conducted by Mosnier, Joseph
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 116 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
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Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-04-12, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of sound recording: Oral History Interview with Dennis Gillings, June 10, 1999. Interview I-0072. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series I. Business History. Southern Oral History Program Collection (I-0072)
Author: Joseph Mosnier
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Dennis Gillings, June 10, 1999. Interview I-0072. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series I. Business History. Southern Oral History Program Collection (I-0072)
Author: Dennis Gillings
Description: 139 Mb
Description: 32 p.
Note: Interview conducted on June 10, 1999, by Joseph Mosnier; recorded in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series I. Business History, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Dennis Gillings, June 10, 1999.
Interview I-0072. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Gillings, Dennis, interviewee


Interview Participants

    DENNIS GILLINGS, interviewee
    JOSEPH MOSNIER, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
[This is] an interview with Mr. Dennis Gillings of Quintiles Transnational Corporation at their offices in the Research Triangle in North Carolina. My name is Joe Mosnier. This is cassette 6.10.99-DG. This interview is being conducted for the Southern Oral History Program's series, North Carolina Business History. Thank you very much for sitting down with us for the series. I appreciate that. Let me ask you, just to open, if you could give a quick sketch of your [life], even reaching back say to where you were born, childhood, how you ended up those years later teaching at Chapel Hill.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
I was born at the end of the Second World War in London, England and was educated in the inner city of London through to the age of eighteen. Then I attended the University of Exeter. Actually, starting at the age of nineteen, I attended the University of Exeter in the southwest of England reading mathematics for a bachelor's degree. From there, I went to the University of Cambridge to do the equivalent of a Master's degree in mathematical statistics. It was actually called a diploma in mathematical statistics. Then I returned to Exeter as a faculty member, doing my Ph.D. at the same time. Subsequent to that, I came to the University of North Carolina here at Chapel Hill initially as an assistant professor and then rising through the ranks. I made a full professor, if I recall [correctly], in 1980. My corporate life had started in a consulting role before that—.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Can I jump in with that? Let me ask just a little bit more—. Anything in particular that you would think — taking the measure from today's distance — was especially significant about your family, about early influences or mentors that would have some substantial role in making you the man that you are?

Page 2
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Yeah. I've been asked that a lot. I always find it difficult to pinpoint people. There were a couple of people at the University of Exeter that had a considerable influence on me. One was Professor John Ashford who was the professor of statistics because he suggested I should go to the United States. That led me ultimately to come to here. Another was a physician, Dr. Norman Pearson, who was my boss at the Institute of Biometry and Community Medicine while I was at the University of Exeter doing my Ph.D. I was working as a faculty member for him in this institute. So those two people — he being an epidemiologist and Professor Ashford being a statistician, did have some influence. Ashford guided me, actually, to the United States.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
What's the specific story about how this Chapel Hill position came to your notice?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well, it definitely came out of the blue. In fact, it was John Ashford who came back from a tour of the United States. He was giving a lecture tour. It was just prior to my taking, if you like, a leave of absence and making a journey across Africa by Land Rover. He said to me, "Would you like to work in the United States?" I didn't really know what to say because I hadn't thought really of that. Apparently, he'd given a lecture at University of North Carolina here at Chapel Hill and the chairman of the Department of Biostatistics, who is Dr. Bernie Greenberg, had identified a position that he'd been searching for for between one and two years and had been unable to find within his department. Apparently, I fitted the bill. So, that came out of the blue. I did then meet Dr. Greenberg in Germany about a month later, or maybe just a couple of weeks later, at some professional meetings for statisticians. As a result of that, [I] got offered a job, which I turned out to accept at the conclusion of my African sojourn.

Page 3
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Had your ambition been and was it then to be an academic?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
No. Sometimes that makes me uneasy. I found earlier on, I didn't know too well what I wanted to do. I was reasonably good academically, and I feel I followed my nose. You do well in school and you go to the university, and you do well at bachelor's and you go on. Then a decision time comes and then, in this case, I was carrying on. Then someone was offering me a job that was very attractive — certainly by English standards because the salaries of professors, even though they may be modest in an American environment, were very substantial relative to the British environment as it existed then.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
What were your impressions of Chapel Hill, when you arrived, as a place to live and a place to begin building a career?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well, it was certainly a beautiful place. I had a little difficulty relating to it. I was definitely from London and enjoyed larger cities, and I suppose I hadn't really thought [about] what I was coming to. Back in 1971, this was a pretty rural area. The Research Triangle, as we know it today, hadn't really developed. It didn't seem at all like—. My only sort of contact of the US had been through the movies and things like that, so it seemed vastly different. Back in those days, although I did a lot of travel, there wasn't quite the interaction that goes on today. So, I think there was a less clear picture of what another country was like.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Obviously your thoughts and professional time were given over to work at the University, did it seem — as much as you can recall — a place that was in a very dynamic period of its economic history?

Page 4
DENNIS GILLINGS:
That wasn't clear to me then. It became clear to me as I saw a lot of companies building up in the Triangle, and I saw the universities continuing to expand. Also, the airport and road systems expanding far quicker than I'd ever experienced in the past. So, I believe by about the early '80s, I had really recognized that. But, I would say that during the '70s, it certainly wasn't so obvious to me.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How about your sense of the state's political regime in those years?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Generally, whichever party was in, I felt very positive because they were very supportive of education, it seemed to me. It did seem that North Carolina had made a big investment in education. I was very much positive to that, very much so. So, I found each successive governor pretty attractive from my point of view.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Jim Hunt would've been serving his two terms in those eight years after you arrived, '72 to '80.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
That's right.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Before giving way to Jim Martin.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well, Holshouser—
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Oh, I beg your pardon. You're exactly right. Holshouser was '72, '76 and then Jim Hunt.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
And then Jim Hunt, that's right.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Indeed. Indeed. Holshouser the first Republican governor of North Carolina.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
That's why I said both parties. When I first came, it was Bob Scott, Governor Scott, if I remember.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
That's right.

Page 5
DENNIS GILLINGS:
I was fortunate, a bit fortunate, to meet all of them. So, I do remember them as individuals.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Anything especially noteworthy in this context of your early few years at this university?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
One thing, I have to mention Bill Friday, which is part of the reason that I'm at this interview. I distinctly remember Bill Friday as the president of the university system and he would always say hello to you. In particular, he always said hello to me. I was always impressed with that because he said it definitely as though he recognized me. He may have had a talent to do that, but it seemed very genuine. I couldn't have been more pleased when he always, every time I passed him, he said hello and it was very nice feeling. He's a wonderful man.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Tell me about this call out of the blue, as you previously described it, from Hoechst in '75.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Yes. Well, there was a statistician at Hoechst that made the call, and he happened to have gone to school with Professor Gary Koch, that's spelled K-O-C-H. Gary was the co-founder of Quintiles with myself and a strong colleague of mine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Apparently Ken had asked Gary's advice about someone who might do a specialized piece of consultancy on a study. As a result of that conversation, the statistician at Hoechst called me, and so to me this came out of the blue. The problem roughly as follows, fifty-six people in the then West Germany had died while at the same time they were on a drug that was for diabetes. It was an oral sulphonyl urea. I think it's marketed today under the brand name of Diabeta. This association that all these people had died, and they were at the same time on the drug,

Page 6
was a bit damning. There was great concern that the drug should not be brought into this country, so I was asked to write an expert report reviewing what the reasons were for these deaths and whether there was any association with the drug.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Was it that episode specifically that immediately gave rise to this notion that there might be a wider range of consulting work available to you if you sought it out, or how did the consulting practice unfold?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
I suppose. I was so successful in that particular project that until this day I [still] don't know whether I discovered something or whether the company already knew it. On this project, I found out that all the patients were elderly and had excretion problems through their kidney and liver. So, the drug built up in the system, obviously, with people that had these problems, and they died from hypoglycemia, too low blood sugar. My recommendation was that the drug just needed to be labeled so that these sorts of people were not prescribed the product. I think that turned out to be an accurate prediction. Now, what I don't really know is whether they already knew that. I thought it was sufficiently easy to find out, so that I couldn't believe they wouldn't have known it. But, who knows? I was sent these fifty-two hospital charts in German, or fifty-six I should say. That's all I received. So, there was a lot of detective work that's related to them figuring all that out. Now as result of that, I suppose there was a fair degree of positive response because the report was very well accepted and it seemed to eliminate a potential labeling problem about the drug. As a result of that, Hoechst asked me to do several other pieces of work. Then other companies asked me to do several pieces of work. That was definitely the founding event of that consulting in the pharmaceutical sector. No question about it.

Page 7
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How did all this consulting work expand in the late '70s?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
By about 1980, I might be employing about twenty students and research assistants to help me with projects at any one time, but they would wane and lull and surge and wane. It was by that time I realized that if this was to carry on, I would be forever trying to find people and get rid of people. It seemed that if there was a sufficient constant throughput, I might be able to set up a company. That's what happened in early '82.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Talk a little bit about the germination of that idea — how you thought your way through putting a business together? Did you have mentors? Did you have models? Were you flying by the seat of your pants? How does one do that, a university professor?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
I really—. Maybe it was by instinct. The only thing that I did was visit a lawyer to find out what sort of companies you could set up. I discovered that you could set up a company that was like an extension of your own alter ego, which was a subchapter S. Basically, all your profits became part of your own taxable salary or earnings. Or, you could set up a C corporation, which was a real entity that was no alter ego. It was an independent entity, which had its own tax structure. There were different advantages [to each one], but the one point I gathered was that a C corporation was a real corporation with longevity in its own right. I plumped for that [one] because I thought there would be more permanence attached to that. But apart from that, there wasn't really any other advice, because I found the building where we would do it. I found the business to put through the company and [I] employed the people. I did get the advice of an accountant, obviously, to help set up the payroll system. That seemed pretty obvious

Page 8
that that's what we would do. In that sense, I followed my nose, but I didn't think you had to be very smart to do that.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
You stepped away, in a formal sense, from the university in '82?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
No. Not until '86. Then formally, not until '88. What happened, from '82 to '86, the company began growing strongly, but since I had good staff, it wasn't a full-time effort by me. Probalby, I would say [it was] a half time [effort] — pretty much evenings and weekends would take care of it. So for the three years, '82 to '85, I was easily able to continue my professorial appointment. What then happened was I began to see the opportunity to expand even further, so I realized that if I carried on expanding and put my full efforts into business development for the company, then I would have to give up my professorship. What I decided to do was take a two year leave of absence to make sure everything worked out. That was from the period '86 to '88. Then in '88, I did tender my resignation.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
By that point I suppose business had developed well enough that it didn't seem obviously risky a move to step away from a tenured faculty position? You felt comfortable with that decision?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Certainly by '88. I felt pretty comfortable in '86, but there's no reason to not have a security blanket. To other people, though—. I remember definitely some colleagues saying, "How could you possibly give up a tenured slot for something that was risky and totally unknown?' I suppose I didn't quite see it that way because in the University there's a lot of what's known as soft money, which is grants and contracts from the government and other sources. I really didn't see myself doing anything much different. Perhaps the only difference was it was one hundred percent soft money instead

Page 9
of fifty or sixty percent. But, other than that, I felt that it was similar and in addition there weren't a lot of rules that someone else set. I could set the rules myself.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Give me an example of a bread and butter project early on in that early '80s phase.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Bread and butter. Well, we had—. I remember a cancer project where there was a drug for colon cancer that turned out not to be efficacious. But of course that was the charge, to try to figure out if it was or wasn't. It was an oral product that you would take, and the idea was that it got to the colon cancer quicker than if you had an injection. So, it was quite intriguing, but never worked out. I did a variety of studies. I'm not sure anything was bread and butter. I was pretty good at the statistical side, but hadn't necessarily worked in each of these therapeutic areas. I can go over—. We did [studied] depression [medication]; we did peripheral vascular disease; we did sleep; we did anxiety; cancer, as I just said; and arthritis. All those therapeutic areas were done certainly in the first couple of years, so none of them were bread and butter because I was continually learning new therapeutic areas and more about the biometric measurements that would be the outcomes for those particular diseases.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How did you find key colleagues, staff? What sorts of instincts and rules of thumb did you use to put the group of professionals together?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
At Chapel Hill we had lots of good students. Students always need extra dollars, so that was a remarkably potent weapon. They would work all hours of the day or night. We would pay fifteen or twenty dollars an hour, which was very good money. The students would work enormously hard and get things done very productively. There was absolutely no problem. In fact, the students used to like it because they would work

Page 10
hard for a month, and they'd make a few thousand dollars, and they wouldn't have to do anything. They'd go back [with time dedicated] solely to their studies. Now I also had some research assistants who moonlighted. They were staff — programming staff and other staff within the department. So, they moonlighted and that was good for them too.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Tell me about building an entrepreneurial business in the mid-'80s in this part of North Carolina.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
It wasn't very common, that's for sure. At least I didn't meet many other people that did it. Maybe it was more common than I realize, what with my contacts being mainly academic. You tend to stay often within your contacts. I suppose the other part of that is my business wasn't all that easy to describe. We were doing what we commonly call now "outsourcing" for the pharmaceutical industry in drug development. At that time, for anyone to imagine that a big company like Glaxo might contract with someone like me to analyze their studies didn't seem feasible because why wouldn't they do it themselves? So, it was quite hard to explain. In point of fact, the explanation then was far different from what it would be now because, I think it's fair to say, Gary and I had a lot of skills. We probably had more skills than was present in most big pharmaceutical companies at that time, so we were able to bring a skill level to the data that was presented to the Food and Drug Administration that was a step up. Now a days, of course, there's a lot more trained people and a lot more of that skill level would be resident in the major companies.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Were you ever offered the opportunity to come in house by anyone of them?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Yes, yes.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
So people saw that as something that might make sense—.

Page 11
DENNIS GILLINGS:
That's correct. For me, it was a much better life being a professor with the consulting than actually working for a corporation.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Why were they outsourcing? [Was it] just a matter of not having the in-house expertise? Why didn't they go out and get it?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
We tended to specialize in those early years in things that were quite hard problems. Just take the fifty-six deaths. I don't know whether anyone in the company would've solved that. Perhaps on the one hand there wasn't the confidence. Then, on the other hand, there's always this thing — an external person that's a professor has a reputation and an independence that lends greater weight to the conclusion. That's one of those inescapable things that often happens.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
One of the things that's interesting about this study is exploring the extent to which a regional distinctiveness is still evident in business. Were there times that it mattered, in your effort to put this company and develop this company here, that you were not a southerner?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Oh no. I would say almost the reverse. It's probably fair to say that my customers more came from New Jersey, but of course Glaxo and Burroughs-Wellcome — at that time they were separate companies — were local customers. Everyone always thought that we entirely developed because of those companies and that was not true. The genesis came out of New Jersey, and then we gained other customers later.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
But you're selling a service, so place matters less, I guess.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
In fact, I often found that my English accent was an advantage. For some reason it gets credited with intelligence. I don't know why. I get that sense in the United States, maybe. You can judge [for] yourself whether you think I'm correct, but for some

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reason when it's put side by side with a native American [accent], for some reason it sounds more intelligent. I'm not saying that with any degree of belief. I think it's nonsense. It's an advantage, which I think I've benefited from. Very unusual that a foreigner can actually benefit more than a native, or at least as much as native. I was always struck by that.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Any folks who stand out from these early years, mid- or late-eighties, as key contacts, key sources of insight or perspective? Someone who you met along the way who offered something to think about, that ended up being quite significant or opened a door for you or gave you some regulatory insight perhaps?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Some of the people, our customers [were important]. One I remember well, Dr. John Nelson, who was the physician in charge of clinical research at Hoechst. He was originally from Scotland. He was very focused on the point of the study and what it was trying to accomplish. That focus and penetration of thought, I felt was a very good thing. I did observe that and I got on well with him, I believe. Another colleague I might mention, who was at that time at Bristol-Myers, was Dr. Joe Armellino. He certainly taught me a lot about the development process for new drugs. So, I did find I was learning a tremendous amount. I came at this from a narrow disciplinary skill and quickly learned some of the business angles, like how to focus on what the key things were and also some of the wider angles of what a pharmaceutical company is trying to do and how does it get a new drug on the market. That did help me then with the next iteration of the company, Quintiles, because I figured we could really manage a broader process than just analyzing data from an individual clinical trial. We could manage all the databases and we could actually run the clinical trials.

Page 13
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
When did you really turn your efforts to that expansion of the services you were selling or considered selling?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well, from '86 to '88 I put my attention at expanding the database management and we expanded it across to the United Kingdom, so that it was transatlantic. I did that first because I felt that Europe would become a single market. Being from Europe or the UK, I was probably closer to that development. If it became a single market, it would mean that drugs were developed in Europe much like they were developed in the United States, which was not true in the '80s, so that made me decide I needed to build a data processing and analysis capability [on] both sides of the Atlantic to accommodate multi-national clinical trials. When that was successful, I figured that then we could put in the expertise to manage the trials, design the trials, and monitor the trials. So then, from '88 to '90, we began to put that in place.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How dependent was that expansion on key hires at Quintiles? Did you have to bring in—.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Yes. Yes. I brought in Dr. Bob Butz who had worked for Burroughs-Wellcome and then had branched out on his own. I was very impressed with him and so he helped develop our clinical and regulatory capability. Also at that time Dr. Bill Solliceto — he had been my research student and had joined the company right from the outset — took over the management of the statistical and data responsibilities as I took on a broader role, managing the whole company and developing the business of the company. Bill was very influential in us making substantive progress. Then Rachel Selisker, who is currently our CFO and has been always our CFO, she joined us in 1987. She had been with us pretty much since 1982 because she had been the accountant that

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had audited all our accounts or really reviewed all our accounts. Then she joined the company in 1987, so she has seen every dollar pass through the company. Then there was another instrumental person, Sarah Creagh, who I brought in to manage the human part of the business. This was an interesting story because we had a bunch of techies — you know, programmers and statisticians. They saw everything as very tangible scientific technology type things. When I proposed that Sarah come in as the heart of the business, rather than the scientific structure of the business, people couldn't understand what she would do. But that proved to be an immensely valuable appointment. That was the case. There was also Sid White. I would like to mention him. Sid White had joined us from the very earliest stage. He was an expert programmer and was able to, it seemed to me, program anything and make any data analysis work. He was very instrumental.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
So there certainly was a connection to the university through folks—
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Absolutely. Yes, because of those people. Bill and Sid came directly from UNC-Chapel Hill. A number of people [also had university connections], though. Connie Morreadith, my secretary Bea O'Quinn, came out of the university. They had either worked for me there or had moved onto other things and then came back.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How easy or not was it to begin managing all of the business side rather than the service provision side of a growing business? Did it suddenly start eating up all of your time or were you able to—
DENNIS GILLINGS:
When it started eating up all of my time is really when we became international because I needed to be both sides of the Atlantic at the same time. That did transform everything into very high demand. No question about that. I probably expanded internationally more quickly than anyone would've recommended I did, but I

Page 15
felt there was no time to lose. I calculated the European Union would come into effect at the end of '92 or beginning of '93, 1992 or 1993. I'm blocking a little bit when it was. I wanted to be there five years before that, so that was sort of by '87. In order to get the full five years in, we had to be starting up there. We accomplished that. We started up in the middle of '87, but we were really viable by the beginning of '88. So, we did have five years before the European Union came about. To me that was important because that was sort of roughly the same amount of time that the company'd been developed so far in North Carolina. I felt we'd need the same amount of time to replicate it and may even need longer because it was at a distance.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Before we turn to the many issues related to international expansion, what was your—. Here you are some years after having been working as a professor, you're running a growing and dynamic business. Did you suddenly have to pay attention to tax, fiscal, regulatory issues?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Oh, yes.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
All that stuff. I'm wondering two things. One, whether or not the discoveries you made and encountering all these things that were suddenly on your plate, how that matched up against the perspectives you'd carried forward both as somebody who came over from England and somebody who'd worked in the academy — that sort of academic consideration versus practical. And also—. Well, let me just leave that with you.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
I actually think an education in England has some advantages because there's a tendency to rely on a little more creativity in the earlier school years than rote [learning] — turning back the answers to individual questions [to the teacher]. I have noticed that as a big difference in my own education to what I see practiced here. We

Page 16
didn't have too many multiple-choice tests. In fact, I rarely took any the whole time I was at school. The normal sort of test I would take, you'd study something for three months and then you'd end up with a question that would ask you to amalgamate everything you'd learned about that particular topic. So I was much more used to that method. I do think when you are really exposed to that — if you succeed well in the educational system — you develop a certain common sense and a certain way of figuring out how to proceed with things. I would put that [describe that] as to then how I dealt with anything. I don't know. Let's take legal issues. I tend to address [problems] in the early stages [of] legal issues by asking myself, "What sounds right and what sounds wrong?" I think laws are trying to generally get at a common sense good and evil, appropriate and inappropriate. I remember writing up my first contract and I think I did a pretty good job. It just seemed that in a contract there are certain things that you need to specify. I felt that was common sense. As we began writing more and more contracts, then I began to recruit the talents of a lawyer, but I did notice that they didn't change the structure that I'd put on it much. They just added more words.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Any sense at the time that there were areas of the law — areas of the state's tax or fiscal policies — that were problematic for you as you tried to move your business forward?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Not really. I think we were fortunate that I founded a business that was profitable from day one. The accounting issues seemed to me to be pretty straightforward. Since you make more money than you spend, there is some bottom line. You have some flexibility about whether you're [doing] accrual accounting or cash accounting in the early stages. That I was not aware of, but of course Rachel advised [me

Page 17
on] what the most appropriate tax approach to that was. So on those technical things, I always followed the advice [of experts]. Management issues I felt were reasonably straightforward, because I think good management really is, again, identifying the components of any problem and making sure each one is covered and followed up. Now with respect to Human Resources, I think because there's a lot of laws about how you pay people with pensions and fringe benefits and all the things associated with that, that as the company grew larger — and as we began to bring in health insurance and sort of pension related benefits and things like that — we did need advice on how to bring that in to the structure of the company. We recruited a Human Resources person reasonably early on, about 1988 or '89. We put someone actually in charge of Human Resources. That made the development of that area pretty straightforward.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How big is the company in '87 or so when you began to start looking overseas? [What are numbers on] revenues and employees?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Four million dollars of revenues and about forty employees. It was pretty small.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
You mentioned you were profitable from the get go. Any occasion where you had to go out and find a bank to give you working capital or something?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Yes. One of the things that I calculated early on was that if we grew twenty or twenty-five percent annually, we were totally self-sustaining. But, as we started growing forty and fifty percent annually, we used up more cash in capital expansion than we could generate profits. I came to this conclusion pretty quickly, actually. We did have to start borrowing in order to finance that cash flow. To start with, we borrowed through bank loans. I cosigned all the loans and they were secured against my house and

Page 18
things like that. As the company got larger, I think the banks were willing to continue financing as long as all the assets of the company were put up. Then the next stage really was to seek a little bit of venture capital. Now we weren't really a venture capital company so much as we were at that time called mezzanine financing. It seemed clear to me that [by] around 1990 we needed some financing like that for the main reason I've just said. We were carrying on growing at that rate. The second reason [was] I felt that we could then be valued high enough that we wouldn't overly dilute the ownership of the company. So, for about twenty-five percent of the company, we were able to raise a fairly substantial amount of venture capital.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How did you go about that? How did you go looking for someone to fund you, find the right sorts of perspective investors?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
It was odd how that turned out. There was a person called Epps Robinson who was part of a limited partnership of what was then NCNB, which is now Bank of America. At that time it was NCNB, before it was called NationsBank and then Bank of America.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
I'm actually interviewing Hugh McColl on Monday.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Okay. Well, at NCNB—. Sorry, I'm losing the question now.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How you went about—.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
The venture capital. It was Epps Robinson. They had a limited partnership and Epps Robinson sort of called me up out of the blue. It was funny. I don't know how he learned about Quintiles, but he wanted to become an investor. That happened to be at the same time that I was thinking we needed some infusion of capital through equity, but I was a little bit queasy because it's your heart and soul, and you don't like to give up

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these shares all that easy. I must've discussed this with Epps for six months or more. Then I finally said, "Look Epps. I don't really want this stage there to be a big investment in the company, but I would really like someone on our board who was knowledgeable about financial and business matters and capital formation. I feel that if that person had a modest investment in the company, that would be the best of all worlds." I think the actual figure he invested was $140,000. It was very modest and it wasn't really for the capital. It was more so that he had put some money down and then we would value his advice. Putting your money where your mouth is. That was the proposal I gave to him and he accepted it.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
This was about 1990?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
This was about 1989 or 1990, something like that. From there, as we were more comfortable with that, he introduced us to people that were venture capitalists that would put more money in. That's how that whole thing evolved.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Did that tend to be a circle of North Carolinians initially?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
It was really interesting because NationsBank had a connection with a London bank called Panmure-Gordon. I don't know whether they owned them or what it was, but there was a connection. Through that connection I was introduced to Richard Thompson of Thompson Clive. Thompson Clive was a London based venture capital group. Since we were international, I was quite interested in that. Thompson Clive or Richard Thompson wanted to invest, and we came to an agreement. At the same time Epps Robinson invested more, and then there was a third investor, David Smith, who unfortunately now has recently died. David Smith had founded Praxis, which was a biotech company and sold that company to then American Cyanamid. Then David had

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retired from that situation because he had made some money and was then looking to make some investments. I had met David earlier because we had helped him with his drug that he developed at Praxis. He also became an investor, so we had three different investors that in combination raised money for about twenty-five percent of the company.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
You mentioned one advantage to Epps Robinson's participation was that he could bring a certain sort of financial expertise to the board. How did you go about putting a board together from the early stages and then how did you gauge the need for new sorts of perspective and expertise to add to that?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well, in the earlier stages, I used valued advisors and colleagues. Professor Chester Douglas, who had been a colleague of mine — he was at Harvard — joined our board. Then Dr. John Fryer — who had actually been a colleague of mine back in the United Kingdom and then he'd come to the University of North Carolina to assume the professorship in biostatistics that I had vacated — he joined our board. Then with the venture capitalists on the board and myself, we began to have a really viable board.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Let me step out of the narrative of the company's expansion for a moment. What instincts, what expectations guide you in finding your way into professional business relationships with other persons? How do you hire? How do you make assessments of people you want to have participate in your venture?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well I think there has to be a certain chemistry on the one hand. I actually look for people that are strong at things that I'm not strong at when I'm hiring. I actually look for people who have accomplished something on the grounds—.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

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JOSEPH MOSNIER:
[This is side] B of the first cassette [of an interview] with Mr. Dennis Gillings on the 10th of June, 1999.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
I don't hire from the perspective of employing a superman or superwoman who's skilled at everything that you can possibly name. Particularly as the job gets very senior, there's a tendency to demand someone who is skilled at everything you can possibly think of. I'm not a believer, myself, in that. I believe that it's a little counterproductive to what I call the team effort. I look for team players because if you've got a superman, there's also the tendency that everyone else pays lip service to them. If you generally believe that individuals bring key talents and skills, and perhaps other secondary skills, you tend to look towards the people with the key talent as being the spokesperson for that talent. That then builds a team akin to a good basketball team or in England a good football, or soccer team as it's called here. I tend to aspire to the sporting analogy of a good management team. Therefore, as you build some components, then you look for the other components, and you build accordingly.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Did you ever have to stop and reflect on how you were perceived as a leader and what sort of style you have not as a leader, but a manager? Or was it a natural thing that sort of evolved over the years?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well, the funny thing is I never really perceived myself as a leader. I also, though, strongly believe that if you're in a role, you've then got to execute that role. I think if I exercise leadership, it's because it's the role that was then ordained for me in some fashion, either because I created it or—. I suppose it was possible that someone else would've founded the company and then I worked for them, but that was not the way

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it happened. Since I had the head role, I in my mind staked out those things that the person who is at the helm should actually do. If they're consistent with leadership, well then, maybe I've done some things right. I do think setting an example and aggressively showing the way forward and accomplishing things that you say you want to accomplish and people see you accomplishing things are some ingredients for leadership. They're not the only ones.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Let me turn to your evolution of your strategic vision for the company. [The company is] incorporated in '82. By '86 you decide it's time to take a leave [from the university] and your efforts [to the company] full time. What's the prize down there road? What's pulling you forward? Where are you wanting to go?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well, it's changed over the course of time. I think to begin with it was this independence and capability of having an organization that did what I thought was very socially responsible work. You know, does a new drug work and how do you get people better and making a sound economic living and creating nice jobs out there. That was the original motivation. I think as the company grew though, a broader motivation crept in, particularly as there were no financial issues. Really, I never developed a company for money anyway. It's just that you need, obviously, some financial rewards to feel comfortable. As we began to be successful financially, actually the part that grabbed me was, we may be able to build a company that makes a difference. That's really what drives me now. It's evolved from being independent to, can you make a real difference?
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
What's the difference? What exactly do you want to accomplish?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well, the pharmaceutical sector is extremely productive in inventions. Only, too often inventions don't get to human beings very quickly. Sometimes they're not

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developed in an efficient manner, so they could fall by the wayside. What we would like to do is bring new medicine to people more quickly and help the system of health care be more efficient.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Let me take you back—. Step back into the narrative story of Quintiles. It's 1987. It's the end of the Reagan era. [It's the] opening to George Bush's term, obviously. There's a certain type of spirit in the air in terms of political philosophy in this country. That has implications, obviously, for the health care environment in this country. You'd come from another place and had a different perspective and pattern of experience, I suppose, growing up in the UK. What measure did you take of US health care delivery generally and in comparative terms in particular? I'd be interested in how relatively efficient, how relatively socially advantageous—.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Oh, sure. That has changed from then to now, actually. Back, let's say, in the '80s, I think health care in the United States was a bit more expensive than elsewhere. It also seemed as though there was less access to [healthcare] for the whole population than there was certainly in the United Kingdom, where pretty much everyone got equal access. Maybe very wealthy people got super access, but that was such a tiny thing that it didn't seem to make a lot of difference. I think health care, although it remains expensive in the United States, with managed care and the competition, is—. Probably the amount by which it's more expensive than other countries has lessened a little bit. I don't think that it's quite such an issue that it was some time ago. I think the fact that you only tend to get good access to health care if you're an employed person is probably a big difference. Generally, you have to go on welfare outside of [employment to get affordable access to healthcare]. That big difference is so socially—. One is aware of

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that. It does put a little bit of a stigma to some extent on the United States because it's clearly wealthy enough that that shouldn't happen. Obviously, an appropriate system can't be found. That access issue is a big difference between what I was used to in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe and in the United States.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Tell me some stories about taking the company overseas and finding new markets and building businesses there. No small task.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
No. That's true. I mean, I was at a bit of an advantage, I should say, in the UK because I came from there. It didn't seem anything other than going home. The objective was to then build the company in continental Europe, so we could have this trans-European capability. That's exactly what I proceeded to do. We first built it in the United Kingdom. After that we set up in Germany, in Ireland, in France, in that order. After that, [we set up] in several other countries and now we're present in every country in Europe.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
In those early instances, are you opening new business or acquiring [companies]?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
[We were] always opening new businesses. At that point we didn't acquire. Even to this day — I think I'm right — we've always opened up in a country before we've acquired in a country. We've never actually gone to a country through an acquisition. I've had a specific purpose there. I do think multi-national organizations are quite hard to build. I've always had this inclination to understand a little bit more about how business is conducted in a country and learn, if necessary by a few mistakes of hiring people, before thinking about making an acquisition.

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JOSEPH MOSNIER:
What was the pattern of experience you had, first in England and then you said in Germany, France, and Ireland?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
I think in England it was, if anything, a little bit easier than here. Not because it would've been easier absolutely, but because we were backed by a thriving business. That reputation enabled one to get the work that generated the business. I think in the other countries it evolved because of the sorts of businesses we were developing in the United Kingdom. That tended to be trans-European and so we developed business in Germany and therefore needed a German organization. We developed an organization in Ireland in part because of some of the financial incentives that we were given by the Irish government. I don't want to say this in a detrimental sense, but that was almost like an extension of the UK. It's a different country, but English is the language. It's close. It's less different and all the structures were pretty much the same. Starting a business in Germany, though, is entirely different because you do get the continental Europe legal systems rather than the Anglo-American type legal system. A little later we went to France. That was probably the most difficult because we'd never really had a full start. The first head of our French unit didn't work out, so we then had to replace that person. That was an example of an initial mistake and then trying to correct it.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How was the CRO sector evolving in these years, the late '80s or early '90s?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well, very strongly because the actual market itself was growing strongly. I would estimate that the demand was growing by between twenty and twenty-five percent, so we were growing more like fifty percent a year. We tended to double or more than double the growth of the market. In a growing market it was less that you were taking

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something from someone else, more that you were taking more than your share of the new stuff. That's how we expanded.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
At what point did you take the decision to say "We will move very aggressively in many corners of the world?"
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well, once we began to be successful in Europe—. I should mention Ludo Reynders, here, because Ludo is now the CEO of our CRO Division. He started in 1988 and was the head of the UK and then became the head of Europe and the CRO. He was very instrumental in our success throughout Europe. I think that success caused us to expand all over Europe and then caused us to look further afield toward the Asia Pacific region, in particular toward Japan and other countries. Now there was another thought. You see, pharmaceuticals is a global business and at the same time there was a movement for intellectual property rights to be more widely recognized throughout the world. It started at what was the Uruguay Round and ended up in the World Trade Organization. Now generally it is thought — by at least the people that I talk to — that by about 2005 most countries in the world will pretty much recognize intellectual property rights. Back in the early to mid-nineties I felt that the recognition of intellectual property rights was going to have a big impact on the pharmaceutical sector. In particular, [I thought] it was ultimately going to create a bigger market place in Asia because there was a fair amount of avoidance of intellectual property rights [there], so there was less incentive for many pharmaceutical companies to develop products in [those] particular countries. With that thought in mind, which was not unlike my European Union thought in the middle '80s, it was the rationale why Asia would ultimately become important. The other thing I realized [was] since I didn't know Asia, instead of a five year lead time, I probably

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needed seven to ten year lead time. So, in the middle '90s through to now, we started developing in that region with the anticipation that by about 2002 to 2005 we'd be in a strong position there. If the market had gone like we envisaged, we would be in a position to lead the market growth in these regions. So that was the theory.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How did you manage this cross-cultural bridging? It must be a problem of, or a challenge of many facets.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well, I'd wouldn't like to say there was any great talent there [on my part], because I don't speak Japanese or anything. I think one thing you do do is observe, and you try to behave politely within the culture you're in. You learn a few things so you can do that. I mean, when we go to Japan we always take gifts. I always bow and I know when to bow a little bit or a lot and when to do it. I know the greeting. The thank you and the apology is a successively deeper bow. Those sorts of things you don't have to spend a lot of time learning, but I think they make a very big difference. I think the other thing you must be careful of, is not assume the country is your own country. You must assume it is a different country. Therefore, you try to show respect for the cultural ideas or prevailing ideas within that environment. That's what I do. I will take pains to travel a little bit in a country before setting up a business there. For example, I made about three visits to China and toured around China before we established a business in China. I think those sort of things are important.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
It sounds like a fairly simple strategy, really.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Yes. I don't think it's too—. It's not Nobel Prize winning. I would call it common sense.

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JOSEPH MOSNIER:
But there's got to be a part of this that — at least on two fronts — that's got to be more complicated still. One is integrating overseas portions of your company into whatever Quintiles's institutional cultural and enterprise is. That's A. B, deciphering the particular regulatory regimes of these places. What are your strategies there?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
The regulatory regimes are not too difficult because the FDA does set a high standard. That's not to say it's the only standard, but if you satisfy the FDA, you do tend to satisfy most of the other things as a general rule. We actually work towards what we call the ICH standard, which is the International Conference on Harmonization of regulations across Europe, North American, United States, Europe and Japan. That isn't so different from the FDA standard that that keeps you in good stead. I think on the regulatory side since the US is so widely recognized as having strict regulations, we have a natural advantage there. Now on the integration, if I understand your other question across the different cultures and management styles, I think you have to tackle it a little bit by—. First of all, you do have a little bit of representation from each. You have to work at that. It's no good trying to run China and just sending Americans there, and you think that's sufficient. If you can't find the trained people, you may still have to send someone there, but you have to have a strict plan to recruit and train and bring the local nationals to the management positions. I tend to have the rule in my mind that you've got to aim for strong local management. But I never like saying a rule that you can never violate. It's more that's what your goal always is. Now if you do do that, I think you do allow each country to feel it's participating. Then I think at the next level of management where the overall corporate management is, you have to again be careful that you have some representation that's reasonably broad.

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JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Tell me about how — in managing these sorts of processes — how your daily calendar has evolved over the last ten years, ten to twelve years, when you really started to—. How do you spend your time? How has that changed?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well, the biggest issue more recently is the pressure for my time. You have to have a group of people helping schedule [your time] because you can't actually even remotely field all the things yourself. You have to have people that are assessing who wants to see you and trying to work out priorities and making suggestions, which you then agree with. That's a relatively recent phenomenon. I would say that's more a phenomenon of the last two to three years. This past year it's gotten quite excessive. Now prior to that, something like half my time was people wanting to see me or events creating the need for me to spend my time that way. The other half was pretty much [what] I determined I would focus on to grow the company.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Strategic thinking.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
So that was naturally how it tended to be. I've always been, I think, a reasonably good delegator. I've never tried I think to overly manage the day to day operations of the company. I've been bringing [in] good managers and generally delegate. During the period [of], let's say, '90 through '96, I was first of all learning how to run a public company
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
I'll have some questions about that too.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
And then we took it public and then [I was] learning how to do some acquisitions. I think [I was] getting more skilled at integrating those and managing the growth. More recently, I suppose in general, that was the lesson. You said "How do I manage my time and how do I deal with it?" For those years, was all you had to be good

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at was prioritization. As long as you were focussed on prioritization—. I tend to be reasonably good at that. I don't waste a lot of time, I don't think, on social chatting or just doing things that won't be productive to the business. The last two to three years, though, has been somewhat different because as a company grows, I think you have a community responsibility to a greater degree. You're also the leader of a larger group of people, and you have to behave a bit "presidential" on occasions. If I'm invited to open a new building in our company somewhere, I think it's only with a fair amount of thought that I would turn that down because otherwise the company would not feel you're the leader. So the numbers of things like that vastly increase as you're in thirty odd countries with 18,000 people. You obviously have a lot more of that. You also have a lot more need to talk to the press and be responsible community-wise. I sit on boards and other entities. I think, in part, because I think it's a good thing to do, but also, in part, you feel you have a community responsibility. Your company would have a bad name and would not show leadership in the broad sense, if you didn't do that. So these things become much more prevalent, and you have to make many more choices; therefore, the choices get more and more complicated. So that has been a feature, I suppose, of success and growth. That certainly is the situation now. That wasn't true five or ten years ago.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Let me take you back again to this period, say starting '87 [and] forward, where you were really looking to move the company with a lot of overseas growth and expand your range of service provision in many new fronts. One very interesting question, I think, is that—. You mentioned earlier today that you were able to draw upon the advantages of style and intellectual training, if you will, of the British system with some general regard. That will probably be at play here in this question. I'm wondering

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what sources—. Broadly speaking, what are your sources of information and perspective? Not just narrowly, saying just within this expanding industry, but more generally. Where do you turn? What sorts of things illuminate and advise and inform you as a business leader?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
I naturally I think I store away information and analyze it as a trend. I think that's a natural thing that I do. I also both quantify and subjectively prioritize, in some non-objective way, all the information that I get. I think that helps identify the business trends that should be in our sphere of influence. Perhaps there are two sorts of trends, those that are emerging inspite of you and those that could emerge more strongly if you did something. With an identification of which sort you're in, if they're going to emerge in spite of you, you'd better do something about it anyway. If you could lead them—. Obviously you want to lead it, but you can only lead it if you have the right tools at your disposal, and you may have more flexibility of timing of how you go about it. A healthy regard to those things and a constantly learning by iteration—. I mean, some people I find that you have a conversation with, and then the next time it's as though it never happened. There's no behavioral change. I like to think that as each day goes by, I have a degree of behavioral change because something new has occurred.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Let me see if I can pursue this through a little bit further. What do you read? What is your social circle like? What are the sorts of things that impinge on your attention outside of this office?
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Well, I suppose one thing is that when you're born in one country and live in another and routinely travel around the world, you do get a perspective that would be very hard to get if you stayed in one place. That is definitely the case. Just by comparing

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the British health system and the United States' health system you can by personal experience—. You don't have to be an academic. You don't have to read the New England Journal of Medicine. You can glean an awful lot. I do think worldliness has played a large role. I think that lots of colleagues would come from different places and friends. I would probably rate that as the highest individual thing in my own case.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
I want to look at the clock here. We probably have just a few minutes here before we should comfortably end. I'm wondering if in fact this might not be a bad spot to stop, if we could maybe look some point further down the road about all of the expansion of the business and so forth.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Perfect.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
The IPO.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
That would, because the part that you have ahead is a fairly long part and probably would be a nice one to one and a half hours continuously.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Good. Thank you so much.
DENNIS GILLINGS:
Perfect.
END OF INTERVIEW