Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Dennis Gillings, June 10, 1999. Interview I-0072. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Financial success awakens Gillings's conscience

In this excerpt, Gillings describes his motivations for founding his corporation. He wanted to do socially responsible work, and believes that the pharmaceutical industry has a unique opportunity to bring new medicines to needy people. Financial success liberated Gillings to think less about how to make a profit and more about how to "make a real difference."

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Dennis Gillings, June 10, 1999. Interview I-0072. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JM: 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? DG: 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? JM: What's the difference? What exactly do you want to accomplish? DG: 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 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.