Thanks to MBS parent Rick Sheppard, Head of Global Wellness for GSK Consumer Healthcare, who spoke to students in Ricky Kamil’s Economics class this week about his career journey, his current work, and how COVID-19 has impacted his business.
Mr. Sheppard began his presentation by reviewing his career path. After graduating with a degree in Economics from DePauw University, he joined Proctor & Gamble as an analyst before making a career shift into marketing and joining their Beauty and Personal Care Division. He later joined Novartis as Head of Marketing for their US consumer business. With GSK, he is Head of Global Wellness and leads a team that is responsible for overall strategy and business performance for brands including Centrum, EmergenC, TUMS, and Benefiber.
While COVID-19 has been devastating to some businesses, Mr. Sheppard said that the pandemic has actually given a boost to his company’s healthcare line. “People are looking for ways to prevent the virus and stay healthy,” he said. “There has also been an increase in online ordering.”
He also discussed GSK’s partnership with Sanofi to use innovative technology from both companies to help develop a vaccine for COVID-19. “There are benefits of competition and there are benefits of collaboration,” said Mr. Sheppard. “We’re seeing a lot of unexpected partnerships forming to do what’s right and benefit humanity. I’m actually quite proud of our industry.”
As part of his presentation, Mr. Sheppard also discussed price elasticity and inelasticity in his line of work. He compared cosmetics, vitamins and deodorant and how demand for these goods changes when price or income changes.
He finished his presentation with a “real world” economic case study by looking at the current hyperinflation crisis in Argentina that began in 2018. “You’d see the prices of basic goods increase by threefold — a $10 item all of a sudden became a $30 item. Products on the shelf were increasing in price sometimes twice a day and people were forced to drop to the lowest cost products they could afford,” he said. “There have been riots and people are struggling to survive. It’s really quite tragic.”