Ewa Kleczyk: Economics alumna builds career in pharmaceutical industry

Ewa Kleczyk, executive director of commercial effectiveness analytics for Symphony Health Solutions and a University of Maine alumna, credits her economics degrees and time at UMaine with helping her pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry.

“I think the small classes and the willingness of professors to truly coach and mentor us was one of the things that helped me in my overall career,” she says, adding the university provided her the platform to learn and grow professionally.

Kleczyk, who grew up in Wroclaw, Poland and currently lives in Pennsylvania, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics at UMaine in 2001 and a master’s degree in resource economics and policy in 2003. She then went on to earn a doctorate degree in economics from Virginia Tech in 2008.

With an interest in the health care industry, Kleczyk sought a job in that sector that would put her economics background to use. At Symphony Health Solutions in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, Kleczyk found a place where she can assess the therapy treatments being prescribed to patients as well as monitor the effects of policies on the health care industry in the U.S.

Symphony Health Solutions provides data, applications, analytics and consulting to help companies gain insight into the pharmaceutical market.

In her role at the firm, Kleczyk is responsible for product delivery, new product development, consulting services with pharmaceutical clients, as well as leading a team of 15 people in India and the U.S.

Kleczyk has given presentations at several conferences, including the Pharmaceutical Business Intelligence Research Group and Harvard University’s Global Conference on Business and Economics. She has been published in journals including the Journal of Medical Marketing, Marketing Bulletin and Journal of International Business & Economics.

An advocate for women’s rights in the workplace, Kleczyk has been involved in several women’s organizations, including the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association and the International Women’s Leadership Association (IWLA). In September 2015, she was named one of the Top Female Executives by IWLA.

Kleczyk returns to UMaine several times a year to meet with her former professors and current students. She speaks with students about her career and offers advice on finding jobs, learning necessary skills and choosing the right profession.

What is some advice you give students?
First of all, understand what you’re passionate about. Whether you are getting an education or are working for a company, you need to love — or at least like — what you do.

The second thing is to take the initiative to pursue what you want to do. Understand what you want to do in your career and ask for those opportunities of your managers and peers. Ask your manager how you can get to the next level and if you will have opportunities coming up in the near future to gain the needed experience.

The next thing is networking. Women often discount networking opportunities but in most cases this is where all the relationships are built and the new career-movement opportunities are being revealed. So I always highly recommend to do that.

And finally, understanding priorities. It is very important to understand what you are doing right now and what’s important in the current stage of your life in order to fully leverage the opportunities that are provided.

The University of Maine is definitely a great school to be, and I think everybody should be very proud they are studying here. They should leverage all of the opportunities provided from the classes to the professors to the different clubs and all of the social activities that the school provides.

Being at a school that is small but large at the same time — I think — is the perfect place to really shape your young careers and ultimately your entire life.

Why did you choose to study economics?
I was always interested in mathematics. Economics was one of the things that came to me naturally. In high school I pursued business in Poland, so I was exposed to that. When I came to UMaine it was something I wanted to pursue as a full-time degree and ultimately as a career.

You’ve been praised for promoting women in science. Why is that issue important?
This is one of the concepts that is very dear to my heart. I think there is still a lot of work that’s needed to be done to ensure that women are on the same footage or equal level to men in a lot of the science industries, including the pharmaceutical industry.

Speaking to other women allows me to promote what I do, give them the advice on what they should be doing in order to succeed, and let them know they are not alone in some of the feelings they have.

Why UMaine?
I came to the University of Maine after I was an exchange student in Belfast, Maine during high school. I was very fortunate to be living with an American family, and it was one of the schools that provided me the opportunity to come here, expand my stay in the United States, and offered me an educational opportunity that I otherwise would have not had if I returned to Poland.

I’m very thankful for everything the university has done, including the fact that I have noticed in my own career, as well as a manager, that the students coming in from the University of Maine are as qualified and as hard working, if not even more hard working, than other students coming from universities around the country.

Personally it gave me the platform to learn what I needed to learn and provided the platform for me to move up in my career.

Did you work closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
A few of them that are still here would be Mario Teisl, Gary Hunt and Philip Trostel in the School of Economics. Deirdre Mageean was my main mentor and adviser. She was passionate about mentoring other women so they can be successful in their careers.

What was your favorite place on campus?
I think we all liked the Bear’s Den. It was very different when I was an undergraduate. It opened up to the current location when I was in graduate school, but it was still different. We had a lot of good times, meeting up with friends and enjoying our time together.

Do you have a memorable UMaine moment?
The hockey games were always something that we all were happy to attend, and being able to see during my time the hockey team going into the championships and winning the first year I was here, I think will be something I will always remember. The entire university celebrated and all of us — students and faculty, everybody — came together to cheer toward one uniform goal.

How does UMaine continue to influence your life?
My husband is from Maine, so we keep coming back here, and I’m always happy to be back in Maine. Now that I’m here more often, almost every quarter, I try to visit the university and meet with my former professors and some of the administrative staff that are still here. I’m always very happy to come back here.

It’s definitely a school where my young life was shaped, and I’m also happy to be back and now try to shape other students’ lives as well and give them a little bit of perspective of what the real life is and what we look for as the hiring managers when it comes to recruiting and providing opportunity to others.

What are some of your goals either professionally or personally?
I would like to, in maybe five or 10 years, own or personally run a consulting company. I think there is a lot to do in the pharma industry still and having the opportunity to further impact my clients and provide the analytics and insights that data provides us with is very important to me, and I would like to have a greater responsibility for doing so.