October 5, 2016 | 1 p.m.
By Whitney Bak '15, content specialist
When Eric Green ’93 accepted his first job out of college as a sales representative for Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, he unknowingly started down a career path toward becoming a leader in the global healthcare market. Now as CEO of West Pharmaceutical Services Inc., Green is using his passions and skills daily to impact lives around the world.
A Bethel chemistry major, Green says that college was a place where he gained confidence in his abilities to “problem solve, communicate, and work alongside [others].” Those skills led him to Sigma-Aldrich, a life science and technology company where he would continue to work and grow over the next 22 years in multiple management and executive roles. In 2015 that trajectory shifted when the position of CEO at West Pharmaceutical became available. Though switching roles would mean a major change for Green and his wife Rachel (Geiger) ’92, he felt that the company offered the “right environment” for him to be a part of.
“It meant a great deal to me to see how philanthropic the company was,” Green says. “West’s commitment to giving back to the communities in which it operates and where our employees live is truly remarkable. There is a spirit of giving back that is really core to the West DNA.”
And since making the switch, Green has continued to see those values lived out. West Pharmaceutical is a global company that manufactures packaging components for the containment and delivery of injectable medicines and healthcare products. Green says that the 93-year-old company has garnered success by “keeping our attention on our customers and the patients we serve together, and focusing on our employees and shareholders.” But for West, serving patients is a mission that goes beyond the day-to-day work of the company. In late 2004, West launched an employee-led fundraising campaign called West Without Borders, and since then the team has helped to raise nearly $3 million for charities.
On a recent business trip to Ireland, Green had a firsthand opportunity to experience the campaign’s global impact. Because West’s Ireland manufacturing site produces devices that help treat diabetes, the team partners with a children’s hospital to support young patients suffering from kidney disease—a common complication of diabetes. “After my visit, I received a painting from a 9-year-old patient, which now hangs in my office,” Green says. “It’s a reminder to me that the work we do, both every day in our manufacturing plants and through the philanthropic contributions of our employees, truly impacts these young lives. It’s a reminder that the products we create and manufacture are allowing new, novel drugs to get into the marketplace to treat chronic diseases. That is a big responsibility that we take seriously, and we’re very proud of the role we play.”
Green himself has been recognized by coworkers and members of the Bethel community for his conviction as a leader and for his servant heart—qualities developed during his time as a Bethel student. “Bethel instilled in me the importance of integrity, honor, trust, and humility. These beliefs and values are at the core of who I am, and Bethel really fostered that,” Green says. Now, as a recently appointed member of the Bethel Board of Trustees, Green uses those same beliefs and values to give back to the Bethel community.
Professor of Chemistry Ken Rohly shares how encouraging it has been to watch Green progress from a “good student, and a hard worker” into someone in “such an incredible position of leadership…and not just in the business world.”
“I think [Green’s] greatest strength from where I sit is his ability to connect the dots, his ability to understand and connect the technical aspects of what he does with the business side of what he does with the people side of what he does and the pressures that he’s under,” Rohly says, going on to comment that—despite the demands of executive leadership—Green has shown “care and compassion for Bethel” by coming in to speak at the annual chemistry alumni event and offering an internship spot at West to a Bethel student.
“It’s just encouraging [when] somebody with the right skill set follows the opportunities that God has put in front of them,” Rohly says. But for Green, success has not been a linear process. “I would give Bethel students the same advice I give to our summer interns at West,” he says. “Take the opportunity early in your career to learn as many disciplines as possible, develop a broad skill set, and learn about what it is that you are really passionate about. Be curious and never stop learning.”