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Making medicines that 'help people live healthy, more active lives'

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Maria Crowe has a complex job but a focused mission.

"Our mission as a company is to help people live healthy, more active lives," Crowe says. "My job is to ensure that we make medicine of high quality and produce it safely."

As president of global manufacturing operations at Eli Lilly & Co., Crowe (IM ’82) is responsible for the production of Lilly drugs—from capsules to tablets to injectables. She oversees manfuacturing, packaging, and distribution operations in 10 countries, applying sharp science and business acumen across multiple cultures.

It’s a role Crowe has been preparing for since her days at the Krannert School. A native of Madison, Indiana, she came to Purdue because of her strength in math and science. Originally a computer science major, she switched to a degree in industrial management.

Two weeks after she graduated, Crowe began her career at Lilly. Some 29 years later, she says the analytical Krannert approach provided a perfect background.

“The Krannert program focused on problem solving, which is very important in our business and in manufacturing. We were taught to understand data and how to draw the right conclusions from that data. And we did it in an organized team structure, which was very helpful in terms of how we work in the business world today,” Crowe says.

Her education was further enhanced by an opportunity to share her knowledge with other students. “I was a teaching assistant in economics,” she says. “It taught me about leadership and how to apply things I was learning within the role of a leader.”

Crowe, a member of the Krannert School's Dean's Advisory Council and the advisory board of Purdue's Global Policy Research Institute, began her Lilly career in information technology before transitioning to product development. She spent seven years outside the U.S. on assignments in Puerto Rico and Ireland, furthering her understanding of manufacturing's global role.

Crowe goes to work every day knowing she has a chance to do something that will have an impact on millions of lives. She’s grateful for the role that Purdue and the Krannert School had in making that happen.

“My Krannert education was instrumental in helping me to achieve what I’ve done in my career,” Crowe says. “It was a very good, grounding foundational experience. Krannert really helped me be able to apply the learning in my very first assignment and throughout my career.”