James L. Tyree

Executive Vice President, Pharmaceutical Products Group, Abbott
2008 Marketing Fellow Mentor

Responding to an invitation from James Kilts, ’74, founder of the Kilts Center for Marketing at Chicago Booth, James L. Tyree agreed to sponsor and provide one-on-one mentoring for Kilts Marketing Fellowship recipient Maayan Pinhassi. Tyree has spent more than 12 years with Abbott.

“To me, mentoring is about improving performance– the individual’s performance and the organization’s. I’m also a strong believer in the power of professional connections. Many leaders attribute their development and career success to early mentoring and guidance. Mentoring is also about giving back. If I can help a talented individual navigate uncharted waters, or provide insights that help a person develop and grow, that’s good for the person and of course good for our business. It’s also fulfilling to me personally.

“I had a mentor who not only taught me the pharmaceutical business but also shared his wisdom. He taught me the value of hard work and adaptability, and he showed me the human side of the industry and of working at Abbott. I still rely on these principles today.

“I’ve been in the pharmaceutical business for many years, starting first as a business analyst and following with a range of great roles in long-established companies: a biotech start-up, and international and now global pharmaceutical operations at Abbott. As a mentor, my job is to share my experience, knowledge, encouragement, ideas—and also, now with the benefit of hindsight, what I’d do differently. Maayan and I talk regularly about his coursework, projects, career direction, and also about the health care industry in general.

“A mentor is very different from a boss or manager. A mentor is an outside, independent, seasoned voice. It’s someone to test ideas with, someone for whom there’s no ‘dumb’ question. I also find that the mentoring relationship lends itself well to straight talk. It’s important to help someone recognize their limitations and redirect them to focus on strengths.

“Mentoring is definitely not a one-way street. Maayan was educated and then worked in health care marketing in Israel. So for me, he’s a terrific link to global health care issues, trends, the broader industry – all from the perspective of our next-generation talent. It’s energizing to interact with brilliant and curious young professionals.

“For starters, every Chicago Booth student is grounded in Chicago economics. But what I find most unique is the focus on ideas. That’s the value system and it shows. Chicago MBAs overcome business challenges by questioning often long-held beliefs and assumptions, and then working relentlessly to make every possible idea and solution even better.”