At Syneos Health, we are continuously building the company we all want to work for and our customers want to work with. We firmly believe, when we bring people together with diverse backgrounds, cultures, ethnicities, identities, and perspectives we’re able to create a place where everyone feels like they belong. We stand with all who are seeking justice and equality, and our Total Self culture means everyone is empowered to authentically be themselves at work. Every day. 

One of the ways we bring our culture to life is with our Employee Resource Groups (ERG) – led by employees, for employees. We are actively working to build these resource groups internally and we invite you to follow our journey. As we celebrate Black History Month, we’d like to introduce to a few members from our Black ERG as they share their stories and experiences.

Harvey Austin

  • Pronouns: he, him, his
  • Title: VP, Managing Director, Video & Art Production
  • Location: Westerville, Ohio
  • Hobbies: I am a History-seeking, documentary-watching, art-researching, movie-critiquing geek.

 

 

I began my career in Broadcast Video at WSAZ / NBC News, while attending Marshall University in West Virginia. After graduating from Marshall University, I obtained my master’s degree in marketing and communications.

I joined GSW in 2004 and held the positions of Senior Multimedia Designer with GSW’s New Business team, Senior Production Manager with the Creative Production and Digital Wave teams, Director and Senior Director of Video Post-Production with inVentiv Health, and now my current role within Syneos Creative Studios. 

Learn More About Harvey's Story

Tell us a little bit about your career path.

I began my career in Broadcast Video at WSAZ / NBC News, while attending Marshall University in West Virginia. After graduating from Marshall University, I obtained my master’s degree in marketing and communications.

I joined GSW in 2004 and held the positions of Senior Multimedia Designer with GSW’s New Business team, Senior Production Manager with the Creative Production and Digital Wave teams, Director and Senior Director of Video Post-Production with inVentiv Health, and now my current role within Syneos Creative Studios. 

Before joining GSW – I spent more than 10 years in all aspects of Broadcast Promotions and Live Business Theatre. My career path expands across both production and post production, including videography, non-linear video editing, motion graphics, large format digital media and interactive design.

 

Why did you choose a career in healthcare?

My professional experience in healthcare was not a path that I initially set out to follow. I am a Creative at heart. My interest in direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising began during my graduate degree studies. I was earning my degree during the era of blockbuster drugs and the onset of pharma DTC commercials. During this time, my mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer. A combination of my desire to know more about specific therapies and courses of treatment that would help her, with my experience in creative and media production, drew me to my current career in pharma / healthcare creative production and advertising.

 

Why is your cultural identity important to you?

I view cultural identity in many different ways. Cultural identity is extremely influential in how I approach and function within everyday life. Advertising is all about messaging and striving to gain an authentic connection. It’s important that my cultural values and perspectives are respected. This allows me the sense of belonging as well as standing out – and presenting unique and different ways of approach.

 

As it’s Black History Month, is there a Black person in history who inspires you or with whom you identify?

I have always been intrigued by and admired Justice Thurgood Marshall. Justice Marshall served as the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice beginning in 1967. Even before being sworn in to the highest court in the country, he worked tirelessly for social and civil rights, always living by his words of "You do what you think is right and let the law catch up.”

 

Why did you join the Black Employee Resource Group and what do you hope to accomplish as part of it?

Two reasons:

  1. I am one of the Black Employee Resource Group Co-Leads. Our ERG was ultimately birthed from the most recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the many other decades of excessive police brutality within the Black community. The international corporate response to the murder of George Floyd forced me to challenge the Syneos Health stance. My hope within the ERG, Syneos Health and globally is to be a part of exposing and removing centuries of systematic racism and discrimination towards Black individuals.
  2. Helping to pave the way to increase and sustain legitimate representation of Black individuals within Executive leadership and influential roles within Syneos Health.

 

How do you think the efforts of the Black Employee Resource Group will help us better support one another and our customers?

Having a diverse and inclusive organization that values the perspectives and experiences of Black employees, especially in a service and communications industry, will only help to broaden our customer reach. Clients are expecting Syneos Health to have established relationships with diverse vendor partners. Internally, the hope is that the Black ERG will encourage allyship, sponsorship and more consistent open peer dialogues.

 

What’s one thing we can all do today to help support an inclusive work environment?

The greatest support tool is listening. Listening is an action, and it involves opening our minds and addressing our own personal biases. Addressing those biases should force us to see the perspectives of others who are not like us.

 

What legacy do you hope to leave?

The legacy that I hope to leave with anyone and any situation that I encounter, is that the person, group, organization was more productive and purposeful because of my presence and contributions.

 

What gets you excited to get out of bed each day?

I get excited knowing that each day is a day of purpose. Each day is one more opportunity to reap my heart’s desires and God’s promises. Each new day is a gift for me to support and love my family and receive the same.

Yvonne Rodriguez

  • Pronouns: she/her/hers
  • Title: Clinical Research Associate I
  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Hobbies: Reading, knitting, dancing
  • Little Known Fact: I can bend my thumb backwards to my wrist.

 

 

 

I worked as a Clinical Research Assistant while obtaining my registered nursing degree.  After graduating, I worked as a bedside nurse on telemetry and Trauma ICU units before moving into administration and management of several clinics. I always loved clinical research and was happy to return as a CRA in February at SH.

Learn More About Yvonne's Story

Tell us a little bit about your career path.

I worked as a Clinical Research Assistant while obtaining my registered nursing degree.  After graduating, I worked as a bedside nurse on telemetry and Trauma ICU units before moving into administration and management of several clinics. I always loved clinical research and was happy to return as a CRA in February at SH.

 

Why did you choose a career in healthcare?

It sounds cliché, but I always wanted to help people and feel like I made a difference with my work.

 

Why is your cultural identity important to you? 

I grew up in a very minimally diverse town in the Midwest.  I felt very disconnected from my cultural identity until I moved to Phoenix my senior year of high school. Growing into young adulthood in a big, diverse city really opened my eyes to exploration and education of my ancestry, history and ultimately cultural identity. My own experience really opened my eyes to the importance of diversity in all aspects of life, including schools and workplaces.

 

As it’s Black History Month, is there a Black person in history who inspires you or with whom you identify? 

Mary Mahoney, RN was the first black registered nurse. She graduated from a nursing school in Boston in 1879 and went on to be one of the first Black members of the American Nurses’ Association. Beyond this amazing achievement, she was also one of the first women to vote after the 19th Amendment was passed, giving women the right to vote. Mary inspires me to continue to look for advancement in my career, but also to be part of needed change for women, black people and all marginalized groups.

 

Why did you join the Black Employee Resource Group and what do you hope to accomplish as part of it? 

I was looking for support and understanding from peers that want a change during a time that is ripe for change. I hope that together we can gain more diversity in our workplace, better representation within our leadership, and opportunities that are not tainted by unconscious/conscious biases.

 

How do you think the efforts of the Black Employee Resource Group will help us better support one another and our customers? 

Bias, discrimination and racism are things that happen every day in all aspects of life. This group is a wonderful, safe space with others who understand and have empathy/sympathy for the realities of our community. The measures and action items that the group has established will help bring diverse talent in and promote diversity within the Company. According to our Syneos Health sponsored Unconscious Bias training, studies show that innovation and productivity increase exponentially in diverse workplaces.  It will be wonderful to measure the benefits of that to our Company, employees and customers.

 

What is one thing we can all do today to help support an inclusive work environment? 

Becoming more aware through both education and self-exploration. As difficult as it is to confront our own biases and privilege (we all have both), it is necessary so that we can connect, have empathy for each other and begin to understand each other’s plight. 

 

What legacy do you hope to leave (at Syneos Health… in the community… in your family)?

I hope to always contribute to helping others and to inspire others to do the same.

 

What gets you excited to get out of bed each day? (could be work or other things)

My dogs wake up in a great mood every day, excited to go outside, have breakfast, and mostly, to have me give them endless pets.

O.B. Barrett, Jr.

  • Pronouns: he, him, his
  • Title: Senior Director – Global HCM Solutions and Data Management
  • Location: Cary, NC
  • Hobbies: Cycling, working out, basketball, music, reading
  • Little Known Fact: saxophone player

 

 

 

The defining part of my professional career began with a project management role at a software analytics company. As I progressed through the management levels, I developed a deeper understanding of projects, data,and people and how they need to work together. What I enjoyed most was the interaction with my team and the clients (both internal and external).

Learn More About O.B.'s Story

Tell us a little bit about your career path.   

The defining part of my professional career began with a project management role at a software analytics company. As I progressed through the management levels, I developed a deeper understanding of projects, data,and people and how they need to work together. What I enjoyed most was the interaction with my team and the clients (both internal and external). 

 

Why did you choose a career in healthcare?  

I actually was led to HR Technology through my consulting experience. It became clear that as technology moved forward, particularly in the HR field, understanding how to run a global technology project was a huge benefit to help drive these types of projects forward. The ability to listen and discuss the needs of the client are critical for gathering requirments for any project.

 

Why is your cultural identity important to you?

My cultural identity is important to me because it is what I am (African American male); however, it’s not all that I am. Knowing who you are as a person is as important as your cultural identity. Integrity, honesty and patience are important attributes to strive to obtain. I want to be known for who I am, a person of high integrity and qualified skills who happens to be Black.

 

As it’s Black History Month, is there a Black person in history who inspires you or with whom you identify? 

I’ve been inspired by many individuals.  A few that come to mind are Gordan Parks, Arthur Ashe and Barack Obama.

 

Why did you join the Black Employee Resource Group and what do you hope to accomplish as part of it?

It is a group that can do a lot of good and I wanted to share some of my experiences. I’ve experienced a lot in my work life and I’m hoping that I can share how each challenge has helped me grow as a person and a professional.

 

How do you think the efforts of the Black Employee Resource Group will help us better support one another and our customers? 

Understanding how diversity impacts all aspects of business is very important, this includes working with our customers. The ERG can also be an avenue to mentor and grow the talents of our members.

 

What’s one thing we can all do today to help support an inclusive work environment?

Be aware of our differences and embrace the fact that everyone has experiences and knowledge to contribute.

 

What legacy do you hope to leave (at Syneos Health… in the community… in your family)?

That I was a contributor who listened and helped others to learn and progress. A fair-minded person who knew ‘the good of the many outweighs the needs of the few.’

 

What gets you excited to get out of bed each day? (could be work or other things).

I look forward to ‘what’s the new adventure for the day?’. I like to learn and analyze new challenges. I look forward to working with not only my current team but other Syneos employees.  The answer to every problem is not ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ I enjoy the ‘what if’ or ‘how about’ part of the solutioning.

Kusi Kimani

  • Pronouns: her, she, hers
  • Location: Sussex, United Kingdom
  • Hobbies: Slightly redundant this year but I love nothing more than to travel.
  • Little Known Fact: I trained in Tae Kwon-Do and have Gold and Bronze trophies for sparring and pattern work from the South East Championships and British Championships in 2014.

 

 

 

After obtaining my Bachelors of Science degree in biomedical sciences, I started at INC Research as a clinical data associate within Data Management in 2013. I left the industry in 2015 to obtain project management experience and returned to INC Research as a project specialist in late 2016. Since then, I have moved up the career ladder through experience and training provided by Syneos Health. After successfully completing the Project Management (PM) Mentoring Program in January 2020, I was promoted to my current role of Project Manager I.

Learn More About Kusi's Story

Tell us a little bit about your career path.

After obtaining my Bachelors of Science degree in biomedical sciences, I started at INC Research as a clinical data associate within Data Management in 2013. I left the industry in 2015 to obtain project management experience and returned to INC Research as a project specialist in late 2016. Since then, I have moved up the career ladder through experience and training provided by Syneos Health. After successfully completing the Project Management (PM) Mentoring Program in January 2020, I was promoted to my current role of Project Manager I.

 

Why did you choose a career in healthcare?

Whilst studying for my degree, I worked at a local hospital as a healthcare assistant in the operating theatres. I loved my job, which influenced me to apply my degree to the healthcare sector.

 

Why is your cultural identity important to you?

My cultural identity is important to me because of its links to my heritage. I was born in Kenya. I visit as often as I can and my family still resides there.

 

As it’s Black History Month, is there a Black person in history who inspires you or with whom you identify?

Maya Angelou – her words are simply beautiful.

 

Why did you join the Black Employee Resource Group and what do you hope to accomplish as part of it?

I wanted to join a space where I would feel seen and heard. I wanted to add to the numbers representing our people. When we come together, we can do and accomplish great things. I hope collectively that we will be able to shed light on areas that could be improved and subsequently bring about required changes. I hope individually to be able to help others to also feel seen and heard, as well as respected and valued.

 

How do you think the efforts of the Black Employee Resource Group will help us better support one another and our customers?

I think the Black ERG will bring belonging and comfort to a group of people who are tired, unheard, often overlooked and desperate for change. My fellow colleagues and I have endured and witnessed inequality and injustice for far too long throughout our lives. The Black ERG will bring rest to the weary and will bring about a safe space to discuss items that affect us. The Black ERG will facilitate a catharsis for many, as well as a source of strength, which will allow each and every single one of us to prosper and flourish at long last. Consequently, this will be of great benefit to all, including our customers.

 

What’s one thing we can all do today to help support an inclusive work environment?

Dedicate ourselves to uncovering our unconscious bias and work to release these, as well as to speak up if we see attitudes and behaviours that do not support an inclusive work environment or the culture we wish to have at Syneos Health.

 

What legacy do you hope to leave (at Syneos Health… in the community… in your family)?

A simple but profound one. For each person who I know, have known and will come to know, to never feel inadequate or un-worthy through any behavior, words or action of mine. I want to be someone who will be remembered as a person who loved, supported and encouraged those I came across.

 

What gets you excited to get out of bed each day? (could be work or other things)

The knowledge that I have been gifted another day to seize as many opportunities as possible - to live life, learn, grow, share and love. There’s nothing greater.