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College of Pharmacy

  • Q&A with Sam Watson

Q&A with Sam Watson, '80

"Sample to see where your passion lies…"

Alumnus Sam Watson (1980 B.S. pharmacy) has been a transformational leader over the course of his career in pharmaceutical sales and marketing. His keys to success: grit, clinical skill, and passion to provide quality clinical education that empowers the patient. Now retired, his time is focused on family.


Tell us about what you do: 

My pharmaceutical sales and marketing career spanned 30 years with Eli Lilly and Co. Over this time I accumulated a great deal of experience in the therapeutic areas of neuroscience, diabetes, oncology, rare diseases, and osteoporosis. I structured, built and led several national sales forces focusing on specialty sales to rhumatologists, endocrinologists, and in the Long Term Care and Kaiser marketplace.  After Lilly, I spent 10 years with VMSbiomarketing and during that time established our clinical educator teams as a national leaders in the provision of both health care provider and patient education. 

Why did you choose the University of South Carolina? 

 Because it was in-state and had a great pharmacy program.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Race car driver.

How did you originally get interested in your field?

I grew up in a drug store and began working there at age 15.

What is your favorite memory from pharmacy school?

Meeting my future wife.

What class or professor was most memorable to you? 

 Drs. Beamer and Kosh - they were very challenging classes.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

 The most important lesson life has taught me is to persevere, have 'grit' and do not quit.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

 In my profession, I think my greatest achievement has been helping patients understand and better manage their health.

Looking back, is there anything you wish you had done differently? 

 If I could go back, I would have continued my clinical studies and pursued a fellowship in oncology.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

 Golf, family, friends. I love the financial markets, investing and stock research.

What is top of your bucket list? 

 To see my children create their own families and enjoy my grandchildren. (And coach them to be Pharm.D.s!)

What is your advice for current students / future pharmacy professionals?

Pharmacy opens so many career options - sample them to see where your passion lies.

What song always puts you in a good mood?

 Anything by Keith Urban.

Topics: Alumni Programs, Meet Our Alumni

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