5 Questions with KaShauna G. Rohlehr, Associate Director of Alliance, Program, and Project Management, GlaxoSmithKline

“5 Questions With…” is a weekly BioBuzz series where we reach out to interesting people in the BioHealth Capital Region to share a little about themselves, their work, and maybe something completely unrelated. This week we welcome 5 Questions with KaShauna G. Rohlehr, Associate Director of Alliance, Program, and Project Management, GlaxoSmithKline.

KaShauna G. Rohlehr is a highly motivated, results-driven technical and project management professional with 16+ years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Over her career, she has held positions within production, quality, technical, and supply chain organizations supporting vaccines and biopharmaceuticals manufacturing. She has been employed with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for 11 years, where she is currently Associate Director of Alliance, Program, and Project Management.

Before joining GSK, she worked for Merck & Co., Inc. in West Point, PA. Mrs. Rohlehr holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia, a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from Drexel University, and a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. In addition, she is actively involved in her community as a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and Jack & Jill of America, Inc.

1. Please introduce yourself to our audience with a look back at your education, training, and career.

My name is KaShauna Rohlehr, and I have 16+ years of experience supporting vaccine and biopharmaceutical manufacturing across the supply chain from bulk drug substance (BDS) to fill finish. I have spent my career exploring the many facets of manufacturing by obtaining roles within production, technical, quality, and supply chain organizations.

Early in life, I developed a strong interest in math and science. I attended the University of Virginia (UVA) and graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. While in college, my interests in the pharmaceutical industry blossomed from internships with Wyeth Consumer HealthCare (now Pfizer) and Eli Lily. After graduating from UVA, I moved to West Point, PA to work for Merck.

My first role was in Vaccines Technology & Engineering (VTE) providing technical support for final formulation, filling, and inspection of liquid vaccines and sterile pharmaceuticals. I later moved into production as a Sr. Manufacturing Supervisor/Scheduler supporting final formulation of liquid and lyophilized vaccines. While at Merck, I attended Drexel University and received a Master of Business Administration (MBA) to enhance my financial and operations acumen.

In 2010, I joined GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Rockville Biopharm (formally Human Genome Sciences) as a Manufacturing Specialist. In this role, I supported Small-Scale Cell Culture, Fermentation, and Purification manufacturing. Next, I moved into Biopharmaceutical Technology (BPT) as a Technology Manager, notably leading the upstream technology transfer of Nucala® Liquid into our Large-Scale Manufacturing facility. 

Following my time in BPT, I worked as a Program Manager within the Alliance, Program, and Project Management (APPM) team, where I managed CMO/3rd party collaborations with external biopharmaceutical companies and government agencies. While in this team, I studied and obtained the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. After a couple of years in APPM, I decided to expand my knowledge in the area of quality and became a manager in Quality Compliance/Systems.

In this role, my primary responsibility was oversight for audit and inspection activities with regulatory agencies, CMO / 3rd party clients, and GSK corporate. It was a terrific experience that truly brought to life working in a regulated industry. After Quality, I returned to the Supply Chain organization to head the Alliance, Program, and Project Management (APPM) team.

2. GSK is a well-known brand with our readers. Tell us about the department and team you’re working with.

Currently, I am Associate Director of Alliance, Program & Project Management (APPM). In this role, I have oversight for the site’s Project Management Office (PMO), Contract Manufacturing (CMO) alliances, and communications. This team contributes significantly to achieving site strategic objectives and business priorities through the management of large, complex, and cross-functional programs and projects.

Additionally, the team supports all collaborations with biopharmaceutical companies that are clients of GSK Rockville Biopharm. I enjoy this department most because it interfaces with all aspects and functions of the business and prides itself on building and sustaining healthy, long-term collaborations with strategic partners, clients, and internal stakeholders.

3. Tell us about a project you just finish or are still working on that excites you.

As announced in the GSK 2020 Annual report, GSK started a two-year program to prepare for separation into two new leading companies: New GSK, a new biopharma company, focused on specialty medicines and vaccines with an R&D approach focused on the science related to the immune system, the use of human genetics and new technologies; and a new leader in consumer healthcare with category-leading power brands and innovation based on science and consumer insights.

I support Rockville Biopharm as the site lead for this project preparing Rockville Biopharm for the separation journey. We are on track for separation into the new standalone Biopharma and Consumer Healthcare companies in 2022. Given that Rockville, MD, houses GSK Vaccines and GSK Biopharm, this venture is exciting! As stated in the GSK 2020 Annual report, the New GSK presents a clear opportunity to drive a common approach to R&D as the science related to the immune system converges across both pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

4. You’ve been in this region since the HGS days. How have you seen the BioHealth Capital Region grow and evolve?

The number of life sciences companies in the region has dramatically increased building an innovative culture, and a feeling of endless opportunities, in the region. As a result, people are more engaged and excited about biotech and pharma. There is more buzz around the numerous technology platforms and various therapeutic areas that companies are exploring.

The region has grown significantly in name recognition and has become a top Biopharma hub/cluster. People and companies around the globe are realizing the wealth of knowledge and benefits the area has to offer with its many academic and industry research institutions, universities, and government-related groups, i.e., policymakers and advocacy groups. This has also built a high concentration of technical talent, but ironically not enough to keep up with the industry’s demand. One major, positive change I have seen is the willingness of industry, academia, and government to come together and tackle the growing talent shortage. This is very promising because it exemplifies an underlying common goal to improve lives.

5. If you hit the lotto tomorrow with enough money to support yourself forever. What would you do?

I am a large advocate of STEM and very passionate about mentoring; thus, I would partner with organizations that focus on mentoring underrepresented groups, especially in the area of STEM. Whenever possible, I sit on panels, participate in science fairs, and recruit at HBCUs to promote STEM amongst women and traditionally underrepresented groups. I learned early on the importance of giving back and empowering younger individuals coming up. It is who I am, my DNA. Over the years, I have led and been actively involved in youth programs serving the community. I would devote myself full-time to working with underrepresented youth groups, helping them see their full potential and inspiring them to be leaders of tomorrow.

Thank you to KaShauna G. Rohlehr, Associate Director of Alliance, Program, and Project Management, GlaxoSmithKline. for participating in the ‘5 Questions with BioBuzz’ series, and stay tuned for more interviews with others from across the BioHealth Capital Region and beyond.

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Andy Eckert

Andy has worked with BioBuzz for the last decade to help spread the word of the BioHealth Capital Region even before it was branded with that name. His background includes years at MedImmune supporting the Commercial Operations Organization before becoming a BioHealth Nomad working with various clients in Operations, Communications and Strategic Services.