Skip to Main Content
Contact Us

How to Develop a High-performing Team

Keya Watkins
August 02, 2022 4 min read

Keya Watkins, Senior Vice President, Clinical Development Operations, talks to the Huxley Morton podcast covering everything from her early career to the future of Catalyst and her role within the company.

How did you get into the clinical trial industry?

I started out with a role within academia within a university hospital. Working there as a nutrition specialist, this largely involved working with food lines specifically for malnourished patients. This was often with a pre-operative cancer setting. The more I talked to these patients and heard their stories the more my eyes were opened to the world of drug development.

Their stories of adversity were inspiring, people often lived dual lives been real fighters taking on their cancer while still working and caring for families. More and more I found myself thinking there must be more medicine could do. I wanted to be a part of that, even is it was a small part I wanted to try change these patients’ future.

How did you get from that role into a clinical research role?

Job fairs, sounds silly now I know but before Google and social media were such giants this was a great way to find new opportunities. My geography did help in the opportunities that were available to me, but my energy, drive and enthusiasm enabled a recruiter to see potential in me and considered me very trainable. and the rest is history.

Where does your character and enthusiasm come from?

My parents are first generation Americans who came from India in the late 60s, they instilled a love of embracing every opportunity and having a glass half full approach. My father particularly never stopped smiling and had a look on the bright side with no regrets outlook. He was a big mentor and influencer until later in my career where other individuals gave great advice and supported my journey.

About that journey how did you get here?

Lots of hard work and a little luck! Every step of my career was a result of an individual who trusted and wanted to give me an opportunity. I’ve worked with the service provider space within clinical for most of my career, very quickly progressing to a Project Manager. I think this was probably a result of my diligence and keenness to protect company money. But more important than that my passion and enthusiasm for the job I always feel shone through.

My journey within Catalyst feels almost as significant as my wider career. On joining in there were just 30 employees, 3 years later this was 200 employees with 80 contractors. The research environment has transformed in that time, but I and the business have grown and adjusted alongside that.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Every day presents a new challenge in my view. At the moment within the CRO landscape as a business our biggest challenge is finding the right talent and preventing a skills and experience gap in future talent.

What is your biggest achievement?

For me this is the reason I joined Catalyst, doing the right thing, not just saying it. As a team we are so passionate about only taking on what we can deliver to the best of our ability that we will turn down work if it is the right thing to do for both our employees and customers. This perhaps doesn’t seem an achievement but in the CRO landscape for me it’s a significant differentiator.

What does the future hold for Catalyst?

Continuing to grow in a thoughtful and strategic way. Whilst continuing to invest in people, innovative tech and methods to reduce burden so all involved in the process.

Finally, what is your one golden rule for life?

Short and sweet… Learn to let go!