"How It Got Here: The Jab" Podcast

In this podcast from the Deming Center, we explore the extraordinary journey of the COVID-19 vaccines through the global supply chain as they travel from the lab to “the jab.” This is the intriguing backstory of the race against time to create, manufacture and distribute vaccines, and the lessons it taught us—if we heed them— on how to cope with future global disruptions.

This three-part limited series explores how governments and corporations were driven to take risks and make difficult choices on the flow of goods—in this case, life-saving ones— as they battled an unprecedented global public health emergency. This is a look at the calculated risks taken in real time that had opposing ripple effects on rich and poor countries, as national agendas collided with global commerce in the frantic rush to save lives. Alongside insights from leading scholars and experts, we’ll hear never before told stories from those on the frontlines: the head of the key Pfizer production facility, the person in charge of vaccine logistics at UPS, the Supply Chain lead on the White House Covid Taskforce, and others.

How It Got Here: The Jab is hosted by Ken Stern and brought to you by The Deming Center at Columbia Business School in collaboration with the Supply Chain Innovation Network, and is sponsored by EY. 


Gad Allon
CBS PhD ‘08, Professor, Wharton School of Business

Gad Allon is the Jeffrey A. Keswin Professor and Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions, and the director of the Management and Technology Program at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his PhD in Management Science from Columbia Business School in New York and holds a Bachelor and Master degree from the Israeli Institute of Technology.

His research interests include operations management in general, and service operations and operations strategy in particular. Professor Allon has been studying models of information sharing among firms and customers both in service and retail settings, as well as competition models in the service industry. His articles have appeared in leading journals, including Management Science, Manufacturing and Service Operations Management and Operations Research.

Professor Allon won the 2011 “Wickham Skinner Early-Career Research Award” of the Production and Operations Management Society. He is the Operations Management Department Editor of Management Science and serves on the editorial board of several journals. Gad is an award-winning educator, teaching courses on scaling operations and operations strategy. He has also been an innovative leader in many educational technology initiatives. He is the co-founder of ForClass, a platform that enables professors to drive higher student engagement and accountability in their classrooms. Professor Allon regularly consults firms both on service strategy and operations strategy. Gad writes a weekly newsletter at: https://gadallon.substack.com/

Chaz Calitri
Vice President, Operations for Sterile Injectables US & EU, Pfizer

Chaz Calitri is the Vice President of Operations for Sterile Injectables US & EU. Most recently he has been leading Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine Program in Kalamazoo. He is long term member of the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers. Chaz has devoted his 39-year career to the Pharmaceutical Industry. He has held assignments and leadership positions in areas including: Production Operations, Capital Projects Management, Facilities Management, and Site Engineering. He holds a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University and an MBA in International Business from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in New York and New Jersey. Chaz resides in Collegeville, PA with his two daughters. His hobbies include running and reading. Recently he has been studying Mindfulness and Meditation.

Donna Drummond
Senior Vice President and Chief Expense Officer, Northwell Health

As senior vice president and chief expense officer, Donna Drummond collaborates with Northwell Health’s clinical and administrative leadership to identify opportunities to become more efficient, leveraging her expertise in expense management and analytics to reduce waste and unwarranted variation, and eliminate excess cost. She also works to improve clinical standardization.

Ms. Drummond leads True North Enterprises, the organization that includes the Vivo Health pharmacies, as well as the health system’s central sterile facility in Bethpage, the Northwell Health Alliance group purchasing organization and Centralized Biomedical Services. Previously, she served as the health system’s chief administrative officer and chief procurement officer.

A certified public accountant, Ms. Drummond joined Northwell Health in 2002 as vice president, material support services. In that role, she established a financial reporting and analysis team to execute a proactive procurement strategy of continuous improvement and increased support. In addition, in managing accounts payable, she implemented processes to enhance the monitoring and reduction of expenses. Ms. Drummond was associate executive director of nonclinical services at Northwell’s tertiary campuses. Before coming to Northwell, Ms. Drummond held a number of positions with J.P. Morgan & Co., Inc. where she worked for 15 years. Prior to that, she was employed by Deloitte, Haskins & Sells. Ms. Drummond holds a bachelor's degree in accounting from St. John’s University.

Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA
University Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine at Columbia University, Director of the Global Health Initiative at the Mailman School of Public Health

Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA is a University Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine at Columbia University, the director of ICAP at Columbia University, and director of the Global Health Initiative at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Founded by Dr. El-Sadr, ICAP is a global leader in HIV, other global health threats, and health systems strengthening that provides technical assistance, implementation support, and conducts research in partnership with governmental and non-governmental organizations in more than 21 countries. In this role, she leads the design, implementation, scale-up, and evaluation of large-scale HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and maternal-child health programs in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia that provide access to HIV services to more than 2.2 million people and collect data from more than 5,200 health facilities.

Dr. El-Sadr is a prominent researcher and has led numerous epidemiological, clinical, behavioral, and implementation science research studies that have furthered the understanding of the prevention and management of HIV, TB, and non-communicable diseases. She is a principal investigator of the NIH-funded HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN), which seeks to prevent HIV transmission, globally.

Dr. El-Sadr is a member of the NIH Fogarty International Center Advisory Board. In 2008, she was named a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellow, and in 2009, she was appointed to the National Academy of Medicine. In 2013, she was appointed University Professor, Columbia's highest academic honor. She also holds the Dr. Mathilde Krim-amfAR Chair in Global Health.

Awi Federgruen
Professor, Chair of Decision, Risk and Operations Division, Columbia Business School

Awi Federgruen is the Charles E. Exley Professor of Management and Chair of the Decision, Risk, and Operations (DRO) Division of Columbia University's Graduate School of Business, where he served as Senior Vice Dean from 1997-2002. Professor Federgruen joined the Columbia faculty in 1979 after receiving his doctorate in Operations Research at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and after being a Research Fellow at the Mathematical Centre in Amsterdam and a faculty member at the Graduate School of Management of the University of Rochester. He holds a courtesy appointment in Columbia's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Professor Federgruen is a world renowned expert in the development and implementation of planning models for supply chain management and logistical systems, in particular in the areas of production, inventory and distribution planning for supply chain management, and the design and analysis of operations strategies for service systems. Much of his recent work focuses on competition, coordination and contracting within supply and service chains. He is also a prime contributor to various areas of quantitative methodology, in particular the areas of applied probability and queuing models, as well as the area of dynamic programming.

Professor Federgruen is the recipient of the 2004 Distinguished Fellowship Award by the Manufacturing, Service and Operations Management society for Outstanding Research and Scholarship in Operations Management, and was elected a presidential Fellow of the INFORMS society, its highest award. Professor Federgruen is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Naval Research Logistics, and a former Departmental Editor for the department of Manufacturing, Service and Operations of Management Science, Associate Editor of Operations Research, Senior Editor of Manufacturing, Service and Operations Management and Associate Editor of Naval Research Logistics, the flagship journals of his profession. Along with articles in the popular press (Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, etc.), he is the author of over hundred and forty publications in the premier journals of his field, and he has authored a book on Markovian Control problems and numerous book chapters for important survey text books. The recipient of a series of National Science Foundation and ARPA grants, his Ph.D. students are affiliated with some of the most influential university departments and industrial research laboratories (the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Kellogg School of Northwestern University, the Harvard Business School, Cornell, the Fuqua School of Duke University, the Olin School of Washington University, the Simon School of the University of Rochester, the Business and Engineering Schools of Tel Aviv University, the Business School and Statistics Department of the Hebrew University, IBM, AT&T Bell Laboratories, Merck).

In addition to many engagements in the financial services industry, Professor Federgruen frequently consults on various supply chain management problems and planning models for companies in a variety of industries, including the pharmaceutical, natural gas, consumer electronics, food, chemical, newspaper and airline industries, both in the United States and overseas. Much of his recent applied work deals with the development and implementation of marketing mix models and strategies, in particular in the pharmaceutical industry. He has also served as a principal consultant for the Israeli Air Force in the area of logistics and procurement policies.

Rear Admiral, USN (RET) John Polowczyk
Former Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force for COVID-19 Lead, Department of Health and Human Services/FEMA and Previous Vice Director for Logistics on the Joint Staff; Managing Director, EY

John Polowczyk is a Managing Director in the Government and Public Sector of Ernst & Young LLP. A career supply chain and logistics professional with 34 years of experience across strategy development, information technology, financial, government contracting and acquisition management. John recently served as the White House Supply Chain lead on the Coronavirus Task Force to ensure health care workers get what they need when they need it. John has a M.S., in National Resource Strategy from National Defense University.

Medini Singh
Professor, Columbia Business School

Bio Professor Medini Singh joined Columbia Business School in 2001 as a member of the Decision, Risk, and Operations Division. He teaches a variety of courses in Columbia’s MBA and Executive MBA programs, including the core course in Operations Management and electives in Supply Chain Management, Operations Strategy, and Service Operations Management. He also teaches regularly in executive education programs in top institutions in U.S., China, India and Latin America. Graduating MBA students selected him as the winner of the Singhvi Prize for Scholarship in the Classroom in 2015 for his dedication to teaching and ability to communicate knowledge. In 2011, he received the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence at Columbia Business School. Professor Singh has also taught at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and in the Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he won the Teacher of the Year Award in 1991. He has also held visiting professorships at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Indian School of Business, Hyderabad.

Professor Singh is a member of the advisory board for the W. Edwards Deming Center for Quality, Productivity, and Competitiveness. His research focuses on service and supply chain design, at both the tactical and strategic level. Recently, he has been interested in the role of speed in competitiveness and in the risks and rewards of process outsourcing and off-shoring. His articles have appeared in leading journals, including Operations Research, Management Science, and IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation. He has served as associate editor of IIE Transactions and Production and Operations Management and on the editorial board of several journals, including Manufacturing & Service Operations Management and Production and Operations Management. He has also served as thesis advisor for a number of master’s and doctoral students.

Professor Singh holds a B.E. in industrial engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (India) and an M.E. in mechanical engineering, an M.S. in manufacturing and operations systems and a Ph.D. in industrial administration, all from Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. He has consulted for several Fortune 500 companies and has received research grants from a number of governmental and private funding agencies, including National Science Foundation, Electric Power Research Institute, GM Advanced Engineering and Whirlpool Foundation. He was the recipient of the Best Dissertation Award from Production and Operations Management Society (1990) and the IBM Manufacturing Research Fellowship from IBM’s T. J. Watson Research Center (1988-1990).

Glenn Steinberg
CBS '91, Global Supply Chain and Operations Leader, Principal, EY

Glenn Steinberg is a Principal in EY Consulting, a member of the Global Business Consulting leadership team and serves as the Global Supply Chain and Operations Leader. Glenn has 30 years of consulting experience driving high impact strategies and business execution across Fortune 500 enterprises. Glenn has a MBA in Finance and Operations Management from Columbia University.

Ken Stern

Ken Stern is the Co-Chair of the Supply Chain Innovation Network and host of “How it Got Here: the Jab.” Stern is the host of multiple podcasts, including When I’m 64, from the Stanford Center on Longevity. He is also the chair of ASCEND, an organization dedicated to building a new leadership culture for American business.

Stern is the author of national bestseller, Republican Like Me (HarperCollins 2017) and With Charities For All: Why Charities Are Failing and A Better Way to Give (Doubleday 2013). He is also a regular correspondent on political and business issues for Vanity Fair and has also been a frequent contributor to publications such as The Atlantic, Slate, The Daily Beast, The Washington Post and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Stern also leads the creative and business teams at Palisades Media Ventures, focusing on creating new and innovative programming for digital platforms. Prior to launching Palisades, Stern was the CEO of National Public Radio. During his tenure, NPR’s radio audience more than doubled, to more than 26 million weekly listeners. Stern also launched NPR’s world class digital efforts which included satellite channels, mobile and podcast services, NPR Music and oversaw the successful expansion of NPR.org. During a period of significant retrenchment at major news outlets, Stern led the dramatic expansion of NPR News, both domestically and abroad, and its evolution as a key daily news source to tens of millions of people.

Prior to joining NPR, Stern was a senior executive in American International Broadcasting. Earlier in his career, he held positions in Democratic politics. He began his media career with Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty in Munich. Stern, a lawyer by training, holds degrees from Haverford College and Yale Law School. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife Beth Cooper and their son Nate.

Wes Wheeler
President, UPS Healthcare

Wes Wheeler is President of Global Healthcare, UPS’ first vertical business unit in the company and is specifically focused on pharmaceuticals, medical devices, wholesalers, retail distributors and customers which store or move regulated healthcare products. Prior to taking this role, Wes was the Chief Executive Officer of Marken, a leading global supply chain service provider to the clinical supply chain industry serving all of the leading pharmaceutical sponsors, central laboratories and contract research organizations in the world.

Wes was recruited in 2011 to transform Marken which has grown to more than 50 locations in 27 countries throughout the world. As CEO, he transformed Marken from a single product courier company to the full service company it is today and was behind his Board's decision to sell the company in 2016 to UPS in a competitive process.

Wes joined the pharmaceutical industry in 1989 with Glaxo (now GlaxoSmithKline) and worked for 12 years, leaving the company in 2003 as Senior Vice President, Global Manufacturing & Supply. While at GSK, Wes was responsible for the manufacturing merger of GlaxoWelcome and SmithKline Beecham. He has since served as CEO / President at four different companies, including Patheon, Valeant and DSM Pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining GSK in 1989, he worked for 12 years as a project engineer for Exxon (now ExxonMobil).

During his 40-year professional career, Wes has been involved in every key functional area in pharmaceuticals, including manufacturing, drug development, supply chain logistics, marketing, and engineering. Wes has lived and worked for many years in Europe and Asia in addition to his many posts in the USA.

His combination of deep operational experience and many diverse roles as a leader in many different cultures has provided Wes with a unique range of skills required to transform and grow companies. Wes holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a Master in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance. He has two adult children and currently lives in North Carolina with his wife of 39 years.

Prashant Yadav
Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, Affiliate Professor at INSEAD, Lecturer at Harvard Medical School

Prashant Yadav is a globally recognized scholar in the area of healthcare supply chains. He is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, Affiliate Professor at INSEAD and Lecturer at Harvard Medical School. He is the author of many peer-reviewed scientific publications and his work has been featured in prominent print and broadcast media. In addition to his roles in academia and think tank, Prashant serves on the boards of many companies and a venture fund. In his previous roles Prashant has worked as Strategy Leader-Supply Chain at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Vice President of Healthcare at the William Davidson Institute and Faculty at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan; Professor of Supply Chain Management at the MIT-Zaragoza International Logistics Program. Prashant trained as a Chemical Engineer and obtained his PhD in Management Science & Operations Research.

Sponsored by EY