William & Mary graduates include many alums who work in the field of health policy. The Schroeder Center for Health Policy is pleased to highlight some of these alums through a series of interviews focusing on their career paths, current job responsibilities, and their experiences at William & Mary that helped prepare them for their health-related work.
Below is an interview with Mark Tyndall, who received an M.P.P. from William & Mary in 2002.
What was your first job after graduating from W&M, and what were your responsibilities? In your current position, what are your responsibilities?
First job: I was fortunate enough to get a job while still in the Public Policy Program as Professional Staff on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry (with the support of Professor Larry Evans). In that role, I was responsible for oversight of international food aid, food safety, and USDA’s preparedness for bioterrorism risks.
Current Position: Today, I am Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Chief Counsel of Legal Investigations for Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, a global specialty pharmaceutical company. In that role, I am responsible for the company’s government relations, public policy, patient advocacy group, and corporate social responsibility activities. Additionally, I wear a legal hat for the company and am responsible for managing the company’s response to congressional or government inquiries, which are plentiful for the pharmaceutical industry today.
What was your favorite class at W&M? What skills or knowledge learned in that class have you used professionally?
One of the aspects I loved about the Public Policy Program was the diversity of course offerings available. I took a National Security Law course with Professor Mitchell Reiss (who now leads the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation) that was incredibly interesting and ultimately helped me to get a grounding in the legal principles that govern separation of powers that ultimately become incredibly important in practicing public policy.
What is the most exciting project that you have worked on since graduating from W&M?
In my current role, I’m a part of a great team that is working to develop the next generation of life-saving and life-improving drug and biologic therapies, so that is hard to beat. But, in a previous role, where I served as head of global policy for a global consumer health company, I orchestrated the reorganization of a global trade association that we believed had not been effective for our company or our industry. Because there were companies and other organizations represented from every corner of the occupied world (i.e., LatAm, Asia, Europe, North America, etc.), we had a clash of perspectives and business cultures that was incredibly educational and challenging. It was my first professional experience in which I really appreciated that style and approach can be as important to some as the substance of what you are trying to accomplish.
In your opinion, what is one thing (academic, social, etc.) that current students should not miss while on campus at W&M?
I had the benefit of developing some wonderful mentors, particularly among the faculty, administrators and alumni, at William & Mary. For such a relatively small university, the College offers an incredibly deep bench of talent, networking and experience. I remember getting some funding from the Arts & Sciences Dean and organizing a panel on working in National Security that ultimately drew a former U.S. Spy Master, who lived in the area, and a former state department official who had been a leader of the U.S. United Nations office in New York. The great thing about being a student is that there really are no true hierarchical limits about approaching people for advice and networking (like there may be in business or organizational constructs). So, take the risk, send an email or a typewritten note asking for 30 minutes to discuss an area of interest or curiosity.
What recent issue or topic in health policy excites or intrigues you? Why?
We are on the verge of some of the most important medical breakthroughs in the history of humanity, particularly in the areas of regenerative therapies, cell therapies, RNAi and CRISPR technologies and other cutting edge technology platforms that present the opportunity to extend life, cure previously thought incurable diseases, and more. We’ve already seen examples with cures for Hepatitis-C, treatments for HIV that have changed that condition for many from a death sentence to a treatable, chronic disease, and incredible advances in treating cancer. Yet, we are facing a fundamental economic conundrum. There are seemingly unlimited demands for healthcare resources and increasingly limited supply (by which I mean money). And, the risks of underinvesting in and insufficiently rewarding the risk-taking that comes with the long-road to medical innovation will have incredibly detrimental consequences for humanity. That is the issue with which we will continue to struggle for years, and it is a wonderful time for Public Policy students to learn the issues, development fact-based viewpoints and find a role in what may be one of the most impact policy debates in modern times.