AAPI month: Julie Kim, Takeda's US business lead, says embrace your differences, 'you are more'

Julie Kim is the president of Takeda’s U.S. business unit and U.S. country head and one of the biggest decision-makers in pharma. This year alone, she spoke on a panel at the JP Morgan healthcare conference, attended Davos on behalf of Takeda and gave the keynote speech at Reuter’s Pharma USA.

She is also a female, an immigrant, Asian, Korean American and recognized by The Boston Globe as an influential AAPI leader in the city as well as one of Fierce Pharma’s Fiercest Women in Life Sciences in 2020.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) month, celebrating the fastest-growing racial group in the country. The grouping is a bit simplistic for what is a very diverse group. The 2020 census found there are about 24 million people in the U.S. who are Asian American whose roots can be traced to over 20 different countries in East and Southeast Asia as well as the Indian subcontinent.

Asian Americans feature prominently within the biopharma industry, and a new generation of AAPI leaders in healthcare are making their mark in the field.

“Throughout my career, I’ve often been the only one of 'my kind' at the table. As a 'double minority' it was often difficult to be seen and heard in the same way as my colleagues. Sometimes I had to deliver to a higher standard or walk a very fine, invisible line where I couldn’t be too much or too little of certain traits,” Kim said in an email.

“Today, as a woman of color in the C-suite, I consider it part of my responsibility to improve representation and create an environment where all employees feel a sense of belonging and have equitable opportunities to succeed.”   

Kim started this role in April 2022. Prior to that, she spent three years heading up Takeda’s plasma-derived therapies business unit, which was part of the acquisition from Shire. Today, Kim’s team focuses on advancing the pharma’s portfolio of therapies in rare diseases, neuroscience, gastroenterology and plasma-derived therapies.

“Although I don’t define or limit myself by labels like female, immigrant, Asian, Korean-American, I am, nevertheless, proud to be all these things, and more. These are aspects of who I am, and my lived experiences with these labels have helped me become the person I am today,” Kim said.”

Kim encourages those in the AAPI community (as well as others) to celebrate their differences and use them to their advantage.

“In our very fragmented society today where there are people who want our communities to feel 'less,' not 'more,' I would encourage anyone who identifies as AAPI to embrace who you are and the unique perspectives and lived experiences that you bring to the table. You are 'more.' Look for people who will lift you up and allow those differences to shine through and make an impact on the world,” she said.