A little light reading for balance

Fred Eshelman reads extensively in his job as head of PPD, a Wilmington company doing research for pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical devices and related industries.

That reading is highly technical, often loaded with data on new medical products. So his pleasure reading tends to the light side.

The most recent choice was Richard North Patterson's political thriller “The Race.” The main character, a decorated hero of the first Gulf War, is competing for the Republican presidential nomination. Eshelman enjoyed drawing parallels to the current campaign, one of the most interesting in years.

“Some of it is so crazy, it's just wildly entertaining,” he said.

Management tomes hold no interest. At 60, he figures he best have learned what he needs to know about leadership.

Eshelman reads a lot while traveling extensively to oversee more than 10,000 employees at offices in 31 countries. He's not an online news seeker, but usually reads the main paper where work takes him and USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. For TV news, he favors “quick and dirty news channels.”

The youngest of two daughters, ages 23 and 27, ribs him about not having an iPod.

“I just don't have time for all that stuff,” he said.

A mistake years ago yielded unforgettable advice for a data-intensive career. He'd presented his part of a new drug application. His boss identified mistakes in seconds.

“Whenever you're putting together data … crosscheck stuff all the time to be sure it makes sense and be consistent,” he said.

He's also a fan of PPD's credo.

“Whatever your job is, your name is on it. Be responsible for it. If you do your best, you'll be able to be proud of it.”