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Alum starts his own business after change in career direction

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Aug 04, 2021

Ronald Lackey thought he knew what career he wanted to pursue in college. After numerous changes, however, he ended up in a completely different field, eventually starting his own pharmaceutical consulting business.

Lackey started attending College of Lake County (CLC) full-time in 2000 after serving in the navy from 1983-92. He was an electrician in the navy, so he decided to pursue a degree in electrical engineering.

Ronald LackeyHowever, since Lackey’s education was being paid for by the military, he only had three years to earn his degree and have it paid for. An electrical engineering degree would take him five years, so Lackey decided to make a change. Thanks to the influence of his mentors, including sociology instructor John Tenuto, he decided on sociology.

“I’m thankful for the professors I had at CLC,” Lackey said. “They got me started. They gave me the confidence to take on whatever I need to do.”

Lackey was heavily involved at CLC, helping start the Veteran’s Club after 9/11 and being involved in student government.

After CLC, Lackey attended DePaul University, where he graduated with a sociology degree in 2008.

Lackey began searching for a job, but the timing of his graduation ended up causing a big change in his career path once again.

A recession hit in 2008, and Lackey had no luck finding a career in sociology. He ended up taking a job with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), working in a hospital. It was there that he got into the pharmaceutical business.

“I had no interest in the pharmaceutical industry before then,” Lackey said. “There wasn’t any disdain, just no interest. But, as the ground changed underneath me, I had to adapt.”

Lackey adapted, something he’s continued to do over his career to get where he is now.

Though he didn’t have any formal education, Lackey was finding success in his work at the VA. One day, a contractor he was working with told him he thought he was good enough to work a pharmaceutical job.

“He told me that I could make a career out of this,” he said. “I agreed with him.”

Lackey went on to get his first pharmaceutical job at Baxter working in surveillance. He would monitor if products had anything go wrong with them, whether that be improper packaging or the product not working how it was supposed to.

Even without the formal education, Lackey was able to do his job well enough to pursue career in the field.

After two years at Baxter, Lackey moved on to Astellas working with clinical trials in a project manager sort of role. He would work with the product managers on their trials.

One thing Lackey enjoyed about this job was how new each day felt.

“Every day there were ten new things going on, and it was really exciting,” he said.

Lackey’s final job before starting his own company was at AveXis, where he would proof the data from labs and studies for new products, verifying it and at times submitting things to the FDA.

Over the course of his different jobs, Lackey had acquired a lot of skills, primarily ones involving the supply chain and analyzing data. With input from others, he decided that his skills all aligned to allow him to start his own consulting company in October 2020 called Trident Analysis.

Tenuto said it was no surprise that Lackey is now leading his own business because of how much a leader and doer he is.

“He’s always been engaged and active,” Tenuto said. “This just seems like a growth off of his careers. He’s looking to make a difference, something he’s always done.”

The clients Lackey gets are typically pharmaceutical, but he is open to any client he can help, adapting to their needs.

His business is certified as veteran owned as well as disabled veteran owned, and one goal Lackey has is to hire veterans and disabled veterans once he’s able to hire staff.

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.