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Kim McLean Boericke

Kim McLean Boericke: Pioneering Clinical Research and Tech Industry

Empowering Teams and Driving Innovation!

Education is the key to everything; without it, you are incomplete. It gives you a deep understanding of life science, technological innovation, and effective management. Being at the forefront of technological innovation, a leader fosters a culture of innovation within the organization. As a Chief Operating Officer of THREAD, Kim McLean Boericke is one such leader who is focused on advancing research for everyone, everywhere.

She is driving innovation, fostering a patient-centric approach, and streamlining operations to revolutionize the world of clinical trials. Kim’s journey is a testament to the qualities and skills that define a successful COO in the tech industry—operational acumen, strategic leadership, innovation, and a strong commitment to empowering teams and driving positive change.

To learn more about her journey, we at Insights Success interviewed Kim to learn about her wide range of capabilities and the configurable platform.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Could you please brief us about yourself and what motivated you to embark on this sector?

I started as a Project Manager in clinical research in 1996 at a small company called ClinTrials. Most of my career has been spent learning and growing my expertise in managing clinical trials and later managing and leading operations in organizations conducting clinical research. Over the years, I saw how clinical trials affected patients and sites as the burden to participate increased as the trials became more complicated. I joined THREAD because their focus was on advancing research for everyone, everywhere. A clear focus on the patient and decreasing their burden—and a clear focus on increasing diversity and enabling more inclusive research.

Could you please tell us about your company and its inception story?

In 2015, a small team of technologists, entrepreneurs, and clinical research veterans got together with a vision for transforming an industry. We looked out at a world that had rapidly evolved to shop for groceries, access medical care, manage money, and even find love from their smart devices anywhere in the world. In contrast to this was a clinical research industry largely living in the last century where everything was onsite and often recorded on paper records. This was not only inefficient from a time and money perspective, but we also saw it as out-of-touch with how people (and ultimately patients) interact with other people and technologies in their everyday lives. Long before a pandemic impacted our industry, we believed change was needed.

THREAD has grown a long way since those early days. We built the world’s leading configurable research platform that enables data collection for everyone, everywhere. Partnering with top pharma and CROs (Clinical Research Organizations), we have delivered over 215 clinical trials in over 60 countries leveraging a wide range of capabilities, including eConsent, Telehealth, eCOA, eSource site data capture, notifications, and integration of medical devices and sensors, all wrapped in a secure, compliant, and configurable platform.

For us, ‘patient-first’ is more than just a saying. That is why, in 2021, we acquired inVibe as an AI-driven next-generation patient-listening technology to bring actual patient voices into how we design and execute clinical trials. To ground ourselves in the science of these data-driven practices, we also acquired Modus Outcomes to collaborate with our team, leveraging the clinical outcomes researchers, who have produced more than 150 peer-reviewed publications with thousands of citations in the last seven years. THREAD combines these three pillars of scientific innovation, patient voice, and a configurable omni-channel global research platform to provide unique fit-for-purpose solutions.

Can you tell us about your role as a COO in the tech industry, the specific challenges you face in this position, and what strategies you have implemented to drive growth and success within your organization?

As COO, I am focused on our clients and the successful delivery of our services and our platform that enables their research. I am focused on improving our delivery model to become more efficient — enabling THREAD to grow faster without taking on more cost, allowing us to become a fiscally strong organization. I am also focused on our team and providing them an opportunity to grow and develop their careers.

How do you stay up to date with the latest technological advancements and trends, and how does this knowledge inform your decision-making process?

Industry journals, website reviews, and networking across the industry are a few ways I can stay current with technology advancements and trends. The information, once analyzed, provides data and insights that support my decision-making process. Discussions and collaboration with my peers also support my decisions.

As a COO, how do you collaborate with other C-suite executives to align organizational goals and ensure smooth operations?

Our C-suite is very connected. We have regular staff meetings and quarterly in-person meetings to focus on the organization, goal attainment, and strategic positioning. Regular one-to-one meetings provide an avenue for deeper discussions and collaboration on specific topics. We also have regular task forces focused on key initiatives.

Can you share an example of a significant project or initiative that you led, highlighting the impact it had on your company’s success?

Over the last year, the services team has been working on their workflow and handoffs to improve our cycle time from kick-off meetings to study launch. We have been able to decrease our cycle time by 35%. The impact is less cost and a faster start-up for our client’s clinical trials. Improving client satisfaction and repeat business. We can do faster, which has a positive impact on our revenues.

In your opinion, what are the key qualities and skills that make an effective COO in the tech industry?

I believe an effective COO must be a strong operator who understands how the tech is used in the field. There is a balance between understanding how the tech works and how it is used. The COO must also understand their teams’ strengths and leverage their strengths by ensuring the leaders are in the right roles and then supporting their leadership.

How do you foster innovation and a culture of continuous improvement within your organization?

I foster innovation and a culture of continuous improvement by supporting my leaders and providing time. Our leadership team spends time discussing the industry and new trends and working through what that could mean for the organization. The leaders work with their teams and get feedback on how we can be more effective and efficient. These ideas and concepts are then used to develop new workflows, new features, or enhancements.

As a leader, how do you prioritize and delegate tasks to ensure effective resource allocation and maximize productivity, and how do you approach talent acquisition and development to build a high-performing team?

I started my career as a Project Manager. So planning, prioritizing, and delegation have been key skills that I have developed and honed over the years. As a Project Manager, you need to effectively leverage your SMEs and team members to achieve the goals and objectives for each of the projects. I use these skills every day to keep the organization moving forward efficiently and effectively. I believe the development and promotion of talent should be focused first internally. It is important to give talent an opportunity to take the lead and make the decisions with support.

What advice would you give to aspiring COOs in the tech industry who want to make a meaningful impact in their organizations?

There are a couple of suggestions I would give to aspiring COOs. The first is to understand the product and how it works, but more importantly, to have a full understanding of how it is used by the stakeholders. Take time to understand your leaders and how they operate. Ensure they have the mentorship, autonomy to make decisions, and the oversight to be successful. Work closely with finance to understand the revenue and cost of services for the business. Take time to understand the full picture before you decide to make changes.

Please give us a few testimonials from your clients and awards or recognition that accurately highlight your achievements in the corporate niche.

Due to client confidentiality, I cannot provide testimonials. But I have received some awards over the years:

  • 2021 Female Executive of the Year, Bronze Winner, 2021 Stevie Awards for Women
  • 2016 ICON Leadership Award, The ‘Builder’Award
  • 2012 PharmaVoice 100, Top Mentors
  • 2008 Ingenix Customer Service Award, i3 Research, Cary, USA

Please feel free to add any other additional details that we might have missed out on or that you want to highlight in the article.

I believe as an executive in technology, it is important to give back to the community and support the development of the next generation of researchers and scientists (STEM projects). I am a part of Junior Achievement of Eastern North Carolina. As part of Junior Achievement, I have been working with Enloe Magnet High School and supporting their after-school program. I also organized the judging of the Sylvan Elementary School Science Fair. Sylvan is a Title One school in Alamance County, NC.

I am also a mentor at work and across my network. I am an active supporter and have been involved with setting up DEI programs.