A former Nephron Pharmaceuticals communications professional has taken the reigns as the first full-time marketing director to lead efforts to support the surging South Carolina life sciences industry.
Following a thorough search that considered marketing and communications professionals from across the region, SCbio named Connor Watkins as its first full-time marketing director, effective on Jan. 1, according to a news release.
At Nephron Pharmaceuticals, a worldwide leader in production of generic respiratory and 503B outsourcing medications, ophthalmic and injectable medications, and employer of more than 1,200 associates, Watkins led corporate events, community partnerships and sponsorships, and supported corporate communications initiatives for the West Columbia-based manufacturer.
While at Nephron, which is a founding partner of SCbio, Watkins directed the production of corporate events, wrote and distributed corporate communications to state and national media, and created content for internal and external executive communications while working directly for Nephron CEO Lou Kennedy, a three-time chair of the SCBIO board of directors and currently serves on the organization’s Fiduciary and Operations Committee.
Prior to joining Nephron in 2021, Watkins, a graduate of the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication, as well as a graduate of Leadership Lexington County, served as multimedia strategist for the Lexington Chamber and Visitors Center, developing and implementing communications and marketing programs for the 800-member association. While with the Lexington Chamber, Watkins was honored with multiple awards for communications excellence by the Carolinas Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.
“SCbio and South Carolina life sciences are excited to welcome Connor to help lead and tell the story of this dynamic and forward-looking industry, and to help our hundreds of life sciences companies and thousands of employees and innovators continue to grow and prosper,” said SCbio CEO James Chappell. “Competition for the position was extremely strong, but we felt that his experience in life sciences coupled with his broad marketing and communications background were the precise mix we sought as we continue to build, advance and grow the industry here in South Carolina and sought to identify our first-ever full-time marketing director for the organization. We believe he will be a strong leader to lead SCbio marketing into the future.”
Watkins succeeds SCbio’s part-time marketing director for the past six years, Sam Patrick, who is closing his chapter on his marketing consultancy, Patrick Marketing & Communications, after 15 years, the release said.
South Carolina life sciences today is a $25.7 billion annual industry and growing faster than in any other Southeastern state. SCbio is South Carolina’s investor-driven economic development organization exclusively focused on building, advancing, and growing the life sciences industry in the state. The industry has more than 1,000 firms directly involved in the research, development, and commercialization of innovative healthcare, medical devices, industrial, environmental, and agricultural biotechnology products. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has made life sciences a top state priority to continue to grow and expand the industry in the Palmetto State, the release said.
“While working at Nephron, I witnessed how the life sciences industry in South Carolina impacts and saves lives throughout our country,” said Watkins. “Our state has become an emerging leader in this industry and should be celebrated. I am excited to join the SCbio team and continue its great work in growing the life sciences industry.”
Since 2017, SCbio has seen its visibility skyrocket, its membership ranks soar, and its revenues grow by more than 400%, implemented a strong economic development focus, and serves as the voice of the life sciences industry. SCbio has implemented multifaceted workforce development and entrepreneurship initiatives, created ongoing programs to encourage participation by women in life sciences, actively supports diversity-equity-inclusion initiatives and encourages student participation in the industry.-