Merck & Co. CEO Ken Frazier talks history, community, and inspiration in this profile, as seen on BOSS: The Black Experience in Business.
During the period of my upbringing, the Civil Rights Movement was on the front pages of the newspaper every day.
And so people commonly think about the marches that Dr. King led but I was aware that a very small band of lawyers brought cases in the American south to ensure that this country lived up to the ideals that it claimed to about equal justice under law.
And I decided I wanted to be a lawyer.
The reason I chose the particular law firm I went to is it had a reputation for doing public interest work.
So I do think I took a very unusual or unorthodox approach to becoming the CEO of Merck.
For me a lot of what Merck is doing is about another form of justice.
It's a higher form of ensuring that every life is treated as though it's worthy of dignity, respect, and high worth.
We exist to save and improve human lives, to reduce human suffering, to reduce disease, and we do that through scientific innovation, through breakthrough research.
What motivates you is this concept that people deserve justice, and it's unjust that certain people would have to become sick and die just because of who they are or where they live.
I'm very fortunate that I was able to go from the inner city to where I am today.
But there were a lot of important steps along that journey I feel extremely fortunate to have been mentored by people all along the lines, and my success is really the result of the fact that people took a keen interest in me.