Dennis Gillings built a $4.2 billion global enterprise out of an idea he had as a PhD student in a trailer home at the University of North Carolina in the late 1970s.

Those in the pharmaceutical industry told him it would never work—he was a statistician and had no experience in the industry.

Today, that company is Quintiles. It’s one of the most significant players in our region’s economy, employing 17,500 well-paid local “knowledge workers” and helping to spur a cluster of pharmaceutical companies in the region—82 operate in Research Triangle Park alone. Globally, Quintiles is the cream of the crop of contract research organizations for the pharmaceutical industry. It commercialized each of the top selling drug products on the market in 2013; its executives have testified before Congressional committees; and Gillings himself was appointed by British Prime Minister David Cameron as the World Dementia Envoy, leading a global council to raise money to combat Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.

As he prepares to step down as chairman from the company he built over 33 years, the British-born Gillings has had time to reflect on a journey “tremendous” in many ways. That word was peppered throughout his closing speech at the CED Life Science Conference in downtown Raleigh, where he shared the company’s history and provided advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and predictions about the next 10 years in the life science industry.

His goal is for the region to enjoy as “tremendous” a journey as his own.

Here are the three ways he suggests entrepreneur’s approach their businesses to do so.

  • Be visionary.
  • Be a financier.
  • Be an architect.

For the details on each point, read the full report at ExitEvent:

Note: ExitEvent is a news partner of WRAL TechWire.