Spotlight on “Civilian” Life at PPD

PPD celebrates U.S. military veteran employees and their shared ideals.

PPD is honored to employ U.S. military veterans throughout our organization, and we salute all who have served and continue to serve. We recognize the military families who work at PPD and their many contributions toward helping to improve health every day. To illustrate these contributions, we’re shining a spotlight on two veterans we’ve asked to share their experiences transitioning from serving in the military to working as a civilians within our organization.


Mike Gawkins, retired Army colonel, joined PPD in 2015 in the performance optimization area in our global headquarters in Wilmington, North Carolina, after serving for 28 years. Watch him tell his story to learn how Mike’s desire to work in a service-based industry aligned perfectly with PPD’s purpose, mission and strategy.



 Eric Bauer, Navy Reserves, has been a part of the PPD team for almost seven years in our Richmond, Virginia, office. Read his interview below to learn how his experience in the military prepared him to lead at PPD.

Eric Bauer, Navy Reserves and PPD employee

Q: Tell us about your career path.

I joined the Navy Reserves after my sophomore year of college. I studied biology at Virginia Commonwealth University. As a young adult with significant uncertainty about my career and where I would end up after college, I wanted to keep my options open. I decided to join the military reserves to potentially jump-start a full-time, active-duty military career after I graduated. The academic financial benefits from signing up for the services were also not a bad incentive. My grandfather was a pilot for the Navy, so that is why I ultimately joined with the Navy.

Q: What motivated you to accept an offer at PPD?

I was extremely fortunate regarding the timing of my graduation. While applying to graduate schools and contemplating whether I truly wanted a full-time military career, PPD’s office in Richmond had several job openings. I applied, interviewed and was asked if I would like to join their bio-robotics team, which I ultimately accepted.

The idea of working full time in a laboratory setting, particularly with bio-robotics, fascinated me. My onboarding at PPD was a truly exciting time. After completing the HR new hire training, I flew to a client site to qualify on a vaccines project.

Q: What makes you stay with PPD?

PPD is a place in which you can continually apply yourself. My career began here almost seven years ago and started out in a high-throughput clinical setting with the goal of meeting timely assay production needs for our clients. The overall departmental goal was quick, effective and efficient data collection, and we never missed a deadline.

From there I was selected to be a part of a small startup team, developing the next phase of automated sample processing for functional bio-assays.

I continue to stay with PPD because our teams, projects and overall goals are constantly evolving. PPD is a place where I can work professionally within a laboratory setting, and provide support to the developmental drug process, which will one day provide life-changing therapies to individuals who need them.   

Q: How does your military background complement your abilities as a senior scientist?

The military emphasizes small unit leadership. The philosophy is that small teams well led contribute to the success of the overall mission. At times, I have been placed into an unfamiliar situation and charged to lead others. Being comfortable in the uncomfortable has provided me the ability to think through complex situations, and affords me the opportunity to apply myself in an ever-changing setting, role and environment.

Q: How would you describe the culture or environment in the PPD® Laboratories in Richmond?

PPD Laboratories in Richmond is a diverse working environment, in which people from all backgrounds and locations come together to support the drug development process. Personally, I feel I am contributing to delivering life-changing therapies, and I believe all support groups here — vaccines, immunochemistry, biomarkers and pharmacokinetics — are similarly motivated as well.

Q: What do you do for fun?

I have had several hobbies over the course of the past few years: photography, snowboarding, hiking, homebrewing, cooking — you name it, and I have probably done it at some point. Currently my hobby is running and I have been training for my first marathon. A few team members and I have taken on the challenge of running a marathon, working together toward our common goal.

Q: Any recommendations for transitioning service members seeking employment?

If you are seeking an opportunity to develop and expand upon a career within the biotechnology space, you can definitely find it at PPD.

PPD has received the Virginia Values Veterans designation that recognizes and empowers our continued efforts to hire veterans in the state.

Thank you to military veterans, and a special thank you to the veterans at PPD and their families who continue to make an impact on health every day. We invite you to learn more about other military families that work at PPD, and explore if our organization would be a fit for you.