David Quintilio (MBA ’03) is senior vice president of healthcare logistics and distribution for UPS Healthcare. His job? To deliver critically important products to the world. ASAP.
On Dec. 14, 2020, a driver for United Parcel Service (UPS) pulled into Long Island Jewish Medical Center with a life-saving delivery — the first doses of a new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine rushed into development to immunize the world against COVID-19.
The center’s director of critical care nursing, Sandra Lindsay, became the first person in the U.S. to receive the vaccine.
“I feel great. I feel hopeful today, relieved,” Lindsay told media. “I hope this marks the beginning to the end of a painful time in our history.”
David Quintilio played a key role in getting that shot into her arm.
Quintilio is senior vice president of healthcare logistics and distribution for UPS Healthcare. It’s a new division of UPS, the world’s largest transportation company, dedicated to the global logistics of healthcare products, including the new COVID-19 vaccines and growing numbers of time- and temperature-sensitive drugs.
Quintilio’s role is the culmination of a 35-year career at UPS. He started with the company in 1986, loading 18-wheelers. Today, he loads his calendar during long working hours with calls with colleagues and customers around the world.
He and his team design and coordinate supply chains that can quickly transfer medicines and healthcare products
among 220 countries and territories where UPS operates.
Quintilio credits his time at the J. Mack Robinson College of Business for helping him develop the skills to create global logistics strategies and solve operational challenges anywhere in the world.
“I learned that moving critical initiatives through large organizations was done through relationships,” he said. “I saw it takes a diversity of perspectives and different backgrounds to look at a situation and come to the right solution, not simply the first solution.”
Quintilio works in a healthcare realm where a revolution is taking place before our eyes.
In 2020, for the first time, more than half the best-selling drugs (27 of the top 50) were biologics — medicines, gene therapies and cell therapies developed from living materials. These new treatments mark a distinct evolution from the mass-produced, synthesized drugs of Industrial Age healthcare.
The new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and other pharmaceutical companies, for example, are biologics. Flu vaccines are biologics. These protein-based medicines can fight off illnesses themselves, not just their symptoms. Today’s biologics offer hope to people with afflictions such as various cancers, Crohn’s Disease and diabetes.
“Adapting a global supply chain to keep people safe from COVID-19 meant we had to throw out a lot of old processes and procedures, and reinvent them at every level.”
— David Quintilio
Biologics are nearly all temperature-sensitive. Most perform best stored between 2 degrees and 8 degrees Celsius. (Some require -20C- to -80C-degree storage.) This means a distribution network of temperature-controlled warehouses, coolers and freezers, plus packaging and transport vehicles, plays a critical role in the life cycle of all biologics.
Enter UPS Healthcare. It delivers the new generation of healthcare products, along with tried-and-true traditional ones.
Quintilio’s work lies here, helping guide design, investment and execution in supply chain infrastructure for emerging biologics.
The task for Quintilio and his team is to receive, store and move healthcare products around the world at a blur. The COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed urgency and change in healthcare logistics, just as it has transformed much else.
When the pandemic struck, demand surged first for personal protective equipment — masks, sanitizers and test kits. Booming production by existing manufacturers and opportunistic startups drove UPS Healthcare to add 3 million square feet of storage in only a few months. With vaccines, the transportation system required an uncompromised cold chain — those temperature-controlled warehouses, coolers and freezers — from the manufacturer’s lab to the patient.
“Adapting a global supply chain to keep people safe from COVID-19 meant we had to throw out a lot of old processes and procedures,” Quintilio said, “and reinvent them at every level.
“We reexamined building solutions, pricing solutions, IT solutions, just everything. We reduced what had been essentially a six-month job finding and building out space, outfitting it and starting operations to only 23 days. That had never been done before. Some thought it wasn’t even possible.”
Quintilio and crew put up freezer farms in Louisville, Ky., the Netherlands and other regions. They added coolers and freezers for storage in facilities worldwide, and they optimized shipping routes to create the fastest delivery speeds and greatest integrity. Details as granular as the availability and quantity of dry ice at sites had to be carefully planned.
In all the bustle, Quintilio and his staff never forgot their own first responders — the UPSers on the frontlines handling critical healthcare products.
“The people side — safety — is a fundamental value here,” Quintilio said. “With all else going on, we implemented more than 70 new processes to keep the virus from spreading through our workforce. Job one was keeping people safe.”
Stephen Hydrick (MBA ’96) works with Quintilio as vice president of healthcare logistics and distribution. Hydrick is responsible for healthcare distribution operations in North and South America. He’s worked with Quintilio for nearly 15 years.
“David is a quick study and has the ability to see the bigger picture,” Hydrick said. “That skill set allows him to assess a situation, ask relevant questions and provide direction or recommendations very quickly.”
Hydrick uses the words quick and quickly as he describes Quintilio’s leadership traits. It brings to mind an old saying: Speed kills.
Not in David Quintilio’s world. Speed saves lives.
Photo by Meg Buscema