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Clinical Research Careers: Paving the Way Through Mentorship

Posted by Brook White on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 @ 11:04 AM

Lauren Neighbours, Clinical Research ScientistLauren Neighbours is a Clinical Research Scientist at Rho.  She manages cross-functional project teams for clinical and regulatory submission programs and has over ten years of scientific writing and editing experience.  Lauren has participated in formal and informal mentoring programs at Rho, including the Integrated Product Development program, RhoEXCHANGE, and the Train and Mentor Leaders Program.  She coordinates and leads various internal trainings and serves as a mentor to her project teams, integrated product development associates, and other colleagues at Rho.  

The benefits of an organizational mentoring program are numerous and well established. Mentoring programs, when successful, can attract and retain talented individuals and accelerate their leadership development within the organization. However, each company that adopts a mentoring program should put their own spin on the platform to achieve their company’s cultural and organizational goals.

At Rho, mentoring is an extension of our core values, helping to support the great people and team culture that set us apart in our industry. Thus, we have taken strides to weave mentorship into all aspects of our workplace environment.

How Rho Makes Mentorship a Priority:

The mentor is a critical element in Rho’s commitment to nurturing and growing great people. Although informal mentorship has always been a part of Rho’s company culture, Rho established a formal company mentoring program in 2013 to support continuous employee professional development within an evolving industry. Within Rho’s mentoring program, individuals are paired with a mentor based on the mentee’s developmental needs and goals. This one-on-one mentoring relationship allows the mentor and mentee to identify and resolve skill or experience gaps, discuss and implement effective problem-solving techniques for handling project workload and conflicts, and reflect on performance feedback to support the mentee’s career growth. Rho mentors are also supported by subject matter experts who provide mentors with guidance and resources on technical issues to ensure mentor-mentee engagement is as effective as possible.

In addition to the company-wide mentoring program, Rho also launched the Train and Mentor Leaders program in 2014. This program selects a subset of high-potential employees within the company and provides them training, customized coaching sessions, and a bevy of resources to support their leadership development.

Another opportunity available to employees is the RhoEXCHANGE program. RhoEXCHANGE matches individuals with subject-matter experts for any given learning objective. For example, someone working in clinical operations may request being paired with a data standards expert to better understand the role of Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) implementation in clinical development and regulatory authority submissions. The RhoEXCHANGE program allows for cross-functional training across a diverse range of disciplines and enables Rho employees to be proficient in all aspects of clinical research.

How Mentorship Makes Rho a Better CRO

Rho’s mentorship programs attract, train, and retain top talent in the clinical research industry.  This cultivates an environment of continued education, growth, and leadership development which in turns makes Rho a more knowledgeable partner for our sponsors.  In an industry where high turnover is typical, Rho’s turnover rates are consistently lower than average.  Low turnover allows us to provide sponsors with stable teams and reduces training costs. 


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Rho Turns 30

Posted by Brook White on Thu, Feb 06, 2014 @ 10:57 AM

On Thursday, January 23rd, Rho launched its 30 year anniversary celebration at the Cotton Room in downtown Durham, NC during our annual, January company-wide meeting.

Statisticians and Programmers Arrive in a LimoEmployees made the journey from as far west as sunny California and as far north as blustery New York. Some local employees chose to get creative with their short commute by arriving in a limo! Five biostatisticians and five programmers decided on a whim that it would be a fun way to carpool to the meeting, where they knew parking would be limited. They specifically requested a white limo, reasoning that black might have been too classy for the occasion. (Pictured l-r: Kristen Harrington, Stacey Murphy, Carol Baker, Richard Addy, Charity Quick, Heather Dineen, Ben Vaughn, Leela Aertker, Paul Nguyen, Rob Woolson).

Co-CEO, Laura Helms Reece, praised the group’s originality in her remarks during the meeting by stating it was “a great example of Rho’s particular brand of quirky.” And indeed, it was. Despite the positive attention they received and the fun they had, the limo carpoolers did have one regret. Their limo didn’t have a sunroof. Maybe next time.

Company meeting buffetA coffee station and a southern breakfast provided a warm welcome as employees arrived. After everyone had their fill of caffeine, eggs, biscuits, and grits, Laura Helms Reece and Russ Helms, Co-CEOs, gave a brief presentation on the company’s goals for 2014, which include supporting and diversifying growth and continuing to support the development of leaders across the company Additionally, Russ and Laura reminded the audience of Rho’s entrepreneurial roots and commitment to chasing excellence while staying true to what makes Rho, Rho (great people, excellent customer service, and a family friendly culture).

airplane buildingOnce breakfast and business were out of the way, it was time to have a little fun! And what better way to celebrate 30 years of business than with a good, old-fashioned paper airplane contest? Each table, made up of 10 Rho employees, made a team. Every team was provided with a “paper airplane kit” which included paper, scissors, branding materials for decorating their planes, and instructions for plane design options. Each team had 30 minutes to construct and decorate their plane before the first leg of the competition kicked off. 


Distance judges assumed their positions and team-assigned pilots took their marks.

Distance judges Stefanie Gagliardi and Beth Olenairplane distance contestairplane distance contest

Above left (Stefanie Gagliardi, CRA,(l) and Beth Olen, Senior Clinical Data Project Manager,(r) served as official distance judges).  Above center and above right (Team "Pilots" fly their planes in the distance competition).

After several rounds of distance competitions, the team whose plane went the furthest, “Skid Rho,” was rewarded with the “Longest Flight” award. 

airplane contest winnerOnce everyone returned to Rho, employees were able to take a closer look at all of the planes on display and vote on several additional categories including Best Name: AirRhoPlane, Best Constructed: Live and Let Rho and Flights. Right. On Time, Best Branded: Rholling Thunder, and Best All Around: Rholling Thunder.

Brian Goeckerman, Clinical Data Associate, commented on the paper airplane activity by saying, “The airplane competition was great fun because it was a chance to collaborate with some awesome people and develop an idea into a tangible product. It was very exciting to see all the different ways that groups decided to approach the same challenge and see which strategy soared above the others.”

All in all, the event was a great way to kick off our 30th year of business and re-commit to the ideals that have made us what we are today—a company of smart, creative, quirky, hard-working individuals who are truly one team committed to excellence.

Celebrating Our 29th Year

Posted by Brook White on Tue, Dec 03, 2013 @ 05:25 PM

End of year celebrationWe recently celebrated the end of our 29th year with an employee party at our main office, which included food trucks, ice cream, Rho-branded hoodies, and profit-sharing bonus checks. Co-CEOs Laura Helms Reece and Russ Helms shared some thoughts about important events of the past year and about our future.  What follows is a summary of their remarks, minus some confidential information.

From Laura:

I get to to share some of the amazing stories of the last year. I want to start with the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. This year, Rho nominated Russ and me for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Rho nominates us for awards from time to time and usually nothing comes of it. So, I wasn’t expecting much from this time either. Still, Brook White wrote a beautiful nomination and Russ and I dressed up for the local interview.

It was actually a really fun interview. We got to talk about the things at Rho that make us the most proud. We talked about what happens when smart, talented people care about the important work they do. We talked about getting the culture right. We talked about keeping the culture right. We talked about our cultural fit interviews, new hire lunches with the CEOs, and Breakfast with the Board. We talked about our flexible workplace that allows all of us to balance our jobs and our other responsibilities. We talked about project-centered teams producing amazing results for our clients and giving people opportunities to try to master new things. We talked about Rho24 and Innovation Showcases [Rho24 is a day we set aside twice a year for the entire company to focus on innovation]. We talked about our theme for this year, “Know your project”.

At one point, one of the interviewers asked how we manage all the maternity leaves. I laughed at that one. You have no idea how much management time is spent on coordinating maternity leave around here. I explained about people pulling together and stepping up to the plate. Then he asked, “What percentage of women come back to work?” I must have looked stunned. We’ve never thought to measure that. After all, we’re not exactly managing to it. I thought about it and said, truthfully, “We’ve never really spent time on that metric. Maybe one woman a year doesn’t come back. Maybe it’s one woman every two years.” The panel looked stunned and scribbled notes as fast as they could.

Much to Russ’ and my surprise, we made the next round. We were finalists! Of course, based on our previous experience, I assumed everyone was a finalist. None the less, we put our suits back on and headed to Charlotte. And yes, Russ wore dress shoes. Tara [Gladwell] made me promise I’d check.

The Charlotte interview was tougher. My first hint of that came at lunch. First of all, there were only 2 female finalists in Charlotte. At Rho, that’s not my day-to-day experience. But the real give away came when we discussed the awards gala. You see, Ernst and Young throws a very fancy awards gala for all the finalists. Originally, Russ and I had a deal: I’d handle the gala. Unfortunately for Russ, the gala was the same night as Elle’s [Laura’s oldest child] preschool graduation. So, Russ had to represent us at the gala. Come on! My girl learned songs. There was a cap and a gown. There was a cute diploma. I wasn’t going to miss that!

This was a shock to the folks in Charlotte. Couldn’t my husband attend the graduation? This was my first serious clue that this was not my tribe.

After lunch, we did the interviews. These interviewers were more assertive and used more business jargon. Since Russ and I took over as CEOs, our revenues had increased dramatically and costs hadn’t. What did we do? So Russ and I talked about what we always talk about: smart, talented people who care about the work they do. We talked about mastery. We talked about work that matters. We talked about a supportive environment. We talked about a flat organizational structure that shrunk our overhead costs. We talked about moving a project rock star into a sales leadership position. Honestly, I think we shared every last secret.

Finally, one of the interviewers interrupted us: “We’ve heard enough about your great people. What processes and systems did you change?” He wanted a secret sauce. Our employees are our secret sauce. That’s what we’ve got.

It turned out that less than 5% of the applicants became finalists. And the list of finalists was humbling for me. We didn’t win. Our secret sauce did pretty well though.

At the start of the fiscal year, we had 328 employees. We now have 340. In case you were wondering, we’ve had 26 babies this year. That’s 1 baby for every 13 employees. And while that’s a management challenge, it’s a wonderful challenge to have. We’re fortunate to have those challenges. (By the way, 2014 is shaping up to be a baby-filled year, too.) We jump in and help out and work around employee needs. I’m thrilled for every new baby. I’m sad with every sick parent. But with all the human stuff we struggle with, we struggle together. And I am so proud to be part of this team.

So other than babies, how did we do? We’ve done some really cool work this year. From NDAs for drugs that fulfill an unmet medical need to trials on biologics with the potential to save lives, the work we do matters. It saves lives and changes lives for the better. We can all be proud of the work we do.

From Russ:

This has been a pretty good year. Looking forward, we think next year is likely to be a bit better, but the promise is not without risk or without challenges. Right now, because of an improving economy in our industry and some great work by our commercial business development professionals, we have extremely strong commercial sales. That's led to the strongest commercial backlog we've ever had (backlog means work we've sold but haven't done yet).

One of our challenges is that there's a lot of work to be done. As you've probably noticed, that growth in sales has led to some growth in headcount. There are a number of new faces at Rho, and we're not done expanding. Maintaining our excellence, maintaining a customer experience of unrivalled quality, and maintaining our culture of caring are all challenges in the face of growth.

As part of our stability strategy, we like to keep our work in the federal and commercial markets balanced, so one of our challenges is increasing federal wins to keep pace. We're going to do that despite a challenging funding environment, which means taking away work from competitors. Our competitors are pretty good, but they don't provide a customer experience to rival our quality.

These are tough challenges. These are the kind of challenges that come from success, and they’re the kind of challenges we want to face. It's because you are so talented and because you work so well in a team culture that we've had the successes. And for those same reasons we're highly confident that we can meet the challenges we see.

But I hope you're sitting there asking yourself, “Great, what can I do to help?”

Here's what you can do:

  • Keep creating results

  • Keep building relationships

  • Keep having a positive impact

Build Results

  • Delight your customers! 

  • Make steady, daily progress

  • Publish 

  • Know your projects-

    *Your results will be better if you know the science on all your projects
    *Your results will be better if know the finances on all your projects
    *Your results will be better if you can help out in areas outside your expertise 

Improve relationships

  • Improve your relationships with your teammates: Understand their contribution, help them out, and smooth out the handoffs.

  • Improve your relationships with your clients: The more you know about what your clients want, the better you can help them reach their goals.

  • Improve your relationships with your colleagues: Catch them doing something right, and reinforce it. Welcome the new faces, and show them the Rho Way.

Increase your impact

The last major thing you can do is to improve your impact.  On your projects, you're doing it by knowing your project.  Take initiative, and collaborate.  Do that beyond your projects, too.  When you have ideas, write them down and try them out in Rho24 days.  If you didn't write them down, participate in the Rho24 days to help with someone else's idea, there are plenty of ways to contribute!  Go to the innovation showcases, and figure out ways to apply what you see.  There are lots of little things you can do to improve your impact.  

As always, what you can do boils down to results, relationships, and impact.  

Let me finish up with a reminder of why I think this is all worth doing. Earlier this year, I went to a steering committee meeting. There I met a patient from one of our trials. This young lady had a kidney transplant as a teenager. The drugs she got along with that new kidney suppressed her immune system. By the time she was in college, she was in a wheelchair, because her feet and leg were so covered with sores. Her transplant gave her life, but took away her ability to walk. She entered one of our studies, she got off those immunosuppressive drugs, she got out of her wheelchair, she started running, and now she runs marathons.

That's what we do, folks. Sometimes it works. Sometimes we give people their lives back.

Choose Rho as Your Clinical Research Provider

What's Happening at Rho

Posted by Brook White on Mon, Oct 28, 2013 @ 04:13 PM

We kicked off the 2014 fiscal year with exciting company events spanning from the end of September through the month of October. Monday, September 30th, Rho hosted a company-wide lunch, celebrating the end of another successful fiscal year. Pie Pushers, American Meltdown, and Gussy’s food trucks attended giving employees a wide variety of options to treat their taste buds.  Employees also enjoyed having their caricatures made, taking home frame-worthy portraits along with gray, hooded sweatshirts with the Rho logo as corporate thank you gifts.

American Meltdown food truckdescribe the image

Top left: Employees wait in line for the American Meltdown food truck;  Top right: Herman Mitchell shows off his new hooded sweatshirt

Karen Kesler and her caricature“I love the end of year celebration and this year’s definitely didn’t disappoint! Besides getting to hang out and see folks that I don’t always run into, the food truck lunch was a spectacular idea and I have my caricature hanging in my office.” – Karen Kesler, Sr. Statistical Scientist


Above left: Karen Kesler shows off her caricature; Above right: Artist draws caricatures of employees during the end of the year celebration

On Friday, October 11th, we held our 14th RhoGOLF Tournament at Wildwood Green Golf Course in Raleigh. Over 75 players, including employees and their guests, took a break from their busy schedules to enjoy an afternoon out of the office. A boxed lunch was provided before four-person teams took to the course. Competitions were set up along the way such as a longest marshmallow drive and a closest to the pin contest. An awards dinner concluded the event where competition winners, the 1st place team, and raffle winners were announced. 








Golf organizer Bryan PattersonGolf carts headed out to the course








Top left (l-r): Kiley Gilbert and guest with Chris Scofield and guest; Top right (l-r): Allie Bolick, Laurie McLeod, Stephanie Wellford, Caroline Owen; Bottom left: Golf event organizer Bryan Patterson; Bottom right: Golf carts heading out to the course 

“The golf tournament is one of my favorite Rho events!  I participated the past two years and had so much fun watching everyone play and mingling with colleagues outside of work.  It is a great way to get to know people I typically do not interact with in the office all while doing something fun.  I definitely plan to attend again next year!” – Stephanie Wellford, Study Coordinator 

Crisp air from the golf course and Rho sweatshirts set the mood for fall here at Rho. So, on Saturday, October 20th, employees and their families were invited to Rho’s Fall Fest at Pullen Park in Raleigh. Guests were treated to a catered lunch by Thrills from the Grill and a handful of employees took their spatulas to battle for a dessert competition. Many delicious treats were submitted but the raspberry lemon cake, triple berry pie, and pumpkin cake were victorious. Employees that shine less in the kitchen and more on the ball field enjoyed a fun filled game of kickball. There was plenty of entertainment for the kids as well. A mini-pumpkin painting station, bubbles and hula-hoops, and tickets to ride the historic carousel, kiddie boats and train were provided for employees’ children.

Brad Saunders and familybubble









Top left: Brad Saunders and family; Top right and bottom left: Kids enjoyed bubbles and pumpkin painting among other activities; Bottom right: Gina Johnson (front left), Nathan Bryant (front right), and others enjoy food provided by Thrills from the Grill

“Not only was the Rho Fall Festival a great place to chat with coworkers and eat tasty food, it was a blast for the kids! My 2 little guys had an awesome time on the train, giant “spider web” aka the jungle gym, and of course the carousel. This was great family and work fun!” – Shea Tripp, Study Coordinator

dessert contestkickball tournament








Above left: dessert contest goodies; Above right:kickball tournament

Why Rho has Lower Turnover Rates than Most Contract Research Organizations

Posted by Jamie Hahn on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 @ 04:24 PM

Jamie HahnJamie Hahn, Senior Director Corporate Communications, has worked at Rho for eight years.  In addition to corporate communications, she has worked in project management, data management, and proposals & contracts.  Here Jamie shares her personal take on why she, and many others, choose to stay at Rho. 

I’ve worked at Rho for eight years now, which might seem out of the ordinary for an employee of a contract research organization (CRO). In fact, it doesn’t just seem out of the ordinary, it actually is out of the ordinary. Based on preliminary results from the 15th annual CRO Industry Global Compensation and Turnover Survey*, U.S CROs continue to be plagued by a high employee turnover rate. 18.6% for 2012, to be exact. Wow. Clearly CROs are having serious trouble retaining talent, which is a huge problem in an industry that relies on human capital so heavily.

When I saw these numbers, I immediately called our HR group to find out our turnover rate for 2012. As I waited for the final numbers, I ran through some of the anecdotal evidence I’ve collected on this topic. On my walk to the water fountain, I pass four people who’ve been here for at least three years. There are always employees celebrating 1, 5, 10, and 15 year work anniversaries. And many of us worked in the basement of Ron and Mary Helms’s house in Chapel Hill when they first started the business. Certainly, we could beat a turnover rate of 18.6%.

HR sent me the numbers, and Rho’s turnover for 2012 was a mere 9.7%, just about half the percentage reported in the survey. They also let me know that more than 50% of our employees have been with the company for more than 5 years. I was stunned by these numbers, especially in light of the recent CRO survey results. Being in Corporate Communications, I was curious about the story behind the numbers and why Rho is so different from the rest of the CROs in the industry. Quite simply, I wanted to know why our employees stay at Rho.

So, we asked them. Through a survey that was sent to all employees (response rate of 77%), we received some wonderful and enlightening answers. Here are some of our favorites:

“I enjoy working with smart people.”

“Working in a stimulating environment with motivated team members.”

“Flexibility. Flexibility. Flexibility.”

“My colleagues are amazing.”

“Reasonable hours. This is a great company for family people.”

“Warm, relaxed atmosphere.”

“My work. I love what I do here at Rho.”

“Questioning the status quo is encouraged.”

“Being able to contribute to the greater good and using my brain 5 days a week.”

“Latitude to influence the makeup of my job.”

“My work is valued and my ideas matter.”

rho superheroAdditionally, we asked, “What do you do at Rho?” The top three answers were, “I solve problems,” “I make people happy,” and “I make the world a healthier place.” Not bad for a day’s work.

Around this time, we were also notified that Rho had been recognized by three organizations for our family-friendly, flexible, and all-around exemplary workplace in 2013. These awards included the Triangle Business Journal’s Best Places to Work award, the Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility, and the Carolina Parent Family-Friendly 50 Award.

All in all, I’d say that Rho is a great place to work. As a communications professional who’s been charged with sharing Rho’s story with the industry, I’m glad to be able to back up this statement with hard evidence from the industry turnover survey, our employees’ own words, and our recent workplace awards. I love telling Rho’s story every day, but sometimes it tells itself.

*The CRO Industry Global Compensation and Turnover Survey was conducted by HR+Survey Solutions

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Reflections on the CEO Sleep Out

Posted by Brook White on Tue, Sep 10, 2013 @ 01:34 PM

Rho CEO Laura Helms ReeceThe following article comes from Rho CEO Laura Helms Reece who would like to share her thoughts on participating in the recent CEO Sleep Out hosted by the Triangle United Way.

Two weeks ago my friend Josh told me about the CEO Sleep Out: a United Way event designed to raise money for and bring attention to the issue of homelessness in our community. I looked at Josh and laughed. “I don’t camp out for fun! That’s crazy.” The next day, I read about people near Moore Square who were threatened with arrest if they continued to hand out biscuits to the hungry. I realized I hadn’t spent much time lately considering the hungry and the homeless in our area.

Despite North Carolina’s recent economic recovery, over the last decade our state has moved from 26th to 12th in the country in terms of the percentage of people living in poverty. In Durham, twenty-six percent of children go to bed hungry regularly. I’m not forced to look at that very often. I turn my gaze away.

I decided that it was time to look carefully and to see.

Laura at the CEO sleep outLast Thursday, I joined 36 other executives at the CEO Sleep Out in downtown Durham. We had a discussion on shelters, transitional housing, and behavior changes needed to help marginalized people transition into mainstream society. We talked Friday morning about economic inequality and why we’re losing the battle against poverty in North Carolina. The most powerful discussion was a 2 hour panel of young people who spent their teenage years in foster care. I’d never given much thought to what happens when a child is transitioned out of foster care at 18 years of age. One of these poised, articulate, successful young women had been in 20 placements between 8 and 18. How did she ever manage to learn anything at school? I was so impressed by these panelists.

describe the imageThe United Way encouraged the participants in the CEO Sleep Out to raise money from our friends and family to support the most vulnerable members of our community. The fundraiser also allowed the participants to gain “luxury” items to enhance their overnight experience based on the dollar amount of the contributions they garnered. My friends and family raised enough money to provide me with a refrigerator box, a pillow, and a sleeping bag. The box was big enough for me to fit into, and along with the pillow and the sleeping bag, it was surprisingly cozy.

I knew we were safe. We had a security guard keeping watch. I didn’t keep any valuables with me and I was tucked away in my box. Still, sleep was difficult. I was surrounded by other people I really didn’t know. There were strange noises. The stadium lights at the nearby Durham Bulls Athletic Park didn’t get turned off until sometime after 1 in the morning. The occasional post-baseball game drunk continued to wander by until a little after 2. A train roared along the train tracks, complete with safety whistle, next to our sleeping spot at about 2:30. At best, I was able to sleep in one hour stretches. I can’t imagine how someone pulls it together after multiple nights like that. I don’t see how sleeping in your car is any better – it’s more cramped and less comfortable.

The CEO Sleep Out was a powerful experience. Through it I walked a few steps in someone else’s shoes. I turned my gaze back to some of the most vulnerable members of our community and took the time to actually see them. The Sleep Out reminded me how blessed I am. It reignited my commitment to make our community better. I am grateful for the experience and I am thankful to everyone who supported me.

Thoughts from Rho’s CEO: Behaviors I Expect from Each Employee

Posted by Brook White on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 @ 10:11 AM

CEO Russ Helms

The following article comes from Rho’s CEO Russ Helms who would like to share some thoughts on topics that he sees as important to Rho and our business.

Previously, I have written about Rho’s core values and how we evaluate employee performance.  These two concepts come together to create a set of behaviors I expect from every employee at Rho.  


  • Do not gossip or speak ill of those who are not present.
  • Catch people doing things right and tell them so.
  • Be accountable for your own work; no blaming or complaining.
  • Always tell the whole truth as fast as you can.
  • Talk straight: express yourself without laying blame. Fulfill your commitments. Be on time to work and to meetings.

Agility and Adaptability

  • Be willing to tackle any reasonable request or challenge.
  • Understand that there is always something you can do better. If experiencing difficulties or conflicts, focus first on yourself.
  • Continuously develop a comfort level and skill with switching between the high level and strategic to the tactical and operational.


  • Be aware of and responsible for the financial implications of everything you do.
  • Work to eradicate costly mistakes and rework from your work.
  • Ask yourself frequently how your role(s) can contribute to the ongoing financial success of Rho.


  • Focus on quality and accuracy in all that you do.
  • Plan ahead to avoid fires and crises.
  • Keep track of your own work and deadlines.
  • Keep your calendar up to date.
  • Respond to email, voicemail, and calendar requests in a timely manner.
  • Be 100% accountable to both the results of your work and its impact on others.
  • Never use criticism of others to deflect feedback on how you can improve.


  • Think about better ways to do things; don't cling to past practice.
  • Listen openly and actively to those with different opinions. You may learn something new and important.
  • Consider whether there is a better way of handling a situation.
  • Never let "But this is how we've always done it" be an excuse for not embracing change.


  • Get the work done on time and under budget.
  • Treat both internal and external customers with respect. Repeat customers are good for business.
  • Strategically plan your work and resources to allow for smooth transitions and business continuity.
  • Do not say it is not your problem. If it is happening here, it's everyone's problem. Look for a solution.

To Think Critically and Creatively

  • Be positive towards new challenges.
  • Offer solutions when pointing out problems.
  • Be supportive of new ideas, even if you don't agree with them.
  • When evaluating a new situation or problem, seek to understand what success will look like and what it will require.
  • Be fully ready for past solutions not to work for new situations.
  • Force yourself to look at things in new ways.
  • Evaluate ideas on their merits, regardless of the source.

Great People

  • Celebrate your own and others' successes; share the credit.
  • Assume the best from your team mates.
  • Do not impugn the motives of colleagues. Assume their motives are in the best interest of Rho.
  • Respect your co-workers. This means that you do not pound on the table, raise your voice, or roll your eyes.
  • Even when using persuasion by reason and facts, be careful that you are not bullying or manipulating.
  • Be kind and polite to everyone, all the time.
  • Be coachable; accept feedback on its merits even if you don't necessarily agree with it.
  • Be careful with jokes and swear words. What is ok with you may not be so with others.

A Team Culture

  • Be kind and polite to colleagues. Listen openly to those with different opinions.
  • Help each other out; offer help and ask for help when needed.
  • Contribute your strengths while continuing to improve on your known weaknesses.
  • Work with peers and teammates to solve problems in a collaborative manner.
  • Exhaust all solutions at the peer level before escalating issues.
  • Advocate for something, not against something.
  • Remember that you have to do it, but you don't have to do it alone.
  • Encourage people to engage with you and disagree with you.
  • Be aware of positional differences and perceptions when working with others. Make an effort to put people at ease.
  • Frequently express appreciation for specific actions.
  • Praise in public, criticize only in private.
Not only are these behaviors critical to our success as a business, they also are a critical component helping make Rho a great place to work.  


Thoughts from Rho's CEO: Results, Relationships, and Impact

Posted by Brook White on Thu, Aug 08, 2013 @ 10:39 AM

Russ Helms, Rho CEOThe following article comes from Rho’s CEO Russ Helms who would like to share some thoughts on topics that he sees as important to Rho and our business.

At Rho, we use the phrase “Results, Relationships, and Impact” to describe the essence of our expectations for all Rho employees.  We expect positive Results, Relationships, and Impact from all of our employees, regardless of their role, title, or where they work in the company.   We use these expectations as the basis for evaluating and rewarding employees. 


Each of our employees is responsible for producing results.  This is true in many companies. What sets Rho apart is that how we do it matters.  


Each of us is responsible for developing positive relationships.   We are each expected to build solid, professional relationships with our colleagues.  We are all expected to build professional relationships with our clients.  We are all expected to build relationships with others in our industry and with the community.


Each of us is responsible for having a positive impact.  We are expected to have a positive impact on the people around us—teammates and colleagues—making each other’s jobs and lives better.  We are expected to have a positive impact on our clients, uplifting them with most interactions.  And we are each expected to have a positive impact on the industry and community.

So where did Results, Relationship, Impact come from? Many people are familiar with Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE). The gist of ROWE is that it doesn’t matter how you do your work, when you do your work, or where you do your work, just that you produce results. There’s a lot to like in the concept, and I find myself drawn to it. But it doesn’t quite capture what’s important at Rho.

At its core, this concept helps us be less concerned about the typical trappings of corporate life and more concerned that each employee produces results that further Rho’s Core Purpose: to improve health, extend life, and enhance the quality of life via corporate and research excellence. It reminds us that regardless of where or when an employee completes her work, producing results that are valuable to Rho as a company, to our customers, and to her co-workers is important. Because it is results that matter, decisions about alternative work schedules and telecommuting are up to the individual employee in coordination with her project leaders and teammates based on the requirements of the job and the demands of the projects. It is not a one-size fits all approach.

What this concept lacks, however, is the understanding that there are some aspects of how work gets done that matter a great deal at Rho. We care how employees treat our customers. We care how co-workers treat each other. We care about performing quality work in an ethical way. Results-only cannot mean results at any cost. That would be in clear violation of the core ideology that drives our work. That is where relationships and impact come in. Results matter, but we do not tolerate behavior that generates results at the expense of building relationships and having a positive impact.

Central to the expectations of Relationships and Impact is a commitment to building a civilized work place. We do not tolerate jerks, bullies, or Eeyores. We avoid hiring individuals that exhibit this behavior, we do not reward those who produce results through this behavior and, in extreme cases, we dismiss employees who choose to continue this behavior.

We want to empower each of our employees to handle this behavior. My co-CEO and I meet with every new hire during the first month and describe these expectations, emphasizing that it is OK and expected that everyone confront colleagues about behavior that is hurtful or negative. We have recently conducted peer-to-peer feedback training for all employees to provide them with tools to help them engage co-workers in constructive conversations about their behavior. That can be hard, so when issues can’t be resolved between co-workers, all leaders within the company are expected to provide the support needed to resolve these problems.

It has been about three years since we began communicating these expectations to our employees and nearly four years since we began talking about and using these expectations at the senior leadership level. I have been pleased with the results I have seen so far in making Rho a better and happier company for our employees, our clients, and our community.

Thoughts from Rho's CEO: What Makes Us Who We Are

Posted by Brook White on Thu, Aug 01, 2013 @ 09:56 AM

CEO Russ HelmsThe following article comes from Rho’s CEO Russ Helms who would like to share some thoughts on topics that he sees as important to Rho and our business.

The clinical research business is a crowded space.  There are hundreds of contract research organizations (CROs) competing to differentiate themselves.  So, what makes us different?  What makes Rho, Rho?  I could talk about the depth of our experience, our expertise in various therapeutic areas, or the outstanding customer experience we consistently deliver.  All of these things are important.  That said, I believe it is our core ideology—our core purpose and core values—that truly make us who we are.

Rho’s Core Purpose

To improve health, extend life, and enhance quality of life through corporate and research excellence.

Rho's Core Values


Strict adherence to a very high moral and ethical code is the keystone in Rho's strong arch of core values. We demonstrate our integrity in relationships within Rho, beyond Rho, and in the manner in which we conduct scientific research and business. We behave honorably and honestly, take responsibility for our actions, forgive the honest mistakes of others, and treat others as we wish to be treated. 

Agility and Adaptability

Rho values the ability to change quickly. We eagerly anticipate, respond to, and take advantage of changes in our environment. Change is not without risk. We embrace risk, but manage it with planning, accepting and learning from both failures and successes. The opportunity to adapt and evolve energizes us.


Rho pursues profit because profitability enables us to achieve our other aims.


A high quality customer experience matched with high quality science has always been Rho's passion. We satisfy internal and external customers time and again by listening carefully, thoroughly understanding, and then tailoring a solution to meet their needs. By caring, we create quality.


Innovation is creativity in action, the integration of thinking and doing. We are committed to relentlessly improving our processes and products to increase quality and productivity and to decrease costs. Innovation brings valuable new products and services to our customers. 


Stability-financial, workforce, and corporate-is the foundation of our quality customer experience and our quality culture. Maintaining stability requires rejection of individuals who consistently clash with our core ideology or who lack competence. Most importantly, stability creates a safe environment for Rho employees to take risks, innovate, learn, and develop over a long and rewarding career.

To Think Critically and Creatively

Rho values thinking. We think both critically and creatively, drawing on our native ingenuity, sharpened and enhanced by our intellect, training, and experience. We evaluate situations and opportunities objectively and incisively; we then craft novel, practical solutions.

Great People

Rho employs smart, talented, positive people with sound judgment, a can-do attitude, and a zeal for teamwork.

A Team Culture

Rho values a strong team spirit highlighted by loyalty, accountability, and mutual trust and respect across the entire organization. We work smart together, we work hard together, and we laugh together.

Our principles have helped us make the best decisions, not just the easy ones. Whenever we make decisions at any level, we use this core ideology to guide us.  Our purpose motivates us and guides us, supporting us through the harder days and decisions, reminding us why we’re here, and providing clarity as we set the long run corporate vision and direction.  Our values guide our daily decisions, large and small.  From the smallest behavior to the giant strategic decisions, we refer to these values explicitly and frequently. Importantly, we hire based on these values.  We set expectations of each other based on these values.  And we succeed, as a company and as individuals, because of these values.

On Coffee Machines and Clinical Research

Posted by Brook White on Tue, Jun 04, 2013 @ 12:17 PM

If you know anything about Rho, you know that clinical research is our life. Strong science is the underpinning of everything we do here—from designing your clinical trial to integrating your data for submission to FDA…to evaluating our coffee machines. Yes, you heard us correctly. One of our statisticians used a bit of scientific experimentation to test whether or not the cream in a coffee machine was spoiled. Taking science too far? We think not. 

Recently, we’ve been trying out some new coffee machine options. Following his use of one of the new coffee machines, Senior Biostatistician Henry “Tee” Bahnson posted the following in the employee announcement section of our internal website:

“After hearing reports that the cream [in the new coffee machine] was bad, I did a quick experiment to test some hypotheses.  The results are attached (see image below) but the conclusions are that the coffee is probably fine to drink if you don't mind it being acidic.  Also, the cream is not spoiled; the acidic coffee is what is causing it to curdle . . .  so please don't throw out the perfectly good cream or acidic coffee.

factorial coffee experiment

  • In the above factorial experiment you can see that the new coffee machine appears to be causing the cream to curdle
  • The rows and columns represent the two factors in this experiment (type of coffee maker and type of cream)
  • The first row is from the new coffee machine and has the curdled cream. The second row is from the coffee maker in the 3rd floor break room. The coffee curdles regardless of type of cream in the new coffee machine but not in the regular machine; therefore, the cream is probably fine and the new coffee machine is likely causing the cream to curdle. This is probably happening because the coffee is too acidic. A quick Google search turned up this explanation

Disclaimer: The experiment was under powered, the p-value is not significant, but I still believe the results.”

In case you are wondering, Tee isn’t the only Rho employee predisposed to a scientific view of the world. Project Director Brett Gordon responded with:

“I basically conducted a similar experiment at [a local coffee and pastry shop] in Durham last year. Their house blend does not curdle cream, but their Ethiopian coffee does every time, regardless of how fresh the cream is… again, due to acidity of the coffee. So there’s independent confirmation of your hypothesis.”

So, yes, we admit it. We are passionate about science. It’s part of everything we do, and we plan to keep it that way.

Choose Rho as Your Clinical Research Provider