Sherry Corbitt-Warren (Medical Records, ’85) is the co-founder and president of WLS Enterprises, Inc., an Indianapolis business that provides chemical dispensing and distribution services for pharmaceutical and biotech industries. She was kind enough to share her remembrances of the inception of her business, as well as her vision for the future of the rapidly growing field of life science.
After obtaining her degree in Medical Records Administration at the School of Informatics and Computing, Corbitt-Warren knew her future was in the medical industry but wasn’t quite sure in what capacity. “I knew I wanted to do something in the medical field,” she continued. “I came to the realization that I didn’t want to have direct patient contact, so I thought about occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc., but ultimately decided to go along the lines of indirect patient contact.” After working in the medical field for a number of years and earning a Master of Business Administration degree, Corbitt-Warren was ready for a new direction, and she was presented with a bold idea that would lead to the formation of WLS Enterprises, Inc.
“The vision for the business came from my husband, the visionary,” she remembers. Her husband, Andre Warren, is a former IU Bloomington student who had years of experience in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. “He came up with the idea and I further developed the plan, secured a building, liability coverage, and got the financial backing.” WLS Enterprises was incorporated in 2000 and became fully operational in 2002. “We work primarily with pharmaceutical, biotech, personal care and animal health companies…What we do is repackage and distribute chemical APIs and high purity excipient raw materials for pharmaceutical manufacturing,” she said.
Corbitt-Warren has seen her business thrive since its inception. “The business has been in operation for 16 years and every year it has been profitable. In the early years we saw 50% growth every year.” As the business continues to grow, she is excited for what the future will bring for WLS Enterprises. “The field is wide open for new treatments and new medicine. As long as we perform well there will always be a demand for our services. I enjoy getting out and meeting new people and being on the cusp of new discoveries. We work hand-in-hand with big pharma companies and research scientists that are developing prescription drugs that will treat or slow the progress of major diseases,” she said.
Corbitt-Warren believes there is unlimited potential for students in the Health Information Management field, and that education will provide a strong foundation for future innovators. “The technology world is taking off, so I think current students will be best served by staying on top of current technological advances, because I find that the way things worked 16 years ago isn’t the way things work today. I would also advised students to take as many STEM courses as they can and master them because that coursework will be very pivotal to their success,” she said. This guidance is similar to what Corbitt-Warren experienced when she came to the School of Informatics and Computing, and she gives a great deal of credit to her early mentors. “My primary instructors were Mary McKenzie and Jan Ashton, and they were instrumental in getting me off to a good start. I am so thankful for those two outstanding women.”