Pharmaceutical Leader

COO of new global CRO in Wilmington


WENDY BUCKLAND’S calling is to help people attain better health, and she achieves that goal through her work in pharmaceuticals.  Buckland, who was recently named chief operating officer of Emmes, plans to use her vast experience to help the company expand its operations. Emmes is a clinical research organization that provides support services to the pharmaceutical industry.

“It’s exciting to bring everything together,” Buckland says about her new position. “I can draw on so many aspects of my past experience.”

Throughout Buckland’s career, she has consistently taken on ever-more challenging positions that combined business acumen with her expertise in pharmaceuticals.  She has also upended her life three different times to move to new continents as she ascended the career ladder.

As a young woman growing up in South Africa, Buckland knew she was interested in medicine. However, instead of following the doctor/patient route, she veered toward pharmaceuticals as the industry satisfied her curiosity about how medicine works.

Buckland’s first position in the field was as a regulatory pharmacist with Novartis.  She was soon promoted to clinical research associate, then to international clinical research operations manager.

In 1989, Buckland became the clinical operations manager for South Africa for PPD and began her twenty-four-year tenure with the company. Within a year she was asked to serve as PPD’s executive director of clinical operations manager for Europe, Africa, and Australia. It was an opportunity Buckland couldn’t resist, even though it meant moving to the United Kingdom.

In 2004, Buckland’s career–and life–took another turn. She moved to Wilmington to join PPD’s headquarters team as executive director for Latin America and Asia Pacific. Buckland assumed multiple responsibilities in her new workplace, including rotations in the commercial and quality sides of the business. Most recently, Buckland headed PPD’s  Neuroscience Therapeutic Unit. In 2021, PPD was purchased by Thermo Fisher Scientific.

This past February, Buckland once again took her career in a new direction.  She left PPD–a difficult decision given her long time with the company–to work at Emmes. However, it’s a step that puts Buckland exactly where she wants to be. As COO of a midsize company, Buckland can use her experience and professional skills to drive innovation while ensuring Emmes’s performance and customer service remain strong., she says.

The job is both exciting and challenging, and that’s exactly what makes it so appealing to Buckland.

“I’m very driven,” Buckland says. “I’m creative and I like challenges.”

The job also fits several other of Buckland’s priorities. She is looking forward to helping her staff at Emmes realize their potential in the workplace, and she welcomes the opportunity to continue working with people around the world.

Most importantly, Buckland will be fulfilling her long-held mission–to help people through medicine–in a new and vital way.

To view more of photographer Daria Amato’s work, go to

Want more WILMA? Click here to sign up for our WILMA newsletters and announcements.

Categories: Women to Watch