Meet Nathan McKinney, Associate Director, Proposal Management, Based in the United States

“I have a non-traditional career path, which makes me interested in other people who have non-traditional paths,” Nathan McKinney, Associate Director, Proposal Management, said. “I’m interested in what people bring from different areas of their lives.”
Cultivating experience
McKinney began working for FHI 360 in 2016, after 10 years of proposal management work at RTI International, a nonprofit organization local to the Research Triangle. When Global Research Services (GRS) at FHI 360 began to transition to FHI Clinical, McKinney was contacted to be a part of the team. For McKinney, the answer came easily enough. “I liked a lot of the people that were forming FHI Clinical, so I joined them,” he said. The rest was history.
Today, McKinney finds himself in conversations with an array of FHI Clinical employees to find solutions to client questions and challenges. “That’s why I like working in Proposals. You have people who deeply understand clinical trials, infectious diseases and special populations. I’m fascinated by people who are experts in things. For me, it’s a chance to interact with new people,” he said.
McKinney recalls this interest in working with experts since his pursuit of a journalism degree at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. “The dorm I was in housed the multidisciplinary department; most of the people I spent time with were inventing their majors,” he said. Thus, in true multidisciplinary fashion, McKinney graduated with a journalism degree with a focus in astrophysics in 2000. “Journalism and communications and such, it’s all a chance to interact with those people [experts] and learn something new,” he explained.
Hawaii and back again

McKinney in Hawaii in 2001

After his graduation, McKinney’s first job came from a connection, a telescope operator, in Hawaii. McKinney wrote and managed communications for a website and newsletter at an observatory until 2002, when he moved back to North Carolina.

The observatory in Hawaii where McKinney worked in 2001

There, he was offered a job in the music industry. “Most people were focused on a music genre. There were a lot of country and folk bands, but every now and then, something would come in that was a bit surprising, which they would hand off to me,” he said. McKinney worked closely with Chuck D and Flavor Flav, American rappers who found popularity in the 1990s. They invited McKinney to attend the Billboard Music Awards when they were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Rapper Flavor Flav (left) and McKinney (right) in 2006

However, McKinney knew the music industry’s pace was not for him. “It was exciting, but also draining — just a crazy life,” he said. That was when McKinney decided to switch gears and applied for a Proposal Manager position in North Carolina. Ironically, McKinney’s favorite parts of proposals work are similar to aspects of the music industry. “I like the challenges and frantic nature of proposals,” he said. “Every proposal is a bit of a puzzle. You have to figure out what makes FHI Clinical the right organization to do this work. I think I enjoy the thrill of it.”
However, proposal management comes with its own challenges. To McKinney, there’s always something to gain, even from a loss. “How do we put our best foot forward? What do we need, if not to win now, but in the future?” he said.
Creating collaboration
From time in the astrophysics world to the music industry, McKinney is no stranger to collecting — collecting experts, answers and unique perspectives. He values collaboration as a cornerstone of success. “Across the board, the whole [Proposals] team is really strong and people I love working with,” he said. “In a lot of ways, they represent all of FHI Clinical.”
McKinney spoke on the importance of establishing collaboration and communication between all titles in an organization, regardless of hierarchy. “What I love about FHI Clinical is that it’s really from the top to the bottom. I could be reaching out to Ted [FitzGerald] tomorrow, and he’d be happy to speak with someone in any role,” he said. “We have an extremely collaborative organization. Collaboration is what I think it’s all about.”

more team members

Meet Daniel Joffe, Senior Clinical Project Manager, Based in South Africa

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