Adrian Barfield is a Duncanville kind of guy, a proud graduate of both Duncanville Middle School and High School. But he’s also an Austin, San Antonio, Princeton, N.J., and Indianapolis kind of guy, too, having lived for a while in each city.
Today he’s back, living less than a mile from where he grew up. “It was my wife’s decision,” says the 45-year-old Cardinal Health vice president, looking out at downtown Dallas from his Uptown office. “I didn’t expect it to be like that, but I like it.” After graduating from the University of Texas-Austin with a degree in nutrition, Barfield headed east, working for pharmaceutical giants Bristol Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly. In late 2007, he and his family moved back to Dallas, where he went the start-up route, launching Tiba Oncology, a medical communications and marketing research organiza- tion. In March 2010, Tiba was purchased by P4 Healthcare; three months later, that company was acquired by Cardinal Health.
Based in Dublin, Ohio, Cardinal generates $103 billion in annual revenue, has 31,900 employees worldwide, and ranks No. 19 on the 2011 Fortune 500. It distributes pharmaceuticals to tens of thousands of locations every day. Barfield heads up the division that previously was P4 Healthcare, which works with specialty drugs, many of which are oncological. He says his job is to bring together physicians, patients, pharmaceutical companies, and payers, to introduce the groups to new and innovative solutions.
Barfield has spent his entire career in cancer and oncology work, educating folks about various treatments. The task has special meaning, as both of his parents died of the disease.
Predictably, he spends a lot of time on his phone and in the air. He also spends time in his group’s divisional headquarters on the 16th floor of Chateau Plaza on McKinney Avenue. The space has exactly one office with a door—a room for visiting Cardinal executives. The rest of the office is full of cubicles, huddle rooms, and three balconies that provide 360-degree views of Uptown and downtown Dallas.
After Cardinal bought P4 in 2010, Barfield began looking for the division’s new home base. Although some employees were in Ellicott City, Md., and Cardinal’s corporate headquarters is in Ohio, Dallas’ economy and central location helped it win out.
“We really wanted a place that would attract a young work force, and to capitalize on the labor market in Dallas,” says Barfield, standing out on one of the balconies. The division currently employs about 50, but it’s continuing to grow. “We’re going to need more space soon,” Barfield says. “I thought about the 17th floor, but think I’m going to go to the floor below us. It’s not too much to ask folks to walk up a flight of stairs if they want to go on the balcony, is it?”
This story originally appeared in the December issue of D CEO magazine. Story by Bradford Pearson; photography by Aggie Brooks.