But the same intellectual curiosity that had her studying how languages are formed has served her well as the marketing executive behind a product using complex new technology to treat the common cold.
Efidac/24 from Ciba Consumer Pharmaceuticals is the first and only 24-hour decongestant-twice the time of other long-lasting remedies-on the market.
The product's delivery system controls the release of decongestant properties to maintain effectiveness all day and night. And that clear point of difference has helped Efidac/24 win sales in a crowded market: more than $18.5 million since its introduction last September.
Ciba now is looking to use that brand's timing technology in other products as well.
Though interest in healthcare reform and concern over the rising costs of prescription drugs are creating new interest in over-the-counter products, Ms. Pike guesses most consumers are like her.
"Personally, I'm not a good self-medicator," says the company's VP-marketing and business development.
"I don't want to worry about taking my medicine on time, etc. But that's the beauty of a 24-hour remedy. Take it once and you're done for the day."
Ms. Pike, 44, worked in marketing research and for a variety of businesses-including a bowling center company-before joining the Ciba-Geigy unit.
She was attracted to the company because of its focus on new technologies and products.
"Business development is exciting. Some of us like living on the edge, not knowing for sure whether something will make it or not," the executive says.
Efidac/24, for one, has.