Change Agents

Contributed by:

PharmaVOICE Staff

NOTE: The content below contains the first few paragraphs of the printed article and the titles of the sidebars and boxes, if applicable.

Alison Little
PV0716_AlisonLittleTitle: Principal, Advisory Industry Leader for Life Sciences
Company: KPMG LLP
Education: BS, Materials Science & Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
Family: Parents; husband; two children
Hobbies: Cooking, yoga, spending time with family and friends
Bucket List: Travel with family to see all the Wonders of the World
Associations: Healthcare
Businesswomen’s Association; Hopkins Alumni
Social Media:

Raising the Bar

For Alison Little, measuring results is about more than simply benchmarking; successful results are created by thinking forward and making sure everyone is raising the bar.

Ms. Little is a principal at KPMG as the advisory industry leader for life sciences within the management consulting practice specializing in transformation. Her extensive experience in delivering strategic transformation initiatives from strategy through to solution implementation has helped lead many clients to achieve greater results.

“A big part of my role is to bring together the diverse sets of skills within our firm to help our clients tackle their most critical challenges,” she says. “Clients tend to engage us when they want to go into something new — whether that’s implementing a new technology, launching a new product, or entering a new market. My role is to make sure we are anticipating the needs of our clients so we can help them navigate these challenges.”

Her vision for the future of the life sciences keeps her focused on how to deliver the best solutions for clients. She believes that the industry needs to look at the ways companies are working, the practices and processes companies have, its technologies and whether companies are really geared to be successful in the future. She has often said it is important to think forward and think about how everyone is raising the bar, not just simply benchmarking, which focuses on the past.

PV0716_KnowAlisonLittleMs. Little says her goal is to build a practice that is known for the insight and professionalism of her teams, the collaborative way her company works, the quality of the work product, and the value she and her teams deliver to clients.

“When working on transformational projects, there’s a balance between bold vision and practical limits,” she says. “It’s important to set bold but achievable goals and have a plan that is aggressive but reasonable.”

Colleagues say Ms. Little stands out for her ability to elevate the performance of a group that may not believe they are the right team. Sometimes a task is bigger than what a team has tackled before, sometimes the team is wounded from a past project that went poorly, and sometimes the fear of failure paralyzes the group. She understands that people need to have the support of their leader to park their anxieties outside and rise to the challenge ahead.

“I try to make sure that my teams are engaged in setting a vision for success and for defining the plan to achieve that vision,” Ms. Little says.
“The visions that we create as a team reflect the diversity of thought of the team and each individual becomes personally invested in the outcome. Then I give them the space they need to achieve the vision, and support when they need it.”

Challenges, she says, are the norm.

“I try to get my clients and teams to expect the unexpected,” she says. “What’s critically important is for the whole team to communicate when there’s an indication something unforeseen is happening. Early warning and early intervention minimizes the disruption. There are times when I may worry — privately — but I never panic. I gather the right people to focus on the facts, evaluate the options, and we deal with it.”

Keeping her motivated is the potential for life-sciences companies to significantly improve the quality of life, and she says the pressure to transform the overall healthcare ecosystem is acute.

“I have a great vantage point on one of the most dynamic industry transformations ever,” she says. “I am energized by the opportunity to work with great people and great clients on some very exciting projects.”

She would like to see the industry and healthcare system transformed to focus on creating wellness rather than treating sickness. Still, in the absence of that, there are very feasible steps she believes can be taken to improve the health and well-being of everyone.

“I would make sure that people — from preschoolers to the elderly — have the knowledge to make healthy choices about food and exercise, and that everyone has access to healthy food, housing, and safe communities that support making good choices,” she says.

She credits her father and his compassion and dedication as an attorney for providing her with professional inspiration.

“I have tried to bring the same kind of compassion and dedication to my work as he did in his,” she says.


Brion Brandes
PV0716_BrionBrandesTitle: Executive VP, Business Development
Company: Spectra BioPharma Selling Solutions
Education: BA, Technical Marketing, University of Connecticut
Family: Wife, Lisa, and son, Benjamin, and brother-in-law, Alan M. Blassberg, whose award-winning documentary (Pink & Blue: Colors of Hereditary Cancer) on male and female breast cancer has increased awareness about this devastating disease.
Hobbies: Golf, kayaking, tennis, UConn basketball
Bucket List: Visit all of the U.S. National Parks, whitewater rafting, golf at Pebble Beach, and learn to play the guitar
Awards/Honors: Top Business Development Colleague multiple President’s and Director’s Club awards; named founding member of Susan G. Komen North Jersey “Pink Tie Guys”
Associations: Healthcare Businesswoman’s Association; University of Connecticut Alumni Association; Board Member, Dover Faith Kitchen, Dover, N.J.
Social Media:

Eye on the End Goal

The best and most powerful strategic solutions are uncovered through collaboration, according to Brion Brandes.

He marshals resources, uses the expertise around him, and draws on his own experience to solve customer challenges.

“Talking and working closely with colleagues helps me gain the most well-rounded perspectives to be successful,” he says. “A collaborative approach will usually uncover that ‘ah ha’ moment, or, at a minimum, serve as confirmation to a well-planned and diverse approach.”

Since joining the contract sales organization Spectra BioPharma Selling Solutions, the commercial division of The Medical Affairs Company as executive VP, business development, Mr. Brandes has been tireless in his efforts to ensure Spectra was successful from the get go. The respect, trust, and relationships he has fostered over his 27 years in the pharmaceutical industry ensured Spectra was immediately included in numerous key pitches and considered a strong competitor in the marketplace.

He earns the respect of his colleagues, peers, and business partners by focusing on service and what provides the best value to pharmaceutical clients rather than focusing on short-term financial goals, and he never loses sight of being part of a process that ultimately improves the lives of people across the world.

PV0716_KnowBrionBrandesIndeed, if resources were no barrier, he would want to find a cure for all forms of cancer and tackle the challenge of providing all Americans access to the most current medicines and treatments for their diseases.

Mr. Brandes recognizes that there is a continuous need for innovation and transformational change to not only succeed but also achieve revenue growth.

He thinks outside the box and always analyzes customers’ specific situations to bring nontraditional thinking to solutions. As he says he is never willing to settle.

When he took his first strategic alliance role, his greatest challenge was gaining consensus among sales and marketing senior leadership in his company and with the co-promotion partners.

“Most of the time there were different ideas and perspectives on how strategies and tactics needed to be implemented,” he says. “My approach was to always put the brand first and do what was best for the business, which ultimately resulted in the strongest business decisions and highest sales growth.”

He cites as career highlights quickly turning around a struggling business development department and leading his team to consecutive years of record-breaking sales resulting in 134% and 148% above annual goals and, secondly, being part of the Rezulin launch team at Parke-Davis, which was responsible for bringing to market one of the first new molecular entities to treat diabetes.

His professional goals extend the approach he has adopted throughout his career: to be considered the best in the industry, to constantly learn, continue to have the highest ethical standards, to focus on collaboration while maintaining empathy, and build and maintain trusted partnerships with all colleagues and business partners.

The proof of success lies in an extensive list of satisfied customers that are profitable and seeing consistent revenue growth. He has also been successful in leading teams to achieve goals, while focusing on morale and employee engagement, commitment and dedication, employee retention, repeat business, and trusted partnerships.

Those who work with Mr. Brandes note his warmth and ability to connect with others. They are continually inspired by his creative thought process and ability to adapt to the ever-changing challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry.

Mr. Brandes leads by example by being authentic, building strong personal relationships, being hands on, creating an environment of open and honest communication, and being up front and honest. He motivates by calmly assessing the challenge, determining the end goal, and then working backward.

“When team members feel appreciated and trusted, they gain a level of confidence and conviction that allows them to stay focused and motivated,” he says.


April Mulroney
PV0716_AprilMulroneyTitle: Managing Director, Payments
Company: Medidata Solutions
Education: BComm, University of Toronto, CPA-CA, CPA, ACCA
Hobbies: Running, cooking, and eating
Awards/Honors: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Rising Star 2016
Associations: Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (Canada); Illinois Certified Public Accountants (US); Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (UK)
Social Media:
Tweet: @MulroneyApril

Breaking the Paradigm of a Broken Payment Process

April Mulroney doesn’t rely much on chance. A certified public accountant by trade with designations in the United States, the U.K., and Canada, she’s had a knack for numbers since the young age of 4.

“I was drawn to the challenge of solving intricate problems and computations,” she recalls.

Currently the managing director of Medidata’s global investigator payments solution and recently named a 2016 Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), Ms. Mulroney’s innovative work is disrupting the broken site payment process, transforming the way the industry runs clinical trials and strengthening stakeholder relationships along the way.

That love for numbers has served her well in her career, where she has spent a tremendous amount of time helping clients across different fields navigate their financials, maximize their resources, and not leave the success of their businesses to luck.

She landed in the life-sciences industry by taking a job as the chief financial officer for CFS Clinical, where she spent three and ahalf years overseeing all aspects of the company’s accounting, financial, tax, audit, budgeting, and HR requirements. Despite knowing very little about clinical trials, Ms. Mulroney jumped at the opportunity to incorporate her strong accounting and tax background with the unchartered waters of clinical finance. She then moved into an operational role heading up investigator payments in Europe for another three and a half years.

PV0716_KnowAprilMulroneyBefore joining CFS Clinical, she spent nine years in public accounting, the majority at  Deloitte, where she focused mostly on international corporate tax.

“Deloitte was my first exposure to taxes, and where I really fell in love with its foundational building blocks,” Ms. Mulroney says. “I know financials can seem boring to some, but I was and continue to be energized by the complexity, creativity, and expertise required to be successful in the space.”

Ms. Mulroney’s vision for the administration of clinical site payments is a simple one: It should run like a well-oiled machine. Yet, pain points in today’s reimbursement model have broken what should be a seamless process, resulting in inaccurate and late payments. While the life-sciences industry has come a long way in terms of digitizing the clinical trials process (think of the shift from paper to EDC), paying clinical trial sites has been challenging for sponsors and CROs to get right, and it’s a dilemma that has persisted for decades.

Ms. Mulroney compares the situation to the payroll process.

“The payroll process is so automated and so intuitive that we don’t even think twice about it,” she says. “But what would the ramifications be if we didn’t get paid on time or accurately? We wouldn’t be able to pay our bills, and our credit card debt would pile up. This is the nightmare that clinical trial sites face every day.”

Complex requirements, including pre-payments, holdbacks, split payments among different payees, payments in multiple currencies and accruals, tax issues and more, make the process unmanageable. And, without modern, automated technologies, sponsors and CROs are challenged to address high volumes of invoices and complex payment terms using manual data entry systems, such as spreadsheets. This time-consuming, error-prone process delays payments to sites, which lead to high turnover rates among clinical investigators.

That is the reason, under Ms. Mulroney’s leadership, the Medidata Payments team has created an EDC-driven solution, one that automatically triggers and disburses site payment in real time based on data captured throughout a clinical study.

“It’s only a matter of time when clinical sites will no longer be faced with delayed or inaccurate payments, enabling both sites and sponsors to focus less on financial administration and more on the truly important aspects of clinical research,” Ms. Mulroney says. “I enjoy breaking the paradigm of perpetuating the same old inefficient processes, and I am honored to be part of this movement.”


Cynthia “Cindy” Cetani
PV0716_CindyCetaniTitle: Global Integrity & Compliance Head, Function Change
Company: Novartis International AG
Education: BS, Commerce, Finance, Magna Cum Laude, Rider College
Family: Wife, Marcie;  children, Cailey and Jack
Hobbies: Running — two marathons completed; traveling; photography; projects, “making things;” helping others
Bucket List: 
Cage dive to see great white sharks; experience Orcas in the wild
Associations: Ethic & Compliance Initiative; Fordham Consortium for Trustworthy Organizations; Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association
Social Media:

Compliance Meets Collaboration

Cindy Cetani, recently appointed global integrity and compliance head, function change, at Novartis International AG, previously served as the chief compliance officer for the U.S. Novartis Pharmaceuticals business. In this latter role, Ms. Cetani not only transformed the way the compliance program worked, but also created tools that have become models for other companies as well. Her innovative and strategic focus on evolving the task at hand into a more partnership-driven function has improved how the department interacts with the many other internal and external stakeholders involved.

Today’s environment requires collaborations, which can come with extra challenges.

“In the past, the predominant focus needed to succeed would be to unleash the potential within your own company,” Ms. Cetani says. “Today, given globalization and the healthcare challenges we face, this will increasingly require partnerships and collaborations beyond our doors and borders. These are complex but necessary issues to tackle.”

Ms. Cetani was promoted last year to her current position and is a member of the Novartis I&C compliance leadership team. In this role, she maintains relationships with diverse company departments and functions globally, including regulatory, legal, medical, human resources, marketing, and manufacturing, to name just a few.

Her U.S. colleagues say Ms. Cetani’s leadership with her team has changed the perception of the compliance function from sales suppressor to a strategic partner with a clear impact on the bottom line.

An example of her U.S. teams’ groundbreaking work under her leadership includes bringing forward a Web-based interactive policy tool for Novartis Pharmaceuticals that has become a model for other companies. The tool communicates the “why” behind the company’s compliance policies and enables broader learning and application. It is available on laptops and smart devices with intelligent search functionality, offering valuable insights that enable compliance to target communications to certain functions or areas of the business.

Under her direction, the compliance team also developed tailored learning tools with interactive and engaging content. The game-themed tool provides feedback loops to capture stakeholder reactions to compliance-related content, confirm relevance, and plan future learning needs.

PV0716_KnowCindyCetaniWhen Ms. Cetani joined the industry in a managed markets position more than a decade ago, there wasn’t even a compliance department. As the needs of stakeholders became more demanding and complex, Ms. Cetani saw the compliance function grow and evolve to include a more integrated, 360-degree view of the customer and business priorities in the context of the regulatory environment and external expectations. Risk mitigation in these often unchartered new areas is achieved through solutions-focused partnering with organization leaders who collectively help drive company culture and growth with high integrity standards. She believes that compliance professionals play an important role today in fostering and guarding the trust and reputation in the companies they serve.

“I have been involved in co-leading many re-organizations across various roles and have always found those times to present the most challenges and conflicts to manage,” she says. “These situations are inevitable, a necessary part of growth and change, and must be handled effectively for long-term sustainability. In many cases, the change creates enhanced opportunities for growth for the organization and individuals.”

The short-term attention this type of vigilance requires, the balancing of bigger picture priorities, staying true to transparency and open communications to the extent possible, and wrestling with the potential impact on individuals can be challenging, she says.

As a member on the board of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s Leadership Project for MLRC, a program committed to showcasing the value of medical, legal, regulatory, and compliance functions to its business partners, Ms. Cetani has helped women in the compliance, legal, regulatory, and medical functions to advance their careers. Her strategic mind and inspiring personality have helped to advance the project.

“I pursued pharmaceuticals to lead within an industry that is so essential to our health and well-being,” she says.  “Having the great opportunity every day to bring quality healthcare products and solutions to patients is a driving inspiration.”


Kilian Weiss
PV0716_KilianWeissTitle: General Manager, KOL Solutions
Company: Veeva Systems
Education: Business Administration, Goethe University
Family: His wife for joining him on multiple transatlantic moves
Hobbies: Running, sailing, golfing, traveling
Bucket List: Sail across the Atlantic, camp with his kids in a national park, and if he survives these two outdoor adventures, recover in a beach house with his wife
Social Media:
Tweet: @KilianWeiss

Turning Data Into Value

Kilian Weiss has spent the better part of his career pushing the envelope and developing game-changing new ways to capture and analyze unstructured healthcare, combining crowdsourcing techniques with artificial intelligence.

With a vision to identify all stakeholders critical to a drug launch and beyond, Mr. Weiss created an approach that was ahead of its time.

The traditional approach for pharma companies was to purchase key opinion leader data from multiple different sources — up to 50 sources per large pharma company.

Today, however, the number of people and organizations that directly influence whether or not a new drug reaches patients is larger and more diverse. During a product launch, for example, a complex system of different stakeholders, including global medical experts, regulators, formulary decision makers, local community leaders, and social media influencers all have an impact. What’s more, Mr. Weiss believes the relationships these influencers have with one another and the larger marketplace is just as important for drug launches and beyond. And life-sciences companies must find a way to capture, make sense of, and share this information across teams, including medical affairs and commercial.

On top of these complex networks, the data that companies were acquiring had to be “stitched together” to create a complete view of any single thought leader, he says.

Mr. Weiss brought together a deep view of all stakeholders important to a drug launch and ultimate success in the market in terms of getting the drug to the right patients. He delivered on his vision with a single source of global stakeholder data.

The benefit to companies is having access to stakeholders beyond KOLs, less time spent searching for and profiling thought leaders, and a lower overall cost for companies by consolidating information into a single source.

Mr. Weiss founded his company, Mederi AG, directly after college, based on an early-stage customer targeting analytics product in partnership with one of the largest data providers in the world. Initially, it was a challenge to get going — it took two years to win his first customer — but he soon expanded the company and launched in the United States with the help of BelHealth Investment Partners.

By 2014, at the age of 33, his innovative company was acquired by Veeva and he was recruited as Veeva’s general manager of KOL solutions. He describes the acquisition by Veeva as a career highlight, one that provided all of the employees at his company with the wings to fly, innovate, and execute smart ideas.

PV0716_KnowKilianWeissBy the end of 2015, Veeva — under Mr. Weiss’ leadership — launched Veeva KOL Data. The solution provides comprehensive stakeholder data as a subscription for deep information that’s always up to date and accurate. Robust profiles and sophisticated analytics maximize coverage and save hundreds of hours for medical teams.

Less than one year since launch, Veeva KOL Data is already being leveraged on an enterprise scale by major life-sciences companies.

Mr. Weiss is constantly innovating, and as a result Veeva KOL Data continues to grow increasingly sophisticated. He envisions a massive, organic information network that helps the industry uncover critical insights — from health economics researchers to payers, physicians, and researchers. His vision is already becoming a reality in various key markets.

Success for him lies in the success of his customers.

He says one thing he learned from founding a company is how important mentors are.

“I also believe that mentoring is more than providing information,” he says. “Great talents need access to the right people and resources.”

He inspires with optimism having seen how many things are possible with great people and hard work. He is motivated by the incredible potential of analytics in healthcare and most importantly working with great people. And he motivates by taking the right people on the journey, initiating the right journey, and providing Swiss chocolate when the journey gets tough.

His goal is to change how the industry uses unstructured data.

“If we can access and connect more and more information in healthcare, there will be incredible benefits for patients and the industry,” he says.


Philip Mann
PV0716_PhilipMannTitle: Group Account Director
Company: MicroMass Communications Inc.
Education: Business Management, North Carolina State University
Family: Wife, Maureen; son, Kyle
Hobbies: Running, camping, playing golf
Bucket List: Traversing the U.S. in an RV; attending the NCAA Final Four
Awards/Honors: Industry: DMA International Echo Awards Bronze — Pharmaceutical Healthcare; Medical Marketing & Media Gold, Best Use of Direct Marketing to Consumers; Rx Club Award of Excellence, Patient Education; Rx Club Award of Excellence — Single Sponsor Publication; DTC National Advertising Awards: Silver – Best Patient Engagement, Support or CRM Program; International Awards of Excellence (IN-AWE) Gold, Medical Education/Patient Education; Gold, Consumer Print/Direct Mail; PM360 Pharma Choice Awards, Finalist Consumer Website; Digital Health Awards, Bronze — Web-based Digital Health; Summit Awards, Bronze — Consumer Campaign (Regional/National); Personal awards: MicroMass Communications, Best Attitude and Light a Fire
Associations: American Marketing Association
Social Media:
Tweet: @philmann52

Motivate. Inspire. Influence.

A communicator, a translator, and someone who listens to each and every person, Phil Mann inspires creativity among his colleagues at MicroMass.

He is a trailblazer, who bridges the gap between creative and account, project management and finance, client and med legal, and patient and brand.

As group account director, Mr. Mann is a positive force, who inspires creativity and innovation. He knows that the best and most effective solutions come from working together. He values the opinions, perspectives, expertise, and commitment of every person, and in so doing drives everyone to be better.

His goal — and also one of the biggest challenges — is to find the best way to make the most out of a diverse group of people, all of whom have different talents to bring to the table. He believes success is measured not only in the impact the agency has on its clients, but even more so on the lives of the people the industry is trying to help.

PV0716_KnowPhilMannMr. Mann understands that most companies are built around relationship-driven engagement, and so he encourages cohesive, organic partnerships with clients and continuously achieves results, all while maintaining accountability, integrity, humor, and an upbeat attitude.
Under his leadership, clients have implemented health coaching, mindfulness, motivational interviewing, and cognitive restricting techniques to deliver positive patient and provider outcomes. While these approaches are commonplace in public health interventions, they are groundbreaking within the branded pharma environment.

He cites as his career highlight the development of iPlan, a patient-support program for Edarbi, a high-blood pressure medication from Arbor Pharmaceuticals.

“With an extremely tight deadline we were able to deliver a patient-support program from soup to nuts, including the creative development of all materials and the technical development of a customizable Web platform,” he says. “iPlan drove incredible engagement with 40% of site visitors visiting nine-plus times.”

Mentoring is more important than being a supervisor or part of a leadership team, Mr. Mann believes.

“Mentoring provides the opportunity to help someone grow as a person, not just as an employee,” he says.

He seeks to inspire through deeds and actions, developing relationships built on trust. He motivates those around him by staying calm and positive.

“It’s easy to get dejected when things start going south,” he says. “It’s all about recognizing what you can and can’t control, and putting your energy into what you can.”

He fosters innovation by pushing his teams to think outside of the box, embrace their behavior roots, and use these insights to further improve patient outcomes for clients. He listens to everyone’s ideas and makes sure that the end results fully leverage the contributions from a diverse team.

Next on his agenda is to help MicroMass write its next chapter by driving use of innovative and industry-changing solutions that showcase a new approach to health behavior.

“As our industry continues to evolve, my biggest challenge is ensuring that what MicroMass offers is seen as relevant, differentiated, and meets the ever-changing challenges clients face,” he says.

And one of these major challenges for the industry is to have meaningful engagements with patients in the digital space.

“The pharmaceutical industry as a whole — pharma companies and agency partners — have to put forth the effort and resources necessary to meet the expectations people have when they engage in the social space,” he says. “Even though we continue to evolve, we also continue to fall further behind.”

Mr. Mann would like to be remembered as someone who challenged the status quo and elevated the work done by the industry and as someone who always asked, “Why not?”


Marianne D. De Backer, Ph.D.
PV0716_DrMarianneDeBackerTitle: VP, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Janssen Business Development
Company: Johnson & Johnson
Education: MSc, Molecular Biology, University of Brussels; MBA, Rotterdam School of Management;  Ph.D., Biotechnology, University of Ghent
Family: Partner Geert; sons, Jonathan and Mattice
Hobbies: Hiking with the family and gardening
Bucket List: 
Forever retain the ability to be in awe for the little things in life; help sons to grow up to be happy adults, and independent thinkers; teach at Stanford
Associations: Women in Bio, Licensing Executives Society, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, Watermark
Social Media:
Tweet: @MDDBACKER

Incubating Innovation

Marianne De Backer, Ph.D., VP of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Janssen Business Development, is a deal-maker extraordinaire, helping to forge fruitful business partnerships that result in innovative new therapies.

As a young woman, Dr. De Backer was very close to never attending college. Yet 25 years later, she’s served as a scientist and R&D group leader — a role through which she was named inventor on five patents, led a commercial business unit, and held various licensing and business development roles across multiple franchises and regions resulting in over 200 external alliances.

Over just the past three years, Dr. De Backer has played a central role in building a robust infectious disease pipeline for the company, evaluating with her team more than 170 opportunities, and forming 36 deals involving promising treatments for hepatitis C, hepatitis B, influenza, HIV, and other infectious diseases.

Also, when the Ebola crisis emerged, Dr. De Backer and her team leapt into action, forming collaborations with external parties to support the development and manufacturing of an Ebola prime-boost vaccine regimen.

Johnson & Johnson now surpasses other pharmaceutical companies in the number of infectious disease deals, thereby increasing the likelihood of successful treatments reaching patients in the fastest-possible time frame.

Colleagues say Dr. De Backer’s knowledge of what it’s like both “at the bench” and “at the bed of a patient” has enabled her to build bridges across groups in a large organization, which is evidenced by the strong internal and external partnerships she has been able to forge. Dr. De Backer is someone who is liked and respected both by the partners with whom she interacts and by the internal stakeholders within J&J with whom she works.

She views each alliance through the lens of how it can make a difference for patients and always urges her team never to lose focus on this end goal.

PV0716_KnowDrMarianneDeBackerDr. De Backer overcame challenges early in her life to be able to obtain her education and ultimately make such a meaningful impact through her role at Johnson & Johnson. She was very close to never attending college. In her family, going back generations, getting a college education was not something considered of any relevance to women. Her grandmother and great grandmother had been gifted students, yet they did not get the permission needed from their parents to get a higher education. After expressing an unrelenting desire to attend college, Dr. De Backer was granted exactly four years of study time to get a degree. She obtained an engineering degree with high honors, and started working immediately after.

Her first job was as a lab tech at Janssen, but she didn’t stop there. With her passion ignited, she obtained a Ph.D., an MBA, and an additional master’s degree while working full time and taking classes at night and on weekends for eight years.

However, Dr. De Backer attributes her success not just to her educational feats, but also to the positive and guiding influence of her mentors and supervisors. Because of this, Dr. De Backer is extremely impassioned about mentoring and is active in advocating for young talent, from different areas within Johnson & Johnson. She implemented a six-month rotational program within the global Janssen business development group to give young, talented individuals opportunities to learn, grow, expand their network and build experience in business development.

Members who participated in the rotation program found the opportunity to fully explore a different part of the business without risk making a huge difference in their careers, some decided to continue on in business development, others valuing the additional insights  gained from the experience.

Current and past mentees say Dr. De Backer has made them better bosses and she has given them the confidence to step up for new roles and has opened their minds on a professional level by learning about the importance of mentoring and coaching.

“We have so much talent that could remain untapped unless we touch them on the shoulder,” she says. “I hope my story can be an inspiration for young women or anyone who needs that little extra support to continue to strive to level the playing field in the workplace.”


Jean S. Chitwood
PV0716_JeanChitwoodTitle: Executive VP, Corporate Strategy and Development
Company: INC Research
Education: MBA, University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School; BS, Medical Technology, Radford University
Family: Husband, Mike Chitwood; two grown children
Social Media:

Driving Strategy that Improves Business

Jean Chitwood, executive VP, corporate strategy and development at INC Research, is the consummate strategist. While colleagues use complimentary language to describe her, Ms. Chitwood is more straightforward with her own assessment.

“I’m like a dog with a bone when presented with an issue or challenge,” she says. “I just can’t let it go. It’s part of my nature.”

PV0716_KnowJeanChitwoodHer ability to examine any situation from all sides and to envision many possible options, combined with her unwillingness to let go until multiple solutions have been explored, have served her — and INC Research — well in her career. When Ms. Chitwood was hired, she was told her role was to “make the company better.” And that is just what she has done.

“We’ve driven hard against our strategy and have built a successful global enterprise,” she says.

For instance, she capitalized on INC’s openness to elevating the importance of sites and patients as key elements of INC’s business strategy. This move reinforced the strong relationships the company has built with sites and renewed its commitment to groups that raise the voice of sites globally. A primary focus for the company is working to make clinical trials better for patients and the clinicians who work on the front lines with them.

Her vision extends fully across the business; she has embedded the value proposition of a genuine relationship with sites into the fabric of the organization and that differentiates INC from its competitors. Ms. Chitwood not only saw the importance of these relationships, she seized the opportunity to ensure the company was adapting to the industry’s shift in site relationships. She found a way to fit this intangible concept into the hard box of business, to show a return on investment without a dollar figure or metric, and demonstrated real value in the progress made with sites.

Ms. Chitwood also perceived an initiative that would allow for great sites to scale their successes, which translated into the company’s Catalyst Program. According to her colleagues, this is by far one of her greatest accomplishments at INC, as this program formalizes innovation and change processes to advance site relationships for more efficient, high-quality clinical research. The progress on that initiative in just a short time has been exceptional, growing key site relationships while keeping the program aligned with where the industry and INC are headed.
Additionally, the growth of that program has become a part of INC’s culture, and internal awareness is equally as impressive as the external visibility of this new program.

Ms. Chitwood’s more than 25 years of experience in healthcare with a variety of roles across academia, pharmaceutical, and CRO sectors, influences her work every day. Her diverse background allows her to understand the marketplace from each key stakeholder’s perspective, from shareholders to customers to employees. She has the ability to keep each person’s perspective in consideration at all times as she guides the company, and it takes a high-level of skill and wisdom to address all those diverse interests simultaneously. Her experience and vision is why she sees industry change coming before many others in her field and guides INC in the right direction from a strategic perspective as a result.

“I have a passion for healthcare that drives me to improve health and treatment options for patients around the world,” she says. “I’ve spent most of my career in pharma and clinical trials for this reason. We really make a difference in the lives of so many people and I’ve always been proud to work in this endeavor.”

Ms. Chitwood says she has had the good fortune of having strong women mentor her throughout her career, so it is important to her to give back by supporting other women in science and business.

“We’ve come a long way, but we still need more capable women at the highest/most senior levels of organizations, so I think it is important to help others with coaching and guidance wherever I can — the way I was supported throughout my career,” she says.

Ms. Chitwood describes her focus as “all about what’s next,” and fortunately she says she married a poet who keeps her grounded on the other important aspects of life.

“Without what he does, I couldn’t do what I do,” she says. “I am the businessperson in the family and he reminds me of all the other parts of life that make it meaningful. Living with a poet literally forces me to see the world more broadly.”


Amy Dowell
PV0716_AmyDowellTitle: Associate Partner, Executive VP Strategy
Company: HCB Health
Education: BS, Advertising, University of Texas at Austin
Family: Wife Deann, firefighter; daughter Remy, 3, and another daughter expected in September
Hobbies: Outdoor music shows, weekend runs at the lake, spending time with family and friends
Bucket List: 
Take an improv class, learn to sail, take a sabbatical and live abroad with her family to truly immerse herself in a foreign culture
Social Media:
Tweet: @HCB_Amy

Unstoppable, Results-Driven

According to the staff at HCB, inspiration has a first and last name: Amy Dowell. To experience insightful exuberance, you only have to sit with her for five minutes. The associate partner, executive VP of strategy, at HCB exudes enthusiasm and embodies inspiration, and is also incredibly smart.

Colleagues say not only is Ms. Dowell good, she’s unstoppable. They say she is capable of learning the most complex medical categories quickly and finding the precious nugget of strategy in the blandest sea of indications. She is beloved by her clients because they know she will nail it, and she won’t rest until it’s right.

“I try to be a cheerleader of enthusiasm,” Ms. Dowell says. “You can’t get creative if you aren’t truly interested in the subject matter. Often we are solving complicated problems that exist in complicated markets for our clients. I try to tease lateral thinking out of people because the solution is rarely found by looking within the industry we are serving.”

Clients describe Ms. Dowell as one of the best agency people they have ever worked with. She adds value to every conversation and is considered by all to be a trusted partner. She is more than a vendor, they say, she is a consultant, thinker, and friend.

She redefines problems into insightful and solvable parts, and then produces solutions and customized marketing programs virtually overnight.
Her presentations demonstrate her commitment and enthusiasm, while she breaks the complex into bite-sized understandable pieces.

“Making complicated stuff seem simple is actually my hidden talent,” she says. “Sometimes this takes the form of teaching, a way of giving others digestible access to complex information, and sometimes it’s just about tackling complicated tasks and getting them done.”

In terms of getting things done, Ms. Dowell is called one of the hardest working account persons in the medical advertising industry, not only from the number of hours she invests, but also from the results she produces.

PV0716_KnowAmyDowellHer biggest career highlight was helping an A-list healthcare client consolidate a wide and disparate brand portfolio that was built through acquisition into a unified offering with a simple and sticky value proposition — one that really connects with customers.

“I worked with the team to give the franchise a newly branded facelift,” Ms. Dowell says. “It took an incredible amount of orchestration across brand teams and a multitude of stakeholders. It was an awesome experience and one that I’m very proud to have been a part of.”

How did Ms. Dowell become so savvy? She had a crash course when she started her career working on a small medical device account that catapulted from a $300 million brand to a $1.3 billion business over the course of just six years.

“I learned so much during that time, starting with hyper-focused professional targets in order to develop proof of concept, through expanding indications and customer segments, and eventually through loss of patent and continued brand leadership in the face of real competition,” she says. “I will forever carry the invaluable lessons I learned during the dozens of successes — and some failures — we experienced.”

Ms. Dowell maintains her lively spirit by focusing on two quotes. The first is from former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who said: “Every production of genius must be the production of enthusiasm.”

“I have that quote tacked to my wall and reference it regularly,” she says. “It speaks to my soul, because nothing gets me more fired up than apathy.”

The second quote came from a post-graduate commencement speech she heard given by comedian Jim Carrey.  He said: “Your effect on others is your most valuable currency.”

“Since the day I heard that quote, I’ve adopted it as my personal mantra,” she says.

And that is evident, as in the more than 12 years she’s been with HCB, she has mentored many upcoming account service stars and helped creatives understand the benefits of a clear and precise strategy. Her impact starts with the HCB staff, extends to her growing client base, and is expanding throughout the industry.


Deirdre F. BeVard
PV0716_DeirdreBevardTitle: VP, Development Operations
Company: Nektar Therapeutics Inc.
Education: BS, Ursinus College
Family: Husband Warren; children, Aileen, Aidan, Liam; Mom and Dad, Nuala and Dick (deceased) Fulton
Hobbies: Travel with her family, reading, organizing, and hosting events/parties
Bucket List: 
Skydiving; hiking to some of the world’s most impressive waterfalls; singing on a Broadway stage; seeing real change in the industry, including not needing to explain what clinical research is to most people
Awards/Honors:  2010 HBA Rising Star; Endo Accelerated Leadership Program; IIR Special Recognition for Contributions to Partnerships in Clinical Trials Conference; IIR Partnerships in Clinical Trials Biopharmaceutical Leadership
Associations: DIA Linking Leaders
Social Media:
Tweet: @deebev1

Creating a Culture for Clinical Innovation

There are many things Deirdre BeVard can be proud of in her career; he has been part of the leadership team for numerous product approvals at Otsuka, Endo, and now Nektar Therapeutics, and helped to increase company growth and other business metrics. But what really stands out is her role in shaping organizational cultures that allow others to perform at their best.

Innovation thrives where there is the culture, freedom, and space for people to innovate, she believes.

Being able to help an organization look at things differently and translate those insights into new approaches that have meaningful impact has been incredibly rewarding for Ms. BeVard.

“The best aspect of these experiences are when I have been able to identify talent and potential in people that they did not know they had,” she says.

PV0716_KnowDeirdreBevardMs. BeVard inspires others by creating a culture in which it is acceptable or even expected, to respectfully challenge the status quo, enabling people to safely explore different approaches, solutions, and strategies for meeting their goals, both personal and professional.

“I think the most effective way to inspire others is to provide the opportunities for them to achieve and to stretch their skills, provide support and encouragement, and then get out of their way and get on with it,” she says. “So many people are capable of so much more than they realize; they just need to have someone believe in them and give them an opportunity to shine. It is my responsibility as a leader to look for the potential in someone and match it with a business need.”

Ms. BeVard challenges her teams to find creative approaches to design and implement clinical trials with a constant focus on innovation and improvement.

Most recently a great highlight for Ms. BeVard has been watching her team at Nektar achieve true integration with external providers — CROs and others — to create a “one team” concept that focused on sites and patients. Through this model, sponsors and the external partners perform as an integrated team with a shared mission of optimizing the clinical study experience for sites and patients.

“At the heart of all of this was a sea change to always keep patients, who give of themselves in these clinical trials, at the center of our focus and how the impact of our choices and decision affects them,” she says. “Hearing people bring up the patient perspective as a first concern rather than an afterthought is a meaningful cultural shift.”

Success for Ms. BeVard is when both the project and the people have achieved their goals and delivered a meaningful treatment option to patients who need it.

She is focused on improving the way the industry collaborates to bring new therapeutic options to patients who need them.

“I want to be in a position where I can connect the multifaceted participants in this process to understand one another because I believe that can lead to transformational change,” she says.

Her concern is that the industry isn’t moving fast enough.

“I also think we are constrained by our own false boundaries and perceived security blankets,” she says. “By that I mean the things, methods, and processes that we think are required and reduce risk, but really don’t.”

She is inspired by patients who remind her what is important, and in particular those who participate in clinical trials and who are advocates for advancing medical research.

“These are people who have literally given of themselves for the betterment of others, through their participation in clinical trials,” she says.
“They have also taken that experience and are sharing it with a broader population so the importance of medical research is understood — they are true heroes.”

When challenges arise, she helps those she leads by breaking down the challenge into manageable pieces.

“It is my job to remain calm and optimistic but not so much so that it’s disingenuous,” she says. “Buffering a team from the noise and the emotion of a challenge can help keep them focused on what really matters.”

Ms. BeVard always makes herself available to support others in their career journey.

“I want to give back to the field and to help others discover what they can achieve,” she says. “I learn as much from any mentoring relationship as the person I am mentoring. I enjoy the discovery of new skills and helping people to see things in a way they had not previously considered. It is an honor to be asked to be someone’s mentor and a privilege that should not be taken for granted.”


David “Brad” Hardy
PV0716_BradyHardyTitle: VP, Sales
Company: Kowa Pharmaceuticals America
Education: BA, Biology, University of Richmond
Family: Mom, Dad who passed away of cancer 13 years ago, and sister; three children Susannah, Marissa, and Griffin
Hobbies: Running, lifting weights, cycling, tennis, golfing
Bucket List: 
Run one more marathon in his 50s
Awards/Honors:  President’s Circle of Excellence; 1995 Eagle Award; 2005 Top Area Business Director
Associations: CMR Institute
Social Media:

Creating a Can-Do Culture

A high-level strategist, Brad Hardy is invested in what it takes to be successful.

As VP of sales at Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Mr. Hardy has been instrumental in guiding the team in its mission to maximize sales operations efficiency with an approach that goes beyond software.

Mr. Hardy and the sales leadership team have implemented an agile approach to help the Kowa sales teams calibrate their performance with fast, actionable information they use in real time to seize opportunities. Just two weeks after starting the relationship with Optymyze Sales Operations as a Service (SOaaS), Kowa began to take immediate corrective actions to increase sales performance and better engage its salesforce.

The increased capabilities help Mr. Hardy and his sales teams to better visualize sales results, plan solutions, and react to market changes.

PV0716_KnowDavidHardyMr. Hardy is completely engaged in and committed to the success of his teams and Kowa as a whole. His enthusiasm has consistently encouraged his use of the technology. In fact, using Optymyze’s Rewards & Recognition platform, he created a fun program where sales team members can recognize others with Fist Bumps. This has further enhanced Kowa’s culture of recognition, with nearly 20 Fist Bumps being awarded in the Optymyze platform each day.

Mr. Hardy has said that the use of the platform has helped to create an air of excitement that permeates his salesforce. His colleagues say he has been able to help guide behaviors in a fun, innovative-Brad Hardy kind of way.

Working at a small company, Mr. Hardy recognizes that innovation requires a willingness to try new things: sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t but it’s important to not be afraid of failure.

The one issue that worries Mr. Hardy is the continued pressure on the industry and the impact on the long-term prospects for sales reps.

“Health and hospital systems buying up physician practices and restricting access to reps gives me angst,” he says.

He approaches his work with intense energy, passion, and positivity, and in turn, he has created a culture of camaraderie and fun at Kowa.
Whether he’s implementing exciting quarterly incentive opportunities or establishing lasting personal connections with his staff and their families, Mr. Hardy truly is a well-rounded executive. His level of emotional intelligence has enabled him to build unmatched credibility and loyalty. In all, he is dedicated to his people, the products, and the company.

He seeks to mentor and help others succeed just as others have mentored and helped him.

He inspires through encouragement and a positive attitude that will not allow people to give up.

Mr. Hardy’s commitment to excellence was recognized with the President’s Circle of Excellence club as an Area Development Manager — a newly created award that he won in the first year of its existence. Additionally, Mr. Hardy and Kowa Pharmaceuticals won the 2015 Ventana Research Award for Sales Excellence. This prestigious award is in recognition of Kowa’s efforts to build a scalable and best-in-class sales operations model.

His goal is to continue to grow Kowa to become a well-known and respected pharmaceutical company and grow the salesforce through new product launches.

He would like to be remembered as a great leader and someone who instills trust and respect based on his solid work ethic and positive demeanor.


Julian Jenkins, Ph.D.
PV0716_DrJulianJenkinsTitle: VP, Innovation Performance & Technology
Company: GlaxoSmithKline
Education:  BSc, Biological Sciences, The University of Wolverhampton; MSc, Clinical Virology, University of Surrey; Ph.D., Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Nottingham
Hobbies: Fantasy football, cycling
Associations: Digital Health, Clinical Research Professionals, Transcelerate Biopharma

Creating mHealth Disruption

What do football, apps, and clinical trials have in common? Colleagues and peers say just ask Julian Jenkins, Ph.D. Dr. Jenkins says with the ubiquity of mobile computing, there is an opportunity for patients in clinical studies, clinical researchers, sponsoring pharma companies, universities, and investigators to enter and access data in a thoughtful and more user-friendly way — in essence, the same way we access our everyday information on our personal devices.

“This presents a soon-to-be future state where we can collect, analyze, and present operational and clinical data from research much faster and with a lower burden for everyone engaged,” he says. “There are new digital mobile health apps and technologies emerging that address some of these challenges and I’m looking forward to implementing them to bring us up to speed with everyone else.”

Inspiring and nurturing leaders, who are also accomplished scientists are critically important to the industry’s future success, especially such leaders as Dr. Jenkins’ GlaxoSmithKline’s VP and head of innovation, performance and technology.

Colleagues say Dr. Jenkins isn’t afraid of taking risks or of failure and he is passionate about being purposefully bold in the pursuit of science and moving the needle for patients.

He is a leader within the projects, clinical platforms and sciences (PCPS) group in GSK pharma R&D. In his current position, Dr. Jenkins oversees performance management, business strategy and operations, and change management for PCPS. He is also charged with sustaining the state-of-the-art clinical and project technology infrastructure for the pharmaceutical clinical organization. He also heads up the innovation for the platform, which is focused on digital technologies, to transform the way clinical trials are conducted.

PV0716_KnowDrJulianJenkinsFrom the very beginning, Dr. Jenkins has been deeply committed to improving the clinical trial experience for patients. Colleagues and peers say he is always asking questions that challenge the status quo, looking within the industry and outside to learn about new developments and technologies that are working, and just as importantly, what’s not working and why.

He is a medicine mentor and participates in many project and study level peer review activities, and he serves on a number of governance committees within R&D. He is a member of the Transcelerate Biopharma operations committee, and sponsors the eSource project within GlaxoSmithKline.

Dr. Jenkins, who has been with GlaxoSmithKline for more than 18 years, has served in roles in discovery and development, which have included leadership of clinical development organizations and projects from candidate selection to market, and as a clinical scientist and leader in clinical pharmacology.

R&D is a complex and intricate process, and colleagues say even when tackling the most profound topics, Dr. Jenkins uses his wit and creativity to help make connections never thought of before.

When examining what the future for clinical trial analytics might be, Dr. Jenkins said in a recent blog it’s simple: “We need a Johnny Rotten moment, something to disrupt the way we do it now and change the trajectory for the future.”

Dr. Jenkins’ innovative approach to problem solving and commitment to active experimentation helped shape partner Medidata’s mobile health (mHealth) strategy.

When GSK and Medidata embarked on a method development project, along with McLaren Racing, Dr. Jenkins wanted to conduct an experiment to see how much data was actually being collected in trials using mHealth devices, while maintaining the kind of controls needed in a regulated environment. The collaborative project, which took place at GSK’s Human Performance Lab, equipped project participants with two wearable devices: Vital Connect’s HealthPatch MD and ActiGraph’s wGT3X-BT Monitor. The devices continuously measured vital signs, electrocardiogram (ECG) data and activity levels, and participants used Medidata Patient Cloud ePRO, a mobile app for patient-reported outcomes. The participants carried smartphones that captured data from the mHealth devices. These data were then pulled into the Medidata platform and then mapped to the clinical record. Participants were asked to go about their daily routine and check in with the performance lab only at the start and end of the effort.

Dr. Jenkins’ instincts were proven right. In gathering an unprecedented 18 million data points on activity and vital signs per participant, per day, the partners demonstrated that mHealth technologies have the power to comprehensively collect large volumes of objective data that are reliable, secure, and analysis-ready, and provide real-time, continuous insight into the well-being of patients. Additionally, the initiative showed that mobile devices can support the long-term goal of lessening the burden on patients participating in studies by streamlining routine procedures, eliminating unnecessary ones, and reducing visits to clinical trial sites. This is a game-changer for Dr. Jenkins and the industry and a future in which mHealth studies will be standard practice.

With leaders like Dr. Jenkins who have a talent for disruption, the next level of clinical transformation is at hand. His willingness to experiment with mHealth tools is helping to blaze a path forward.


William Trombetta, Ph.D.
PV0716_DrBillTrombettaTitle: Professor of Healthcare/Pharmaceutical Marketing
Organization: Saint Joseph’s University
Education: BS, Marketing, Saint Joseph’s University – Erivan K. Haub School of Business; MBA, Marketing, Temple University – Fox School of Business and Management; JD, Cleveland State University — Cleveland-Marshall College of Law; Ph.D., Marketing, The Ohio State University
Family: Wife, Dolores; two daughters, Lauren Halonen and Jade Trombetta
Hobbies: Running, ballroom dancing
Bucket List: Learn Argentine Tango
Associations: American Marketing Association, American Health Lawyers Association, New Jersey and New York State Bars
Social Media:

The Educator’s Educator

Anyone who knows Bill Trombetta, Ph.D., also knows that he is the hardest working man in higher education. Whether he is speaking at any number of industry conferences on the topics of “the new alphabet soup” — Accountable Care Organizations — or pharmaceutical marketing or teaching pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing at Saint Joseph’s University or serving as the newly appointed co-editor of The Journal of Medical Marketing, a UK-based refereed research journal — he brings his whole self to the task at hand.

Colleagues say since Dr. Trombetta took on the role as the first chair of Saint Joseph’s pharmaceutical and healthcare marketing program, which was granted status as a major in 1997, he has been a clear stand-out among faculty members. He also served as the first director for the executive pharmaceutical MBA program. During his time at Saint Joseph’s, Dr. Trombetta has seen the undergraduate and graduate programs grow in size and prestige.  His dedication to his students is evident in the support and mentoring he provides while in the program and after graduation; he has provided many with recommendations as they pursue various career opportunities.

“I am a mentor for our undergraduate pharmaceutical/healthcare marketing majors,” he says. “I am motivated to help students at an early stage to think about their careers. I am also motivated by learning something new everyday.”

Dr. Trombetta is very active in the classroom and is a fixture at all PILOT meetings hosted by the university’s student group. Colleagues say he is a common and consistent link back to the university among alumni and he sets himself apart as the consummate life-long learner. Always striving to get better at what he does in the classroom, Dr. Trombetta relishes sharing new information, new threaded concepts, and out-of-the-box innovation examples and case studies with his students.

PV0716_KnowDrBillTrombettaWith both a law degree and a Ph.D., Dr. Trombetta brings a unique perspective to his approach to innovation, which is to contribute original, application-based research to address the virtually infinite problems the industry faces, especially in global healthcare.

Thus far he has published one book — Consumer-Driven Pharmaceutical Marketing Strategy — and more than 70 articles and/or conference proceedings in refereed academic journals and proceedings.

A sought-after consultant, Dr. Trombetta just finished working with the Pennsylvania-based Lancaster General Hospital and with 21 doctors going for their MBA online. In that capacity, he worked with the doctors on developing Accountable Care Organizations and patient-centered medical homes. And he was invited to be an adjunct faculty member for Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine’s online healthcare strategy/marketing doctors program.

As an attorney with expertise in marketing, Dr. Trombetta offers services as an expert in healthcare litigation matters. Before entering academia, he served for six years as a Deputy Attorney General in the New Jersey Department of Public Safety, Div. of Criminal Justice, Antitrust Section, specializing in antitrust law, a position that he says is a career highlight.

Dr. Trombetta is invested in moving the industry forward and is committed to addressing the vast problems the industry faces, such as the cost of healthcare.

“A strategy that is ideally suited to how healthcare delivery is transitioning is: Category Captain Management. CCM deals with Partneting among all entities of a healthcare channel. A Partner does not sell anything; rather Partners work together to aim for the TRIPLE AIM: LOWER COSTS / IMPROVE PATIENT OUTCOMES / ENHANCE PATIENT ACCESS AND SATISFACTION.”


Gil Bashe
PV0716_GilBasheTitle: Managing Partner, Health
Company: Finn Partners
Education: BA, Fairleigh Dickinson University; Government Affairs and International Relations, Clark University
Family: His wife, an amazing child psychologist; his daughter, who is an imaginative writer focused on the rights of individuals
Hobbies: Reading and teaching (he trained as a rabbi and enjoys studying texts and drawing from commentaries and lessons to be shared and applied)
Bucket List: In many ways, he lives his “bucket list” — in personal and professional paths — and chooses not to say “I wish I had…”,  adding that “waiting for that day” assumes there is all the time in the world, whereas every moment is precious
Awards/Honors: American Heart Association Volunteer of the Year; selected as chair of the American Heart Association Founders’ Affiliate, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Health Academy Excellence in Communications Award; Holmes Report Health All-Star; PR News Crisis Communicator; PRSA Silver Anvils and Big Apples; Breslov Research Institute “Man of Honor”; PR News Hall of Fame; Fairleigh Dickinson University Pinnacle Award … and others
Associations: American Heart Association, Let’s Win for Pancreatic Cancer, Galien Foundation, Breslov Research Institute, Public Relations Society of America
Social Media:
Tweet: @Gil_Bashe

Galvanizing Solutions Through Communications

Communications is part of the cure. This approach is at the heart of how Gil Bashe works to bring together pharma, providers, policymakers, and payers to help patients.

With an unstoppable curiosity, Mr. Bashe is 100% invested in creating a healthcare environment where patients, companies, and not-for-profit organizations can flourish.

A highly credentialed, passionate, and engaged professional, he has accomplished just about anything and everything a seasoned pharmaceutical communications executive could have.

He joined Finn Partners in 2015 as managing partner in health, and he has galvanized his colleagues within the health side of the business, leading the organization to become the sixth largest independent health practice group.

PV0716_KnowGilBasheHe loves complex, challenging problems and coming up with solutions. Whether solving a CMS reimbursement issue, launching a major cardiovascular drug, or working on a thought leadership platform, Mr. Bashe is analytical and compassionate. He researches everything and then uses his rabbinical storytelling skills to add the emotional element that drives people to take action.

He defines his role as a catalyst for collaboration among the company’s 12 global health practice offices, noting that encouraging great people with varied expertise results in big, game-changing ideas.

At the same time, his insights are anchored in deep prior experience of what works. He launched a successful health PR agency, which was later acquired by Medicus, where he was named by Inside PR as “Health PR All-Star.” He was the first global practice director of Hill and Knowlton’s health and pharmaceutical practice and later he was a leader in WPP Group’s integrated marketing agency CommonHealth. Afterward, he became an operating company CEO and limited partner at one of the nation’s largest private-equity firms, GTCR and led acquisition efforts targeting health marketing and communications firms. He joined New York-based Makovsky in 2002 and was named by PR News as one of the nation’s “Leading Crisis Communicators” and inducted into its PR Hall of Fame.

Mr. Bashe has learned the value of asking great questions, listening actively and carefully to the response, and translating the information into actionable strategies. He blogs, tweets, reads, and seeks to push the boundaries of conventional thinking with his clients and colleagues.

“Expansive thinking and behaviors enable us to draw upon others’ insights and talents to achieve bigger goals,” he says.

His impact has been felt on the countless brands he has launched or turned around, leaders who earlier in their careers learned from his guidance and are now shaping the industry, and colleagues who have deep loyalty for Mr. Bashe and will go anywhere, do anything, and take on every challenge because they know he believes in them.

A mentor to many in the industry, Mr. Bashe’s thoughtfulness and problem-solving skills lead many to turn to him for advice. Indeed, many memes have been created with Mr. Bashe as Yoda.

Not only is Mr. Bashe phenomenal as a leader in health communications but he is also an extraordinary volunteer leader. He spent more than 25 years as a board member for the American Heart Association. He has also served as a member of the American Academy of Pain Medicine Foundation board and Prix Galien Foundation executive committee. (PV)

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