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TITLE: Founder, Chairman, and CEO
COMPANY: Marathon Pharmaceuticals LLC
ASSOCIATIONS: University of Chicago Medical Center, Board Member Museum of Science & Industry, Board Member Aspen Institute, Henry Crown Fellow, Member Economic Club, Board Member Commercial
AWARDS/HONORS: Brain Research Foundation, Frederic A. Gibbs Discovery Award, 2013; Buyouts magazine “Deal of the Year” 2010, Ovation Pharmaceuticals; Pharmaceutical Executive magazine’s “45 under 45,” 2008; Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, Rovner Award, 2007; Scrip Award “Pharma Company of the Year-Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises,” 2006 and 2007, Ovation Pharmaceuticals
A Rare Breed of Leader
Jeff Aronin is widely recognized as an innovator, biopharmaceutical entrepreneur, civic leader, and philanthropist. He has extensive business experience leading private, private equity-backed, and public companies, including three pharmaceutical companies he built. Over his career, he has been dedicated to developing medications to treat rare or orphan diseases for which no other treatment exists.
His latest venture — Marathon Pharmaceuticals, which he founded and is the chairman and CEO — is a branded prescription pharmaceutical company that develops, manufactures, and commercializes high-need pharmaceutical products for patients with rare diseases. Mr. Aronin is also the chairman and CEO of Paragon Pharmaceutical Capital, which is an active global development and biopharmaceutical investment firm that establishes, fosters, and manages life-science companies, including Marathon Pharmaceuticals.
His inspirational management style and commitment to the rare disease space have garnered him the loyalty of his employees, many of whom have followed him along his own career journey.
Before starting Marathon, Mr. Aronin founded Ovation Pharmaceuticals, which under his leadership became one of the world’s premier companies developing drugs for rare diseases. Ovation was sold in 2009 to Lundbeck for $900 million. After the acquisition, Mr. Aronin served as Lundbeck’s president and CEO.
In line with his professional interests, he devotes his personal time and resources to supporting patient advocacy organizations, emerging biotech businesses, science education, and social tolerance.
Mr. Aronin serves on several business and civic boards, including Discover Financial Services, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Executive Committee of both World Business Chicago and the Economic Club of Chicago, and the Commercial Club, among others. He is also a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. Mr. Aronin has been inducted into the Chicago Entrepreneur Hall of Fame. He was also honored with the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He is the founder of MATTER, a successful healthcare technology incubator he created to support entrepreneurs.
PV: What is your leadership style and how do you inspire others to reach their personal and professional goals?
Aronin: My leadership style is to hire very talented people, put them in roles where they are able to have creativity and freedom, and clearly define the mission so everybody is aligned. I like to think I offer a clear vision as to where the company is going. People know their role, but they also recognize what everybody else is doing and we all hold each other accountable.
I offer the freedom for people to be creative and make mistakes and I set a bold vision to align the team. Our mission is to make a change in the world. There are a lot of jobs our team members could have, but they choose to be here because of our mission and vision, which are to get drugs approved for rare diseases and to make the world better. These are goals that everybody can be proud of and they are incentivizing and motivating.
Many members of my team at Marathon were with me at companies before; many of us have been working together for 12 years plus.
We have a lot of really cool science, which is exciting, but what really inspires me and my team is seeing a disease change because of a drug we got approved. Watching patients live longer and with a better quality of life is really motivating; having families and mothers tell us what we’re doing is making a difference is very gratifying. I pride myself on making these engagements personal for our employees.
PV: As a leader, why do you think people continue to follow you?
Aronin: I would say there are three things. First, as a team, we build successful companies and people like being a part of success. We’re putting jobs in our community. We’re creating value for our investors and for our employees.
Second, we’re adding value for patients by getting drugs approved and we’re making a difference in the world.
It means a lot when people can feel really good about their job. Every day they can come to work and they feel they have the ability to make a difference. And all of us who are lucky enough to work in the healthcare world are very fortunate because we can make a difference and it’s a difference we can see with our own eyes and that’s important. To hear from mothers, from advocacy groups, and from patients about the difference we are making makes the job more meaningful.
Third, I empower talented employees to make mistakes because I want people to be creative and use their talents and that often means they make mistakes. But it also means they are inspired to take chances and that’s what we’re trying to reward at Marathon and at other companies that I have led. Hopefully, I’m inspiring really talented people to take chances and make a difference.
PV: What legacy would you like to leave in the industry?
Aronin: We are making a difference in lives and I’m fearful that often as an industry, we measure success based on financial returns, and fortunately my companies have had great financial success, but I think this metric is very shortsighted. When I was on the PhRMA board and throughout my time in the industry, I’ve always tried to emphasize that we should not forget what we’re doing and it’s about changing lives. It’s a responsibility we shouldn’t take it lightly; I don’t take it lightly.
I hope my legacy is making a difference in the lives of patients with rare diseases.
PV: How important is mentoring to you?
Aronin: I am very proud of the fact that I’m in the prescription drug business and developing drugs. I’m also an entrepreneur. I work in big pharma, but I’ve started companies, I think this is important for creating jobs in America. It’s important for our industry to have entrepreneurs. I support and mentor a lot of biotech and pharma executives, some are with big companies, but the majority are doctors coming out of universities or young entrepreneurs who have a great idea in science. This really where I try to focus my efforts.
By the way, several of my ex-employees have gone on to do really good things and I’m really proud of that.
PV: You were asked a few years ago to help lead an initiative to build a center of innovation in Chicago. What does this entail?
Aronin: MATTER is a community of healthcare entrepreneurs and industry leaders working together in a shared space to individually and collectively fuel the future of healthcare innovation here in Chicago. This one of the things I’m most proud of. Three years ago the mayor asked me to help create an innovation center to build our biotech community here. We have great universities. We have great, big pharma companies. We have a lot of innovation, but it’s very hard as an entrepreneur to get started. The doctors at Northwestern or University of Chicago have great ideas, but they don’t know how to turn them into businesses.
With the support of the governor, all of the big pharma companies — Astellas, Abbott, AbbVie, Horizon, Marathon — and all the universities, myself and several other like-minded executives founded this organization to help entrepreneurs in biotech, medical device, healthcare, HIT, etc., build these companies and it’s been amazing. We now have 80 entrepreneurial organizations. It’s one of the most exciting places to be; there’s a real buzz.
So providing mentorship to these entrepreneurs is very fulfilling. I also teach entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago.
I get a lot out of it as well; it’s great to connect with all these potential leaders of our industry and hear their ideas and hopefully I’m inspiring them to do good things.
PV: What advice do you provide to these future leaders?
Aronin: The first piece of advice is probably very common, which is to surround yourself with great talent. Put together an advisory board of ex-CEOs who you can — and I’ve always done it — bounce things off of because there are a lot of very complex questions that have to be answered. So, have great employees and have a vision and be consistent about where you’re going so everybody understands and buys in.
For entrepreneurial leaders, the question I get a lot is: how do I know when it’s time to start a company? There’s never a good time. When I started my first company I had a brand new baby and I put all my money in the company. It was a big risk. But when you have a vision and idea you just need to jump and do it and believe in yourself. It’s okay if it’s not all there and it’s not all perfect. That’s what you have to do.
Finally, don’t forget what your goals are. Don’t forget that you’re there for patients; if you create value for patients you will have a successful company and my companies have always had a lot of success financially because we have always focused on what can we do create the most value for our patients.
PV: What is your vision for the future of healthcare?
Aronin: I am so excited about the future of healthcare. We have government trying to make changes. We have insurance companies wanting to make changes. But the changes I believe that are going to be really impactful are going to come from the science. The science is going to allow us to speed up technology.
There are a couple of areas I’m really excited about. No. 1 is genetics. I’ve developed mostly drugs for single gene defects, which is relatively easy. There is one gene, we can identify a patient with the disease and develop a treatment. Technology is going to allow us to look at multiple genes, understand the correlations, and come up with drugs to treat those diseases, with more complex personalized medicine.
The second area I find very encouraging is stem cells.
And then finally, finding ways to turn genes on and off.
All of these areas, will change the way we look at the world.
We will still need oral tabs and large molecules drugs, but some of these other areas are going to have an even bigger impact.
It’s an important time and an exciting time to be in the industry; it’s changing, and it’s changing fast.
Dr. Deborah Dunsire
TITLE: President and CEO
COMPANY: Forum Pharmaceuticals
EDUCATION: M.D., University of the Witwatersrand
FAMILY: Married; two sons
HOBBIES: Cycling, skiing
AWARDS/HONORS: 2001 American Cancer Society Excalibur Award; 2009 Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s Woman of the Year; 2011 MassBIO Innovator Award; 2011 International Institute of New England Golden Door Award; 2013
ASSOCIATIONS: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), International Woman’s Foundation, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Massachusetts Bio
Deborah Dunsire, M.D., continues to break new ground. She was the first woman appointed to the board of Takeda Pharmaceuticals Ltd. in Japan. Today, as president and CEO of Forum Pharmaceuticals, a role she took on in 2013, she is bringing more than 25 years of proven leadership and scientific, clinical, operational, and commercial expertise to restore the minds and empower the lives of people who face debilitating brain diseases.
Under Dr. Dunsire’s leadership, the company has moved to a new 112,500-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in Waltham, Mass. A move that consolidates the company’s operations into a single centralized location and allows daily interaction of development and commercial teams with research scientists, a model that Dr. Dunsire believes will continue to drive innovation in Forum’s focused product pipeline that targets serious brain diseases, such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and frontotemporal dementia.
She also led the charge to change the company’s name in 2014 from EnVivo to Forum Pharmaceuticals to better reflect its strong position as a late-stage, purpose-built organization and collaborative culture, which is singularly focused on brain disease to find and develop new medicines that improve patients’ abilities to function — striving to help them maintain critical connections, live more fully, and ultimately, to change the course of their disease.
The fit with Forum appears to be perfect, as Dr. Dunsire is a transformational leader known industrywide for her collaborative spirit and ability to foster employee engagement, build an award-winning culture of innovation, and successfully commercialize late-stage programs while developing a leading research pipeline.
Dr. Dunsire is much-admired for her direct and straightforward leadership approach, as well as for her compassion and vision. One colleague has noted that she is multi-talented and has an arsenal of skills at her disposal to conquer any challenge that may come her way. Her inspirational leadership has earned her a spot on the PharmaVOICE 100 list several times, leading to her Red Jacket honor in 2015. Dr. Dunsire has also been honored as Woman of the Year by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association in 2009.
PV: How do you inspire others to reach their personal and professional goals?
Dunsire: I set pretty high expectations, and I have great people around me who I expect a lot from. I think people step up to meet that expectation.
I’ve been told that I am clear and direct about what I expect, so people understand what I think they can deliver and what I’d like them to deliver. I also have a lot of confidence in their abilities to deliver. As a leader, I try to balance these high expectations with letting them know that I believe in them and their abilities to achieve their goals.
I also help people understand where their growth areas are — we all have growth areas — and being candid about what they do well and what they need to work on; this helps people know what they need to do.
PV: What leadership traits do you look for when evaluating talent?
Dunsire: People in organizational leadership positions, which are those at the executive committee level versus a functional role, need to think much more broadly. One of the traits to look for in functional leaders is to see if they can think beyond their own function; if they are territorial they will find it hard to transition to organizational leadership. I also look for people who are very good at collaboration, who are good at bringing skills from different parts of the organization to achieve their goals, and who partner well. These traits are good indicators of people who are able to make the leap to senior roles.
I also look at people’s ability to communicate up, down, and sideways. Are they clear communicators? Are they good communicators with their own team? Are they good communicators across functions and with their peers? Do they share or do they harbor and hide information?
An executive leader also needs to be able to balance between being transparent and maintaining confidentiality. There’s a duality needed for organizational leadership, and this requires a level of maturity that comes with experience.
I look for people who have passion, enthusiasm, and can communicate vision; to lead an organization and to be an organizational leader, you really have to be able to enroll people in the vision.
PV: As a transformational leader, how do you strive to drive innovation?
Dunsire: One of the ways to drive innovation in the industry is to drive it in your own organization, because that’s where you can have the most influence.
Within the organization, one of the ways I try to drive innovation is to not only vocally encourage people to do things differently and challenge the status quo but to accept and embrace that not everything will work. People can’t be penalized for failure and this is where organizations often fall down. Leaders talk about driving innovation but they don’t — failure is still an anathema that prevents people from pushing the boundaries. I think the ability to accept that some things will work and some things won’t is important. This is predicated on the fact that we made the right decisions, had a well-thought through plan, and are willing to go back to the drawing board and move forward having learned something. This mindset is probably one of the biggest ways to help drive innovation within one’s own organization and within the industry.
I also think that it’s important for us, as company leaders, to acknowledge that we are part of a larger ecosystem. While we all have our individual goals to provide value for our shareholders, we need to collectively look at what’s going on in the environment and participate and have a voice, otherwise we may have things happen to us that we don’t really like.
I look at my role, for instance, in BIO, which represents emerging and biotech companies, as an important one. As leaders of organizations, we need to think together about what the impact of a potential policy might have, for example; we need to able to articulate a position and help policymakers understand what’s needed to help foster and drive innovation.
For instance, one of the things that we were fully engaged in working on is the 21st Century Cures Initiative, which is moving through the Congress and Senate. This is very important because the initiative will have long-term implications. We’re looking at the legislation and working with the FDA.
We are also fully engaged in initiatives around patent reform to protect the intellectual property underpinnings of innovation.
Creating an environment for innovative companies to thrive is also part of our work as leaders. So I view my work with BIO and other cross industry forums as one way that I help foster innovation in the industry.
PV: What do you think the future of healthcare is going to look like in five to 10 years?
Dunsire: In terms of my company’s focus, I think of this as the “Decade of the Brain.”
We’re going to see new medicines that get traction in diseases such as Alzheimer’s, where we haven’t seen anything new in 10 years.
We are going to see quite a lot of new discoveries and developments as we understand the brain better and as we understand genetics better.
It’s very exciting right now to see approaches that have been so long in the concept phase start to come to fruition.
PV: What would you like your legacy to be in the industry?
Dunsire: Wow, that’s a big question. I hope that I’d be remembered as being part of the teams that brought forward new medicines that were truly transformative.
I feel very fortunate to have been part of the Gleevec team that brought the first targeted cancer therapy to the market, the transformation of multiple myeloma with Velcade, and now at Forum, the opportunity to bring transformative medicines, that restore minds and empower lives, to market.
If people said “she was a person who made a lasting difference to human health”, this would be a great legacy. This is the most important thing to me.
A close second is that I would like to be remembered as a person who helped others grow their careers within the industry.
PV: How important is it for you to mentor and develop that next generation of leaders in the industry?
Dunsire: Talent development is a critical component within my own company. I believe that as a leader if you don’t develop the next generation of leadership, you are putting your company’s future at risk.
It’s an absolutely critical business priority to ensure that you have a pipeline of leaders in development all the time.
As a leader you don’t have to be perfect, but each day, you need to be better than you were the day before and if you keep doing that, you can build greatness into people and organizations.
In terms of broader mentoring, we are a small industry and people move around a lot. There are times when people come to me and say they have been offered a job outside the company, and ask if they should stay or go. And while I would like them to stay, if we don’t have a growth opportunity for them, it’s best they go to another company and grow. We might end up working together again; this happens relatively often, too.
PV: What advice would you provide to future leaders?
Dunsire: First and foremost, do work you love. I’m always a bit nervous when people come and say, “I want to be a CEO, what do I have to do?” Well, that’s not the objective. Your objective should always be to do work that you’re passionate about, because that’s your best chance of being really good at something.
The best way to advance and be at your best, is to have that north star of what’s really important to you and stay focused on that.
The other piece of advice I provide to people who are early on in their careers is to build bricks of foundational experience across disciplines and geographies.
People get so focused on going up the ladder that they forget that the pyramid narrows at the top. Adding those bricks early in one’s career gives one the chance to advance in multiple different ways. This gives you a much broader look to the future.
I’m a big proponent of gaining international experience. If you have the opportunity, take it when you can.
TITLE: Chairman and CEO
COMPANY: Johnson & Johnson
EDUCATION: MBA, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; B.S., U.S. Military Academy at West Point
HOBBIES: Cooking and acting as a sous chef; fitness, including bicycling, swimming, and weight training
ASSOCIATIONS: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association; board of directors of the Doylestown Hospital; West Point Association of Graduates; Wharton Leadership Council;The Boy Scouts of America
SOCIAL MEDIA: LinkedIn
Keeping it Real
The world today requires the very best that Johnson & Johnson has to offer, and we are constantly striving to come up with ways we can innovate and lead for patients and consumers around the world.
This is the mission that Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson and chairman of the executive committee, part of the company’s senior leadership team, has put forward to the more than 126,500 employees working in more than 250 companies located in 60 countries around the world. As only the seventh person to serve as chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson since it became a publicly traded company in 1944, Mr. Gorsky continues to lead the J&J family of companies to new heights while staying true to the 70-year-old company credo, which challenges the company to put the needs and well-being of the people it serves first.
Colleagues say Mr. Gorsky’s staunch commitment to diversity and inclusion and his authentic leadership style inspire them to stretch and achieve personal and professional goals beyond what they thought were possible.
His open and real approach to managing through the many challenges facing the healthcare industry, employees say, is just one of his many admired leadership qualities.
Mr. Gorsky is a member of the board of directors of IBM, the Congressional Medal of Honor board of directors, and the board of directors of the National Academy Foundation. He also is a member of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, which designated him as the organization’s Mentor of the Year in 2009. In 2014, Mr. Gorsky was given the Joseph Wharton Leadership Award and he has been the recipient of the CADCA Humanitarian of the Year Award and has received an Honorary Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
Mr. Gorsky’s recognition twice as a PharmaVOICE 100 and this year as a Red Jacket honoree is well-deserved. His inspired leadership and ability to motivate those around him are qualities felt throughout the entire J&J organization, so it’s no surprise that over the years 18 other executives representing different functional areas and J&J companies have also been named to the PharmaVOICE 100 list.
PV: How do you believe your leadership style inspires others to reach their personal and professional goals?
Gorsky: Over the years, I have found that developing personal relationships while creating an informal environment — one still held to high standards — engages and inspires people to do things that they wouldn’t think that they’re capable of doing on their own. Sometimes, I think there’s the belief that a leader can’t be informal and still have high standards, and I think it’s just the opposite.
By creating an environment where people feel that they can be themselves, where they can speak up and speak out, and at the same time know that they’re going to be challenged in an inspiring way, people are willing to give their best, which ultimately allows me to make the best decisions.
There are clearly discussions and decisions that we make every day, particularly in the space of healthcare, that require an incredible amount of rigor, focus, and serious deliberation. Nonetheless, I think when the balance is right — an inclusive environment where people don’t feel that they need to walk on eggshells, where they can openly speak their mind, where diverse opinions are welcome — I’m absolutely convinced that this ensures that all issues are brought into the discussion, are considered, and that again, ultimately, the right decisions get made.
This approach requires a lot of active engagement. I think one of the natural dynamics of being a leader is that sometimes the role itself can be somewhat intimidating.
So if as a leader, you are not actively engaging, soliciting, keeping it real, I think it’s difficult to get to the kind of outcomes that we seek to achieve here at Johnson & Johnson.
PV: How are you creating an entrepreneurial culture within the Johnson & Johnson family of companies?
Gorsky: There are a number of ways that we create this type of culture, and innovation is clearly a top priority for us, particularly in today’s healthcare environment.
First, there are significant expectations about the level of innovation that we need to drive to ultimately help patients and consumers live longer, healthier, and happier lives. And we always need to remember that we have an incredible opportunity, but also a very special responsibility, since we are dealing in healthcare. Ultimately, the products, the services, and the solutions we’re creating and offering, touch human lives — they’re touching mothers, fathers, and children around the world.
Keeping that patient and consumer front and center in everything that we do is certainly a massive inspiration for innovation in the company.
Secondly, innovation is being driven by the healthcare environment itself. I don’t think it’s a secret that our customers, healthcare systems, payers, intermediaries, governments, are demanding a higher and higher level of innovation to ensure, quite frankly, that more and more scarce resources are being applied in the right areas of healthcare.
PV: The concept of patient-centricity is receiving a great deal of attention lately, but patients have always been at the core of what J&J does as outlined in the company’s credo. How are you reinvigorating your focus on patients?
Gorsky: You’re right, patients have always been core to Johnson & Johnson and this starts with our credo, which was written by the son of the founder of J&J more than 70 years ago outlining our responsibilities and our aspirations as a company.
The very first paragraph starts with a statement that we believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses, and patients, mothers and fathers, and all others who use our products and services. So patients have always been a key calling for us, and certainly this focus is something that we try to reinvigorate in everything that we do.
In fact, in just the last 24 months, we had a very special recognition and celebration of the 70th anniversary of our credo. We asked every employee to go through a credo session. Core teams — groups of 25 or so employees — went through our credo line by line and talked about what the document, although it’s 70 years old, meant to them today and ways that they could ensure that it’s brought to life in their particular role, whether they are a working on the assembly line in one of our factories, or on the most up-to-date contemporary medicine in immuno-oncology, or in finance in another area of the organization.
I think this exercise re-inspired and recommitted people to ensuring that we keep patients a top priority in everything that we do.
After these sessions, employees signed their own documents, in essence their own credos, and put these up in their work areas.
This was pretty cool, because as I travel around the world I see all the credo postings with signatures and know that our employees are committed, and most importantly, how we’re living up to our credo.
PV: At only 55, you still have a long way to go in your career, but have you started to think about your legacy and what mark you would like to leave on the industry?
Gorsky: I think 55 is still pretty darn young. It’s always difficult for me to talk about personal legacy, but as I sit and look at our environment and the many different issues that we’re facing around the world — demographic challenges, technology challenges, economic challenges, etc. — through a healthcare lens, my focus is on how we’re going to provide healthcare in a high-quality, innovative, and sustainable manner for the next several generations. This is likely going to be the biggest challenge we face, and to have the opportunity to work with and, frankly, lead the world’s largest and most diverse healthcare products and services company is a huge inspiration.
Knowing that we can make a difference, knowing that we can be part of the solution to help people live longer, healthier, and happier lives and do this in a way that is beneficial to the healthcare industry and others as we balance different priorities, is by far the most important thing that I can do.
PV: What is your vision for the future of healthcare?
Gorsky: I think that the healthcare industry will be challenged in more ways than it ever has been. And the nature of change given the pace of technology and innovation, makes it more exciting than ever, and we will see the acceleration of change in a way that we have never seen before. One the best parts of my job is being able to work across so many different diverse platforms of healthcare, ranging from pharmaceuticals to cancer, immunology, neuroscience, virology, and so on.
I can step from one room to the next to have a conversation with polymer scientists working on next-generation sutures, endomechanical energy instruments, heart catheterization to new vision care approaches. And then I can walk into another room to talk about new surfactants, new approaches in consumer care, etc. Learning about the exciting new advancements that are being made in each one of those fields, whether it’s biology, chemistry, or mechanics, it’s incredibly exciting.
Technology is going to play a very important role in the future. In the past, people would look at healthcare technology as somewhat separate from the broader technology field. Going forward, we going to see more emerging technologies that use big data to connect different aspects of healthcare.
We’ve recently announced some very dynamic and interesting partnerships with companies such as IBM, Google, Apple, and others.
We’re uniquely positioned at J&J because of the scale, breadth, and the size of our business, and frankly the experience that we have from a regulatory, a clinical development, and healthcare technology perspective to create some very interesting opportunities. We have a chance to do things in healthcare that we heretofore really had not even considered.
PV: Going back five years years ago, would you think the advances we are seeing now would have ever been possible?
Gorsky: No, and this is what makes this job so incredibly exciting. On one hand, we have all these innovations that are taking place, and on the other we are also taking a different perspective on the fundamental approaches in how we are treating disease as well as how we can prevent disease from happening in the first place.
For example, in our R&D department, we launched a major initiative on disease interception and interruption. When we think about areas like cancer, by the time the disease is detected in some instances, the cells have multiplied more than 30 times over a three- to five-year period. What if we could detect the cancer before the third multiplication? Think about the impact that we could have on the ultimate outcome for patients with these types of advancements. These are the types of things that really get me, and so many people here at J&J, excited.
PV: How are you developing the next generation of leaders for your organization?
Gorsky: I think mentoring, focusing on people development is really the most important thing that I do. We can have wonderful strategies and great technologies, but if we don’t have the right leaders in place to make this all come alive, we just can’t be successful.
I know from my own personal experience, if I had not had great mentors along the way who took the time to invest in me, coach me, inspire me, tell me things sometimes that were a little difficult to hear, there’s no way I would be where I am today or the leader I am.
I put a very high priority on mentoring and it starts, I think, at a personal level, by having skin in the game, by making the time, making the effort to talk with people on a one-on-one basis. But it also involves engaging the organization, making sure that everyone is aware that this is a priority and there is an emphasis on people development.
One of the most common questions I’m asked is, what does it take for a leader to be successful at Johnson & Johnson? I usually say it’s a combination of three things. First, it’s performance and performance under a wide variety of circumstances, which is a great discriminator.
Second, it’s about a leader’s ability to identify, recruit, select, and develop talented leaders for the future.
Third, they need to do No. 1 and No. 2 with our credo values in mind.
PV: What advice would you provide to future leaders?
Gorsky: There are a couple of things. First, is advice I received and this is: find something you love to do or learn to love what you do because this is when you will be at your best because you’re going to be doing a lot of it. I see this all the time; the employees who love what they do, who are all in, have a much bigger impact.
The second piece of advice is: be yourself. Know who you are, know your strengths, and surround yourself with people who have skill sets that are complementary to yours.
There is no such thing as a perfect leader. Be yourself, that’s the person you know best how to be and surround yourself with people who are going to complement your skill sets and what you do and, ultimately, this how you can be the most effective leader and have the greatest impact.
In closing, I would add that I always encourage our leaders to make sure that they take the time and make the effort to take care of themselves.
Our jobs and roles are demanding. They require us to work a lot of long hours, do a lot of travel. We’re under a lot of stress and pressure, and I think all of us who are fortunate enough to work in healthcare should also ensure that we take care of ourselves. When you make the time to take care of yourself, you’re going to be a more engaged, a more successful, and a better leader, and it’s going to ensure that you’ll be around for a lot longer to enjoy what you’ve worked so hard for.
Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall
TITLE: Executive VP and Chief Medical Officer
EDUCATION: M.D., Howard University College of Medicine; B.S., Johns Hopkins University
FAMILY: Husband, three children, one grandson
HOBBIES: Reading, traveling, shopping, planning memorable events for her family
AWARDS/HONORS: 2012, Savoy’s Top Influential Women in Corporate America; 2011, Woman of the Year, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association; Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, Howard University; Honorary doctorate, Coppin State University, Baltimore, Maryland
ASSOCIATIONS: Distinguished Fellow, American Psychiatric Association; Board of Governors, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute; Chairperson of the Cures Acceleration Network and Advisory Council Member of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health; Board of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health; The Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows; Executive Committee of the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative; Committee Member of The Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Drug Discovery, Development, and Translation; Board Member of Save the Children; Advisory Board of American Heart Association’s Power to End Stroke; Member, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association; Board of Directors, Tenet Healthcare
SOCIAL MEDIA: LinkedIn
Passing it Forward
Freda Lewis-Hall, M.D., Pfizer’s chief medical officer, leads Pfizer Medical, the division of the company responsible for the safe, effective, and appropriate use of the company’s medicines and vaccines around the world.
Dr. Lewis-Hall is a dynamic speaker and inspirational leader. A passionate advocate for empowering patients through knowledge, she speaks frequently in venues from TEDMED to the Essence Music Festival. She also appears regularly on television programs, including The Doctors and Dr. Phil, and shares health information at GetHealthyStayHealthy.com.
In 2010, Dr. Lewis-Hall was appointed to the inaugural Board of Governors for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and in 2012 she was named as chair of the Cures Acceleration Network Review Board and to membership in the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences Advisory Council of the NIH. She also serves on the executive committee of the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative and on numerous other boards, including those of Harvard Medical School, Save the Children, Tenet Healthcare, and The Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Drug Discovery, Development, and Translation.
She is also the author of Make Your Mark! Why Legacy Still Matters, which covers a series of topics, including the need for a top-to-bottom reappraisal of how people in healthcare view themselves given the nagging lack of trust by the public and why it is more important than ever, even in a world where memories are short and fame is fleeting, to envision one’s legacy.
Dr. Lewis-Hall has inspired many through her authentic leadership style, her vision for the future of healthcare, and her drive to change the face of healthcare to improve patient outcomes.
Before joining Pfizer, she held leadership positions at Eli Lilly, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pharmacia, and Vertex.
Before her work in the biopharmaceutical industry, she served as vice chairperson and associate professor of the department of psychiatry at Howard University College of Medicine and was an advisor to the National Institute of Mental Health. Dr. Lewis-Hall launched her medical career in frontline patient care and became well known for her work on the effects of mental illness on families and communities, and on issues of healthcare disparities.
She is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Lewis-Hall was named Woman of the Year by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association in 2011.
PV: How do you believe your leadership style inspires others to reach their personal and professional goals?
Lewis-Hall: My leadership approach to inspire others to their full potential is simple — pass it forward. I strive to share with others what has been shared with me, opening people to the possibilities for what they can contribute and what that can mean for others — curing disease and helping people live longer and better, healthier lives. Are there nobler reasons to reach for your full potential?
I seek to lead by example. I find role models to be powerful motivators. Note I say “models” because I advocate those who aspire to leadership to have several role models and emulate attributes from each.
I also share my experiences, both successes and failures. Successes are stimulating and the failures are often the most powerful opportunities to learn.
I try to balance encouragement and compassionate honesty.
I had mentors, coaches, and sponsors who encouraged me and saw in me a tremendous potential even when I didn’t see it myself. And, at other times, honest, directed feedback is sometimes hard to take, but very valuable. Finally, it’s important to recognize that people are rarely inspired by the uninspiring. I remain energized by my mission and devoted to improving patient outcomes.
PV: How do you strive to drive innovation in your company and in the industry?
Lewis-Hall: Mostly by asking, “what if?” And paving the way for those who answer. It is somewhat ironic to think about needing to drive innovation when innovation is at the core of what we do in the life sciences, and is among the most pressing imperatives at Pfizer. We work in a complex business with long lead times, big investments, heavy brainpower, urgent deadlines, and plenty of high-stakes risk. With so much at stake, can we genuinely encourage people to think ever-more-creatively and dare them to try new approaches? We have a fertile field of opportunity in front of us, starting with envisioning new ways to translate science into medicine. Our industry can’t continue to put billions of dollars and the better part of a generation into developing and proving each new therapy. There’s game-changing potential in re-thinking how we translate new concepts into new therapies, and how we can move from the traditional linear-staged R&D process to one that is multi-dimensional, collaborative, and responsive to real-time feedback.
PV: What do you think the future of the life-sciences industry will be like?
Lewis-Hall: I believe it will be “fantastic” in the most literal sense of that word, bringing to reality concepts that exist today only in our imaginations. We have the potential to make more progress in the life sciences over next two decades than we did in the previous two millennia. That future isn’t guaranteed though. A fantastic future will require new kinds of collaborations that muster all hands on deck, from patients and their advocates to academic institutions to companies of all sizes in the R&D ecosystem. Alzheimer’s disease isn’t going to be conquered by one organization, no matter how passionate or global or well equipped that organization may be.
Companies such as Pfizer have a special role, especially in their ability to marshal the creativity, resources, finances, and risk-tolerance that are the foundation for achievement.
PV: What would you like your legacy to be?
Lewis-Hall: Like many other leaders in life sciences, I want to be remembered for helping to restore a bond of trust between what we do and the society we serve. I’d also like to be seen as someone who played an important role in returning healthcare to patients. If I believe I was in the vanguard of a far more patient-centered approach to the discovery and development of new therapies, then I will rest easy in retirement.
PV: How important is it to you to mentor and develop the next generation of leaders?
Lewis-Hall: This is among the most important responsibilities of every responsible leader. It’s at the core of building a sustainable organization and it is so critical right now, at a time when our industry is going through fundamental transformation. We as leaders and mentors can’t be content with just passing on our knowledge and experience to the next generation.
We have to prepare this generation for a life-sciences future that will encounter extraordinary opportunity — along with big and potentially disruptive challenges.
PV: What advice would you provide to future leaders?
Lewis-Hall: In the words of my friend Marshall Goldsmith, “What got you here won’t get you there.” Hard as it is to drive revolutionary change and make it stick, that’s what leaders do when the circumstances demand. And in the life sciences, the circumstances will demand. We will need a generation full of fresh approaches and new thinking as we unlock the mysteries of diseases once thought hopeless to curb or cure.
TITLE: Co-founder and CEO
COMPANY: Klick Inc. and Klick Health
HOBBIES: Skiing, mountaineering, racecar driving, scuba diving, any extreme sports
AWARDS/HONORS: PharmaVOICE 100, MM&M Agency of the Year, Med Ad News Manny Vision Award, Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) Intranet Design Award, Web Marketing Award, Branham 300 Top ICT Company Awards; Top 10 Best Workplaces, Top 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures, 50 Best Managed Companies, and 50 Best Employers Award, youngest CEO of a Profit 100 Company, EY Young Entrepreneur and a Globe and Mail Top 40 Under 40
Envisioning a Digital Future
Leerom Segal is CEO of Klick Inc. and Klick Health, the world’s largest independent health agency, which he co-founded in 1997. Mr. Segal launched his first company at age 12, sold his first business when he was 14, and was named chief technology officer of the publicly traded Motion Works Group by the time he was 16.
Known for his unconventional approach to business, Mr. Segal is the co-author of the New York Times bestseller The Decoded Company: Know Your Talent Better Than You Know Your Customers. The book continues to make headlines in Forbes, among other leading media, and positions Mr. Segal as a forward-thinking business management expert. To this end, he spent much of the last year sharing Decoded ideologies at some of the world’s leading speaking events, including TEDGlobal and the inaugural Cannes Lions Health Creativity Festival. He also took the stage at Harvard University, Hebrew University, mHealth Israel, Google, and Twitter’s World Headquarters.
For the last four years, Mr. Segal has been named a PharmaVOICE 100 honoree. He has received numerous other accolades, including being named a 2014 EY Media & Technology Entrepreneur of the Year, a Top 40 Under 40 award-winner by The Globe & Mail and Direct Marketing News, and inducted into Profit Magazine’s Hall of Fame as the Youngest CEO ever to lead a Profit 100 company.
He also was recently asked to serve on the Google Health Advisory Board, and through his leadership, Klick has started to disrupt the world of healthcare industry events with its experimental Muse concept, which brings together the who’s who in health.
Back at the office, Mr. Segal’s commitment to philanthropy and giving back to the community also continues to drive the company’s innovative Klick it Forward program, which rewards employees with donation credits for their favorite charities. In 2014, Klickster donations grew by more than 10% to $94,532. And, based on the success of a 2013 trip to Rwanda, Klick sent another team of Klickster ambassadors to build a school in Kenya in June 2014 with Free the Children.
PV: How do you inspire others to reach their personal and professional goals?
Segal: I believe that teams do amazing things when you inspire them with challenges that they believe in and when the right team is in place.
The most important thing we do as an organization is obsess about our culture. For the past 18 years, we’ve been on a quest to figure out how to best build a center of gravity for brilliant people.
My belief is that if a company can get the culture right, it’s not just attractive to the right individual, but it also creates an environment where those people thrive, and when people are happy, they make your clients happy, and when your clients are happy, they reward you with loyalty and growth. This is a very virtuous cycle that shapes our belief system. And of course, it’s easier said than done to operationalize this type of model and takes a lot of work. In our book The Decoded Company, we dive into some of the very specific practices.
PV: How do you strive to help to drive innovation in the industry?
Segal: The way we describe our mojo internally is the relentless pursuit of awesome.
The biggest challenge we have as an organization is to inoculate ourselves against the status quo. The status quo doesn’t sit still so we work really hard to reinforce to all of our people that what was great yesterday, was yesterday, and today you have to be more creative.
To actionate this ideal, this year we started curating, producing and hosting a new experiential events series called Muse. These salon-like events are a throwback to the age of enlightenment, except instead of having poets, philosophers, and painters, we have physicians and patient advocates, as well as a lot of great researchers.
We want to create an environment that allows us to bring forward some of the greatest thinkers of our time and some of the best human-interest stories to build a connection between the work we do and people who we ultimately serve in the patient community.
PV: What would you like your legacy to be?
Segal: Legacy is a word that I associate with ego, and I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about ego or planning things like my legacy.
I’ll share with you the two things that keep me up at night: egos and leases. We work really hard to create an ego-less culture; we’ve been fortunate enough to be profitable every year since inception and we have taken on no debt to prevent the mortgaging of our future.
I’m excited about the amazing time that we are living in. We are living an absolutely unique time where human life and quality of life are being extended at an unprecedented rate and quality. And yet, there’s a lot of work to be done. One in two men today will experience cancer; one in three women will experience the same. And as our population ages, the prevalence of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and so many other debilitating conditions is on the rise.
Our mission as an organization is to shape the future of digital health, and we believe that the convergence of technology and the opportunities that smartphones have unlocked are game changing and I’m excited about being part of this future.
The pre-smartphone era wasn’t that long ago, Just think about the degree to which our personal lives have been changed by mobile devices, and these capabilities are just now starting to be pulled into our space.
There are a lot of people a lot smarter and more experienced than me thinking about this. I would highly endorse reading anything by Dr. Eric Topol, whether it’s The Creative Destruction of Medicine or The Patient Will See You Now.
PV: How do you think technology will impact the future of the life-sciences industry?
Segal: I can share with you a deeply personal story. This is a story about how our family ended up with a bonus three years with my Dad. It’s also the best example I have of the creative application of technology in our space.
In May 2008, my father was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer, a very grim prognosis. We went to all of the leading experts at all the leading institutions — Johns Hopkins, Mayo, Presbyterian, MD Anderson — and we were told there’s no hope, there’s nothing you can do. This was corroborated by all of the online professional sites and the clinical trial websites, and yet on some of the patient communities we saw there were some vibrant conversations by a few individuals who self-identified as being patients who had been posting for some time.
So being scientific, we pulled out Excel and we wrote down the first post date of every individual. When we were done, we were down to only 11 people who had been posting for more than a year.
After making a personal appeal to all 11, nine of these individuals responded and we found out that seven were in the same clinical trial. I can’t even begin to express to you how lucky we were to discover this trial, because almost immediately my Dad’s energy level went up, his CA-99 markers went down, and for the next three years we were able to travel as a family; we had dinner every night as a family; that’s almost 1,000 dinners that we got as a gift because we refused to blindly follow the expert advice.
The most important takeaway for me is the notion that the data we have shapes how we see the world and therefore the possibilities that are available to us.
Fortunately, most of us aren’t dealing with life-and-death decisions on a day-to-day basis. We’re doing a good job these days storing data, but we’re not necessarily doing a great job recognizing what all these new data sources are and how to properly analyze them for insights. This is what’s going to unlock some of the biggest opportunities in our space.
PV: How are you creating an intrapreneurial environment at Klick?
Segal: It begins with creating that virtual cycle that we invest so much in. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by and to stand on the shoulders of a team of people who are a lot smarter and more experienced than me, and we hire only people who we could have been friends with in high school.
That’s the ultimate litmus test because these individuals have the right balance of drive and empathy; they tend to have an optimistic outlook on life. When somebody embodies these key characteristics, other team members want to support the individual.
Most organizations hire someone based on what’s on an 8½ x 11 piece of paper, which is supposed to describe a human being. Those things are credentials and they are very easy to quantify, but Einstein said, “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.”
As an organization, we realize this is only about 20% of what makes up an individual. The thing that drives success in the casting of our teams is the essence of a person, what he or she is like to interact with, natural biases, natural entrepreneurial instincts and drives, and so many of those things are not things that can be taught.
I obsess about making sure that we bring the right people into the right environment and then I get out of their way, inspire them with challenges that they believe in, and let our culture do the rest of the magic.
As a business, we have created a culture that enables us to develop people and keep them engaged and turned on and growing for a really long time.
I attribute this to our consistent and predictable growth; because growth is the engine that creates opportunities, change, challenge, and learning — all of the things that people actually love. And growth gives us an opportunity to bring in additional inspiring people.
PV: What advice do you have for future leaders in the industry?
Segal: The best advice I’ve ever received is not to blindly follow and to critically think about every problem that presents itself.
Also, think beyond what’s possible now, because best practices are what a market leader was doing a few years ago. If you want to spend the next few years catching up to where they were, that’s probably not a great idea.
We work hard to challenge our people’s thinking and to encourage them to think about their thinking.
Einstein had another great quote: “You can’t solve today’s problems with the same thinking that created them.”
And that creativity is so important, especially in this amazing time in which we’re living.(PV)