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Catherine Angell Sohn, Pharm.D.
Company: Sohn Health Strategies LLC
Education: Certificate of Professional Development, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; Doctor of Pharmacy, University of California, San Francisco
Family: Mother and father, Vincent and Margaret Angell; husband, John; daughters, Karen and Jenny
Hobbies: Traveling, reading, bike riding, learning about history through the arts and travel
Bucket List: Stay in Yosemite for a week; live in Paris for a month; sail the Norwegian fjords and into the Arctic circle; hike Cinque Terre, Italy; visit Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks; become fluent in French again; be an important part of her future grandchildren’s lives; numerous future special times and enjoying everyday occasions with family and friends, old and new, at home and around the world
Awards/Honors: Distinguished Alumnus, UCSF, 2000; Woman of the Year, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, 2003; Frank Barnes Mentor Award, Licensing Executive Society, 2009; Euro-Excellence Award, HBA Europe Chapter, 2012
Associations: National Association of Corporate Directors; Women Corporate Directors; Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association; UCSF
A Head for Business and a Passion for Mentoring
Catherine Sohn, Pharm.D., president of Sohn Health Strategies and former senior VP of worldwide business development at GlaxoSmithKline, combines her insightful thinking with a caring leadership style, or as her colleagues report: she leads from the heart and delivers results from her head.
Described as a most knowledgeable and trusted advisor, Dr. Sohn’s track record includes her 28-year career at GSK, establishing her own consulting firm in 2011, and serving as an adjunct professor at her alma mater the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Sohn started her career as a Pharm.D., and quickly expanded her area of expertise to include strategy and product marketing and launch execution, while directing the launches of the U.S. vaccine business SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline) and a $1 billion CNS pharmaceutical product.
In fact, the launch of the vaccine unit in the United States was one of her biggest career challenges.
“Building a team, creating the launch plan, delivering on year one results beyond all expectations, and working with the R&D team to develop a vaccine pipeline that has become one of the main pillars driving the company’s growth — concurrent with the SmithKline Beecham merger — was not only challenging, but a career highlight,” Dr. Sohn says.
After a very successful career within the pharma industry, Dr. Sohn was eager to provide her expert knowledge to a wider community of pharmaceutical leaders, and founded her own consultancy, Sohn Health Strategies, a boutique consulting firm in the areas of business development, strategic product development, and pre-commercial/launch planning for the biotechnology, specialty pharmaceutical, and consumer healthcare industry.
She also serves on the boards of several companies, such as Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Landec Corp., and Neuralstem Inc., as well as the privately held Dohmen Life Science Services, the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia, and Springboard Enterprises.
Life-sciences company leaders seek out Dr. Sohn for her industry acumen, her decision-making ability, and her passion for helping to build successful companies. She has earned international respect as a domestic and global business development expert, but she is perhaps best known for her passion for mentorship, and peers credit her with being a strong role model for women and men looking to advance their careers.
“Mentoring and sponsorship are very important to developing the next generation of leaders in healthcare and to improve the health of patients around the world,” she says. “Building strong, trusting relationships, both internal and external, are valuable in developing/delivering medicines to patients in need, helping overcome obstacles along the way, and importantly, makes the job and life more fun. Anything is possible when you have a strong, diverse team with a positive attitude, complementary capabilities, and perspectives.”
Through her exemplary mentorship talents and one-to-one guidance, she has helped many strive to achieve more. Scores of women from around the globe credit Dr. Sohn for having played a part in their professional success. She is a true role model, and so many woman say they are honored to have been able to tap into her wisdom, insights, and guidance.
In recognition of her industry acumen, willingness to mentor, and the role she has played to accelerate the careers of women in healthcare, Dr. Sohn was named Woman of the Year by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. Dr. Sohn offers this advice to all: Find a career that aligns with your passion.
Title: Executive VP and President, Hematology
Company: Baxalta Inc.
Education: BA, Economics, Skidmore College; MBA, Wharton School of Business
Family: Wife, Kim; four children
Hobbies: Watching his children play ice hockey, field hockey, rowing; running races and fishing or boating in Florida with his family
Bucket List: Visit every continent — Antarctica and Africa are left
Awards/Honors: 2014 Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association Honorable Mentor
Associations: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association
Best known for aligning broad, global organizations toward a bold vision with the patient as the center of gravity, Brian Goff was the driving force behind Baxalta’s hemophilia unit. He inspired his entire team to unify behind the vision to “Achieve a Bleed-Free World — One Person at a Time.”
“My tenure with Baxalta was a particularly thrilling experience,” he says. “The business grew 40% during my time with the organization — before the separation from Baxter — with a team that was engaged and driven to achieve our vision. Being a part of the team that rang the bell on Wall Street to launch Baxalta as a new company was an amazing way to highlight our accomplishments and future potential.”
While it’s never easy to operationalize organizational change, Mr. Goff’s authenticity and inspired leadership style helped make the transition from Baxter to Baxalta smooth, and some colleagues say even fun. His unique view on team diversity and addressing challenges have inspired countless colleagues who consider him a mentor and someone they want to emulate in their own leadership positions.
“I try to take time to remind our team, in different ways, of our vision,” he says. “In the case of hemophilia, it’s important to acknowledge the reality and scale of the global problem and the challenges, but we also need to reflect on great examples of progress around the world — many times at an individual patient level — and we celebrate our team members who passionately and relentlessly continue to lead us forward. I’m surrounded by an amazing team. We challenge and expect a lot of each other; we learn every day, and we laugh a lot.”
As inspiring as he is to colleagues — both within the companies where he has worked as well as to outward facing organizations, including patient groups — he is inspired by the individuals who lead by example and demonstrate integrity, drive, and purpose.
“I’ve been truly blessed to work for — and be mentored by — many spectacular leaders,” he says. “I’ve known and worked with Ludwig Hantson — former CEO of Baxalta — for almost 20 years; he has guided me into experiences way well beyond my comfort zone. I’ve also been reverse-mentored by bold and bright-minded young professionals in our organization. I’m really inspired by their open-minded vision and unique approaches.”
Mr. Goff is renowned for his ability for talent development and his leadership philosophy of putting a laser focus on driving an inclusive and diverse culture throughout the organization. A strong advocate for gender parity and championing women to accelerate their careers, Mr. Goff was honored in 2014 as the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) Mentor of the Year, an award that recognizes one individual each year who demonstrates long-term support for the advancement of women in the healthcare industry.
“I aspire to be known as an importer, developer, and exporter of top talent,” he says. “We are a people-driven industry, and I take great pride in seeing members of my teams grow and move on to roles with greater impact. I’m a proud mentor to many, and a sponsor to a few. I’m ultimately most responsible for developing talent and setting the tone for a culture and environment in which they can thrive. It’s a responsibility I take very seriously and work on every day.”
Mr. Goff relishes in having the opportunity to sponsor team members and create roles, experiences, and connections for them to accelerate their development and impact.
“Many of our challenges would be significantly diminished by improving diversity — in all dimensions — in key seats of power across our industry,” he says. “We are making progress, but it’s not fast enough. And if there is one industry where diversity matters most to improve the global quality of life, it’s ours.”
Mr. Goff believes that innovation is driven by a culture in which teams are empowered and expected to ask why and experiment. He is especially proud that his leadership team is three-quarters women, represents every continent, is multi-generational, and covers a broad spectrum of personalities and work styles.
He says the absolute measure of success is growth, and this can come in many forms — financial, experiential, emotional, for example.
“One of my favorite quotes comes from Nelson Mandela: ‘I never lose. I either win or I learn.’ I love that mindset,” he says. “I believe there is no better place than our industry to make the world a better place and have a profound positive impact on many lives. The fact that we can make it a career is a true gift.”
Editor’s Note: At the time of this issue, Shire’s acquisition of Baxalta was completed and Mr. Goff was part of the management team that was transitioned out as part of the reorganization. As Mr. Goff’s career journey evolves after Baxalta, he will no doubt continue to learn, stretch himself, and continue to develop others.
D. Stuart Sowder, Pharm.D., J.D.
Title: VP, External Medical Communications
Education: BS, Pharmacy, Rutgers University; MBA, Duke University – The Fuqua School of Business; JD, New York Law; Pharm.D., Shenandoah University
Family: Husband, Rusty Yuson; twin children Lucas and Lyla; parents, Beverly and Donald
Hobbies: Tennis, cooking, gardening
Bucket List: An around the world trip
Awards/Honors: Honorable Mentor, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, (HBA) 2015; Emerging Pharma Leader, 2012
Associations: DIA, HBA, ASHP
A Mentor’s Mentor
No matter how challenging the day, Stuart Sowder’s, Pharm.D., J.D., colleagues are inspired by his optimistic outlook. As VP of external medical communications at Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, he serves in a pivotal role.
One of his most challenging assignments was unifying global medical information from a country-based structure, as a large global company, manufacturing products in many countries and marketing them in more than 150 countries, this was no small task.
“It was hard for local leadership to let go of what they saw as theirs and see the ultimate success of having one medical voice globally,” Dr. Sowder says.
Dr. Sowder’s career at Pfizer spans almost 30 years, during which time he has established himself as leader and a valued contributor to the organization’s success.
But it is his focus on mentoring and empowering colleagues at all levels to succeed is what Dr. Sowder is most admired for. He has an innate ability to connect people and match the right person with the right opportunity.
“I feel that we all have a commitment to inspire and guide the next generation of able leadership,” he says.
This commitment and his passion for mentoring earned him top honors by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), which recognized him as Honorable Mentor in 2015.
During his acceptance address at the HBA’s Woman of the Year event, Dr. Sowder credited his father for setting him not only along his career path in the pharmaceutical industry but for being his first mentor and a role model. Dr. Sowder has had other significant influencers in his life, including Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall (a PharmaVOICE 100 Red Jacket honoree), Dr. Michael Berelowitz, Dr. Lisa Egbuonu-Davis, and Lesa Lardieri.
He says being named Honorable Mentor is one of his biggest career highlight to date.
“The HBA’s commitment to developing leaders at all levels is consistent with my personal philosophy of fostering a growth environment in the workplace,” he says. “The HBA has had a remarkable impact on so many women who I am fortunate to work with in the industry.”
Dr. Sowder is also a passionate supporter of gender parity in the workplace, and he not only walks the walk and talks the talk, but he staffs the staff.
“I consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by some of the best talent in the industry, most of whom are women,” he says. “My external medical communications organization is 72% women and my leadership team is 60% women. These women have been part of my professional journey, and I am proud to have been part of theirs.”
He has played a hands-on role in advancing the careers of many women, who say he has prepared them for career-changing roles and leadership positions. Colleagues say without his guidance and support they would never have the confidence to step forward to no less consider as apply for stretch positions within the company and beyond.
Peers say as a long-time advocate for diversity and inclusion, Dr. Sowder continuously encourages everyone to break down barriers and change the dynamics of leadership. He has instilled a culture of growth and opportunity within Pfizer and has set a standard for others to follow.
Dr. Sowder inspires everyone he meets by being his authentic self. His friendly and open demeanor make everyone feel special and he strives to set a personal example every day.
He would like to be remembered as a hard-working, dedicated, and kind person who put patients first in everything he did.
“Our industry work is important; I want to making a difference for patients,” Dr. Sowder says. “I approach opportunities to improve the lives of patients as a marathon, not a sprint.” (PV)