Entrepreneurs

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.

Frank Powers

For Raising the Creative Bar

Title: Managing Partner
Company: Elevate Healthcare
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business and Finance, Mount St. Mary’s University; Master of Business Administration, Philadelphia University
Family: Tara Leigh, he will forever be grateful for the unwavering support, understanding, and belief in his talent
Hobbies: Jeeps, golf, reading, technology, Philadelphia sports
Awards/Honors: PharmaVOICE 100, 2011; PM360 ELITE Leader, 2015; PM360 Innovative Startup; MM&M Top 100, Pharma Choice Awards: Best Professional Campaign,
Best Sales Aid, Best Self-Promotion; The Pathway School, dedication & foresight designation
Associations: Mount St. Mary’s University: Bolte School of Business Dean’s Council, Leadership Philadelphia: Board of Directors
Social Media:
Tweet: @fxpowers
Personal Brand: Do or Do Not. There is No Try.

The X in Frank X. Powers could stand for eXpert, eXciting, or even eXtreme thinker, but it actually stands for Xavier. This is the brilliant healthcare marketer’s second PharmaVOICE 100 honor, earning a spot on the 2011 list, and his first as the managing partner of Elevate Healthcare. In 2015, Frank launched his own firm with former top agency president Lorna Weir, with whom he has worked with for more than 20 years. Elevate has been extremely successful right out of the gate, partly due to the stable of experienced industry veterans on board and also due to its unique business strategy.

Elevate Healthcare promotes itself as “the agency for challenger brands,” and savvy marketers know that challenger brands are the brands that benefit the most from great creative. And great creative just happens to be one of Frank’s greatest passions and greatest strengths. The two go together like butter and popcorn. Frank says at the end of the day he would like to be remembered for helping to raise the creative bar in healthcare marketing.

At Elevate Healthcare, clients know that they are getting the best of the best in terms of talent and thinking, and therefore are not hesitant to invest in their own success by hiring the new agency. For example, clients include J&J’s medical device unit DePuy Synthes, Hill-Rom, Novum Pharmaceuticals, Grifols Pharmaceuticals, and Alexza Pharmaceuticals, to name just a few. Elevate Healthcare also was instrumental in the Evzio relaunch for Kaléo, as well as a new campaign for Adasuve from Galen US.

Raised in a family of entrepreneurs, Frank says entrepreneurialism is in his blood. “The launch of Elevate was an amazing highlight, but I am looking forward to even greater days ahead,” he says. “At this point in my career, I’m excited about doing great work with people I care about, while having fun doing it.”

Frank began his career at Stan Gross Associates as a brand strategist. There he learned real-world techniques, which he has carried with him throughout his career, including insightful market research methodologies, building brand strategy, creative development and testing, and managing major accounts, including those for Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Coca-Cola, DuPont, Merck, and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer.

During his 15-year tenure at Dudnyk, the agency was the recipient of numerous industry awards and was recognized as the Most Creative Agency in the healthcare communications industry by MedAdNews, and as the Healthcare Agency of the Year by both PM360 and MM&M. Additionally, the agency was named a Philadelphia Top Workplace by The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News and one of the Best Places to Work in PA by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

Colleagues refer to him as one of the smartest people in medical advertising, and say that his leadership is no less than inspirational.

On his twitter profile, Frank is able to aptly describe himself in just a few words: Proud father. Philly sports fan. Allergic to penicillin and stock photography.

We’d eXpect nothing less from Frank X. Powers. (PV)


Joy Taylor

For Putting the Individual Touch Into Transformation

Title: Co-Founder and CEO
Company: TayganPoint Consulting Group
Education: BA, Communication Studies & Public Speaking, University of Florida; MBA with a concentration in Marketing & Statistics, University of South Florida; Executive Leadership Certification, Tuck University
Family: Husband Tony, who knows her best; four of children who remind her each day what matters most
Hobbies: Going to the movies by herself; reading science fiction books and eating ethnic food whenever possible
Social Media:

In 2005, Joy Taylor took a chance and founded a niche management firm, Taygan Consulting, in her basement after having been in a senior consultant role at two of the world’s most renowned advisory firms — IBM and PwC. Its conception was a result of her extensive experience within larger organizations, where she realized that the typical one-size-fits-all methodology didn’t always achieve the desired results.

In the fall of 2009, Joy and her now partner, John Cassimatis, merged their firms — Taygan Consulting and Vantage Point Consulting Group — to form TayganPoint Consulting Group.

Leveraging a proven ability to manage complex global initiatives, Joy focused her company on an individual and flexible approach that enabled her clients to function more effectively and efficiently in an ever-changing, disruptive world. This approach, has taken TayganPoint Consulting Group from a small shop to one of Forbes and Inc’s fastest-growing companies.

Joy is dedicated to talent that provide her clients with extraordinary and diverse consulting teams. The team at TayganPoint is comprised of alumni from some of the most notable consulting firms in the world, all of whom have varied backgrounds and skill sets. She prides herself on attracting these diverse, talented individuals with unique and meaningful work supporting and growing global life-sciences organizations.

Designing the best solution requires the right combination of tools, methodologies, and strategies to match the needs of the client, Joy believes. The firm provides thought leadership and expertise not only to clients but to the industry at large, consulting on matters such as economic uncertainty, cost and pricing pressures, increased customer engagement, and perceived value, all while dealing with the evolving regulatory environment. “Innovation is less about creative genius and more about having a vision that translates into specific goals or deliverables for clients,” she says.

She takes pride in her role helping build the company and is motivated by the knowledge that clients depend on TayganPoint knowing that she has a great team. Joy manages her people with respect, honesty, and appreciation. She encourages an environment of teamwork and learning, which fosters collaboration. And she inspires them by being authentic and asking the hard questions.

She truly appreciates the feedback of her employees and asks for their input when creating the company’s values, believing that if her professionals didn’t trust in the firm’s culture, it wouldn’t translate into seamless client service.

She believes aspiring leaders require role models and guidance and she likes to provide that where she can. “Frankly, I feel mentors get more out of the relationship than the mentee; we can all learn something from each other that challenges our thinking,” she says.

Aware that you never stop learning, Joy has a variety of mentors in her life: a financial growth mentor who helps her see clear on company performance expectations and financial decisions to grow the business; a personal coach to assist her in developing as a leader and role model for her team; and an unusual “decision advisory” team made up of three mentors. “I use this team to enhance my ability to scope out a problem, craft the message, and prioritize the optimal solution,” she says. “Sitting with this team for an hour is like being on Shark Tank — stressful but wildly educational each time.”

In addition to working with clients to improve overall business functions, Joy encourages her employees to be active contributors in the community. The organization participates in a number of local charitable activities including drives, fundraisers, and volunteer activities. Joy also dedicates free time to nonprofit organizations via pro bono consulting services. She is the founding board member of the YMS Special Stars program serving the athletic needs of children on the autism spectrum and is on the board of St. Mary’s hospital in Langhorne, Pa.
In her free time, Joy is an adjunct professor at Cairn University, in hopes of giving back in some way to our future leaders.

Joy has received prestigious awards for her work, such as Enterprising Women of the Year, Leading Women Entrepreneur, as well as being named an EY Winning Woman, all of which further supports her position as a successful and empowered woman leader. (PV)


Olivier Chateau

For Creating Patient Connections

Title: CEO and Co-founder
Company: Health Union LLC
Education: MA, Marketing, International Business from Ecole supérieure de Commerce de Reims
Family: His wife Jennifer, two daughters, and his parents
Hobbies: Tennis, soccer, having dinner with friends
Awards/Honors: PharmaVOICE 100, 2009; Health Union was recognized as the No. 1 business in the Small Employer category in the 2018 Philadelphia Top Workplaces program, by Philadelphia Media Network
Associations: Board of the Philadelphia Disruptor Network
Social Media:
Tweet: @olivierchateau
Personal Brand: Here 4 U

In a crowded marketplace filled with undifferentiated ideas and products, Olivier Chateau has built a unique model that provides value to both patients and companies.

Olivier, CEO, created Health Union with co-founder Tim Armand with a clear purpose in mind: to make it easier for people with chronic health challenges to find answers, connect with others, including leading patient advocates and healthcare experts, and share experiences via the Web and social media.

Olivier established an entire business model, not just a content strategy and delivery system, with patient-centricity at its core. Currently, Health Union owns and operates 18 condition-specific online ecosystems, such as MultipleSclerosis.net, LungCancer.net, and Type2Diabetes.com, all of which follow through on the purpose to connect patients. The company continually and purposefully expands the number of chronic condition-specific communities it serves.

As Health Union has grown, Olivier’s persistent leadership pushes the company forward in new and different ways. He continues to have high standards, obsesses over future trends, correctly anticipates the direction that markets are evolving, and guides the company to take advantage of those trends. Whether that’s purchasing Web domains in up-and-coming therapeutic areas, anticipating the evolution of Facebook’s algorithm model, or discerning the nuances of how pharmaceutical marketing and media are changing, he always looks forward and pushes the company to keep pace and be ready when those times come.

In the past year, Health Union’s workforce grew 40%, its online health brands grew 55%, the company realized more than 75% growth in revenue, and saw 90% growth in Web visits. Yet, Olivier measures success by the degree to which the company helps people struggling with a chronic health concern and by the connections Health Union creates.

“Seeing the number of people who visit and then return again and again to our ecosystems shows that we are truly providing relevant content and creating safe, supportive environments that meet people where they are,” Olivier says. “And, although we don’t do it for the thanks, it’s fulfilling to read the countless personal thank you notes that we receive every year.” The company’s success is also rooted in the fact that Olivier and Tim have led the company as equal partners, each leveraging their individual strengths. In addition, organizational alignment and a willingness to fail are crucial.

Olivier identifies what he believes is the right thing to do — for patients and community members, the Health Union team, and its partners — and he builds ideas and infrastructure around that. For example, Health Union partners with biopharmaceutical companies to ensure they integrate the patient voice in their clinical programs, not just in trial recruitment, but throughout the development and design process. Health Union was built on the fundamental idea of helping people live better with challenging chronic health conditions. “I want our work at Health Union to be remembered for truly making a difference for people,” he says. “It’s important to show that the purpose of a company is — and should always be — far greater than revenue.”

When Health Union was in its early startup years, Olivier built the framework for the various roles the nearly 100 team members have today. As a result, he can dive right into the minutiae of what every single person is doing, from audience development to sales to understanding the ins and outs of individual communities and conditions. His teams are inspired by his passion and his willingness to roll up his sleeves, no matter the job function, to relate to what various team members are experiencing and provide solutions as necessary.

He combines the edgy qualities of a visionary leader, which makes him a great entrepreneur, with incredible compassion, which makes him a great human being. He is proud that Health Union was recently voted the No. 1 workplace in Philadelphia for small companies, which for Olivier demonstrates that culture is key and can make or break a company.

“The biggest challenge has been maintaining our culture as we’ve grown,” he says. “To stay truthful to our purpose, we need to keep people at the center of everything we do. This doesn’t just mean the people who participate in our communities; this also means our team members who make Health Union what it is. It is important for us to maintain the idea that people matter more than anything else.”

Olivier’s passion for helping patients better manage their health conditions has been a driving force since moving from Paris to join what was then SmithKline Beecham. While at GSK, he championed new and innovative technologies, executions, and approaches. For this work he was recognized as a PharmaVOICE 100 in 2009. He has been persistent ever since in helping to drive change.(PV)


Mark Jara

For Bridging Technology and Processes

Title: Principal, Managing Director
Company: RxS LLC
Education: BA, Rutgers/Newark and NJIT (joint degree); Masters Management, Stevens Institute of Technology
Family: Wife Renee; twin boys Gregory and Dylan; deceased mother who instilled strong values of perseverance that helped him achieve continued success
Hobbies: Technology, travel, cooking, gardening, sports
Awards/Honors: CIOReview 2015 — Most Promising Technology Companies To Pharma; PDMA conference board
Associations: PDMA Board Member, Vendor Team; BioNJ
Social Media:
Personal Brand: Chip away

Mark Jara’s acumen for bridging technology and pharmaceutical business processes was the impetus for forming RxS, a decision he says has been the highlight of his career. RxS is a provider of multichannel sample management solutions for pharmaceutical and biotech companies of all sizes, empowering healthcare success since 2011.

“Seeing a gap between service and technology within the industry is what led to the formation of RxS,” he says.

His focus on technology-enabled services is ingrained in what RxS’s teams do on a daily basis and serves as the strategic focus for RxS’ future.

Clients and employees alike are inspired by the level of customer service and care he places on every interaction. Those who have partnered with RxS say they are equally impressed with Mark’s leadership and the thoughtfulness he puts toward developing new and innovative ways to simplify their multichannel sample management, accountability, and compliance services needs.

Mark is valued as a true partner; he routinely brings recommendations for process improvement and cost-savings to his clients. In fact, he thinks of his clients’ businesses as his business and he gives them the same level of care and service that he gives to his own business.
Colleagues say Mark has a positive, energetic, enthusiastic can-do attitude, which inspires and motivates them to go the extra mile. He truly engenders trust and respect from those who work with him.

His leadership, flexibility, and innovative mindset have led some clients to outsource processes to RxS that they used to do internally.

Mark’s goal is to inspire others by being decisive, thinking out of the box, listening, and being accountable.

“We succeed as a team,” he says. “We don’t need to be the smartest people in the room, but we need to take note of the best solutions. I always look to set myself as an example both personally and professionally. As leader, you cannot accomplish it all yourself and be successful. By empowering, teaching, mentoring, and embracing those around you, wonderful things will happen.”

Thinking outside the box, Mark says, is critical both for advancing new process, developing innovative solutions, and dealing with challenges when they arise.

“I have a passion to teach,” he says. “I currently speak at various conferences on best practices and specifically on how to leverage technology to solve real-world needs within pharma.”

Mark helped spearhead a partnership with the Academy Learning Center in Manalapan, N.J., through its community-based instruction program to give local students with disabilities real-world work experience at RxS.

One of Mark’s favorite charitable causes is Alzheimer’s Awareness. RxS team members participate in their local National Walk To End Alzheimer’s that is held yearly. (PV)


Dr. Clarissa Desjardins

For Championing Breakthrough Innovations

Title: Co-founder and CEO
Company: Clementia Pharmaceuticals
Education: Ph.D., Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University

Clarissa Desjardins, Ph.D., a neuroscientist, experienced biotechnology executive, and founder of three successful biotechnology companies, is grateful to have the opportunity to have an impact on people — patients, her team, stakeholders, and patient communities. She has a clear objective in leading Clementia Pharmaceuticals: bring important new treatments to those in need that no other companies are addressing and for which there are no treatments.

For the patients who Clementia is hoping to treat, the situation is dire. With no currently approved treatments for people with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) or multiple osteochondromas (MO), patients, families, and caregivers are waiting for a treatment that can make a difference.

Dr. Desjardins founded the company eight years ago with a goal of bringing innovative and effective treatment options to people who currently have none. Clementia is derived from the Latin term for compassion, which is the driving concept for the company.

Although it is now a late-stage biotech company, Clementia’s roots stem from a conversation Dr. Desjardins had with a colleague during which she learned of a drug — palovarotene — that Roche was no longer pursuing for COPD after a series of development setbacks.

At the same time, the medical journal Nature Medicine published findings that suggested this same drug might have promise in treating the devastating and ultra-rare disease, FOP, which is characterized by heterotopic ossification (HO), the abnormal growth of bone in muscles, tendons, and ligaments. After reading this paper, she was inspired by the science and its potential, and her life was changed.

“I don’t believe it is possible to become aware of FOP and, in particular, to meet and interact with families who live with FOP and not be transformed,” she says.

She worked with Roche to in-license palovarotene, a retinoic acid receptor gamma agonist, which is now in a Phase III trial to treat FOP. In addition, Clementia is conducting the first-ever clinical trial to assess a potential therapeutic option for patients affected by MO, another ultra-rare disease. Palovarotene is being investigated to treat other diseases as well.

FOP has an estimated prevalence of just 1.3 individuals per million lives, and fewer than 1,000 people worldwide have a confirmed clinical diagnosis. FOP is a progressive, chronic disease in which HO locks joints and leads to cumulative loss of function and disability. Affected individuals live with frequent, incredibly painful and recurrent episodes of soft tissue swelling, called flare-ups, that often precede abnormal bone growth.

Similarly, MO is an ultra-rare and severely disabling disease in which non-cancerous tumors, called osteochondromas, develop on bones or cartilage. MO, also sometimes referred to as hereditary multiple exostoses or HME, affects about 20 individuals per million lives, or 150,000 globally. MO is both progressive and chronic.

Dr. Desjardins demonstrates her deep commitment to these patients and their communities in a number of ways, including publishing letters that detail regular clinical updates and provide thoughts of inspiration. She is genuinely grateful for the opportunity to serve the FOP community noting that these individuals not just provide her and her Clementia team with the “most laudable goal to direct our expertise and work and inspire us beyond what we knew was possible,” they are the heroes of the story.

Her leadership strength, focus on execution, and compassion for patients are inspiring to all of Clementia’s employees and drive them to keep pushing and keep innovating — because patients are waiting.

“In our organization, we all push each other to work in the most efficient way, which requires innovation and acceptance that we may stumble along the way,” she says.

The idea of founding a company off a single idea was nothing new to Dr. Desjardins. At the age of 26, while still in graduate school, she founded her first company, Advanced Bioconcept, from a discovery she made to use fluorescent peptides to map receptors instead of radioactive ones. She sold that company in 1998 and then co-founded Caprion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company focused on proteomic biomarker discovery and drug development.

In between her entrepreneurial ventures, Dr. Desjardins was president and CEO of CEPMED — The Center of Excellence in Personalized Medicine — a think tank and center of excellence promoting the science and practice of personalized medicine through research, commercialization, and education. (PV)


Amy Cueva

For Humanizing Health

Title: Founder and Chief Experience Officer
Company: Mad*Pow
Education: BA, Design Administration, University of Hartford
Family: Her three wonderful children, Samuel, Maya, and Diego who have given her life purpose, focus, and joy; her parents and sister for supporting her; and her fiancé for showing her how wonderful life can be
Hobbies: Playing soccer, belly dancing, running, biking, hiking, cooking, traveling, gardening, and making old things new again
Awards/Honors: Patent for System and Method for Managing Health Care Complexity via an Interactive Health Map Interface, 2007; Mass High Tech 10 Women to Watch, 2009; Boston Business Journal 40 under 40, 2014; MedTech Boston 40 under 40, 2015; TedX Speaker, 2017; Inc 500 Fastest Growing Companies, 2009; One of New Hampshire’s Best Companies to Work For, 2015; MITX Interactive Awards & Nominations; Mad*Pow Product “Hot Seat” has received awards and recognition from The Webbys, The International Academy of Visual Arts, Partners Healthcare, and WEGO Health; Supporter of Portsmouth Music Hall, An Orphan’s Dream, First Tee, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, ALS Therapy Development Institute, Cross Roads House, Habitat for Humanity
Associations: Design Museum Boston, Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange, User Experience Professionals Association, Design Management Institute
Social Media:
Tweet: @AmyCueva
Personal Brand: What if?

Amy Cueva co-founded Mad*Pow, the design consultancy in 2000 with Will Powley, when language like “user experience,” “organizational design,” and “behavior change design” were emerging concepts. She is committed to being a change maker and to helping those who are living with addiction and illness and preventing them to begin with.

Amy led the charge for Mad*Pow to provide strategic design thinking and solutions using the psychology of motivation to create innovative experiences and compelling digital solutions for organizations, such as Cigna, Center for Disease Control, and Cleveland Clinic. Now, with 60-plus team members and a vibrant consulting practice with a focus on improving health and financial well-being, Amy is stretching her wings to evangelize a compassionate, empathic, and human-centered approach to reach patients, families, and caregivers.

Amy is passionately committed to pushing organizations toward a purpose-driven approach to their innovation, one that helps people achieve health and well-being, while also delivering business results to the organization.

She believes the combination of digital technology and artificial intelligence can enhance human interactions and make it easier to support patients in the healing process with methods in addition to prescription options.

In 2011, Amy initiated Mad*Pow’s Health Experience Design Conference. Now in its eighth year, the conference brings together hundreds of innovators, clinicians, patients, academics, entrepreneurs, and strategic thought leaders from across the healthcare ecosystem to learn from each other and share best practices.

Sometimes called “Chief Instigator,” Amy also envisioned and created the Center for Health Experience Design, which takes on initiatives to help underserved populations through a multi-stakeholder, collaborative, and participatory design process. The center recently partnered with the non-profit Build Commonwealth to uncover how employees with a salary of less than $55,000 might be guided to select the optimal health plan to minimize medical and financial hardship. Other initiatives include A Patient-Centric Approach to Confronting the Opioid Epidemic, in collaboration with Massachusetts Health and Quality Partners and sponsored by Cigna, and Helping Patients Understand their Medical Bills and the Financial Aspect of Health, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and funded by AARP.

Amy is constantly thinking ahead of the curve to envision new ways to work with clients that want to place patients’ well-being at the core of their mission.

“The health system needs healing and we need to work hard to envision a better way,” she says.
“I feel extremely fortunate that this is the nature of the work we do every day. I never knew as a design major in college that the work I did would help people get access to mental health services, or connect them to people for support in managing a life-changing health condition, or support nurses and doctors in their care of patients. I love the work we do.”

Success for Amy is measured in outcomes for patients. “When our clients are successful at delivering better health because of our combined efforts, we are successful,” she says.

An energizing collaborator, Amy is an advocate for non-status-quo thinking and she wants her team to push beyond what they think is possible.

Outside of Mad*Pow, Amy doesn’t stray far from her roots. She is a professor in the Massachusetts College of Art Master’s program in design and innovation. Amy generously provides career advice to students who are equally as passionate about health, design, and innovation.

Amy is often asked to share her vision for humanizing the health system at influential events worldwide, advocating for those not in the room. “I want to push past people’s comfort zones and insert new ways of thinking into the community’s discourse,” Amy says. “I believe that the merging of human-centered design and behavior-change design will make great outcomes for both patients and businesses alike possible.” (PV)


Suresh Katta

For Having D&A in His DNA

Title: Founder and CEO
Company: Saama Technologies Inc.
Education: BS, Electronics Engineering, University of Bangalore; MS, Computer Engineering, University of Southwest Louisiana
Family: His parents and school teachers who taught him everything he has become today
Hobbies: Reading material from many well-known leaders; hiking the highest peaks in the world
Awards/Honors: Rotary Clubs, Lion Clubs
Social Media:
Tweet: @sureshkattasaam
Personal Brand: Improving the quality of lives

As a trailblazer and visionary, Suresh Katta is having a profound impact on the life-sciences industry. He is successfully inspiring, motivating, and leading his team to harness insights from data using deep learning, a component of artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate transformational changes to the planning and conduct of clinical trials.

As one of the driving forces behind the integration of technology, math, and the computing engine focused on the complex clinical data pipelines, Suresh’s simple yet powerful vision is having a far-reaching and positive impact on the life-sciences industry’s mission: bring prescription drugs faster to the marketplace, at lower costs, addressing today’s unmet patient needs.

In the early years, his entrepreneurial vision filled the void that ERP systems had by connecting data from CRM, financial, and supply chain systems so clients had a single version of the truth about what was happening in their business. Data and analytics (D&A) was the focus area right from inception.

Through his leadership, Saama helped clients convert the vast amounts of raw data stored across enterprises into actionable insights to drive business decisions.

Suresh leveraged new innovations in algorithms and mathematics and the increased adoption of open source software, and he led concerted financing efforts that enabled Saama to develop its own innovative intellectual property (IP).

Saama was awarded more than 10 patents for the IP it generated in understanding the complex data pipelines and applying the learnings from unstructured patient data for business outcomes. By 2011, Suresh was building solutions for finance, CPG, insurance, and healthcare customers.

A few years later, however, Suresh’s entrepreneurial instincts led him to conclude that Saama needed to narrow its focus to one vertical market. He identified a pain point that life-sciences companies were facing: accessing and analyzing the data from all of the diverse information sources to generate meaningful business outcomes.

Suresh felt confident that Saama could create an analytics solution that would unify the data sources and derive insights for clinical development, shaving months and even years off the launch of new drugs.

Suresh saw clinical development as a big opportunity for several reasons. Life-sciences companies could take as long as 10 years to bring a drug to market and spend as much as $3 billion in the development process. Further, clinical operations were driven by data and analytics, but this data was difficult to gather and analyze in one place because it was stored in silos within the company and it was collected from a wide range of third-party data sources.
Suresh’s vision for changing that status quo involved leveraging data analytics platforms to transform the clinical trial operations and bending the cost and time curves over the next decade.

In September 2017, Saama announced the launch of its Life Science Analytics Cloud (LSAC), which was designed to optimize clinical development processes and deliver business outcomes. “In my 21 years since founding Saama and being CEO, growing the organization from the inception to close to a thousand people, while pivoting time to time on our products and services to be relevant has been a highlight,” he says.

Those who have worked with Suresh say he regularly challenges them to solve problems with this thought: “We have collective higher brain power in this room than required to solve this problem. I know you can come up with a better approach.”

Suresh defines leadership in finding clarity in complexity and the ability to narrate a vision in such a way that people trust the path and join the cause. “I am connecting a very complex set of dots derived from innovation from unrelated industries and people,” he says.

Suresh says making a difference in people’s lives motivates him to go to work every day and he has a strong desire to build the next set of leaders. “It is important to pass on all the learnings from the mistakes I have made in my career so that upcoming leaders can find a faster path to achieving the desired outcomes with that wisdom,” he says. (PV)


Jim Weiss

For Being an Industry Visionary

Title: CEO and Founder
Company: W2O Group
Education: BS, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University
Family: His wife, Audra, his children, Ethan and Emily, his siblings, Beth and Harry, his mom and dad
Hobbies: Fly fishing, skiing, coaching, golfing, hiking, travel, real estate, cars and trucks, old movies and all things GS Warriors, SF Giants, and the reality shows on Bravo TV
Awards/Honors: Outstanding Lifetime Achievement, Holmes Report, 2018; Ranked among the 500 Most Influential People in the Global PR Industry, PR Week; MM&M’s Top 50 Health Influencers, 2016 and 2017; PM360’s Elite Entrepreneur, 2018; Finalist for Large Agency of the Year, Holmes Report; Best Large Agency to Work for, Holmes Report; Best Place to Work for, PRNews; Founder of W2O Center for Social Commerce at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications; Syracuse University’s “50 Forward” most accomplished graduates of the last 50 years; Board Member of The LaGrant Foundation; Board Member of Cancer Research Institute
Associations: The Seminar, a network of the highest-ranked corporate communications and PR leaders in the industry; Xconomy; Techonomy
Social Media:
Tweet: @weissword
Personal Brand: #MakeItHappen

A visionary in the digital marketing and healthcare communications space, Jim Weiss is paving the way for what’s next. Jim is the CEO and founder of W2O Group, an integrated marketing and communications agency that he built from the ground up 17 years ago. Today, the company generates $170 million in revenue and spans 12 offices and hundreds of healthcare and technology clients. He built the firm on one platform: to be the best. And on two tenets: focus on the client first and foremost, and never be satisfied with the status quo.

“This requires focus,” he says. “You have to know where you’re going to get there and can’t go to too many places at once and still be the best.”

He has carried this philosophy through the firm’s evolution, resulting in consistent business growth, creation of innovative models, and development of progressive methodologies, such as inclusive programs in diversity, mentorship, and community involvement. Jim is justifiably proud that his efforts have resulted in several industry accolades, including being named Best Large Agency To Work For by the Holmes Report.

Over the years W2O has been agile, pivoting its infrastructure, leadership, offerings, and footprint based on client needs or industry changes. In 2016, Jim partnered with Mountaingate Capital to expand the agency’s reach with the strategic acquisitions of three companies: Sentient, an agency with a focus on data and insights; Marketeching, a market research and social listening consultancy; and Pure Communications, a communications agency focused on start-up life-sciences and med-tech clients. These acquisitions expanded the agency’s portfolio, strengthened its financial position, and enhanced overall capabilities and services.

Jim has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare and corporate communications, and he has been involved in nearly every aspect of brand, product, and organizational communications.

Colleagues admire Jim’s leadership style, which is based on courage, fortitude, constant curiosity, openness, and an ability to pivot.

His objectives remain lofty: to become the best firm in the sector to work at, to continue to disrupt and change the healthcare communications landscape, to stay ahead of the curve, to be the most valued counselors in the biopharma sector, and to work with increasingly larger and more groundbreaking clients to help them impact and/or transform their businesses in a meaningful way.

As a leader, Jim motivates his management team to deliver great results through encouragement, recognition, listening, and allowing them to lead their operating companies in an entrepreneurial, innovative, and collaborative culture.

Jim also invests in career development by supporting W2O University, an internal training program that includes webinars, presentations, and internal team sessions for all employees. The firm also offers one-on-one career and presentation coaching.

“One of the priorities I’ve set for myself is to make time to mentor dozens of my staff across W2O,” he says. “I have learned a tremendous amount over my career and want to share that same knowledge.”

With his wife Audra, he founded and sponsors of the W2O Group Center for Social Commerce at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, his alma mater.
Now in its sixth year, the center is viewed as one of the most successful industry-academic sponsorships aimed at preparing students and professors for success in a digital age. (PV)


Vimal Narayanan

For Exploring Unchartered Waters

Title: Founder and CEO
Company: MedTrix Healthcare
Education: BPharm, Global Executive Leadership Program, Yale School of Management
Family: His wife of 19 years, Lyris whom he met in college, daughter Diya 16, son Adish 11, his late mother, Geetha, who instilled confidence that he could be the best in what he did, his late father Vishnu Kumar, who was a constant support, his sister Jayanthi, who is one of his best friends
Hobbies: Watching and playing soccer, watching cricket, skiing, spending time with friends and family, reading, swimming, playing the violin — Indian classic
Awards/Honors: Hermes – 1 Platinum, 2 Gold, and 1 Honorable mention, 2018; he was part of several award-winning projects particularly with Novartis, which has resulted in personal growth for his clients.
Associations: Alumni at Yale, part of several online pharma executive and service provider organizations in India and abroad
Social Media:
Personal Brand: Passion is contagious

Under Vimal Narayanan’s leadership, MedTrix Healthcare has become one of the top three medical and digital communications companies in India, servicing global clients. Since its inception in 2012, Vimal has led MedTrix’s global expansion, and today the agency is a partner to many of the top 20 global pharmaceutical companies. Vimal created a unique offshore-onshore delivery model to help facilitate high-quality patient-care programs.

Vimal has guided the company through innovative campaigns, such as Bone academy, an osteoporosis educational initiative sponsored by Amgen in the Middle East/Africa region (MEA); a men’s health CME program in MEA for Lilly; and multiple programs in oncology with Novartis across the globe.

MedTrix’s success has depended on honest efforts, clarity of conviction, knowledge, and expertise, all attributes that Vimal brings as CEO. He draws on his experience from working with top pharma companies to ensure MedTrix delivers enduring campaigns to major pharma brands.

At both MedTrix and in previous companies, Vimal has opened unchartered client territories, resulting in millions of dollars of revenue for those companies.

“We have been able to bring out several of the first in the market solutions in AI, AR, VR, clinical trial management, etc.,” he says. “We are continuing to build an innovative line of services and products for the industry’s pipeline, which when launched can bring incremental changes to patient’s lives.”

Innovation is a key component of MedTrix’s success, and Vimal encourages innovation in all aspects of work at the company by acknowledging and rewarding his team’s efforts to move the needle. For example, Vimal and his team have helped clients tap into innovative approaches in brand communications, many of these were the first of their kind in the market.

Under Vimal’s leadership, MedTrix has also collaborated with global medical opinion leaders and incorporated new technologies, such as IBM Watson, to work on solutions for clinical trial management and care of patients with infertility, asthma, urticaria, and iron overload diseases.
Vimal likes to do everything to the fullest extent possible and is most-fulfilled when he sees his team scale new heights.

“Pharma companies work in a very traditional fashion with several regulations,” he says.
“Despite these challenges, we have been able to become one of the preferred partners to some of the biggest pharma companies across the globe.”

Vimal’s goals for the company are to become a world-class healthcare solutions provider partnering with life-sciences companies for better patient outcomes. He says the company is in close talks with some biologic innovators that are working in gene therapy for rare diseases and other chronic conditions.

“MedTrix would like to be a big name in AI data science that could be applied in gene therapy,” he says. “These advances would not only reduce inefficiencies in the current way of managing things, especially clinical trials, but also bring cutting-edge approaches that are unheard of in the pharma and healthcare industries.”

He would like to be remembered as someone who brought the most innovative business models to meet the challenges faced by pharma and to serve the medical community.

Colleagues and clients alike are inspired by his far-reaching vision for the company, his unerring commitment, and willingness to do more, and the way he motivates his team members to bring out their best.

For Vimal, the company’s strength lies in its employees and he goes to great lengths to keep colleagues happy and motivated.

“I love mentorship and find enormous joy in helping people climb up the ladder,” he says.

Vimal is involved in his local community as well, providing time and resources to the College of Pharmacy in SRIPMS, India, where he completed his undergraduate degree in pharmacy, and improving education and health for less privileged children in India. (PV)


Lance Nickens

For a Tireless Commitment to Patient Recruitment

Title: Founder and President
Company: The Patient Recruiting Agency
Education: BS, Marketing, University of Texas
Family: Father, Kerzon Nickens, and mother, Peggy Woodward, for their dedicated and unparalleled support; two sons, Maverick and Hudson
Social Media:
Tweet: @findpatients
Personal Brand: Dance like nobody’s watching, work like you don’t need the money, give like you have everything, and live like you’re dying

It wouldn’t be a DIA conference without running into the energetic force of Lance Nickens, president and founder of The Patient Recruiting Agency. According to his colleagues, his constant smile and amiable demeanor are just the surface of a strategic mind that has shepherded the company through the technological transitions of the past 10 years. He remains upbeat through the tight deadlines of study rescue missions, while finding resourceful ways to use his company’s tech platforms to help with a variety of different recruiting methods.

Lance’s positive attitude and work ethic are truly inspiring, earning him his second PharmaVOICE 100 honor. He continues to bring new and innovative ideas in the area of patient recruitment and retention.

Lance is viewed as a smart, strong, and open leader, able to visualize big ideas for the future, and able to switch directions quickly when needed. He exhibits great tenacity in his diligent efforts to find new ways for TPRA to serve clients. His unfailingly positive “we can do it” attitude is infectious.

TPRA has been supporting sponsors, CROs, SMOs, and investigators in patient recruiting and retention since 1999. Since that time, TPRA has completed more than 3,500 clinical trial campaigns enrolling more than 10,000 patients for more than 150 indications. Services include study naming and branding, online and traditional media production and placement, development of study-specific Websites with prescreening and referral delivery capabilities, a proprietary Q-center call prescreening tool, GOClinicalTrials.com patient registration Website, and Radius365, TPRA’s proprietary online platform for tracking and managing all response, referral, randomization, and retention activities in real time.

Lance is passionate about the work and he loves the industry. Colleagues view him as a person of integrity and one of the best in his field.

“I strive to motivate my teams by sharing a vision and creating a sense of self-urgency to find the ability to do something creative or purposeful,” he says. “As a leader, it’s my job to clearly define the challenge and collectively determine the solution and course of action. Being a part of a team decision can be very motivating.”

His ongoing goal is to streamline the process of finding patients to participate in clinical trials and to make the patient experience of enrolling into a clinical trial more efficient.

“The increase in use of mobile device technologies is making accessibility quick and easy, which is giving people confidence and willingness to share information more freely,” he says.

When it comes to the future of patient recruitment, Lance says the increase in use of mobile devices is making accessibility quicker and easier, and is having a huge impact on recruitment that will continue as new ideas about online privacy and confidentiality filter through. (PV)


Andrea Sobrio

For Leveraging Pharmaceutical Innovation

Title: Founder and Managing Partner
Company: Executive Insight AG
Education: MBA, University of St. Gallen
Family: His wife, Mariló, who is always there to support, care, and inspire him; his three sons, León, Tristán, and Fabian for keeping him grounded and focused on the very essential things in life; his parents for the values they taught him
Hobbies: Reading U.S., French, Belgian and Italian comics, gardening, playing basketball with his sons
Social Media:
Personal Brand: Be Bold

To adequately represent the volume of accomplishments and accolades colleagues and clients bestowed upon Andrea Sobrio, founder and managing partner of Executive Insight, would take an entire issue. In a nutshell, multiple colleagues and clients rave about Andrea’s brilliant performance in supporting biopharmaceutical companies to prepare, launch, and commercialize products.

In 2000, Andrea founded Switzerland-based Executive Insight, a specialized healthcare consulting company that has grown to 50-plus employees across Europe, working with six out of the top 10 global biopharmaceutical companies. With a second office in London, Executive Insight’s consultants serve Western and Eastern Europe, United States, and emerging markets.

Andrea has capitalized on a background in international management and 20-plus years experience in healthcare to increase the productivity of biopharma commercial operations across the globe. Knowledgeable in strategic market access initiatives, designing pan-European business models, service model strategies, and marketing and brand positioning initiatives, Andrea has spearheaded innovative go-to-market models, and multi-stakeholder approaches to maximize the value of new brand launches and optimize the lifecycle of existing brands.
More specifically, he has extensive experience in strategic and organizational design assignments and has initiated several groundbreaking innovations and medical breakthroughs.
He has created programs pertaining to innovative pricing strategies, payer education programs, new business models, and strategies that have supported the launch of some of the most successful brands in a cost-constrained environment.

In addition, back in 2007, Andrea was instrumental in the conceptualization and set up of the nonprofit organization European Critical Care Foundation (ECCF), an initiative funded by Lilly that searched for better ways to treat critically ill patients in Europe. The ECCF was established in response to the strong demand from emergency doctors for independent, outcome-oriented research.

In operation for more than 10 years now, the ECCF brings a multidisciplinary approach to research and thinking, and focuses on the non-biotechnological determinants that bring high technology to the critically ill patient.

Another example of Andrea’s dedication are his efforts in the Middle East and Northern Africa to better educate stakeholders about contracting and improve their tendering practices. He brought together the National Healthcare System and the Ministry of Health, national policymakers, payers, and industry to establish a dialogue and agree on a roadmap to improve procurement practices. This included hosting a training session sponsored by the trade association for the Tunisian pharmaceutical industry for around 50 payers and policymakers on innovative contracting. The objective of the training was to get representatives to understand the need for sophisticated pricing negotiations and encourage them to move away from asking unrealistic discounts on list prices.

Andrea also initiated the establishment of a learning platform that creates the conditions for payer-industry dialogue and identification of opportunities to improve the local healthcare system, which is being discussed by WHO and the Minister of Health.

Andrea and his team are actively involved in market shaping activities with biopharma companies aimed at supporting healthcare system to eliminate deadly diseases such as HCV or ensuring appropriate funding for innovative and curative oncology treatments that benefit millions of patients worldwide.

Colleagues and clients alike admire Andrea for his open-mindedness, facilitating capabilities, and great communication skills, which result in a very high level of professionalism. They are equally inspired by his true commitment to helping people and clients do more, to creating value, and to providing a balanced and honest perspective.

“I try to lead by example,” he says. “I have learned you need to be in the trenches as a leader to feel the morale of your teams and understand what are their most important concerns and help them unleash their full potential.”

Suffice it to say that according to many, Andrea is an extraordinary leader and strategy guru who has made significant impacts wherever he has been.

He possesses a complete and granular end-to-end knowledge of the global healthcare industry coupled with a leadership presence and influencing style that is second to none.

“When going to bed I ask myself whether this was a day I gave my best,” Andrea says. “Every year I like to have performed at least one signature project that has improved the way healthcare systems leverage pharmaceutical innovation to the benefits of patients.” (PV)

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