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These forward-thinking leaders are strategically positioning their companies for success and inspiring their teams to achieve far-reaching goals as they navigate complex industry challenges.
Dr. Reshma Kewalramani
Raising the bar… by making the impossible, possible.
Title: CEO and President
Company: Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Industry Awards: The American College of Physicians Associates Council Award; American Medical Women’s Association Janet M. Glasgow Memorial Achievement Citation; Harvard Medical School Excellence in Teaching Award
Company Awards: Best Place to Work, Science Magazine 2011-2020; 50 Most Innovative Companies, Fast Company 2020; Just100, Forbes; Most Charitable Companies, Boston Business Journal; Perfect score on the 2020 Corporate Equality Index, Human Rights Campaign; No. 5 on Best Employers for Diversity, Forbes 2019
Community Awards: TiE Boston Healthcare Leadership Award; Boston Business Journal Power 50 Honoree
Associations: Biomedical Science Careers Program Board Member, RIZE Massachusetts Program Strategy Committee, Boston University School of Medicine Dean’s Advisory Board Member, Fellow of the American Society of Nephrology
Throughout her career as a physician scientist, Reshma Kewalramani, M.D., has been deeply committed to improving the lives of patients and their families, including the last 15-plus years focusing on developing new medicines. She is an accomplished leader and physician with a track record of building strong teams, putting patients first, leading change, and delivering results.
Upon joining Vertex in 2017 as chief medical officer, Dr. Kewalramani oversaw the acceleration of the clinical development of new cystic fibrosis (CF) medicines, including the approval of Symdeko/Symkevi and the rapid approval of Trikafta — five months ahead of schedule. “This medicine, which we believe has the potential to treat up to 90% of all people living with CF, went from synthesis in our labs to FDA approval in less than four years,” she says. “Today, the majority of eligible patients in the United States are on Trikafta already.”
Her achievements, combined with a strong business acumen, led to Dr. Kewalramani’s appointment as CEO and president of Vertex in April 2020, signaling a significant milestone for gender diversity and leadership for the entire biotech industry.
Dr. Kewalramani says she is in awe of what Vertex has achieved, and refers to the company’s teams as “Team Impossible” because no matter how big the challenge, they always find solutions that seem to defy the possible. “I want to be part of an organization that’s using scientific innovation to tackle grave diseases with high unmet need for the benefit of human health,” she says. “This sense of urgency is incredibly important to the people living with serious diseases. We know there is more work to do, patients are waiting and they are counting on us.”
Dr. Kewalramani is leading Vertex to be a global, serial innovator treating the underlying cause of multiple serious diseases. “We’re applying what we’ve learned in CF to a number of other serious diseases in which we understand the causal human biology, have validated targets and biomarkers with high fidelity from bench to bedside such as sickle cell disease, pain, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy,” she says. “We’re leveraging multiple therapeutic modalities, such as cell therapies, gene editing, and mRNA therapies.”
Before joining Vertex, Dr. Kewalramani spent more than 12 years at Amgen in a variety of roles across R&D, including VP of global clinical development, nephrology and metabolic therapeutic area, and VP, U.S. medical organization, a group she established and grew to assume responsibility for the full portfolio of molecules.
A highly regarded mentor, Dr. Kewalramani is passionate about career development, noting mentors, coaches, and friends played an important role in her career, leading by example and supporting her through transitions and difficult decisions.
“I know from experience that many women go through a zigzag path as they move through their careers, and I am passionate about supporting formal and informal career development opportunities for women and students,” she says. “I support a number of programs at Vertex aimed at advancing women leaders, such as our women-focused employee resource network, Inspiring Women in Leadership & Learning, also known as IWILL, as well as helping launch a senior women’s leadership forum to connect more women leaders.”
Beyond Vertex, Dr. Kewalramani is passionate about developing and supporting the next generation of scientists and giving back to her community. She is on the board of the Biomedical Science Careers Program, an organization dedicated to supporting underrepresented students pursuing careers in STEM, and RIZE Massachusetts, a nonprofit foundation focused on ending the opioid epidemic.
In recognition of her considerable contributions, Dr. Kewalramani has been the recipient of the American College of Physicians Associates Council Award, the American Medical Women’s Association Janet M. Glasgow Memorial Achievement Citation, and the Harvard Medical School Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2019, she was the recipient of the TiE Boston Healthcare Leadership Award and named one of Boston Business Journal’s Power 50. (PV)
Jeremy Levin, D.Phil., MB BChir.
Title/Company: Chairman and CEO, Ovid Therapeutics Inc.
Title/Company: Chairman, BIO
Industry Awards: The Kermode Prize; The Albert Einstein Award; One of the 25 most influential biotechnology leaders, Fierce Biotech; One of the top 3 biotechnology CEOs, 2020
Community Awards: B’nai B’rith Award for Distinguished Achievement; Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary
Raising the bar… by changing the world as we know it
For more than 30 years, Jeremy Levin, D.Phil, MB BChir, has been recognized among his peers as one of the most accomplished leaders in biopharma. His experience is expansive: practicing physician, biotech venture capitalist, serial biotech entrepreneur, and senior executive and board member of major pharmaceutical companies.
As head of business development at Bristol Myers Squibb, Dr. Levin conceptualized and implemented the now famous “string of pearls” strategy, which entailed acquiring related assets which culminated in the acquisition of Medarex and, which by doing so, then launched a new era of success for BMS — and subsequently, the entire pharmaceutical industry — in immuno-oncology, as well as influencing business development strategies across the industry.
Today, Dr. Levin has built an innovative company, Ovid Therapeutics, which is poised to make a big difference in the lives of those with disorders of the brain, such as Angelman syndrome, Fragile X, and rare epilepsies.
The greatest challenges he has faced, he says, is to bring new therapeutics to the area of neurodevelopment at a time when the market and the industry dismissed neurology as an area that could be successful.
In addition, as chair of BIO, a role he assumed this past year, Dr. Levin has bought change to BIO; he galvanized the industry in January 2020 to focus on COVID-19, recruiting Dr. McMurry-Heath as the new CEO; focused BIO’s strategy on patients and innovation; and made a large impact in representing the industry to the public, the media, and the political establishment by relentlessly focusing people on practical solutions for patient access to new medicines, while preserving biopharmaceutical innovation. Finally, Dr. Levin published a book in June 2020 titled, “Biotechnology in the time of COVID-19,” compiling the experiences of 47 leaders in the industry as they pivoted to face the pandemic.
Dr. Levin he has become an outspoken voice for fairness and equality by addressing pricing and reimbursement, diversity in the workplace, and social and political change, as well as championing the unheard voices of countless families and patients.
Colleagues say Dr. Levin challenges everyone to conduct themselves as an industry in accordance with the values inherent in the practice of medicine; this includes ensuring that our industry ranks represent the populations it serves, inclusive of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual preference, and other identifiers.
He leads with purpose and passion, saying without passion it’s not possible to drive innovation, commitment to patients, and succeed against day-to-day difficulties.
Dr. Levin inspires with exactly those qualities in mind, asking people to be themselves, helping others succeed, demonstrating a clear purpose, exemplifying passion, and focusing on patients and medicine. “I lead by example,” he says. “I empower, I believe in reward and encouragement, I hold people accountable, and I ask people to learn from their failures.”
Dr. Levin says he feels an obligation to offer what he knows to those who seek advice and mentoring. “I talk to young people frequently — the future is theirs,” he says.
Growing up in Southern Africa, what was then Rhodesia during a period of unrest, Dr. Levin was barely a teenager when his father, a political journalist covering abuses of power, was given one day to leave the country. Dr. Levin and his brothers fled with their mother to the UK, where he went on to excel in school and later at Oxford, where he did his undergraduate degree and doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology. Moving on to Cambridge, he received his bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery.
Colleagues say this experience has influenced Dr. Levin’s deep understanding of world affairs and politics, and an understanding of how fragile liberties are unless people take a stand in their defense. He leavens this understanding with an unwavering sense of ethics, mission, and belief in the ideals of medicine and contributions to society. Consequently, Dr. Levin is an activist in the very best sense of the term, and he inspires those around him to be activists as well.
Dr. Levin has used his early experiences in life as inspiration to effect change in his own communities. He serves as a voice to represent the unheard and forgotten voices of underserved patient communities around the world.
He often reflects back on advice from Henry Tremeer, considered to be one of the most influential and inspiring leaders in biotech: “Be passionate about what you do and true to who you are.”
“The prospect of changing the lives of the patients who are depending on our delivering them a medicine to change their lives motivates me every day,” Dr. Levin says. (PV)
Raising the bar… in how we listen to the needs of patients
Eric Dube, Ph.D.
Title: President and CEO
Industry Awards: OUTstanding LGBT+ Executives; 2012 Pharmaceutical Executive Emerging Pharma Leaders, Financial Times, 2018; 40 Under 40 Ones to Watch, Fortune Magazine, 2011; Top DTC Marketers, DTC Perspectives, 2006
Associations: Board of Trustees, AIDS United; Health Section Governing Board, BIO; Workforce Development, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, BIO
Eric Dube, Ph.D., is so dedicated to finding treatments for rare diseases in part because he himself knows what it’s like for people who suffer from them. “Earlier in my life, I was diagnosed with two rare cancers that had no approved therapies,” he recalls. “Fortunately, the cancers were caught early, but I felt the fear of not having a treatment. This gave me a great understanding of this industry’s purpose. I want to help provide hope and support to families when they receive a diagnosis.”
As president and CEO of the biotech company Retrophin, Dr. Dube goes to work each day with a sense of urgency and purpose, understanding that living with a rare disease is often a search for answers and hope.
“We are an industry that provides hope to people when they are often at their most vulnerable,” Dr. Dube says. “In my first few months as CEO I met with many patients and families. One in particular, a mother of a 10-year-old with a rare disease, asked me, ‘what will you do to help bring a treatment to my son as quickly as possible?’ I am motivated by her question every day and it grounds me in the best and most challenging situations.”
Dr. Dube says his greatest career highlight to date is the opportunity to lead Retrophin into its next phase of growth. ”We have an incredibly strong organization with a deep, purpose-driven culture,” he says. “We are set apart by our unique understanding of the patients we strive to help each day, and by the way we collaborate with the rare disease community to make decisions in all phases of our business. Our culture is founded on ‘OurWhy,’ which strives to connect each individual’s purpose for being in this industry, with our company mission of delivering treatments to people living with rare disease. Importantly, it enables me to discuss the impact our decisions and actions have on patients at every level of our organization. I am hopeful that this drives our team members to integrate the patient voice into all of our work.”
Believing great cultures are best understood in the face of failure or setback, Retrophin faced a challenging situation last year when one of late-stage development programs did not meet its primary endpoint in a Phase III clinical trial. Dr. Dube says the Retrophin team responded admirably.
“Knowing that our program could no longer offer hope, our team worked very hard to address this community with compassion,” Dr. Dube says. “They also went above and beyond to further support these families and contribute to the understanding of this disease. This included setting a plan to donate the full Phase III dataset to academic experts in the hopes of improving the probability of success for other medicines in development for this condition.”
When facing such difficulties, Dr. Dube says he tries not to add additional pressure or challenges to his team.
“I also try to help them focus on their well-being, as oftentimes this goes by the wayside in a challenging time,” he says. “They are incredibly dedicated to our work and have consistently gone above and beyond. In challenging times, such as the COVID pandemic, I try to always ask what they need, what their challenges are, and how they are being kind to themselves.”
Colleagues are inspired by Dr. Dube’s commitment to patients with unmet needs, which is matched by his commitment to build further momentum behind diversity and inclusion in the industry so that it better reflects the community it serves. “There are significant unmet needs for patients resulting from a lack of approved therapies and multiple barriers to access, and I have learned that these issues are particularly evident for diverse patient groups,” he says. “As a rare cancer survivor and member of the LGBT community, and having worked in communities of color, I have seen the high degree of unmet needs and barriers to innovation that exist. I strive each day to do my part to improve these issues.”
As a leader, Dr. Dube says he tries to show up every day open, collaborative, and humble. “I am purposeful and embrace respectful challenge and debate when making decisions,” he says. “I also am reflective and focused on learning, and I celebrate the wins both big and small.”
Colleagues say through his transparency, authenticity and willingness to share his personal story, Dr. Dube has inspired others to share their stories and helped to create a purpose-driven company culture.
“It took me a long time to feel comfortable being my authentic self, so I show up to work as real as possible and encourage others to do the same,” Dr. Dube says. “Part of my authentic self is a driving desire to help patients and their families; this is one of the many reasons why Retrophin is such a good fit.”
Dr. Dube considers mentoring to be vital. “I would not be who I am if it weren’t for the incredible mentors I had in the past,” he says. “I had mentors who believed in me when I felt like an impostor or did not see my potential. I want to help bring out the best in those I work with and help them fully believe in themselves.” (PV)
Raising the bar… by speeding new therapies to market
Title: Chief Strategy Officer
Company: Saama Technologies
Industry Awards: PM360 Elite Strategist Award, 2019; Chief Strategy Officer of the Year, 2013
Associations: IIT Alumni Association
Data analytics strategist and visionary Sagar Anisingaraju holds three patents for his work related to analysis and understanding of structured and unstructured data, as well as several notable industry awards.
However, these achievements alone are not why his colleagues nominated him for this year’s PharmaVOICE 100. As chief strategy officer, Sagar has been instrumental in Saama Technology’s transformative success for several years, and his impact has been widely felt, appreciated, and valued.
Sagar’s vision extends to turning obstacles into opportunities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sagar has been instrumental in Saama’s recently announced establishment of the EndPandemic National Data Consortium. The single goal of this consortium is to integrate data from all ongoing and future clinical studies to dramatically accelerate analysis on COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 research to reduce the time to find a cure.
This groundbreaking, barrier-busting approach to mitigating this unprecedented global health emergency invites corporate and government organizations to work together to pool relevant data to find treatments — and hopefully a cure — for SARS-CoV-2. The EndPandemic National Data Consortium has been, and continues to be, greatly informed by Sagar’s innovation, expertise, and experience.
Sagar also substantially contributed to a new partnership between Saama and Pfizer to develop and deploy an AI-powered analytics solutions to reduce the challenges commonly experienced by clinical study data managers and monitors.
In 2019, Sagar led Saama’s acquisition of Comprehend Systems. Sagar’s strategic vision propelled Saama to this valuable acquisition, and his leadership skills were a major factor in the smooth and successful integration of technology, team, and resources into the Saama family. This integration led to a leadership position in the clinical analytics platform space. “My goal is to build platforms that would help the pharma industry use the exponential gains of technology and AI to transform its age-old processes and workflows,” he says.
Sagar has a sixth sense for the value that the story of Saama’s transformative journey can have on aspiring graduate students around the world. He played a key role in helping the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University build a business case study so it can be taught throughout all of Northwestern’s MBA schools. The case study explains the transformational journey of product companies, showcasing Saama as an example of a company that has benefitted from a philosophy of “less is more” with respect to market opportunities. This milestone is just another example of Sagar’s true strategic leadership, and how he is guiding Saama, his colleagues, his peers, and the industry as a whole toward better outcomes that ultimately benefit patients worldwide.
“We are in a continuous state of change,” he says. “Identifying innovative transformation opportunities and executing them is key to growth and success.”
One of Sagar’s greatest strengths is his ability to anticipate and plan for the future of the industry while leveraging and factoring in the lessons from the past. Sagar strategizes with a 360-degree view of the issue, technology, company, and industry at hand. Never one-dimensional in his thinking, Sagar factors in all facets of an equation to arrive at the most strategic, compelling, and targeted solution or path forward.
An avid golfer and poker player, Sagar’s latest hobby is fictional book writing. “I recently published a novel, titled Kuchela.AI, to explain the story of self-awareness and the journey of a technologist to radically advance the field of drug development and delivery,” he says. “It is a tribute to all the people in the life-sciences and technology industries who are striving to make a change.” (PV)
Diving Into Challenges
Raising the bar… by challenging the status quo
Title: President, Ethical Review
Company: WIRB-Copernicus Group
Associations: EnviroOne, board member; Life Sciences Collaborative of Greater Philadelphia, member; Beacon Networking Group, member
Some people run away from challenges and crises. Dawn Flitcraft runs headfirst into them.
Case in point: the COVID-19 pandemic. While some would consider this to be the biggest challenge of their career, Dawn considers the resulting events to be her biggest career highlights. As president, ethical review for WIRB-Copernicus Group (WCG), she has been able to rally colleagues and the industry during a rapidly changing time when everyone is experiencing fear and uncertainty.
“We had to ensure that the timely review of protocols for which the ethical review division is known could continue at pace and ensure the continuity of critical trials, as well as the rapid review of new trials designed to address the pandemic,” Dawn says. “We had to make the correct and proper decisions fast, without disrupting clinical trials in review across the division.”
Many of the division’s 350 employees are based near Seattle, where the first case of COVID-19 appeared in the United States. Dawn says they were anxious, torn between their concerns for their institutional review board (IRB) work, and their personal health.
“We moved our teams from the IRB offices to work remotely, all while managing existing trials, and fielding new, urgent requests for trials to battle COVID-19,” she says. “We didn’t miss a beat, with team members working around the clock to deliver IRB review.”
Dawn says as an IRB, the organization also was involved in managing the pro bono work to support compassionate use situations, giving patients a sense of hope when all other options have been exhausted. “As a division, we achieved historic levels of activity over the last few months, but I’m most fulfilled by knowing we helped save so many lives in this horrible situation,” she says. “It’s part of our legacy and mission to make a unique contribution while always keeping quality and patient safety top of mind.”
Challenges like this are nothing new for Dawn. In just more than three years, she has led the integration of 14 additional into the WCG organization — each company from different segments of the clinical research community. This required gaining the trust of the leaders of these companies and helping them to see the bigger vision of growth for what the future holds as part of the larger WCG organization. “It required lots of empathy and understanding to help these colleagues adapt to a new culture,” she says.
Colleagues say Dawn is an inspiring leader, part visionary and part people person, who combines genuine warmth with in-depth knowledge of the clinical trial process and excellent project management skills.
“I believe people will follow your lead when they understand the vision you’ve shared and can be part of finding the solution,” Dawn says. “I continually assess the organization’s vision and strategy and then translate it in a way to get the team to understand, embrace, and take action in alignment with the vision.”
Dawn likes to get to know individuals personally and find out what is important to them. “This provides a foundation of loyalty, trust, and support that is critical to an organization, especially when you need to drive change and growth,” she says. “I like to observe people’s strengths and weaknesses and then assess where they are in the organization and how they can best contribute. Sometimes that means moving them into a different role but there is nothing more rewarding than watching someone grow and flourish in a role that is a best fit. It is a win-win for the organization and for them as an individual.”
Dawn enjoys being a mentor for other women. “I attend networking events and involve myself in situations in which I can coach women on how to best position their strategies and communicate their ideas in an entrepreneurial or corporate environment,” she says. “It is important to me because there were people who were my champions and helped me get to where I am in my career, so I want to give back and help others achieve their own success.”
In addition to plans to further expand WCG and pursue a chief operating officer role, Dawn says she would like to start to explore more board opportunities for nonprofits that align with her life goals. She is already a director for EnviroOne, a nonprofit organization that drills wells to provide clean water for the people of Sierra Leone.
Dawn says by taking the high road and treating clients and patients with respect and ethical values, then you will always make the right business decision. “At the end of the day, my measure of success is being able to say yes to the question: ‘Have I helped someone in a positive way?’” she says. “This means supporting my management team and my colleagues by enabling them to grow as professionals and delivering for our clients and patients.” (PV)
Raising the bar… by improving global health for patients
Title: President and CEO
Industry Awards: GE: Multiple President Awards for Customer Management/Sales Growth/Op Excellence; Selected for Mgt Ldr Programs, Business Management, Leadership of Innovation/Growth, Executive Development
Company Awards: Recurring customer service awards, Omega Group; CPHI’s Award for Excellence in Patient-Centricity; CenterWatch’s Top 20 Innovators Award; Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Health IT Innovator of the Year Award
Innovating for better health through advanced technology has been at the heart of everything James Corrigan has accomplished in his 25-year career in the life-sciences industry. Those who know him throughout the industry as Jim, also know he lives and instills this philosophy in the more than 2,000 employees he leads.
As president and CEO of ERT, he has driven significant improvements in clinical trial methodologies that help global biopharmaceutical companies conduct clinical studies more efficiently and with more confidence. Notably, in 2019, 75% of all FDA drug approvals came from ERT-supported studies. In addition, since taking the helm, ERT’s revenue has more than doubled and EBIDTA has tripled. He has led the addition of four new product lines, seven strategic acquisitions, a three-fold increase in bookings, and double the number of active trials.
Jim takes a two-tiered approach to driving innovation. First, the services, product, and sales teams interact weekly with customers to learn what is and isn’t working and they have the autonomy to make investments in incremental improvements. “Next, as the executive team, we listen and learn from the sales, product, and services teams as to what new products to invest in and what trends to address; this enables us to be responsive to customers and lets me focus on the future.” he says. “This approach also helps us to observe and nurture the future leaders of the company by enabling them to build the skills they need to make difficult and strategic decisions as they progress in their careers.”
Jim leads by staying focused on three core values: ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of ERT employees; doing all he can to focus on customers and patients; and building a culture of accountability, autonomy, and authority based on trust.
“The key to not staying up at night worrying about things is to ensure that you are focused on what’s most important,” he says. “Keeping the above three items at the top of my priority list has served me well and prevented sleepless nights.”
He measures success by monitoring four key areas: customer success, innovation and quality, a united business, and profitable market growth.
“I measure the momentum of each of these areas and celebrate where we are accelerating and focus on the areas where the momentum is slowing,” he says.
His tenacious commitment to innovation and quality resonate throughout the organization, inspiring ERT team members to challenge themselves in all aspects of their daily work.
Jim inspires by being “all in,” by celebrating the success of the teams in a selfless manner, by acknowledging disappointments in a positive way to build a trusted and safe environment for innovation, by helping others visualize their potential, and by being a role model by exhibiting empathy and grace under fire. “I learned along the way that bad news is not like wine, it does not get better with age,” he says.
“When people ask me what I think, I respond by saying I’m more interested in what they think,” Jim says. “This is a great way to invite debate.”
Jim describes himself as both a mentee and mentor, which stems from his desire to be an eternal student, which he encourages everyone to be.
“My experience is that I can learn something from everyone, and I have found the mentor/mentee relationship fosters this type of learning,” he says. “One of my goals is to release the emotional energy in every person at ERT and unlock their creativity, ownership, and entrepreneurship.”
Colleagues say Jim leads ERT with a contagious passion — for its employees, customers, partners, and ultimately the patients who benefit from the new medical treatments that are developed more efficiently as a result of the company’s eClinical data collection solutions. “I want to fuel the energy needed to drive change by generously celebrating the success of the teams in a selfless manner, meaning always giving the credit for successes to team members because they are the ones who made things happen,” he says.
During his career, Jim has held leadership roles at several global organizations that are dedicated to leveraging innovative solutions to improve worldwide patient health. Before joining ERT, Jim was president and CEO of General Electric Healthcare’s Surgery business.
He says the one piece of advice he would give his younger self is: “Everything will be OK in the end and if it is not OK then rest assured it is not the end.” (PV)
A True Voice for Patients
Raising the bar… by putting people first
Title: Co-Founder and CEO
Company: Health Union
Industry Awards: PharmaVOICE 100, 2018, 2009
Company Awards: Inc.’s Best Workplaces; Forbes’ Best Startup Employers; MM&M’s Best Places to Work; Philadelphia Inquirer’s Top Workplaces; Philadelphia Business Journal’s Best Places to Work
Associations: Verizon Media advisory council; Health Union partnerships with Multiple Sclerosis Association of America and Coalition for Headache and Migraine Patients
Patient-centricity is an increasing priority in healthcare, and Olivier Chateau’s visionary thinking positioned his company Health Union to be at the forefront of the movement in building health communities. Thanks largely to his drive and passion, Health Union has helped to create and maintain a culture — built on community, inclusion, transparency, and excellence — that benefits patients, its biopharma partners, and its employees.
“Our culture helps us to create innovative ways to provide information, support, and connections for people living with chronic health conditions, while helping our biopharma partners to create meaningful opportunities for patient engagement,” he says.
Olivier understands that technology can play an important role in making experiences within Health Union’s communities more relevant and appropriate to individual participants. He has spent the past two years driving the development of innovative programs and processes to engage and support patients and give Health Union’s clients better insights into their audiences.
He is always thinking about how the company can anticipate people’s needs. “For example, we are actively considering topics that will continue to evolve over the next few years, such as the role of voice technology in people’s health journeys and how telemedicine will impact interactions with healthcare professionals, and updating our privacy policies to ensure our communities continue to be safe, supportive environments,” he says.
Health Union continues to grow in size and scale, reaching more than 11 million people monthly, and the number of online health communities is expected to reach 30 by the end of 2020, with 13 communities launching since the start of 2018.
Olivier’s passion is patients and he is committed to reaching as many people as he can — online and in person — to make sure they have the resources they need to manage their disease. As part of the company’s mission, in 2017, under Olivier’s leadership, Health Union established HUConnexion, an industry-leading patient advocacy conference. “This conference, which aims to give our patient advocates who contribute to and moderate our online communities the tools and resources they need to build their advocacy skills, clearly crystallizes our mission and our values,” he says.
Olivier’s journey to patient-centricity began at GSK where as a marketer he challenged norms and believed there must be a more meaningful way to engage patients.
He says that for Health Union to stay truthful to its purpose, people must be at the center of everything the company does. “That doesn’t just mean the people who participate in our communities; this also means our team members who make Health Union what it is,” he says. “It is important for us to maintain the idea that people matter more than anything else.”
He says the pandemic further tests Health Union’s resilience and commitment to the mission and underscores the importance of having a strong culture and adhering to the company’s values. “Keeping people happy — both employees and those we serve — as we continue to grapple with the changing realities of the coronavirus pandemic and working remotely is currently our biggest challenge,” he says.
The measure of success for Olivier is the degree to which Health Union can help people struggling with chronic health concerns and specifically the connections the company creates. He also measures success internally in terms of how effective he and his colleagues are helping team members develop and accelerate in their careers.
Olivier leads by example and describes himself more as a visionary leader than a manager, encouraging creativity, ensuring everything is viewed from a people and data-driven approach, and then letting talented people execute the project. “I try to lead the way I would like to be led and treat others the way I would like to be treated,” he says. “With me, what you see is what you get. Transparency and honesty can be powerful in truly connecting with others.”
He says his chief goal is continuing to lead Health Union as it expands and elevates the value of its online health community model. “We are focused on providing and evolving the technological tools and resources, as well as the social infrastructure, that will help us do that,” Olivier says. “As we face a period of complete transformation in terms of healthcare and health journeys, I am also focused on ways Health Union can leverage digital and social technologies to help people connect with their healthcare professionals in new and different ways.” (PV)
The Marvel of Storytelling
Raising the bar… through stories and experiences that let us see through the eyes of other people
Title: Chief Experience Officer
Company: Ogilvy Health
Industry Awards: Three Gold Addys; Gold MM&M; Gold MMA; Two John Caples Internationals; Silver DTC National; Two Bronze DTC Nationals; PhAME; Webby (+ Webby nominee); DMA International Echo; RX Show Award of Excellence; Platinum Ava Award; Genius Rating in L2’s Digital IQ Index; Med Ad News Vision Award
Associations: Ferguson Library Professional Speakers Group; St. Cecilia/St. Gabriel Parish
Dan Chichester’s first industry job was as a copywriter at Ogilvy Interactive, where he stayed for nearly 15 years. Last year, he rejoined the Ogilvy Health family as chief experience officer. And Ogilvy colleagues say they are thrilled.
When Dan returned, he did not simply fill an existing role at the organization. Instead, he created something new that was both grounded in the present and looking to the future, anticipating evolving client needs that only a futurist like Dan can anticipate.
To get settled back in, Dan made it a point to reach out to other teams to understand their unique solutions in a refreshing spirit of collaboration and curiosity. This sparked the idea to bring internal stakeholders together for a two-day meeting that he dubbed “Datachella.”
Colleagues say Datachella was tremendously successful in driving integration, understanding, and alignment among the various teams. This initiative has advanced the Ogilvy Health offerings at the intersection of digital and data, resulting in added value for pharma clients.
As chief experience officer, Dan pushes his colleagues to think outside their day-to-day specialties and envision a world where any idea can come to life. This future-state orientation allows for an ideation process without limits. Many people aim to put the audience first, but Dan puts the experience first.
By reimagining communications as a living, breathing experience in the real world, each step of the development process is grounded in a forward-thinking vision that makes next-generation engagements happen. “My view on strategy and creativity is asking, ‘What’s next?’ and ‘What’s possible?’ — and bringing others along on the same journey in ways that are professionally and creatively fulfilling for each individual, each team, each business and brand,” Dan says. “Sharing new concepts, innovative approaches, leading trends is about building on that; and all of us, together, bringing that potential to life.”
His goal is to advance the creative application of storytelling and technology that excites, delights, informs, and activates patients, caregivers, and HCPs.
Dan is described as creative, a writer, a tech guru, and a leader. He approaches new situations and challenges with curiosity, humility, a bent for problem solving, and a confidence that anything can be figured out; and then he dives right in, bringing colleagues along with him as he settles in to solve the problem.
“I am incredibly fortunate that my role intersects across innovation thinking and our innovative thinkers,” Dan says. “This gives me the enviable pleasure of supporting our digital specialists — XD, CX, engagement strategy, our dedicated point-of-care data strategists, and our development and innovation lab experts — in advocating for and encouraging collaboration with our cross-functional agency disciplines and client partners.”
Dan believes leaders do not “think” their way into new action, we have to act our way into that new thinking. “It’s a matter of setting the stage for that role-playing: forming a clear goal; and establishing clearly that I support that this is now your idea, your initiative, and your accountability,” he says. “This is when individuals and teams take things to truly original and daring places. And, wherever needed, to partner in the act of creation right alongside: leadership is also in the doing.”
He credits Audrey Fleisher with some of the best professional advice he has ever received: Don’t emulate: innovate.
Dan is a skillful storyteller and strives to make each story an experience with tremendous impact. Dan’s stories build a connection with brands that invite the consumer to engage and take action.
He has been entrenched in storytelling for nearly 35 years, going back to the days of writing for Marvel comics after studying filmmaking at New York University. His writing credits include Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in 1990–1992, and Nightstalkers in 1992-1993. He had a long run on Daredevil from 1991 to 1995, where he scripted the “Fall of the Kingpin” and “Fall From Grace” story arcs.
Dan uses this experience and his technical, animation, and gaming acumen to drive passion and create healthcare experiences that are pure magic, placing him unquestionably as one of the outstanding digital leaders in the industry. (PV)
Leading through Empowerment
Raising the bar… with relentless speed to cure cancer
Title: President, Global Oncology Business Unit
Company: Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd.
Success is dependent on developing, encouraging, and inspiring others to bring their best every day to help find a cure for cancer, which is a multitude of conditions that require individual attention and cross-functional expertise to develop transformative, targeted therapies.
With a focus on people, pipeline, and performance, Teresa Bitetti has quickly made her mark as president of the global oncology business unit at Takeda Oncology. In just one year as a key member of Takeda’s executive team, Teresa has transformed the unit. Under her leadership, Takeda Oncology has prioritized a stronger integration between the commercial and R&D oncology teams, fostering a much closer collaboration between the two groups with the purpose of building a unified approach to clinical trials and product development, and ensuring the patient journey is reflected throughout the company’s strategy.
“Success is dependent on developing, encouraging, and inspiring others to bring their best every day to help find a cure for cancer,” she says.
Most recently, alongside her colleagues in R&D, Teresa led the partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center to expand Takeda’s immuno-oncology pipeline and further deepen the company’s expertise in treating hematologic malignancies.
Patient-centricity has always been a priority for Teresa and today she is working hard to bring R&D and business closer together to ensure future clinical trials are designed more appropriately with the patient at the center.
She is motivated by working with smart, energized people and working together to make a difference in the quality of patients’ lives around the globe.
As a leader, Teresa readily admits she doesn’t know it all and believes in learning from her team. She ensures she connects with employees of all levels around the world to explore challenges and opportunities. Teresa understands that cancer is not a single disease, but a multitude of conditions that require individual attention and cross-functional expertise to develop transformative, targeted therapies.
Teresa has built a core team of leaders who complement her personal strengths, thereby ensuring diversity in thought and experience. In balancing out the team with representatives from all areas of the business unit, she has created a unique environment to make sure all perspectives are accounted for. “There are always going to be challenges, but knowing that you have a team and others to work through them with is what’s important,” she says.
Teresa’s leadership team looks forward to their weekly meetings as she facilitates open conversation, which allows for colleagues to be transparent in discussing issues at hand while maintaining a fun and productive environment. Teresa wants her team to feel like they are working with her, not for her.
“As a leader, it’s important to energize and empower colleagues to make the best decisions possible,” she says. “This includes giving them license to take risks and try new approaches and ways to deliver on commitments to our business. I want folks to be curious, ask questions, and take chances to find that next step or breakthrough for patients.”
Her greatest concern is to ensure the strategic roadmap for action is clear and that the organization stays singularly focused regardless of the challenges.
She inspires others through authenticity and encouraging open and honest discussion and debate. “Being genuine and transparent engenders trust, fosters camaraderie and collaboration, and inspires others to bring their whole selves to the workplace,” she says.
Transparency has always been a priority for Teresa. She does not shy away from sharing the status of the business through open communications, as she believes this motivates employees to continue to do their very best.
Colleagues say her contagious laugh and outgoing personality underscore her approachability. “Having fun and finding humor where you can in the day-to-day is important as well,” she says. “I’ve found these both to be quite motivational and powerful.”
Mentorship is important to Teresa, who says she seeks to help others just as she has been helped, and to share learnings so that others can speed their progress more quickly. (PV)
Raising the bar… by working with awesome people
Jayson Dallas, M.D.
Title: President and CEO
Company: Aimmune Therapeutics
To build an organization you need a vision and you need to be passionate about achieving your goals. But untempered passion can be like a cyclone. Having a set of principles, at the point of implementation, will help significantly to bring a growing team with you on the journey.
Confident, decisive, and strategic are the words that colleagues use to describe Jayson Dallas, M.D., president and CEO of Aimmune Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company developing and bringing new treatments to people with potentially life-threatening food allergies.
Dr. Dallas joined Aimmune in 2018, at a pivotal time in the company’s transition when it was evolving from a clinical-stage company to becoming a commercial-stage organization and bringing the first-ever treatment for peanut allergy to market.
Colleagues say he is adept at grasping both science and business insights to quickly formulate options for strategic decision-making. He achieves this by carefully assessing and analyzing information and delivering news in a succinct, clear, and compelling way. Furthermore, Dr. Dallas understands the power of storytelling and using both logic and emotion to create a vision for his teams that translates into achievable goals.
Dr. Dallas says leadership is part passion and part principle. “To build an organization you need a vision and you need to be passionate about achieving your goals,” he says. “But untempered passion can be like a cyclone. Having a set of principles, at the point of implementation, will help significantly to bring a growing team with you on the journey. The balance is critical.”
During a career that spans more than two decades in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, he has successfully overseen multiple global product launches and has led commercial organizations through periods of rapid growth. In his career, Dr. Dallas has played important roles in the launch and life-cycle management of numerous drugs, including Crysvita, Mepsevii, Herceptin, Rituxan, Actemra, Lucentis, Exelon Patch, Trileptal, Somavert, Genotropin, Xenical, and Didronel.
Before joining Aimmune, Dr. Dallas was the first chief commercial officer and executive VP at Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical, where he was responsible for planning and building the organization and infrastructure to commercialize Ultragenyx’s pipeline worldwide, and where he led the launch of the company’s first two products. Building the commercial organization from the ground up was, he says, the most satisfying professional experience. “It is a privilege to be able to build an organization or company, and, when you do, it is important to be sure that it is built around its core purpose,” he says.
Dr. Dallas is committed to making a difference in people’s lives and says he could not work for a company that was not fundamentally improving the practice of medicine.
“Innovation happens every day,” he says. “Most innovation is not earth shattering in its implementation, but it’s a small step closer to that next disruption.”
He leads with a laser focus and humility and respect for the contributions of others. “When challenges arise, I keep the vision at the center, I get rid of non-critical busy work, and I empower people and teams to make day-to-day decisions,” he says.
Dr. Dallas is dedicated to encouraging and supporting his team members, and he brings his people together to express their opinions and think through solutions critically, while allowing everyone to lead without micromanaging.
Colleagues say an important quality about Dr. Dallas that everyone may not know about him is his passion for people and diversity and inclusion. He places a great deal of thoughtful consideration on people and culture. Dr. Dallas goes beyond what is expected to advocate for, support, and recognize his team members. He makes diversity and inclusion a key element of his talent management and leadership development priorities.
Dr. Dallas sees his role as creating a vision and holding his teams accountable for what it takes to make that vision become a reality. He is not afraid to think outside the box, always leading the way in a decisive manner while remaining ready to adapt to changing dynamics in the industry.
“Having a clear vision is a vital starting point,” he says. “Folks need to know what the endgame is and have an opportunity to buy into it.”
Recognizing that organizations are the sum of its people, Dr. Dallas maintains one of the greatest challenges is finding and hiring the best talent. “If you surround yourself with the best possible talent, they will know what to do,” he says.
Before joining the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Dallas practiced medicine in South Africa and the UK and worked as a research physician. (PV)
Breaking Down Barriers
Raising the bar… by challenging the status quo — science is evolving at too rapid a clip to be doing business as usual
Priti Hegde, Ph.D.
Title: Chief Scientific Officer
Company: Foundation Medicine Inc.
Industry Awards: HBA 2018 Rising Star
Associations: SITC, AACR
A walking encyclopedia, with an infectious laugh and a glint in her eye, Priti Hegde, Ph.D., has been awe-inspiring from the moment she walked in the door as chief scientific officer at Foundation Medicine. Her lengthy list of publications and achievements in personalized healthcare and research in cancer immunotherapies from her 20-plus years in the pharmaceutical industry has led to a multitude of scientists and companies knocking on her door daily. Her energy, enthusiasm, and passion for life and for science have proven to be bar none. Accolades aside, colleagues say Priti is the real deal. She is high-level visionary with a brain that functions in the details. When it comes to oncology, she does not believe in simply understanding what causes cancer, but instead she challenges herself to understand how cancer lives, how it retreats, and why it returns.
Within a month of joining Foundation Medicine in August 2019, Priti established a think-tank brainstorming session to get the R&D team to contemplate the patient’s journey, posing questions such as: How does cancer happen? How do we assess cancer progression? Which treatment will work best? How does cancer build resistance? How do we help patients with this information?
Her goal is to see a day when every cancer patient gets tested with broad diagnostics that will inform the treatment journey. Priti leads by example and drives her passion through to her teams. She has a knack for diving into publications, absorbing the content, challenging the information, and in parallel, asks her teams for their interpretations.
“Every cancer is different, and my goal is to provide the right tools to help patients manage their disease and be in charge of their journey,” she says.
In diagnostics, she says, innovation is the cornerstone to staying current. “I am fortunate to work at a company that has been a trailblazer in this space,” she says. “My job is to ensure we continue to find new ways of getting reliable diagnostic products to patients more efficiently.
This requires partnership and collaboration with regulators and drug developers as well as outside-of-the-box thinking to ensure we remain nimble and at the same time, rigorous in maintaining the emphasis on quality in our offerings to patients and their oncologists.”
Priti led a cross-team effort between researchers and clinicians working on atezolizumab, with the results published in Nature in 2014 of the biological readouts of adaptive immune responses in cancer patients when treated with immunotherapies.
“Subsequently, atezolizumab was been approved under the brand name Tecentriq for the treatment of many cancers, including lung cancer and triple negative breast cancers,” she says. “Seeing the science lead to a therapeutic for the right patients inducing a transformative health benefit has been a career highlight.”
Priti says in a job where patients are waiting for breakthrough treatments when there are no options available means no challenge is insurmountable. “The challenge invariably is trying to do the right thing in a race against time knowing that the field is evolving ever so rapidly,” she says.
The other big challenge in diagnostics is having the flexibility to ensure rapid product scale up. “Diagnostics is primarily technology-centered; regulated products go through extensive scrutiny to ensure they meet high bar-standard set by the FDA,” she says. “As a result, processes can be increasingly rigid and inflexible. Finding a path forward for patients in an inherently inflexible system is what keeps me up at night.”
For Priti, progress can only occur when multiple individuals from diverse disciplines come together. “Hence, collaboration and the ability to work across functions are critically important for growth and innovation,” she says. “Every member of the group should have a voice and their voices need to be heard, no matter where they sit in the organization. I want to enable innovation from the ground up. And I listen to all voices before making a decision.”
Priti is not just making her mark in the world of oncology, she is also blazing a trail for not only women leaders but for women leaders of color in the STEM field. She engages people across all facets of the organization, to understand the company’s mission and to be a part of the patient journey. She elevates team members with opportunities at speaking engagements, empowering them to showcase their research that will drive further research in the oncology space. She quietly shines as she takes young scientists under her wing to mentor them to think scientifically and thoughtfully, despite her fully loaded schedule. Priti is the sponsor of FMI Proud, a new initiative for her LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies, spearheading the importance of acceptance and inclusion. She is known for pushing colleagues to think harder, think more broadly, and think outside of the box by reframing mental blocks to understand the question before diving into the answer.
Many of Priti’s greatest accomplishments, however, don’t appear on her resume. What makes her particularly inspiring is not only what she has achieved, but the way in which she has done it and the values she has embraced along the way. Her impressive vision for oncology and R&D cannot be separated from her belief in a leadership style dedicated to elevating others.
“My job is to remove barriers, reduce day-to-day hassles, ensure my teams have a sense for what the big picture is and where their contributions fit in, and that team members feel empowered,” she says. “All of these ingredients lead to a genuinely productive and empowered workforce.” (PV)
Raising the bar… by fixing a broken testing ecosystem
Title: Chief Innovation Officer
Industry Awards: Global Marketing Award, DxMA Awards 2016
Associations: ASCO; ESMO; Precision Medicine Coalition
Innovation has been at the heart of Diaceutics’ mission since its inception. And as the company’s chief innovation officer, Ryan Keeling is evolving Diaceutics’ business model to adapt to the needs of the precision medicine industry and to ensure the scalability needed.
From the outset, Ryan has always been a step ahead when it comes to diagnostic commercialization. More than 10 years ago, he realized that the pharmaceutical industry had a blind spot when it came to diagnostic testing data, which was preventing companies from delivering their precision medicine drugs to every eligible patient who needed them. Ryan led the charge to establish a global network of laboratories to illuminate that blind spot by tracking what tests they were carrying out, which consultant ordered the tests, the turnaround time of those tests, and their accuracy. Now that network consists of more than 2,500 labs in 35 markets around the world and it has helped build a rich data lake of information from more than 227 million patients globally, covering 298 diseases.
As a founder of Diaceutics, Ryan has presided over the transformation of the company with regard to its use of real-world evidence on patient testing and a digital platform to fully democratize the imbalanced diagnostic ecosystem. Colleagues say he combines an intimate understanding of better testing with a fearless approach to technology.
It is Ryan’s goal to build and lead an organization that shapes a global market, delivers financial return for shareholders, and truly makes a difference for patients. He says his biggest career highlights so far have been helping to guide Diaceutics through a successful IPO on the London Stock Exchange, followed by managing an innovation team to drive the planned October 2020 launch of the company’s new DXRX platform.
“We believe the current diagnostic ecosystem could be improved to ensure patients get the access to the precision medicines they need,” Ryan says. “It is our mission to find and make those improvements.”
In the past few years Diaceutics has been heavily involved in what Ryan calls “true” precision medicine. “In oncology, for instance, there are now therapies designed to work in any cancer with patient eligibility based on genetic status,” he says. “This is a significant shift as it requires us to think about how to test all patients for a particular biomarker, when potentially fewer than 1% will be positive. Building awareness and a business case as well as ensuring the infrastructure exists are huge challenges, but this is the right approach to take.”
Ryan is constantly looking for the next solution to any problem. Colleagues say his ability to “skate to where the puck will be” is uncanny. He can predict what trends are likely to emerge in the marketplace, what data is required to meet those needs, and what the company needs to do to be prepared and ready.
The best advice Ryan says he ever received was “to trust your instincts and don’t follow a path you think is wrong for the organization or for its people.” He is not afraid to challenge other players in the ecosystem, to produce evidence, and show that the current state of affairs is unacceptable, with the ultimate goal of improving the system for patients.
“Diaceutics is doing something that is unprecedented in precision medicine,” he says. “We have stepped up to an industry challenge, and I feel this is testament to a boldness and tenacity that is inherent in Diaceutics, for which I would like us to be remembered.”
Ryan says his leadership style is founded on coaching, and enabling and empowering others are the keys to inspiring his teams.
“I am a strong believer in empowering others by focusing on the long-term vision to drive and mobilize my team,” he says. “I rely on keeping people focused on the bigger picture of what we are trying to achieve, coaching and motivating them by using empathy, and celebrating successes rather than focusing on failures. We have a saying to celebrate when things are going well ‘We’re suckin’ diesel now,’ which emanated from our Ireland-based team. I believe it is very important to bring people and the overall organization along with me on a journey of constant growth and development. I try to dedicate time to evaluating how I or members of my team can improve the way we work, with the focus being to work smarter rather than harder. For me, one of the most important challenges a leader can take on is to empower others to be leaders themselves.” (PV)
Innovating Genetic Therapy
Raising the bar… by advancing gene therapy
Title: President and CEO
Company: Audentes Therapeutics, an Astellas Company
Associations: Executive Women in BIO
Since the early days of Audentes, Natalie Holles has been instrumental to the company’s success as an AAV-based genetic medicines company focused on developing and commercializing innovative therapies that can offer transformative benefits to patients.
Natalie has played a key role in every major strategic decision and milestone for the company — from investing in full-scale internal manufacturing operations, to its IPO in 2016, to successfully negotiating the key strategic collaborations that enabled the company to rapidly progress its pipeline, and most recently to overseeing Audentes’ acquisition by Astellas in January 2020.
Today, as president and CEO, she is ensuring the company stays innovative by surrounding herself with experts in the space to successfully execute her vision.
Early on, Natalie realized that Audentes would be well-served having its own manufacturing facility. This wasn’t an easy task since such facilities are expensive and creating gene therapies is a complex process. On the other hand, working with outside contractors for manufacturing can lead to other issues, which can delay drug development and FDA approval.
Thanks to Natalie, Audentes is now known for its ability to manufacture genetic medicines. It was one of the reasons that Astellas was so interested in acquiring Audentes. After the $3 billion acquisition, Astellas named Audentes as the center of excellence of its newly created genetic regulation primary focus. Audentes continues to expand this program, thanks to Natalie, and earlier this year announced plans to build an additional state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in North Carolina.
Natalie says taking a decommissioned GMP biologics manufacturing facility and transforming it into an industry-leading large-scale AAV production plant capable of supplying entire gene therapy clinical studies and commercial markets was one of her most challenging but also one of her most rewarding assignments.
“We started with no equipment, no process, and no staff and built a truly outstanding capability with an exceptional team,” Natalie explains. “We cut the ribbon on our GMP manufacturing plant on July 11, 2016. I grew up in the area and my father, a Russian immigrant who worked as an engineer for his entire career in the United States, came to the celebration. We gave him the blue-ribbon tour of the facility, which delighted and fascinated him at every step. It was a great day for a truly great man who played a huge role in encouraging my career in science and technology. I treasure the memory with particular pride and sentiment as he passed away unexpectedly three months later.”
She is passionate about the company’s programs and constantly challenges the teams to think creatively and find a way to advance Audentes’ work on behalf of patients. For example, she oversaw the addition of two new neuromuscular programs through collaboration with a leading academic center, which required thoughtful discussions and decisive leadership — internally and externally. As a credit to Natalie’s skill and passion for the company, the programs are now a valuable part of the business and a source of great inspiration for the organization.
Her mission is to demonstrate that the Audentes business model — a first-generation AAV-based genetic medicines company — can provide significant, durable value to both patients and investors.
“We have an obligation to be not only scientifically, but also to be commercially innovative, so we keep the fields fertile for future investment,” she says. “If we’re successful in that endeavor, we’ll benefit not only our own patients but those in the future who are served by the next generation of companies.”
A working mom of three with an intense workload, Natalie keeps it all in perspective, setting boundaries and finding the right balance. Colleagues say they appreciate Natalie’s ability to infuse humor to create a comfortable work environment.
She aspires to lead with passion and principle, saying: “Passion for our mission fuels urgency and ingenuity; principle drives the rigor and ethics required to make good decisions at every step of the journey.” (PV)
Pushing the Boundaries of Science
Raising the bar… by pioneering a new area of science
Pearl Huang, Ph.D.
Title: President and CEO
Company: Cygnal Therapeutics Inc.
Industry awards: President’s Award, Merck Research Labs, 2007; Best Science Award, GlaxoSmithKline, 2004
Associations: Member, Alumni Steering Committee, Biological Engineering, MIT; Board Member, Philadelphia Rock Gym; Women in BIO
Throughout her career, Pearl Huang, Ph.D., has had a nose for innovation and collaboration. “I am naturally curious and am attracted to ‘white space’ in science, where unfinished, bold ideas have the potential to be transformative — if only they were explored further,” she says. “It has always been important to me that any organization where I work blazes a new trail and generates real value.”
Pearl says blazing a new trail often means crossing boundaries — intellectual, social, geographical, and even emotional. “As a woman and first-generation American-born Chinese-American who grew up in the northern Midwest in the 1960s, I learned early in life to appreciate risk and to cross social and intellectual boundaries,” she says. “The payoff has always been meaningful.
Professionally, crossing boundaries to stimulate new ideas and foster interdisciplinary science is a way to make sure that science is translated into value and realized.”
In January 2019, Pearl joined Cygnal Therapeutics as CEO and unveiled the company’s pipeline along with $65 million in funding in October of that year.
“Throughout my career, I’ve worn a lot of hats: CEO, co-founder and chief scientific officer, functional and department leader, bench scientist, and beyond,” she says. “At Cygnal, the buck stops with me — I’m leading the charge on our mission and vision. My job is to keep the team focused on the mission and enable them to use innovative thinking to achieve our goals. I’m a multiplier — someone who enables others to do their best at every point of the value chain.
Because Cygnal is so multi-disciplinary — our biology discovery group alone is composed of neurobiologists, cancer biologists, and immunologists, all working together — it is critical that our experts interact every day. Inevitably there will be conflicts. My job is to create an organization that is not distracted by everyday problems, but rather solves them quickly with the mission always in mind.”
All throu her career, she has worked at the intersection of new fields of science and pioneered therapeutic platforms, which allowed her to create and grow teams, discover new drugs, and create new approaches to drug development.
Her track record for drug development wins includes programs that resulted in Mekinist (trametinib) and Tafinlar (dabrafenib) during her tenure at GSK.
In addition, Pearl has held leadership roles at Roche and Merck, and she co-founded BeiGene in 2010, where she served as chief scientific officer and set up the initial pipeline and first clinical programs.
She also broke new ground by catalyzing the first combination study of two new molecules between two pharma companies in 2009. The collaboration between Merck and AstraZeneca — the first of its kind — created a way for both companies to test unapproved assets together in rational drug combination studies.
“This was considered a breakthrough at the time, as large pharma companies were very competitive and very siloed,” she says. “It was satisfying to bring the definition of collaboration to a new level, make business more efficient for the industry, and secure positive outcomes faster for patients.”
Throughout her career, Pearl has emulated talented colleagues and enterprise thinkers who consider what is best for the organization, the industry, and greater society.
“As a leader, I strive to do the same — and know that my example is what sets the tone for any organization that I’m a part of,” she says. “A smart strategy, stability, perseverance, and thoughtfulness are crucial to succeed in the life sciences. Creating new realities via science is fulfilling, but it is a long process — leaders need to be deliberate to sustain their mission.”
Pearl seeks to push the boundaries of science to help patients, but she also loves the business and social aspects of biotech, describing it as a great collective human endeavor.
Success, she says, is measured both in hard and soft goals — metrics to show value creation and making room for creatives to do what they do best, which is creating breakthroughs.
“Also, you’re not successful if you’re not having fun,” she says. “Joy at work is paramount.”
Pearl started to mentor women scientists about 10 years into her career. “It is very satisfying to help another person tackle a complicated problem and see them come out of the experience with greater knowledge and confidence,” she says. “Some of my mentees have moved on to great success — I feel very proud of them and am honored to call them colleagues.” (PV)
Paying It Forward
Raising the bar… by finding ways to keep clinical trials moving forward
Title: Chief Operating Officer
Company: Aperio Clinical Outcomes LLC
Industry Awards: Inducted as a Fellow to the Association of Clinical Research Professionals, 2020
Company Awards: Presentation of the Year Award for R&D, BTG, 2009
Associations: Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP), fellow; ACRP, Greater Nashville Chapter, treasurer; What Would I Tell My Younger Me: A Series of Conversations, board member
After 25 years in the pharmaceutical industry moving mountains, Suzanne Kincaid no longer has goals solely focused on her own career. “I want to mentor the next generations of research professionals,” she says.
Throughout her career, Suzanne says she has had the benefit of many great mentors, as a result she makes time for people who ask her for advice or want to be mentored. Sometimes her guidance is related to understanding best practices in clinical research or adopting innovative methodologies such as risk-based quality management. She also offers soft skills coaching such as effective communication techniques, delivering effective presentations, or best practices for facilitating meetings, skills she says are often forgotten but can make all the difference between mediocrity and success in business. Mentoring is so important to Suzanne that it’s not surprising that she devotes much of her spare time outside of Aperio to leading and developing people through her involvement in ACRP. She has helped people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds throughout her career break into clinical research as well as coaching them through the transition from bench scientist to working in a clinical treatment setting. “Giving time to others is an easy way to pay it forward, and if others hadn’t taken their time to mentor me, I wouldn’t be who I am today,” she says.
She also wants to use her experience to move drugs forward while conducting good, sound scientific research. Suzanne has plenty of experience to share. Her career in clinical research began in 1995 when she was hired as a study coordinator at the Nashville Medical Research Institute. “I answered an ad on the radio to be in a clinical trial, and in addition to participating in the trial, they offered me a job,” Suzanne recalls.
After Nashville Medical Research Institute, Suzanne took on roles at Sarah Cannon Research Institute, Theradex, AstraZeneca, and BTG before becoming chief operating officer at Aperio Clinical Outcomes two years ago.
Suzanne says her biggest career highlight to date has been growing Aperio, revamping its infrastructure and standard operating procedures, onboarding new systems, and making “amazing” new hires.
“We have built an exceptional leadership team of industry veterans, and I’m proud to say we have a 92% retention rate,” Suzanne says.
Suzanne is leveraging her leadership role to influence and motivate clinical research teams to do their very best work. She says her role is to remove obstacles, making decisions based on doing what’s right.
“We can be flexible and adaptable and creative while still following the regulations,” she adds. “Ultimately, I want to see our profession gain the public’s trust and see more people participate in clinical trials.”
Suzanne leads by example and doesn’t ask her team to do anything she is unwilling to do herself. “I say what is on my mind and don’t worry what others will think, because sometimes others are thinking the same thing but are afraid to speak up,” she says.
Colleagues say Suzanne inspires and motivates them to wake up each day and persevere as they know she is always looking for ways they can do their jobs better and make a difference in the world at a time when so many people need a glimmer of hope.
“I exude positivity, bordering on being a Pollyanna, which encourages others around me to be positive, to keep the faith, and to not give up,” Suzanne says. “I am grateful for my career and the blessings in my life. I maintain my professionalism, whatever the circumstances, which is probably one of the hardest disciplines. And I am genuine — I am completely myself. What you see is what you get.”
Some of the best advice Suzanne says she ever heard was, “Do what you love, and the money will follow,” and “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
“I have followed this advice for 25 years, and it has held true,” she says. “I love the people I work with, and I get to do work that I love every day. Because every day in research is different, I get to use every tool in my tool belt. You have to be ready for the challenges, and I love the challenges.” (PV)
Raising the bar… through strategic flexibility
Tariq Kassum, M.D.
Company: Celsius Therapeutics
Company Awards: Fierce 15, Celsius Therapeutics, 2019
I have benefited tremendously from being a mentee and I think it is important to give back. There is no playbook for successful careers in biopharma, so real-time, up-to-date mentorship can be very helpful to people.
Tariq Kassum, M.D., is a one-of-a-kind biopharma leader, according to many of his colleagues. He has passionately applied his vast array of talents to help navigate multiple biotech companies, from the challenges of early stage start-up and technology platform development to the successful establishment of innovative therapeutic discovery engines.
Since joining Celsius Therapeutics as CEO in June 2019, Dr. Kassum has successfully led the transition of the company from a small biotech focused on building a single cell genomics and machine learning platform to a 45-person organization with drug discovery operations across both IBD and immuno-oncology.
Before Dr. Kassum joined Celsius, the company had made significant strides across each of the core pillars of its platform, but there was uncertainty in how these pieces would be integrated and ultimately translated to the discovery of novel precision therapies.
Dr. Kassum came in and very quickly outlined a clear set of priorities to help the team achieve their near- and long-term goals, as well as keeping the company from being sidetracked by less important matters. With the more concentrated efforts, Celsius was able to lock down key protocols in the workflow, establish the critical links across the platform, and complete a series of collaboration agreements with Janssen Pharmaceuticals and several academic institutions. These efforts helped propel the company forward and as a result, it was recognized by FierceBiotech in 2019 as a Fierce 15 award winner.
During his career, Dr. Kassum has gone from big pharma to small startup biotech in roles from strategic business development to operational roles. He was the first employee at Obsidian Therapeutics, where he built a team from scratch and established a major collaboration with Celgene within three years.
Before Obsidian, Dr. Kassum was VP of business development at Takeda. It was there that he had his most challenging assignment as interim head of global M&A, which involved managing teams on three continents. “It was very difficult to keep team cohesion and consistency when dealing with multiple geographies,” he says.
Dr. Kassum says one of the biggest challenges he faces is keeping pace with the interaction of the macro environment and the biotech environment. “Things can change from favorable to unfavorable in the blink of an eye,” he says. “We need to make sure we have enough optionality to adapt to changing circumstances.”
Colleagues say what sets Dr. Kassum apart is his ability to connect with and motivate people.
Before Dr. Kassum arrived at Celsius, there had been a number of organizational changes, including a couple of significant departures, which were a cause for concern. In his first weeks at Celsius, Dr. Kassum met with all of the employees to get to know his team and understand their challenges, goals, and potential concerns. He wanted them to know that they were his top priority.
Colleagues say his authentic nature and transparent communication skills were major factors in stabilizing the organization and rallying the team.
He believes in real-time coaching, addressing issues with team members immediately, and he prefers to lead by influence rather than authority. “I believe in coaching and supporting team members so they can grow and develop, while ensuring laser-like focus on execution,” he says.
Colleagues say he is always open to input and feedback from all employees and believes in relationship-building.
“I will elicit feedback from as many people as possible, explore the possibilities, and then make a decision, knowing that some of them are reversible and others are not,” he says.
An ideas-focused leader, Dr. Kassum will provoke thinking among team members and share those concepts more broadly. And, crucially, he understands that it’s important to adapt his leadership style and tone to the situation at hand.
He seeks to inspire by ensuring the team understands the mission, vision, and strategy and helping others to understand the possibilities and potential, as well as modeling behaviors he wants to see his team adopt.
Having benefited from being a mentee, Dr. Kassum seeks to give back by mentoring others. “There is no playbook for successful careers in biopharma, so real-time, up-to-date mentorship can be very helpful to people,” he says.
Dr. Kassum says success is measured by addressing some key questions: Did you do your best? Did you influence things in the right direction? Was your process good? Were you honest and true? (PV)
Unleashing A Vision
Raising the bar… by leveraging data
Karen Kaucic, M.D.
Title/Company: President, Evidera
Title/Company: Chief Medical Officer, PPD
Associations: American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Hematology, International Society of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research
For any other person, being president of one organization — Evidera — and chief medical officer of another — PPD — would be a full-time role. Yet, Karen Kaucic, M.D., excels in both positions, bringing passion, dedication, and determination to improve patients’ health.
In her role as president of Evidera, she provides strategic direction and operational oversight for PPD’s business focused on providing evidence of a therapy’s value, effectiveness, and safety. As PPD’s chief medical officer, she is responsible to the CEO for all aspects of human safety in PPD’s clinical trial programs. Threaded throughout is a mission to leverage data to accelerate the movement of therapies from the bench to the bedside.
Since being named to the dual role, she has brought a new vision and passion to the business. In the past 18 months, she has successfully integrated an acquisition that expanded the company’s ability to offer enhanced technology and real-world data solutions and was instrumental in negotiating collaborations with companies in Asia. In addition, she has made tremendous strides in expanding PPD’s overall enterprise understanding of the importance of real-world data throughout the drug development process.
“We have the opportunity to access and use data in new ways to make real inroads in clinical development by providing broader, richer evidence packages to regulators, payers, and clinicians,” Dr. Kaucic says. “I see my role as both developing new solutions and creating opportunities to help the organization think through what the new normal might look like.”
She began her career as a clinician and researcher in pediatric oncology, serving as a senior investigator at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., where she established the institution’s first hematopoietic stem cell transplantation laboratory, served as an attending physician in oncology, and conducted NIH-funded research in signal transduction in human neuroectodermal tumors. In pediatric oncology, clinical care and clinical research are inseparable, resulting in the vastly improved survival rates that are considered one of the great success stories of modern medicine.
“This experience provided formative lessons about what is possible, which has driven the rest of my professional work,” she says.
Dr. Kaucic’s passion for understanding rare diseases and creating innovative solutions to address the unique associated challenges drove her to inspire others with the same interest to create PPD’s Rare Disease and Pediatric Center of Excellence. Under her leadership, this team centralized PPD’s rare disease expertise into a cohesive cross-functional team that focuses on patient-centric solutions and new and disruptive approaches to recruitment, leading to impactful solutions to help patients get the life-changing treatments they desperately need.
She understands that challenges are inevitable and that 2020 has been particularly demanding for everyone. Colleagues say Dr. Kaucic does not shy away from hard decisions and very quickly gets to the heart of any matter. These are some of the many reasons why she has been so effective as the co-chair of the PPD COVID-19 Pandemic Response Committee. In times of crisis, real leadership becomes apparent, and Dr. Kaucic has gracefully integrated her co-chair responsibilities into her already multifaceted role. In this role, Dr. Kaucic provides holistic thinking and leadership to the committee and leverages both her medical background and her business acumen. She has been instrumental in shaping and communicating company policy to employees, clients, and local health authorities and advising her peers in the C-suite. Dr. Kaucic has a keen understanding of the intricacies of communication and is adept at thoughtfully tailoring messages to convey the right information in the appropriate way for each audience. She steadfastly focuses on employee health and safety, business continuity and public health and safety impacts, providing a roadmap to help navigate any challenges along the way.
“Your teams need to know you feel the same pain points they do, and you are willing put in the effort alongside them to accomplish whatever needs to be done,” she says. “I give my teams the tools they need to achieve their goals, and I unleash folks to take accountability for and think creatively about how we achieve the vision.” Her leadership style is transparent and direct, and she notes that a team can’t flourish without the right information, at the right time, delivered without ambiguity. “Nothing can be accomplished without a team effort, so we share the burdens of delivering on our promises and celebrating our successes,” she says.
A strong mentor and leader, Dr. Kaucic is always the first to offer her support to aspiring executives from across the company. “There are so many incredibly talented people in this industry who want to make a difference, and along the way, there were people who mentored me, provided guidance, encouragement, and opportunities,” she says. “I think we have a duty and a commitment to give back and continue to foster future generations to carry the torch and keep making a difference.” (PV)
Building Strong Bones
Raising the bar… by leveraging data/analytics
Title: President/Managing Partner
Industry Awards: Transformational Leader PM360, 2020; Transformational Leader PM360, 2017
Associations: ImagineNJ.org; American Heart Association
Greg Lewis started at Calcium at the end of 2019 and hit the ground running. Colleagues say he is the definition of the agency’s values: respect, integrity, and commitment. With more than 20 years of advertising experience, Greg has learned two important lessons along the way: make today count and roll with it.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work on some complicated client/agency partnerships and lead over a dozen co-promotes,” he says. “They nicely underscore two mantras I carry with me each day.The first is make today count — also known as MTC. Each day we make a decision of what we want to do, what we want to accomplish, and how we want to leave our mark. I encourage teams to make each day count to support one another. The second is roll with it. At times life deals a hand that can seem impossible to overcome, but by accepting things and moving on, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.”
In the competitive arena of healthcare advertising, finding the edge for a client’s brand is paramount, and Greg always strives for the unconventional approach or idea. “My goal is to leverage data and analytics and sprinkle them with some magic dust to make ideas irresistible; our goal at Calcium to truly nourish brands for their optimal growth,” he says.
Colleagues admire him for his transparency and for being an active listener and providing constructive criticism. “I am inclusive when I gather feedback and always believe the best idea wins,” he says. “I want to inspire those around me by broadening their perspective — challenging them to think beyond the expected. I often share TED or YouTube videos with my team to get them to think in a more emotional and untraditional way.”
Greg is always looking for the next opportunity to teach and to learn something new. He challenges himself to find different ways to motivate and delight his teams to keep them energized and empowered. “At my prior organization, I convened a group of Gen Zers who are often overlooked in corporate America,” he says. “We would meet to talk about working habits, likes and dislikes. I learned from them as much as they learned from me.”
Taking inspiration from a famous FDR quote: “We cannot always build a future for our youth, but we can always build our youth for the future,” Greg is eager to pay his experiences forward.
He believes mentoring should be a goal of every good leader. “Last summer I led a group of 12 interns — hands down it was the professional highlight of my summer — and I’m hoping for the same with our super-smart interns at Calcium this summer,” he says. “Teaching, motivating, and sharing stories of past learning experiences was invaluable; I guess I am getting old.”
Just a call, text, or email away, Greg’s door is always open to everyone at every level of the agency. Through regular town hall meetings, companywide surveys, and team building exercises, Greg has a finger on the pulse of not only the day-to-day business of the company, but the life of the company and what makes Calcium truly unique — its people.
“I measure success by the level of joy my staff and my clients experience,” Greg says.
“Internally joy drives deeper engagement, better ideas, and more accountability. With client partners, joy delivers pride in our collective work and our partnership. If you have a moment, read JOY Inc., by Richard Sheridan.”
Greg also has found success in looking beyond the norm to find inspiration. “Years ago, health looked at high-touch, concierge-like organizations to replicate our patient-support programs,” he says. “Now, we need to look toward organizations that help to make the lives of people simpler, easier, and more rewarding.”
Greg’s career in health may have been influenced by some good-natured family competition. His dad was a cardiothoracic surgeon and his mom was an operating room nurse, and with none of his five older siblings in the world of health, Greg is more than upholding the family legacy. (PV)
Raising the bar… by making sure our industry is seen for what it really is
Company: GCI Health
Industry Awards: MM&M Entrepreneur of the Year, 2019; MM&M Hall of Femme, 2018; PR Week/MM&M Health Influencers, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019; Holmes Report Innovator 25, 2018; PR Week Agency Professional of the Year, 2016 and 2019
Associations: Page Society; EXL Pharma Yearly Co-host; PR Council
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, GCI Health CEO Wendy Lund quickly engaged clients with a stake in this global health concern on a broad range of important work, from communications around diagnostics and testing, to ventilators, to vaccines, internal engagement, customer relations, supply chain management, and digital support, among other crucial topics. On a personal level, the COVID-19 stay-at-home protocol made Wendy aware that her career is so much more than a job because her work brings her so much satisfaction. It is in many ways her favorite hobby.
“I care about people and I want it to show in everything I do and say,” she says. “I also lead by example and am very passionate and inspired by the work we do and the everyday innovations that are happening throughout our industry. COVID-19 will be the greatest test of my ability to lead our team and help them understand they can work in a completely different way to support our clients and strive to overcome amid this awful pandemic.”
In 10 years at GCI Health, Wendy has transformed the boutique healthcare public relations firm into an award-winning, fully integrated agency representing the top healthcare companies in the world and, along the way, grew revenue by 1,000%.
The agency, which had just 40 employees in 2010, now boasts more than 300 employees globally, with regional expansion across multiple locations in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
With almost 30 years of healthcare communications and marketing experience, clients and colleagues say Wendy puts patients at the center of everything she does.
Propelled by an entrepreneurial spirit imbued from an early age, Wendy continually pushes the boundaries of what’s possible. This drives her unwavering commitment to communicate and inspire change in healthcare marketing.
Before joining GCI Health, Wendy was with MS&L for 12 years, rising from a VP in the healthcare group to the most senior-level woman at the company, overseeing global business and client development. As the only woman on the global leadership team, Wendy was responsible for growth across 54 offices, helping to achieve the CEO’s priority of elevating MS&L to a large global agency, while building the global healthcare practice into a world-class offering.
Her leadership style is genuine, and she is passionate about creating good leaders and does so with a critical eye toward helping employees maintain a good work-life balance by supporting them professionally and personally. She drives her teams to work harder, think better, and dream bigger, while also creating an incredibly nurturing, supportive, and collaborative company environment that fosters loyalty and admiration among the people who work for her.
Likewise, clients also praise Wendy’s deep understanding of their business, her personal connections to the work, and her dedication to helping them succeed. She is ready to jump in on every account and helps clients to embrace innovative ideas and pursue new directions. She brings a contagious energy, enthusiasm, and passion to her work every day.
In addition, Wendy continues to maintain and invest in a culture that is catalyzed by the belief that her employees should be as successful in their personal lives as they are in their professional ones.
When asked what she might have done differently when she was younger, Wendy says: “As a woman, I should have been more assertive.”
Wendy is a fierce activist for women, from their advancement in the workplace to, more recently, creating a groundbreaking in-agency movement in partnership with HealthyWomen, the nation’s leading independent, nonprofit health information source for women, to encourage women to make self-care a priority and become healthier for themselves, their families, and society.
Wendy continually challenges convention with her relentless pursuit of ideas that inspire, activate, transform, and deliver results. Her boundary-busting work for leading clients has catapulted GCI Health’s success by being at the forefront of launching some of the most innovative products in healthcare.
One of her greatest achievements in her career, she says, was partnering with her colleagues to build GCI Health into a great place to work. “I am motivated to create a work environment where we help our clients make a huge difference in people’s lives around the world,” Wendy says. (PV)
A Genomic Revolution
Raising the bar… by ushering in the new era of genomic medicine
Sandy Macrae, Ph.D.
Company: Sangamo Therapeutics Inc.
Associations: BIO, board member; 4D Pharma, board member
A physician and research scientist, Sandy Macrae, Ph.D., envisions the promise of genomic medicine as a one-time curative treatment for serious and challenging diseases. When Dr. Macrae joined Sangamo Therapeutics the company was struggling to move its innovative gene editing science into therapies that would achieve commercialization. But through his passion and visionary leadership he has transformed Sangamo into a fully integrated genomic medicine company.
“I was drawn to Sangamo’s amazing science; I saw that it had the potential to translate treatments into cures, which was just a figment of our imagination a short time ago,” Dr. Macrae says. “I am proud of the path Sangamo is on today with our robust clinical and preclinical pipeline, and the tremendous promise that genomic medicine represents for patients and for the healthcare system in general.”
To achieve this vision, he knew he had to transform the company and its culture. He started with face-to-face meetings with every employee at the company to understand what inspires the team to succeed and to identify the gaps in the company.
“Listening to my employees and allowing them to feel that their stories are heard is a critical way of earning trust and building culture,” Dr. Macrae says. “I also show them my vulnerability, and I share my story and the promise of genomic medicine that they can believe in. Our shared inspiration is the way that genomic medicine can change healthcare and society, and we inspire each other through our mutual connection to that mission. We have lofty ambitions at Sangamo, and with that comes high expectations. I expect a lot of my employees, but they always know they will have the backup and resources to be set up for success.”
Thanks to Dr. Macrae’s leadership, Sangamo has forged partnerships with industry stalwarts such as Pfizer, Gilead, and Biogen.
His clinical experience informed his decision to invest in developing manufacturing capabilities within Sangamo, which gives the company control over the quality and availability of AAV vectors as well as program timelines.
“Because Sangamo is at the forefront of genomic science, we often have been the first company to take genome engineering approaches into the clinic,” he says. “One of the most important ways we learn is by integrating patient insights into every step of our drug development process.”
One big challenge, he says, is to balance the quality with the speed of delivering medicines to patients in need. He says the focus on one-time treatments starts with rare diseases where there is significant unmet need. Once Sangamo’s gene therapy, cell therapy, genome editing, and genome regulation technologies are proven in the clinic, the company will move into diseases that affect larger patient populations.
“We believe that one-time, potentially curative treatments are what patients want, and we will persist until we are able to deliver for the patients who rely on us,” he says.
Dr. Macrae describes himself as tenacious and courageous, saying pioneering in a new field of medicine and not always having all the answers has required significant tenacity and resilience.
Dr. Macrae likes to talk about leadership in terms of the delicate balance between the poetry and the plumbing, a concept he borrowed from one of his favorite leadership books. “Poetry is our science, our innovation, our intellectual exchange, and ideation,” he says. “Plumbing is our nuts and bolts, our infrastructure, and all of the pragmatic tools we need to execute. We can’t be successful without each, and without allocating the appropriate resource and energy between the two.”
He believes success comes from staying singularly focused on the mission or aspiration, while maintaining a sober sense of reality and pushing toward the goal until the gap between aspiration and reality starts to shrink.
As for the future, Dr. Macrae says his goal is to make his role at Sangamo his last job. “Leading Sangamo is everything I’ve dreamed of,” he says. “I am inspired by our collective mission for Sangamo as the first genomic medicine company. I believe we will make a real difference in medicine as we translate our science into meaningful treatments for patients.” (PV)
Building New Networks
Raising the bar… by setting new standards at the point of care
Title: Chief Operating Officer
Company: Outcome Health
Industry awards: MM&M Healthcare Transformer, 2019; Business Insider’s list of the Most Powerful Female Engineers, 2017; Moudhwalla Award for excellence from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
Associations: The Digital Place Based Advertising Association (DPAA)
Nandini Ramani, who joined Outcome Health in 2017 as its first chief engineering officer, has built the largest point-of-care digital network in the United States and set major guidelines about how the network operates, as well as its auditing and information analytics.
Nandini believes so much in the value in point of care, she is doubling down to tackle the company’s and industry’s challenges. “Point of care is the intersection where patients and physicians meet,” she says. “People are so used to TV and DTC, and it is an uphill climb to get the marketing community on board to understand how central and vital point of care is to the healthcare journey. I don’t think it should be.”
Coming from Twitter, where as VP of engineering, she led product strategy for emerging markets and led engineering effectiveness for the social media company, she is giving Outcome Health a new perspective on how to approach key stakeholder groups.
Now, as chief operating officer, Nandini leads teams that ensure the most rigorous health information platform and campaign audit standards in the industry across Outcome Health’s nationwide network, bringing in foundational guidelines for an industry that didn’t have any.
“My journey of nearly three years at Outcome Health has been one of the most challenging and rewarding to date,” Nandini says. “Joining a healthcare innovation company at the nexus of patients, providers, and pharma has given me a unique opportunity to hit the ground running. I’m proud to have helped develop the most rigorous standards of transparency and reporting in the point-of-care sector. Seeing Outcome Health’s standards emulated and adopted elsewhere is particularly gratifying.”
Nandini has been instrumental in bringing in new ideas, developing products, and managing organizational change for teams of 750-plus people across continents and countries. “Having a background in both hardware and software gives me a unique perspective on all aspects of technology,” she says. “I’m well-versed in managing teams that are culturally and geographically diverse.”
She has always strived to be part of organizations that drive impact at scale and that seek to change the way people get information. “Knowing that my team is focused on solving real health needs that connect support, resources, and healthcare professionals to patients who have important needs is very motivating,” she says.
Colleagues say Nandini is a seasoned executive who is savvy in all things digital. She combines the best of all worlds, leading with maturity, grace, and a depth of needed engineering knowledge and perspective. Based on her experience at Twitter, Oracle, and Sun Microsystems, she has developed the entrepreneurial qualities that are critical to driving success.
“My leadership style is one of self-confidence and perseverance; there is power in getting back up and trying again,” Nandini says. “I always encourage people to stay curious and to break out of their comfort zones, which I love to do in everything I try. I bring to bear my cumulative experience and energize my teams to do the same.”
Nandini is currently the executive sponsor for women at Outcome Health. She has dedicated her career to building pathways for women and young people and has mentored many women at every level. She speaks to large and small groups to share her professional experiences and personal perspectives. “I emphasize the importance of ensuring everyone has a seat at the table, and people feel empowered to let their voices be heard,” she says. “I try to inspire others to be bold by speaking about my big step from hardware building to software development and how my journey in healthcare is changing people’s lives.”
Nandini, who holds 15 patents for technical work, is a strong supporter of women in technology and advises women in tech and healthcare about how to negotiate their compensation. She generously gives her time to causes that support women and girls to join the tech community. “Since I’ve reached the C-suite, I’ve been sure that payment policies are equal and fair,” she says.
Nandini continues to be inspired by some great advice she received along her career journey. “Sometimes the opportunity presented to you is unplanned or may seem to be off-strategy, but you have to be open to take risks and grab opportunities as they arise,” she says.(PV)
Raising the bar… by leading by example
Gail McIntyre, Ph.D.
Company: Aravive Inc.
Associations: Diplomate of the American Board of Toxicology (DABT); American College of Toxicology (ACT); American Society of Clinical Pathology (ASCP); American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
Few people can take credit for driving a medicine through the full drug development process. Gail McIntyre, Ph.D., can say she has done this for three products: Nesina, Priligy, and Viberzi.
“It is always very fulfilling to take a compound with promising pharmacology data, build a regulatory strategy around it, bring it through development, and see it become a drug that helps someone,” Gail says. “The most gratifying experience is hearing someone tell me that one of the drugs I’ve worked on has helped them.”
Gail, a seasoned biopharma executive with more than 25 years of experience, was named CEO of Aravive in April 2020. Previously, she was chief scientific officer, a role she held since February 2019; she has been with the company since August 2016 as head of R&D. Aravive is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing therapeutics to halt the progression of life-threatening diseases, including difficult-to-treat cancers such as ovarian cancer.
Colleagues say Gail is passionate about helping patients, and she is driven to bring innovative, meaningful medicines to patients in need.
Since giving a presentation about leukemia when she was in the 7th grade, she has wanted to develop a cure for cancer. “I have always had the drive to develop drugs for cancer,” she says. “I have worked on a number of oncology compounds and want to be instrumental in bringing a safe and effective oncology drug to the market. My work at Aravive may let me achieve this goal.”
Starting out at PPD in the late 1990s as associate director of regulatory affairs, Gail was named to lead PPD’s compound partnering group as senior VP, research, within six years.
She is skilled at navigating discussions around the complexity of science, the value points that a drug may have, and the impact a medicine will have on patients.
In addition, her expertise encompasses strategic business development, licensing deals, and mergers and acquisitions.
Gail understands that working in the highly regulated drug development arena is always challenging.
When she hits a wall, she and her teams spend time thinking through the science, talking to experts, and finding new paths that propel the program to the next stage. “Teamwork is key — no one person has all of the answers,” she says.
She understands that while bringing drugs to market is crucial, it’s also important to recognize when a drug should not be further pursued. “We need to think honestly about development candidates and whether we should expose patients to them,” she says. “I always ask my teams if they would put a family member in the trial being conducted. Feeling good about what you are doing is success in my opinion.”
Colleagues say she empowers everyone around her to not lose sight of the ultimate goal: changing the lives of people impacted by life-threatening conditions by developing medicines that have a significant effect on their quality of life, while ensuring there are minimal side-effects. But best of all, they say she maintains a wonderfully dry sense of humor that brings life and smiles to everyone in the company.
As a leader, Gail seeks to inspire her team by getting in the trenches and working alongside them.
“It is crucial to recognize solid performers and team members who go the extra mile,” she says. “It’s equally important to admit when you, the leader, make a mistake.”
She takes a direct, data-driven approach to leadership and recognizes that sometimes people just need a break, so she steps in to take over some tasks and lets them take time off. “Just taking a day away from work is enough to give one new energy to face the challenges we face,” she says.
Mentoring is important to Gail. She reaches out to those from her alma mater UNC Chapel Hill and seeks to guide younger people in their careers.
“I have had phenomenal mentors and believe they have been instrumental in who I am today so I would love to be able to do the same,” she says.
Gail’s passion for helping others extends beyond humans. “I have been involved in rescuing dogs for decades and have spent many weekends over the past eight years participating in transport of dogs and cats from high-kill shelters to rescues,” she says. (PV)
Advancing Clinical Research Sites
Raising the bar… by making sure the site voice is heard
Company: Society for Clinical Research Sites
Industry Awards: Silver Stevie Award for Executive Team of the Year, 2012; Silver Stevie Award for Business Development of the Year, 2013
Company Awards: Best Clinical Site Network at the Vaccine Industry Excellence Award, 2012
Community Awards: Board of Trustees for University of Central Arkansas
Associations: SCRS; ACRP; Kits for Life
Casey Orvin has devoted 20 years to improving the patient journey within the clinical research industry. He has been instrumental in leading multiple company teams to achieve levels of growth and success that are rarely seen, and this now includes more than a year as president of the Society for Clinical Research Sites (SCRS), a position Casey was handpicked for by the company’s late founder, Christine Pierre.
Casey knew Christine well, and she had expressed her desire to one day have him lead the organization. He wasn’t sure he could fill her shoes, but he knew he could carry on her vision successfully. “I knew it would be a challenge given the enormous amount of respect and admiration so many people in our industry had for Christine,” Casey says. “I realized that no one could take her place and no one should take her place.”
It quickly became apparent that Casey’s record of success and industry reputation made him perfect for the job. Due to the untimely passing of Christine, Casey joined the organization at what was understandably a challenging time. “I was met with such kindness and mutual respect, that it truly became an opportunity to show the whole industry what a great team was in place at SCRS,” he says. “The organization was built for site sustainability, and I’ve always been passionate about sites and the important role they have within the research industry.”
In fact, Casey’s first job was working at a small network of sites in Little Rock, Ark., as a marketing specialist. “Within the first week I knew that I had found my passion — working with sites in the clinical research industry,” he says.
Before taking the helm at SCRS, Casey served on the business development team at Clinical Research Advantage (CRA), and was instrumental in expanding the company’s clinical sites from six to 38, which secured CRA’s position as the country’s largest and most therapeutically diverse site network. Casey was also a key player when CRA acquired Radiant Research, an SMO with nearly 50 sites, by overseeing the business development and commercial aspects of the acquisition. After the acquisition, Casey led CRA/Radiant to become the first strategic prime partner with IQVIA, which meant it was the first U.S. site network outside of hospitals to accomplish such a feat.
Before joining SCRS, Casey most recently led the commercial team for Synexus, the largest site network in the industry with more than 200 sites in 12 countries.
Casey has driven much-needed innovation in the industry as well. In 2014, he became the first person ever to secure a partnership with a pharmaceutical sponsor that involved awarding a large-scale patient vaccine study to a single site network. He worked with the study’s sponsor to enroll 8,300 subjects across 40 of CRA/Radiant’s sites for a hepatitis B vaccine clinical trial. “It was rewarding to have the study awarded to our sites,” Casey says. “But even more, it meant that 8,300 people received a vaccine six weeks sooner than planned — and that’s what it’s all about — getting new medicines to a greater number of patients in the shortest amount of time possible.”
At SCRS, Casey has been increasing efforts to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, doubling down on the focus on decentralized clinical trials (DCT). Casey also guided the organization’s 2019 Global Summit to focus heavily on technology and DCTs as well as the necessary training and information for sites to begin conducting remote visits and DCTs. His foresight meant that more than 1,000 sites were trained under SCRS Virtual Trial Capable Training program before COVID-19 impacted clinical trials.
“My leadership style is one of teamwork and motivation and creating a shared vision,” he says. “The key is to personally have the same qualities you want and expect each of your team members to have. It’s important to lead by example and realize that everyone on the team has different strengths and weaknesses. I always encourage new ideas and want the team to always be thinking of better ways to accomplish our goals. I also want to empower my teams to grow and give them opportunities to exceed.”
Casey is a strong believer in mentoring, which he views as the key to building a stronger generation of future leaders and a brighter tomorrow. “If I can be a small part of shaping the careers of others or sharing ways to help them improve their lives, we have both gained from the experience,” he says.
Casey has a reputation throughout the industry for being incredibly kind and thoughtful. He is a natural networker and understands the value that these connections can bring to bear to move the industry forward for the benefit of patients.
Casey says he was taught from a very young age that kindness and thoughtfulness know no boundaries. “Everyone deserves to be treated with not only respect but also with kindness,” he says. “When we go out of our way to help someone, give a complement, teach somebody, or acknowledge a success, we really never know the impact we may have on that individual at any given time.” (PV)
Do Good and Raise Hell
Raising the bar… by championing diversity and inclusion
Awards: Cannes Pharma Jury President; HBA Luminary; Global Awards Jury President
Associations: 4As; Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association; Waukegan To College Board of Directors
I have never met a problem that I don’t love. Problems are just ideas waiting to happen. It’s our job to properly understand and diagnose problems. By doing so, we can dream up unconventional ways to solve any problem and achieve breakthrough results.
In 2016, Robin Shapiro helped lead the integration of two iconic agency brands — Corbett and LLNS — to create TBWA\WorldHealth. This was both the most challenging assignment and the highlight of her career. “Instead of calling it a merger, which comes with the baggage of ‘us vs. them,’ we chose to create something completely new,” she says. “It was the best decision we ever made and we’ve been growing and thriving ever since.”
As a global agency network, TBWA\WorldHealth grew 38% in 2019, but as CEO Robin is most proud of the culture. “We’ve built a culture where everyone can feel comfortable bringing their full self to work every day,” she says.
Colleagues say TBWA\WorldHealth’s core values came from Robin’s heart and they perfectly sum her up: be authentic, do good, and raise hell.
Six years ago when Robin became president of Corbett, when the agency was on the heels of a string of client losses, it was a test of her strength as a leader — a test she passed with flying colors. “Morale was at an all-time low,” she says. “Instead of focusing on how to win more business I decided to focus on how not to lose business. We created a focused agency initiative on the topic of business retention. We uncovered 11 warning signs of an agency/client relationship in need of repair. From there we developed a new approach that ultimately resulted in 100% client retention.”
Robin’s penchant for disruption extends to her own career. “I have never followed the conventional path, in my career or in my work,” she says. “I continuously challenge the status quo and create space for new ideas to thrive.”
Robin is a noted mentor and she takes an empathetic approach to leadership, which generates lasting bonds with clients and colleagues. “I lead with love and authenticity but with a focus on action,” she says. “I instill in everyone the belief that they can achieve whatever they set their sights on, whether that’s a career goal or personal goal.”
As a female CEO, a working mother of three, and a person whose career started in creative, she says she has overcome many challenges and misperceptions throughout her career. “I use my experience to coach and inspire others,” she says.
Robin believes when people thrive and grow, agencies thrive, and as such she imparts advice she received early on in her own career to her team leads: don’t be in a hurry about taking on bigger and bigger roles.
“I tell people you want to be the highest performing employee at every level so really focus on doing your job impeccably,” she says. “Ask for frequent feedback. Be an excellent peer and mentor and do good in your organization and the rest will follow.”
Throughout her career, Robin has shared her mantra — experiment; try things; learn from them — with her teams as a way to motivate them to go beyond what they thought was possible.
“If ideas don’t work, that’s not a crime,” Robin says. “Just learn from it. Part of learning is taking accountability for what doesn’t work, without casting blame. Change doesn’t happen when we aren’t fiercely honest, authentic, and accountable.”
Under Robin’s leadership, the agency has worked with some of the world’s most ambitious healthcare brands, and along the way shattering conventions and producing some of the most disruptive work in the industry.
“I have never met a problem that I don’t love,” Robin says. “Problems are just ideas waiting to happen. It’s our job to properly understand and diagnose problems. By doing so, we can dream up unconventional ways to solve any problem and achieve breakthrough results.”
And outside of the office, she is no less generous with her time and spirit, devoting herself to mentorship programs and showing up every single day for the people she loves. Outside of the agency, she mentors young people through an organization called Waukegan To College.
“The goal of Waukegan To College is to help first-generation college students reach their ambition of achieving a college degree,” she says. “Education is a basic human right and it changes lives.” (PV)
Pumping Up the Value
Raising the bar… by preparing my team and clients for what is next
Title: President, Field Solutions
Industry Awards: PharmaVOICE 100, 2017, 2009; Leadership Excellence Magazine Top 100, 2008
Starting Alamo and building it up with a fantastic team, then having it become part of Eversana’s fantastic combination of people and offerings, has been my biggest career highlight.
In 2019, as the life-sciences industry began its shift to a patient-centric, value-based model of care, Peter Marchesini saw traditional service silos were standing in the way of healthcare transformation. He recognized there were gaps of unmet need, and that innovation wasn’t being converted into more value for patients.
Based on this, as well as his desire to increase the value he delivered to clients, Peter decided to sell Alamo Pharma Services — the company he had co-founded and grown into a successful and respected field sales, marketing, and clinical solutions company — to Eversana.
“Starting Alamo and building it up with a fantastic team, then having it become part of Eversana’s fantastic combination of people and offerings, has been my biggest career highlight,” Peter says.
As Eversana’s president of field solutions, Peter shows pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that by working with his team they increase their ability to concentrate on the challenges that are core to their business’ commercial and clinical development. By building a comprehensive, clinically oriented, and data-driven field solutions team able to describe value and capture the data to measure value for all patients, payers, and providers, he is ushering in a new era of patient-minded, value-driven outsourced sales and clinical field forces.
Peter’s chief goal is to continue to grow his business to not be the biggest but rather the most recommended by clients.
“I always believe that you are best known by your reputation, your family, your friends, and by the work you do for your customers,” he says.
Peter is leading the charge on how Eversana can optimize its commercial efforts with its clinical offerings. “Finding the proper solutions for 2020 and beyond will require different strategies and tactics than those that have brought us to this moment,” he says. “I hope that my curiosity for answers to the new questions will lead to the innovation that will enable both our clients and our company to reach new heights.”
In the near term, however, there is COVID-19, which Peter considers the biggest challenge of his career. “The COVID-19 challenge has caused me and my team to not only change how we conduct our business but engage with our clients and employees in an entirely new and focused way,” he says. “Teams are being asked to do their jobs in a virtual way, and we have had to adapt, innovate, and change how we support our clients to reach their goals.”
Colleagues say Peter leads by example, and his reputation for always doing what is right for his team and his clients enables him to have a long list of individuals who will provide a helping hand or an added level of perspective to any given project.
“My leadership style involves communication, transparency, and inclusiveness,” Peter says. “It’s critical to understand the importance of buy-in and engagement to lasting success. Sometimes the best solutions come from individuals who have a fresh perspective.”
Peter is motivated by the responsibility he has for his team and his company. “If I don’t do the right things at the right times for the right reasons to drive the right results, then why should anyone else?” he asks.
Peter says Harvey MacKay’s advice to “dig your well before you are thirsty” is one of the best pieces of professional advice he’s ever received. “This applies to life and business,” he says.
“You have to put in the time to get the results you require in good times and bad. This has enabled me to benefit short term and long term in relationships and business.”
One of Peter’s great joys in life is having the ability and the forum to teach, coach, and mentor.
In addition to his work at Eversana, he has been on the faculty of the Rutgers Business School pharmaceutical MBA program since 2005, teaching a course on managing pharmaceutical salesforces.
“I have benefited in my career from having smart people in my life who have helped me find my path in life,” he says. “I owe it to others to pay it forward and help those who don’t have as many people in their corner to guide them.”(PV)
Raising the bar… by creating revolutionary physician and patient engagement solutions
As a leader, Anupam Nandwana takes inspiration from baseball. “I am a Yankees fan, and I would watch Mariano Rivera close the biggest of games and lose the biggest games of his career when the whole world was watching,” he says. “His performance showed me something that is applicable to every situation. You can’t get too high or too low; you have to turn the page. Your team looks to you for confidence in difficult times, and it is your job to stay grounded when things are going well.”
Things are going very well for Anupam. As CEO, he has led P360 to reach a 100% CAGR in multiple years. He also guided the creation of Swittons, an end-to-end enterprise solution that helps bridge the gap between the pharma industry and physicians.
“It is very satisfying when you are able to build and grow a business successfully,” he says. “I enjoy working on product building. Designing and building the Swittons product line from concept to actual proprietary hardware/software and introducing it in the marketplace was a unique experience.”
Even though Anupam’s core background is in technology, he has spent almost 20 years understanding the commercial pharma business. “It gives me tremendous satisfaction to see next next-generation technology solving unique business problems,” he says. “I hope to continue contributing to our industry in this way. The P360 brand is very special to me, and I have a vision to carve a special place in the market to support commercial businesses of today and the future.”
Anupam sees challenges as inevitable and always surmountable. “When you build a business from the ground up, challenges are part of that life every day,” he says. “You have to deal with everything from building products to client delivery and managing finances. You don’t know where the next challenge will come from.
“As a leader, the first thing when challenges arise is to make sure your team doesn’t get deflated and not to point fingers,” Anupam continues. “It’s important to give clear direction and keep the end goal in mind; break down the big challenge in smaller problem statements; and then find solutions to individual problems. It’s incredible how quickly different pieces of the puzzle come together.”
Anupam works closely with young talent within P360, inspiring them to create new, patentable technology and he mentors them to be able to grow and experience the business process.
“Mentoring is very important to me,” he says. “I was lucky to learn and be mentored by some amazing folks in the early part of my career. I take it as a personal responsibility to pass this on to the next generation.”
Colleagues say Anupam not only exemplifies good character and leadership abilities, his morals, ethics, and positive outlook permeate throughout P360. He has tremendous faith in every single staff member and wants to get to know each individual, because people come first, and success flows from this.
“Sir Richard Branson has an amazing quote: ‘Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to,’” Anupam says. “I am always inspired when I hear our employees tell their personal stories of how working at P360 has been a great experience.”
Anupam believes in inspiring people by trusting in their ability to do the right thing and not judge when mistakes happen. “Removing the fear of failing does wonders for the team,” he says. “As a leader, it is my job to guide individuals in their personal growth as well as what is right for the company. Empathy takes center stage in everything we do as a company and how I make decisions.”
According to Anupam, success comes in various forms and is not always one big event. “I have learned to cherish the small things,” he says. “The journey is equally as important as the goals. My biggest measure of success is when our customers or employees show confidence that they have chosen the right partner or employer.”
His vision is to transform the business of life-sciences to ultimately facilitate greater speed to market and more care to patients.
“The impact of what we do on a daily basis motivates me,” he says. “Giving people hope and opportunity is an amazing thing.” (PV)
The Right Prescription for Advertising
Raising the bar… by encouraging others to strive for excellence
Stacy Patterson, M.D.
Title: Chief Medical Officer
Company: QBFox Healthcomm
Industry Awards: 2019 Elite Strategist, PM360
Stacy Patterson, M.D., had just completed medical school when she decided to transition from clinical medicine to the pharmaceutical and agency side of the healthcare field.
“After graduating from Duke University Medical School, I realized that my passion was in medical communications and marketing, so I made one of the biggest decisions in my life to take the path less followed,” Stacy recalls. “I could not be happier that I did as it has given me a very fulfilling career.”
And what a career it has been. While at Integrated Communications Corp. (now ICC Lowe), Stacy created the agency sector’s largest medical department and pioneered a new offering — medical strategist — within the agency framework.
“With an intimate knowledge of the audience and a deep understanding of disease state and data, a medical strategist is able to bring nuance insights and strategies to clients,” she says.
Now, as chief medical officer of QBFox Healthcomm, she brings clients top-tier medical and strategic thinking that ultimately translates into world-class creative. She oversees the strategy of every brand the agency works on, not only mastering the ins and outs of a brand’s data, but also its competition. Colleagues say she excels at finding that riveting medical hook that instantly makes sense to an audience.
Stacy is known for being able to bridge the traditionally siloed strategic and creative teams, keeping work grounded in the truth of science and on brief, and remaining a staunch supporter of big conceptual ideas.
Stacy inspires others by setting a high bar and holding herself accountable to the same standards. She is an involved leader and mentors her team on how to best meet that bar.
“I have a tremendously high bar for quality and put so much of my personal self into my work that I don’t settle for results that are less than amazing,” she says.
Her clients and colleagues say Stacy’s presence on their teams and business lifts the team and also the work product.
Colleagues also say Stacy is smart, funny, and down to earth. She cares about the people she works with, from clients to her co-workers and teammates.
“I love collaborating with my QBFox colleagues and clients, it’s extremely motivating,” Stacy says. “I love working with all of them, and it makes my job fun.”
When challenges arise, Stacy injects some levity into the situation and rolls up her sleeves alongside her teammates so they don’t feel that they are in it alone.
“I never expect others to do anything that I would not do myself, and I also provide autonomy with a safety net,” she says. “I don’t stand over your shoulder, but I’ll always be there to encourage, lend advice, and troubleshoot.”
Stacy embraces her role as mentor to those in the advertising field and loves to bring medical professionals over to her side of the business.
“One of the most satisfying areas of my career has been mentoring others,” she says. “Since I’ve been at the forefront of medical directors and strategists within an agency, I often have new M.D.s, Ph.Ds, and Pharm.Ds without any agency experience ask for advice on making the transition from clinical or the bench to this side of the business. It’s been rewarding to work with some of these folks over the years and see them build a fulfilling career in this industry.”
Stacy has built an outstanding career while raising two daughters. To this day, she measures success three ways: when her clients’ goals have been exceeded and they are happy; when her team feels proud of their work; and when her daughters say they are proud of their mom.
“It’s a challenge to be a working mother and feel that you are giving your all to both your family and your career,” she says. “I knew I did something right when my oldest, who just graduated Swarthmore College as Phi Beta Kappa, told me that while it was hard at times not having me home all the time, it made her realize that she could follow her dreams and do anything she set her mind to.” (PV)
From 0 to 100 for Rare Diseases
Raising the bar… by bringing new medicine forward, faster
Title: President and CEO
Company: Mirum Pharmaceuticals Inc.
With a clear mission to bring life-changing medicines to the market for rare disease patients, Chris Peetz has Mirum Pharmaceuticals on the trajectory to achieve this lofty goal.
Chris and fellow co-founder Mike Grey, now the company’s chairman, have the objective of developing Maralixibat, a novel, oral, minimally-absorbed therapy being evaluated as a treatment for children with rare cholestatic liver diseases, including Alagille syndrome (ALGS) and progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC).
The drug had previously been in development by Shire, but due to changes in the company’s priorities it was shelved. Together, Mike and Chris re-acquired the drug and established Mirum in 2018. Within eight months, with Chris leading the charge, the company went from Series A financing to its IPO.
The most challenging part of building any company is the team dynamic, including attracting the most talented group of people who work well together. Chris not only expanded the team to 45 people in a year, but he created a culture in which people are passionate about what they do.
Chris’ focus on creating unity, building teams, setting strategy, and achieving goals is paying off in big ways. Together, the team has launched a global Phase III program for Maralixibat to treat PFIC and is preparing to file an NDA for ALGS.
“It has been an exciting whirlwind as we went from idea, to IPO, and now on to NDA — all within two years,” Chris says. “Having high-impact medicines in development and an outstanding group of people coming together to form this company has been an outstanding experience. It’s all about a shared vision of where the team is going and rolling up our sleeves together to get it done.”
According to his colleagues, perhaps what stands out most about Chris’ leadership is his true commitment to patient-centricity. He has a deep and genuine interest in the ALGS community and is in continuous communication with the patient advocacy group, the Alagille Syndrome Alliance (ALGSA). He has ensured that the organization had a seat at the table with the FDA during the NDA process. He oversees the process to ensure that press releases and FDA milestones are clearly understood by ALGS families and addresses any questions from the ALGS community with a sense of urgency.
Before starting up Mirum, Chris was chief financial officer at Tobira Therapeutics, which was facing potential wind-down with only $2 million in the bank. Chris was responsible for corporate development and worked on building relationships and options across every financing and partnership format possible — from venture financing and venture debt to a reverse merger and public financing. Two years later, the company had successfully been rebuilt, leading to its acquisition by Allergan.
“Ultimately, it was building the broad interest in the product and it’s anti-fibrotic activity that led to strategic interest in the company,” Chris says.
Chris is inspired by the people he works with and the patients they serve, and in turn he inspires others by sharing patient stories and establishing the connection between the day-to-day work and what a successful outcome means. “I measure success by the impact a medicine has on life-threatening diseases,” he says.
Colleagues say he has created an open and approachable atmosphere where people are comfortable challenging others and being challenged themselves. “I try to keep a personal connection with everyone on the team and offer direct support,” he says.
When challenges arise, he finds embracing conflict or a tough situation directly lets everyone know there isn’t a hidden agenda. He says using humor to call out issues can do quite a bit to diffuse tense situations and make it easier to approach solutions.
“I want to work on life-changing medicines; we have been tackling some very difficult diseases without established endpoints or pathways for development,” he says. “Each of our programs have required collaborative and creative approaches to bring patients, investigators, regulators and industry together for many ‘firsts’ in developing medicines for these settings. The potential of a good product is what brings together all stakeholders and creates lasting value for patients and the healthcare system.” (PV)
Championing Women’s Health
Raising the bar… by developing strong leaders who have the confidence to be transparent and inquisitive
Company: Evofem Biosciences Inc.
Industry Awards: San Diego Business Journal’s 2019 Businesswoman of the Year; named a New Champion for Reproductive Health by the United Nations Foundation, 2015; Athena San Diego’s Pinnacle Award for Life Sciences, 2014
Community Awards: Keynote speaker at Padres Pedal the Cause 2020 fundraising event in San Diego that raised over $3.12 million to accelerate cures for cancer
Evofem Biosciences CEO Saundra Pelletier’s strength, brilliance, and unwavering commitment to women’s health has carried her through numerous challenges. But the one she faced in 2018 was the biggest of her life.
“I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in July 2018,” she says. “I continued running Evofem full time while I had a double mastectomy, four rounds of intensive chemotherapy, a hysterectomy, and an oophorectomy, all within seven months.”
Cancer is now behind Saundra, and the future looks bright. In May, Evofem received FDA approval of its anticipated blockbuster Phexxi, a hormone-free, self-applied gel contraceptive that prevents pregnancy by neutralizing inner vaginal pH.
Saundra says this approval is one of the biggest highlight of her career so far. “There has been a lack of innovation in women’s health for decades,” she says. “Our breakthrough contraceptive Phexxi is the first hormone-free, female-controlled, on-demand prescription contraceptive that puts women in the driver’s seat of their reproductive health.”
It must be noted that she was also instrumental in Evofem’s rapid growth and evolution, having led the company’s transition to the public market, its transformation into a commercial-stage company, and multiple equity financing rounds that have raised more than $400 million.
And while the COVID-19 pandemic presents some unusual challenges to a new product launch, Saundra is confident in the expertise of her team and the potential of Phexxi to address the unmet needs of millions of women who are fed up with their current options. “We’ve got the right team, the right asset, and the right expertise in place, and after two decades of limited innovation, it’s about time that women have access to a hormone-free birth control option that puts them in control.”
Simultaneously, the company is also developing EVO100, Evofem’s pipeline product for the prevention of chlamydia and gonorrhea. According to the CDC, these two dangerous STIs affect more than 2.1 million people and are continuing to increase at an annual rate, and there are currently no available products to prevent recurrence. The company expects to advance EVO100 into a Phase III trial before the end of the year.
Saundra has dedicated much of her career and personal life to addressing the inequalities facing women around the world, and she attracts others with the same mindset.
In fact, one of Saundra’s goals is to expand the sexual and reproductive health options for women in the developing world. “I firmly believe poverty can be best impacted by allowing any woman, no matter who she is or where she lives, to choose when, if, and how often she has children,” she says.
While Saundra is a tough negotiator and a strong, direct leader, colleagues say she has built an exceptional culture based on kindness and generosity. “Little things matter,” she says.
“Remembering birthdays, children’s names, hobbies and pets, and sending handwritten thank-you notes makes people feel seen and appreciated.”
She applies the same principles and attitude to mentoring other young women focused on positively impacting the world. “If we do not take the time to invest in the next generation of amazing leaders, entrepreneurs, and glass-ceiling breakers, then who will?”
But she also doesn’t mince words — favoring a direct approach to leadership and true authenticity. “I don’t beat around the bush, and I always approach a conversation openly and honestly, setting clear expectations,” she says. “That said, I would never ask anyone to do anything I haven’t already done or would not do myself.
“I consistently remind everyone that someone has to be the best, so why shouldn’t it be you?” she adds. “Average begets average. Excellence begets excellence.”
Saundra embraces her parenting role with equal fervor. “I care deeply about being a great single mother to my 13-year-old son,” she says. “I am raising him as both a feminist and a gentleman, and I want him to see the kind of success that hard work can deliver, both at home and at work.”
She says the greatest human need is the need to feel significant.
“It’s important to me to identify and call out the things that are unique and special to each individual person,” Saundra says. “Taking the time to comment on those things makes people feel ‘seen’, and I think it may be more important than ever.” (PV)
Raising the bar… by creating an entirely new service company
Jim Lang is disturbed that his car company knows more about the detailed health of his Tesla than his healthcare system knows about him. The lack of digital and data innovation within the industry creates needless duplication of work across states and countries, ultimately hurting patient success, he says. The CEO of Eversana adds that solving this issue is just one of the many other goals he has toward creating a better healthcare ecosystem for patients.
Jim’s vision to create a healthier world for all began in 2016, when the acquisition of specialized expertise and capabilities to ensure market access and reimbursement for biopharmaceuticals became the first building blocks of what was to become an end-to-end commercial platform. He has since led the expansion of solutions by identifying best-in-class niche providers, breaking down traditional industry service silos, and leveraging the power found in data and technology to enhance patient engagement and improve adherence.
“I want to help make Eversana have a lasting positive impact on the industry, and the patients we serve,” Jim says. “I believe we are creating a new option for the industry, I would like to be known to have played a major role in that disruption. In no way, however, is it just me; it’s a cast of thousands of truly exceptional people I am blessed to have in my life. Lately, I have also felt an emerging calling to public service; certainly, our current pandemic has put a spotlight on the enormous opportunities we have to improve healthcare.”
Jim’s vision for a better tomorrow is driven in part by his personal journey. His 18-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with new daily persistent headache (NDPH), a rare condition that exhibits as a severe, unrelenting migraine that never goes away. Her pain started on Jan. 4, 2016, and she has been afflicted all day, every day since. Because of this, Jim has made it his mission to help improve the life-sciences industry, for his daughter and for millions of others around the world, too. “I am interested in anything to do with rare disease, and particularly the headache/migraine space,” he says. “There are so many rare diseases still to conquer.”
Jim has been a leading voice in healthcare for more than 25 years. As CEO of the Decision Resources Group (DRG), he nurtured the company into a top healthcare data and analytics company via 17 acquisitions. For almost 20 years, he was focused on building and leading the Strategic Decisions Group (SDG), a premier strategy consultancy, where he also spearheaded its successful sale, including its large life-sciences practice, to IMS Health, now IQVIA. Jim is an active private investor in healthcare and serves or has served on more than a dozen private and public company boards.
“While I certainly take pride in having built industry leaders such as SDG and DRG, I am most proud of my current role building and leading Eversana,” he says. “It’s the first truly integrated, complete, customer-centric commercialization platform for the industry.”
Eversana has grown from almost $30 million in revenue and 100 employees just three years ago, to $500 million revenue and more than 2,500 employees today. The company is projected to cross the $1 billion mark in the next few years.
Jim leads by creating a compelling vision that everyone aligns to; ensuring a strong culture of shared values that are followed without exception; and creating a safe place for a leadership team to debate choices, make decisions, and align on actions. “Then I get the hell out of the way and let others far more talented than I create great results,” he says. “I am there to help others succeed, not the other way around. I work for my team.”
Being a mentor is hugely important to him, and he knows every one of his immediate team members’ long-term goals and ambitions and he actively takes a role in trying to help them reach those goals ASAP. “Sometimes my team thinks I am running a how to be a CEO boot camp,” Jim says. “I take that as a compliment.”
In regard to measuring success, there are only two things that resonate with Jim: having a community of people who can say he made a positive impact on their lives and vice versa; and upon going to sleep at night, knowing that if he never woke up, he would have no regrets. “I live each day as if it’s my last,” he says.
Jim is known for sharing stories to keep things in perspective. “I learned very early in life not to sweat the small stuff, and most of life is small stuff,” he says. “The only things precious in life are health and time.”
By building a company that is patient-minded and designed to deliver value against the evolving complexities of the industry, Jim is not only championing what is truly in his heart but he is making a difference in the lives of those around him and disrupting the industry in a major way. No wonder he sleeps well at night. (PV)
Building a Culture of Innovation
Raising the bar… by focusing on patients
Helen Hyun Jung Lee, M.D.
Title: President and CEO
Company: Samyang Biopharm USA
Company Awards: Oncology Business Unit Head award in recognition of Erbitux approval for head and neck cancer, Eli Lilly; CEO award in recognition of Onivyde EU approval, Shire
Associations: ASCO, AACR
Drug development requires harmonization, and an inspiring leader and can motivate people to play to their full potential.
When Helen Hyun Jung Lee, M.D., joined Samyang in 2016 as chief strategy officer and chief medical officer, the company did not yet have a plan to open the U.S. subsidiary. Not too long after, Dr. Lee devised a plan, and based on her proposal the board assigned her to take the role of president and CEO of the U.S.-based arm of Samyang Pharmaceuticals, adding to the burgeoning Cambridge, Mass., biotechnology ecosystem. This was in 2018, and she has been making a significant impact ever since.
From an early age, Dr. Lee knew she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. She comes from a long line of physicians, but after a time practicing as a gynecologist in Korea, she recognized the contribution she could make to help the lives of patients globally as a biopharmaceutical scientist. “As a physician scientist, I believe innovation is the essential element to get science to help patients, especially those who do not have available options to treat their diseases,” she says. “And my passion has been to develop innovative drugs to achieve the goal of helping patients.”
Before joining Samyang, she was clinical head of the solid tumor franchise at Shire, now Takeda, where she successfully led the Onivyde program, which received marketing authorization in pancreatic cancer from the EMA in 2016.
She also held the position of medical lead at Eli Lilly where she led the submission of the head and neck cancer indication for Erbitux as a first-line treatment. Erbitux received FDA approval in 2011.
Today, Dr. Lee is helping Samyang build its presence in the United States. She is drawing on her compassion for patients and knowledge in drug research to create a commercially successful presence for Samyang Biopharm USA, which is focused on developing immuno-oncology and rare disease drugs.
Dr. Lee is equally passionate about creating a strong and unified corporate culture that helps define Samyang USA as well as attract strong scientific and business leaders. As she helps bring together experienced, motivated, and diverse individuals to add to the team, she is aware of the company’s growing footprint and team identity, and feels that after almost two years of business, Samyang USA is hitting its stride as it continues to build momentum in the work and the organization. Colleagues say it’s clear that Dr. Lee’s leadership has facilitated a unique balance of responsibility, accountability, creativity, and innovation.
Her formative years in clinical research have stood Dr. Lee in good stead, but what has come to the fore in recent years is a newly found entrepreneurial appetite, as she is deeply involved in searching for assets to acquire through various business development collaborations.
Her talent, vision, and drive have attracted industry attention, which has led to two promising scientific collaborations. One is with CanCure LLC. In this collaboration Samyang USA was granted worldwide rights for the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of CanCure’s oncology compound SYB-010 (formerly CuraB-10), a first-in-class, immune stimulatory monoclonal antibody. Samyang Biopharm USA plans to file an IND in 2021, with a goal of starting SYB-010 clinical trials shortly after IND approval.
“Drug development requires harmonization, much like a large orchestra, and an inspiring leader and conductor can motivate people to play to their full potential,” Dr. Lee says.
She leads by example and through encouraging, empowering, complimenting, and listening to her team. When challenges arise, Dr. Lee encourages her team to focus on patients, to be creative, not to be afraid of failure, and to believe in themselves.
She understands that with great innovation comes high risk. “Innovation can’t be achieved without good failures, from which we can actually learn a lot,” Dr. Lee says.
What motivates her is to help patients and change the world for the better. Her professional goal is to develop more efficacious, safer, and affordable drug for patients.(PV)
Cellular Engineering Pioneer
Raising the bar… by striving for cures
Gary K. Lee, Ph.D.
Title: Chief Scientific Officer
Company: Senti Biosciences
Associations: ASGCT, AACR, ASH
Gary Lee, Ph.D.’s colleagues describe him as a “fuzzy techie,” which translates into the best of both worlds: a man driven by science who also has the people skills needed to be a leader and mentor.
“Biomedical problems are complex and challenging,” Dr. Lee says. “In order to bring novel medicines to patients in urgent need, the only way to succeed is to work together as a team and focus on driving programs forward.”
The veteran biotech executive embodies a scientific method in everything he does, both at work and in life, always letting data drive his decisions without bias from entrenched beliefs and he never hesitates to change course when new data contradicts an existing hypothesis.
Dr. Lee joined Senti Biosciences as chief scientific officer after a successful career at Sangamo, where he moved gene editing from a concept to a reality. He was instrumental in the development of five different genome edited cell therapies that translated into clinical trials.
Dr. Lee’s 13-year journey at Sangamo included leading the development of a zinc finger nuclease-mediated multiplexed gene editing approach that can be used to create off-the-shelf, universal CAR T-cell immunotherapies. The tremendous clinical potential of this approach was recognized by Kite-Gilead, leading to a $3 billion partnership with Sangamo to commercialize the technology in February 2018.
This experience was one of the highlights of his career, he says. “I was fortunate to have the opportunity to help translate five different gene and cell therapy programs into INDs, including first-in-human genome edited T cells for HIV and glioblastoma, and genomic edited hematopoietic stem cells for hemoglobinopathies,” Dr. Lee says.
Dr. Lee notes that he was working on genomic editing before the phrase was even coined. “Sangamo was the first team to introduce genome edited cell therapies into the clinic,” he says. “We had to pioneer and introduce to the FDA the associated appropriate preclinical pharmacology, toxicology, and tumorigenicity analyses to support these programs. A number of new assays, methods, and bars were created by our team to support this new field.”
The next step for Dr. Lee was to join Senti Biosciences to take cellular engineering a step further by developing programmable cell and gene therapies. The difficulty is that diseases, such as cancer, and neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases affecting millions of people, are complex and cannot be addressed by small tweaks to DNA. Tackling these bigger issues requires more sophisticated tools that can seek out disease and respond dynamically in a localized manner.
In his first executive leadership role, Dr. Lee went from managing a small group of scientists on a specific program to being responsible for the entire research organization and charting the scientific strategy for the pipeline of Senti’s therapies.
In the first year, Dr. Lee spearheaded its lead program, SENTI-101, a gene circuit-based allogeneic cell therapy that is able to target immunologically “cold” tumors that do not respond to existing immunotherapies such as anti-PD-1 antibodies. He also leads a logic-gated CAR T-cell program, that involves programming computer logic into cellular immunotherapies using gene circuit technology, increasing efficacy and reducing toxicity by endowing the cellular therapeutics with the ability to exquisitely distinguish tumor cells and healthy cells.
This allows a T-cell therapy to spare healthy cells and selectively target cancer cells, making these immunotherapies safer for patients, and broadening the number of targetable cancer indications.
Colleagues say Dr. Lee is inspiring in a quiet, thoughtful way and can be relied upon to make balanced, objective decisions that further the best interest of the company, with the goal of bringing smarter therapies to cancer patients in need.
He motivates his team through a “we” attitude. “We work together to solve difficult problems,” he says. “We face challenges because we are working with complex problems, so ups and downs are expected. With a steely focus and working together, we can overcome.”
He believes that working together is the only way to break the complex code of gene and cell therapy. “The potential of gene and cell therapy modalities are almost limitless,” Dr. Lee says. “But these modalities are also inherently complex. We all need to work together as a field and as an industry to overcome biological and technical hurdles to help fully realize the potential.” (PV)
Putting Public Health First
Raising the bar… by advancing public health
Mary Pittman, DrPH
Title: President and CEO
Company: Public Health Institute (PHI)
Associations: World Health Organization’s Health Worker Migration Global Policy Advisory Council; the National Patient Safety Foundation’s board of governors; Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association
Mary Pittman, DrPH, has dedicated her life to improving health. She began her career working on community-based prevention for New York State Office of Drug and Substance Abuse Services. From there she worked as a program planner and an evaluator at the San Francisco Health Department. She was involved with hospital and public health policy during the initial AIDS crisis and left there to head the California Association of Public Hospitals where she worked on legislation and funding to support the safety net hospitals with increased reimbursements for caring for the low-income and uninsured populations.
Those experiences prepared her to run the Health Research and Educational Trust, a Chicago-based affiliate of the American Hospital Association, where she worked on quality improvement, engaging hospitals in building healthier communities and creating better data and focus on disparities in care.
From community advocacy work in New York to working with under-served patients in San Francisco, to now running the Public Health Institute (PHI) in California. As president and CEO, Mary is always thinking ahead about how to help patients and communities who have been disadvantaged by policies and programs to have a stronger voice and more power by inclusion and growing new leaders.
“I have had a lot of experiences and interestingly, my career has allowed me to go deeply in some areas and have breadth of experiences,” she says. “I’ve also done work on Medicaid programming and wrote my dissertation on the impact of changing policies for eligibility and removing people from Medicaid and the impact that it had on their health.”
Mary worked for the American Hospitals Association for many years, running its research and educational trust, so she got to know a lot about how hospitals and health systems deal with community-based issues. “But what I’m passionate about and most known for is the work that I’ve done for many years in building healthy and resilient communities and forging the intersection between community health and prevention and healthcare and how to move up stream to deal with some of the root causes of disease,” she says.
Upon assuming the reins of PHI in 2008, becoming the organization’s second-only president and CEO since its founding in 1964, her primary focus has been guiding the development of a strategy and organizational structure that builds on existing PHI program strengths to achieve greater impact on public policy and practice in public health.
Mary’s overarching goal is for PHI to become known for leadership in recognizing the multisector nature of creating healthier communities. To this end, PHI continues to work closely with the state and local public health on many programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and programs that support chronic disease prevention. What’s more, she advocates that all PHI projects take the social determinants of health into account to better address health disparities and inequities. Under Mary’s leadership, PHI has emphasized support for the Affordable Care Act and the Prevention and Public Health Fund, the integration of new technologies and the expansion of global health programming.
She is committed to increasing advocacy for public health policy and health reform, and addressing health workforce shortages. She sees the strong connections between the investments in public infrastructure such as safe places for children to play, clean water sources, and access to healthy food as central to public health and the health status of vulnerable communities. Under Mary’s guidance, PHI has created Dialogue4Health.com, the online platform for educational conferencing and social networking, and PHI has been recognized multiple times as a preferred place to work.
Mary has many career highlights, but ones she is most proud are the programs PHI is executing across sectors to the address issues of climate and health. “We are lifting these discussions up to have climate change recognized as a critical public health issue,” she says.
Colleagues says she encourages PHI’s independent investigators to work together to achieve a synergy in which the sum of their contributions is greater than the whole. This year with the COVID-19 crisis, Mary’s work is especially important. She has been working on plans for pandemics for decades and this year she is ensuring public health agencies are as prepared as possible. She is a big thinker and is always decades ahead in determining how to best be prepared to handle all possible health crises.
Mary’s focus is on public health as a key player of change, but she says there’s no way that change will happen with public health alone. “What’s needed is a partnership between the private sector, businesses, the non-profit sector, and government,” she says. “Each has a critical role to maintain strong social, economic, and vital systems for a healthy society.”
In addition to focusing on the big issues in public health, Mary has been a strong proponent of diversity in leadership both on a systemic level and as a mentor and sponsor. She is a generous resource and is always willing to provide counsel and guidance. Currently she is on the advisory board of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association and on the board of the Carol Emmott Fellowship which supports women leaders in healthcare. One of her greatest gifts, according to colleagues and peers, is her ability to connect people to make a difference. (PV)
Going the Extra Mile
Raising the bar… by taking on a mission that is much bigger than myself and my company
Prof. Arndt Rolfs, M.D.
Title: Founder and CEO
There is a photo of Centogen CEO Prof. Arndt Rolfs, M.D., taken in Pakistan, where he and the Centogene leadership team were providing free testing to help diagnose patients with rare genetic diseases. In it, Prof. Rolfs is dressed in his usual loafers and button-up shirt while at eye level with a young boy — smiling and offering up a friendly distraction as the boy waited to be tested for a suspected rare disease. Neither of them spoke the same language or shared the same ethnicity. But in that moment, they were on the same team.
That photo underscores Prof. Rolfs’ commitment to making sure Centogene supports all rare disease patients and illustrates the culture that he has built within the company and continues to share with the world. From Centogene’s partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Lahore in Pakistan to multiple clinics throughout Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, he has worked hard to leverage his extensive medical expertise and experience in rare diseases to build relationships and collaborations that enable Centogene to understand, interpret, and act on insights to help diagnose and develop better treatments for patients with rare genetic diseases.
“I think if you would ask any of my colleagues, they would say that I am determined, passionate, and outspoken and that my lifelong commitment to our patients is unwavering,” Prof. Rolfs says.
Colleagues say Prof. Rolfs understands deeply not just the impact of a rare disease diagnosis, but the diagnostic odyssey patients too often must endure, as well as the critical importance of using available information to shorten the journey for as many patients as possible.
Dr. Rolfs is a principal investigator of several international multicenter studies in the area of rare diseases, including the SIFAP project, the world’s largest study in young stroke patients related to Fabry disease; several biomarker studies, for example BioGaucher, BioHunter, and BioHAE; and epidemiological studies in neurogenetic etiologies. He led Centogene to receiving a patent for a method of diagnosing Gaucher’s disease, and he is a frequent contributor to medical and scientific publications. He is a sought-after consultant for the EMA and FDA. He received his approbation, the German official license to practice as a doctor, for human medicine from the Universities of Mainz and Vienna, and was granted a tenure track professorship for clinical neurology. He went on to work at the department of neurology and later served as head of the laboratory for neurochemistry at the Free University of Berlin. He also worked at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics and the psychiatric clinic of the University Hospital Rudolf-Virchow in Berlin. In 1993, he began working with the University of Rostock — serving in several roles, including head of the neurobiological research laboratory and vice-director of the department for neurology. From 2008 to 2018, Prof. Rolfs served as director of the Albrecht-Kossel-Institute for Neuroregeneration at the University of Rostock.
In building Centogene from two employees to a team of almost 500, Prof. Rolfs has not only created a culture of patient-centricity, but an organization in which a commitment to patients with rare disease ultimately drives each difficult decision, complex diagnostic test, and technological advancement.
“I hope that I inspire others to set big goals and feverishly pursue them, no matter what it takes,” Prof. Rolfs says. “Only by doing so can we create transformational solutions for our global community, and nothing makes me prouder than when I see my team living this out in their everyday actions.”
Dr. Rolfs has gained the trust of patients, colleagues, and partners around the world, helping local physicians set up sustainable medical care systems while also sharing knowledge and resources and continuously providing support. He has instilled this spirit among his team by taking off his CEO cap to step in and directly test patients using his medical expertise by encouraging employees to participate in testing trips with him to gain a stronger understanding of the true impact they can make and by continuously making it known that Centogene is here to support all people seeking a diagnosis for, living with, or caring for someone with a rare disease.
Colleagues say Prof. Rolfs is known to say two phrases: “No could, should, would — just do,” and “Let me be clear.”
“While I must laughingly admit that I use these phrases quite frequently, there is a stronger meaning behind them, and that is the overwhelming, and often tragic, reality I have witnessed over and over again from rare disease patients,” he says. “The fact is, tomorrow is not promised, so we must act today with clarity and intention as if it is the difference that can ensure a tomorrow.” (PV)
Creating Transformative Connections
Raising the bar… by connecting sponsors and patients to accelerate medical research
Laurent Schockmel, DVM
Company: Antidote Technologies
Laurent Schockmel has been an influential thought leader in the pharmaceutical industry for more than two decades. In his new role as CEO of Antidote, Laurent is bringing a new voice to patients in the medical ecosystem, which will have a profound effect on how drug development and patient interactions are conducted by transforming the way that sponsors and patients connect in order to accelerate medical research.
“I’m a scientist by background and I have always enjoyed solving problems — looking at a challenging puzzle and thinking about how all the pieces fit together to form a solution,” he says. “Applying that interest to science, I am fascinated by understanding the causes of a disease or mode of action of a drug. And while medicine has become more complex in the past 30 years and progressed immensely, it’s shocking to me that patient recruitment for clinical trials has not evolved at the same pace. Three decades later, it remains one of the major bottlenecks to accelerating medical research. Solving this puzzle is very compelling to me.”
Laurent has demonstrated his leadership skills in operating roles and strategic positions in every company he has ever worked. Colleagues say he is a great team leader and that he truly cares about the people he works with, gives them credit where credit is due, trusts in their abilities to get the job done, and inspires them to go to the next level.
Now, at the helm of Antidote Technologies for just under two years, he is again working his magic and has improved every aspect of the business from pipeline growth, contract values, improved margins, increased database, and execution and acceleration of the company’s product road map. Laurent re-envisioned the startup’s potential and led the company to a new level of excitement with a mature and thoughtful strategy for long-term success. His entrepreneurial spirit has helped turn Antidote into a true force, colleagues say, and he has created many new opportunities for the company.
When Laurent came on board, Antidote had solid technology and an existing customer base, but the company needed a strategy for massive commercial growth. Laurent created that direction and strongly navigated the team in achieving those goals. In just the past year, the company has increased its sales organization by 50% and grown the commercial value of the opportunity pipeline by four times. The customer base has grown, not only in single projects but in strategic accounts with multiple top 10 pharma companies. Brand recognition continues to increase and new sales leads increase month over month. The company embodies a clear five-year-plan and aggressive sales targets for each year, with Laurent taking an active role in supporting each team. With Laurent at the helm, colleagues say they are confident in the future commercial success for Antidote.
Laurent is a seasoned healthcare executive with immense knowledge across a range of companies in the industry. He spent years building up the businesses of Cegedim, IMS, and WebMD through M&A and integration. Through these experiences, Laurent has a depth of understanding for his customers and has translated this knowledge into innovations within Antidote in order to reach more patients who need access to trials while shortening the time for drug development. “In a world where 80% of clinical trials are delayed or closed due to lack of participants, we are using cutting-edge technology to match the right patients with the right trials, helping medical researchers make faster progress, and offering new treatment options to patients,” he says.
Laurent is the rare leader who sees the needs of all stakeholders: patients, life-sciences companies, providers, and the constellation of partner organizations. He has the ability to work across the entire healthcare value chain to bring much-needed progress to healthcare and make a difference in the lives of patients.
Laurent’s M.O. is to “porpoise,” diving deep on specific business issues and gaining a thorough understanding of the market trends, then coming back up to the surface to look at the broader picture and develop strategies and tactics to guide the business to the next level. Colleagues say don’t let his soft-spoken demeanor fool you, Laurent is a dynamic leader.
He is also a smart mentor, who is always generous with his time and experience; he makes sure to listen to others and to ensure they know their input is appreciated.
Laurent is also very supportive of advancing the careers of women, something that does not go unnoticed at Antidote. He brings a thoughtful, poised approach to every business challenge and is an enthusiastic, valuable leader to his growing firm.
Along the way Laurent says he has learned some key leadership lessons. “Communicate, communicate, communicate…with key stakeholders, employees, clients, and investors alike is No. 1.,” he says. “Running a company is like a love affair. There will be ups and downs, but to weather the storms, you must have earned the trust of your significant other to expect backup and support when you need it. If we stop talking to each other, there is no way to build that trust and collaborate effectively.” (PV)
Smashing Through Impossibilities
Raising the bar… by giving ourselves audacious goals.
Sharon Shacham, Ph.D.
Title: President and Chief Scientific Officer
Company: Karyopharm Therapeutics
Industry Awards: New York Intellectual Property Law Association (NYIPLA) Inventor of the Year 2019
Community Awards: Recognized by the Barry M. Portnoy Immigrant Entrepreneur Association
Associations: Council member of the Boston chapter of the Israeli American Council (IAC)
Sharon Shacham, Ph.D., is on a mission to develop innovative medicines to improve the quality and longevity of patients’ lives in diseases with limited treatment options. Driven by that goal, Sharon has co-led Karyopharm Therapeutics from a one-person operation (herself) to a global biopharmaceutical company of more than 300 employees dedicated to advancing a new approach to treating cancer and other diseases of high unmet need.
As president and chief scientific officer of Karyopharm, Sharon counts her appearance last year in front of the FDA’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee as the most challenging assignment of her career so far.
“After months of preparation and positive feedback leading up to the meeting, we felt we addressed their questions well, but they voted against us, which was a difficult roadblock to achieving approval of our drug selinexor,” Sharon says. “It was a difficult day for the patients who testified on our behalf hoping for another treatment option, and for the employees who had worked so hard to prepare us. Going in front of them with the disappointing news made for a very challenging time.”
Thankfully, the disappointment was short-lived. In July 2019, the drug Sharon invented, selinexor (brand name Xpovio), was approved by the FDA to treat adult patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have received at least four prior therapies and whose disease is refractory to at least two proteasome inhibitors, at least two immunomodulatory agents, and an anti-CD38 monoclonal antibody. And just weeks ago, Xpovio was approved for a second indication, treating adult patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), not otherwise specified, including DLBCL arising from follicular lymphoma, after at least two lines of systemic therapy.
“The approval of Xpovio is definitely my career highlight,” Sharon says.
Making the impossible possible seems to be embedded in Sharon’s DNA. She challenges her team to meet aggressive goals on a day-to-day basis and is consistently able to carve a path forward through obstacles when so many others only see a blockade. She demonstrates extreme flexibility and adaptability to challenges and has managed to keep the company agile and receptive while growing at a fast pace.
Colleagues say Sharon is one of a kind and an inspiration in whatever she does. In her direct, modest, and honest way, she helps others first to believe, then to follow, and last, but most importantly, to be fully supportive of her vision and become part of it.
For her part, Sharon says she leads by example. “I lead using a sense of humor and try to create a sense of family and community,” she says. “We work together as a team, and we laugh together as a team.”
As a female entrepreneur, Sharon aims to build a diverse and successful team to create new medicines. She is passionate about mentoring the next generation of drug developers and researchers coming into the field.
To that end, Sharon actively looks to give opportunities to Massachusetts high school and college students through Karyopharm’s summer internship program, where they learn what it’s like to gain real-world experience. The internship also focuses on resume writing, interviewing skills, and succeeding in a new job.
“As a colleague and mentor for young women, I aim to empower females to have more opportunities in science,” she says. “It is important to me to mentor especially young females in business and in pharma to show them the opportunities they can have.”
Sharon makes sure not to forget her community and reaches out to those who are not as privileged as herself.
She volunteers and donates her time to empower women and to support the state of Israel. Sharon personally supports Education for Excellence, a volunteering organization that strives to strengthen Israeli society by reducing socioeconomic disparity and creating equal opportunities for children with potential for excellence who reside within Israel’s social and geographic periphery. Sharon took it upon herself to open the door to two graduates of this program and gave them a chance to integrate into the industry. One of these students is now a Karyopharm employee.
Sharon says at Karyopharm success is measured by the company’s iCure values: innovation, courage, urgency, resilience, and energy.
“I hope I can use my skills to innovate and inspire others to follow their ideas,” she says. (PV)
Creating a Tangible Impact
Raising the bar… by amplifying the importance of scientific rigor and urgency.
Todd Sherer, Ph.D.
Company: The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research
Industry Awards: Keynote speech at Gordon Research Conference on Parkinson’s Disease, 2019; PharmaVOICE 100, 2012; National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences Advisory Council
Company Awards: Co-author of Ending Parkinson’s Disease: A Prescription for Action, 2020; testified on Capitol Hill before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, 2019
Todd Sherer, Ph.D., is a two-time PharmaVOICE 100 honoree owing to his dedication and incredible leadership of The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF). As CEO, Dr. Sherer directs the organization’s research strategy, with the goal of speeding treatment breakthroughs and finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Dr. Sherer first worked with the Foundation in 2003 when, as a postdoctoral fellow at Emory University, he was awarded funding to investigate the role of environmental factors in PD. He formally joined the Foundation in 2004 and was named CEO in 2011. Since that first interaction, he, along with co-founders Michael J. Fox and Debi Brooks, has grown MJFF from a fledgling startup to the world’s largest nonprofit funder of Parkinson’s research, nearing $1 billion in research funding as the organization approaches its 20th year.
“When I started my career, becoming a CEO was never my goal,” Dr. Sherer says. “I was focused on executing the research. But my evolution from working in the lab to managing the Foundation has presented a unique opportunity to have a tangible impact on how the field expands and the way forward for Parkinson’s research.”
The ultimate goal of the organization is to close its doors after finding a cure for Parkinson’s, which Dr. Sherer says he is looking forward to and retiring. In the meantime, however, he will continue to strive to find opportunities that better engage those affected by PD to be part of the solution.
Dr. Sherer has been a key architect of the Foundation’s research strategy for more than 15 years, taking strategic risks and funding a diverse portfolio of promising possibilities in PD research. Since 2014, 14 new treatments for movement and non-movement symptoms of PD have received FDA approval. MJFF has helped educate regulators and payers around patients’ needs — psychosis, orthostatic hypotension, etc. — now addressed by some of these treatments, and funded development of scales to assess some therapies. In late 2018, the FDA approval of Inbrija, an inhaled form of the gold-standard medication levodopa, to help quickly relieve symptoms marked the first regulatory approval of a Parkinson’s therapy directly funded by MJFF. And just this May 2020, the Foundation hit another milestone with the FDA approval of Kynombi, a Parkinson’s therapy that received early funding from MJFF.
Dr. Sherer has been instrumental in enabling and directing the search for objective measures of Parkinson’s through the MJFF-sponsored Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI). This landmark study began in 2010 and is taking place at 33 clinical sites around the world with support from 28 industry partners. Open-access PPMI data has been downloaded more than 5 million times by researchers combing the set for insights. “In the 10 years since launch, the now $100-million study has become a reflection of what the field can accomplish when it comes together across all sectors,” he says. “The expansion of opportunities and investments in Parkinson’s, as demonstrated through PPMI, will ultimately result in our greatest goal: advancing science to bring new drugs to help people and families touched by the disease.”
Historically, one of the biggest challenges MJFF consistently faces is bridging the interactions and collaborations between the patient and researcher communities. “It’s important both groups are aligned, but there can be a gap,” he says. “Each sees their role as vital but separate. However, we have the same goal of speeding research, and we can get there faster by opening lines of communication and collaboration.”
One of the barometers in his work at the Foundation is focusing on the numbers of collaborations and groups that are working together in Parkinson’s. “I ask myself: are we being efficient and inclusive to get more people in the door? Are more people raising their hands to enter this space or join a study? Are the right people getting involved?” he asks.
“I also take pride in the growth and independence of our people within the Foundation,” he adds. “Now that we’ve grown, I see more and more people who worked here go on to do great things — they seek more schooling, or leave to do important work at another organization. And even watching our staff grow within, those who had their start at MJFF and are now running major initiatives. That’s been very satisfying for me personally.”
Dr. Sherer says that his leadership style stems from coaching his kids’ local sports, as teamwork is key to success. He believes everyone within MJFF, from positions in communications, fundraising, finance or research, to the roles that interact with patients, families, clinicians and researchers, has something to contribute to the team. “What we’re trying to do at the Foundation is a team sport and we’ll only succeed in our mission if we’re working in unison together,” he says.
By taking on Michael’s own optimistic view, the foundation has been focused on the “yes, if.” “This is critical to our mission, because when we find the ‘if’ then we can build up to an answer,” he says. (PV)
A Champion for Rare Diseases
Raising the bar… by developing and embracing best practices for patient and professional engagement
Jeffrey Sherman, M.D., FACP
Title: Chief Medical Officer and Executive VP
Company: Horizon Therapeutics
Industry Awards: Drug Information Association (DIA) Outstanding Service Award; PharmaVOICE 100
Associations: American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO); American Academy of Pharmaceutical Physicians and Investigators (APPI); American Association of Blood Banks (AABB); American Association for Cancer Research (AACR); American Association of Clinical Endocrinology (AACE); American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS); American College of Clinical Pharmacology (ACCP); American College of Gastroenterology (ACG); American College of Physician Executives (ACPE); American College of Physicians (ACP); American College of Rheumatology (ACR); American Federation for Medical Research (AFMR); American Gastroenterological Association (AGA); American Public Health Association (APHA); American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (ASBMT); American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (ASCPT); American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO); American Society of Hematology (ASH); American Society for Microbiology (ASM); American Society of Preventive Oncology (ASPO); American Thyroid Association (ATA); Association for Health Services Research (AHSR); Drug Information Association (DIA); Endocrine Society (ENDO); European Association of Neuro-Oncology (EANO); European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID); European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO); Illinois Medical Oncology Society; Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA); Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA); Inter-American Society for Chemotherapy; International Society for Biological Therapy (ISBT); National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID); Society for Neuro-Oncology (SNO)
The rare diseases community has a true champion in Jeffrey (Jeff) Sherman, M.D., FACP. Not only has he changed the lives of people with rare disorders by working on innovative treatments at Horizon Therapeutics, his involvement with dozens of industry associations is elevating the patient voice in drug development, approval, and use.
Colleagues say Dr. Sherman has been a key factor in the astonishing growth of Horizon Therapeutics. Founded 12 years ago in a Chicagoland coffee shop, today the company’s revenues exceed $1 billion. His vision and delivery of a world-class medical function has ensured best patient outcomes by shaping the practice of medicine through evidence generation and scientific exchange, and enhanced patient access to best available treatment by demonstrating the value of new options to payers, physicians, and patients.
As executive VP and chief medical officer of Horizon Therapeutics, Dr. Sherman has led the company’s efforts to register and approve new treatments to people living with rare and orphan disorders. Through thoughtful medical strategies and programs, Dr. Sherman and his colleagues have helped change the course of treatment of active thyroid eye disease (TED). He has also changed the course of treatment of chronic granulomatosis disease, nephropathic cystinosis, and urea cycle disorders, where Horizon has delivered new options to patients with high unmet medical need.
“The highlight for me is obtaining new medicine approvals and working to raise awareness of the need for medicines to treat rare diseases since there are more than 7,000 rare diseases and only 5% have treatments, which is not optimal,” he says. “What keeps me up at night is knowing that there is more to do in developing medicines to treat rare diseases.”
Dr. Sherman’s commitment to his colleagues, the patients they serve, and to society have ensured that Horizon puts patients first, engaging them at all levels, from clinical research to public policy. He has shaped the practice of medicine through evidence generation and scientific exchange, as well as enhanced patient access to best available treatments by demonstrating the value of treatments to payers, physicians, and patients. Results-driven and patient-oriented, Dr. Sherman says “we are all patients and would want others as well as ourselves to advocate for us.”
He has inspired his team members to be their best while balancing the demands of a rapidly growing company with their personal responsibilities and interests. Dr. Sherman helped promote the company’s TAG recognition program, which lets employees recognize one another and tag fellow employees for being “it” — someone who demonstrates behaviors that embody Horizon’s core values of transparency, accountability, and growth, or has performed tasks worthy of a “thank you.”
He has mentored several colleagues who now have senior roles within the company. “I see mentoring as an opportunity to pass the torch to the next generation,” he says.
In addition, Dr. Sherman is a past board chair of the DIA and a former member of the board of directors, helping to drive patient advocacy in DIA programs. He continues to innovate within the industry as a DIA inaugural fellow and as the DIA liaison to the FDA Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI) steering committee, to develop practices for patient engagement and diversity in clinical trials. Dr. Sherman has contributed to mapping and amplifying patients’ views in drug development, resulting in a consensus paper on how best to involve patients in clinical trial design.(PV)
Bringing Tech Innovation to Biotech
Raising the bar… by thinking like an electrical engineer
Bing Wang, Ph.D.
Company: Refuge Biotechnologies
Associations: Advisory board member for Columbia Business School Healthcare and Pharmaceutical management program
I tell my team that passion trumps talent, and that that my last biology class was in 9th grade and I barely got a B. At the same time, I have met too many crazy smart people not to be humbled by the talent of others.
The secret formula to a successful company lies with its people. As CEO of Refuge Biotechnologies, Bing Wang, Ph.D., has created a fully integrated community of team members who have been able to efficiently produce high-quality data and successfully grow the company from scratch. Refuge is leveraging synthetic biology and gene engineering to unlock the full promise of cell therapies.
Bing left the life-science investment banking world to start a biotech company and is bringing innovative ideas from the tech world into biotech. Along the way he has engendered trust and faith from everyone he works with. This journey also means convincing investors to support the endeavor and executing under the pressures of limited resources, restricted timelines, and significant external competition.
Bing’s academic background is in electrical engineering and his expertise lies in business and strategy; he also understands and appreciates the biomedical aspects of the company’s technology. He has committed his career to doing something important and transformative.
“We think the future of cell therapy can look like the smartphone, where segmentation of core competencies enable different companies to focus on manufacturing, apps, components, such as the cameras or microprocessors, and marketing/commercialization,” he says.
Described by others as an enabler, Bing tries to see the best and gets the best out of people. He listens to his team and has a knack for diving into technically challenging topics and soaking up all information.
“I tell my team that passion trumps talent, and that that my last biology class was in 9th grade and I barely got a B,” he says. “At the same time, I have met too many crazy-smart people not to be humbled by the talent of others.”
Bing says he is motivated every day for Refuge Biotech to have its own Emily Whitehead. Emily was diagnosed at 6 years old with a life-threatening recurrence of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Emily was treated with a revolutionary CAR-T cell therapy that had never been tested in a child before. The treatment worked, and Emily’s cancer went into complete remission immediately. In June 2012, at age 7, Emily was discharged from the hospital.
What has propelled Bing’s career is his ability to effectively communicate and build trusted relationships with people who are willing to bet on him.
As Refuge has shifted away from academic research and toward drug development, Bing has ensured the company is well-positioned to tackle the challenges this entails. Within two years, the company has made significant strides with its cell therapy platform, identifying what challenges may need to be addressed and determining what is scientifically feasible for the technology, while establishing relationships with investors and regulatory agencies.
He is passionate about impacting the lives of patients and their families. The journey hasn’t always been smooth for Bing, who says he has had to balance his role as a cancer immunotherapy biotech CEO and a cancer survivor. “It’s very difficult to not get personal about what we do,” he says. “I once had to walk out of an internal research meeting because the tumor images displayed on the screen gave me a panic attack.”
As a CEO, Bing says his role is to balance managing his employees and empowering them to shine. He leads by example, setting the bar high, and doing whatever it takes to help people by fully investing in them and their goals.
Colleagues say he is relatable and his humility allows him to completely support and trust every employee. He confronts problems head-on and is always guided by the highest ethical standards.
He cares about his people, mentoring the younger scientists and supporting the whole team. “I try to be a good mentor because I had great mentors myself,” he says. “This is where luck comes in, having great mentors.”
Bing genuinely cares for the people who work for him and he goes out of his way to create team activities and promote a strong work/life balance. Over a cold beer, he likes to remind his team how lucky they all are to have good health. (PV)
The Power of Authenticity
Raising the bar… by inspiring others to raise their own bar
Company: Aerami Therapeutics
Industry Awards: 2019 Most Influential Corporate Directors’ List, Recognized by Women, Inc., December 2019; Fierce Pharma’s Top 25 Women in Biopharma, 2014; University of North Alabama Alumnae of the Year, September 2014; National Council on Aging (NCOA), Woman of Achievement Award, June 2014; Fierce Pharma’s Top 25 Most Influential People in Biopharma 2012 and 2013
Community Awards: University of North Alabama Board of Trustees May 2018 – present; University of North Alabama; U.S. Secretary of Commerce’s Manufacturer’s Council 2014 – 2015; Women in Healthcare & Life Sciences, Center for Healthcare Innovation, Honorary Chairman 2013 – 2014.
Associations: International Women’s Forum; RTP Women’s Executive Network, OnBoardNC; Women Corporate Directors; Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association
Anne Whitaker writes at least five handwritten thank you notes every Friday to recognize employees’, colleagues’, and friends’ recent achievements and contributions. It’s her way to express sincere appreciation for their contributions and personal impact on her life and the community. Colleagues say one of these handwritten notes from her is considered priceless and those notes have inspired others to start their own rituals for showing gratitude to others.
It is this type of behavior that colleagues say inspires them and defines Anne’s incredible authentic leadership style as a CEO and corporate director of Aerami Therapeutics.
Anne is a noted role model and advisor for many, in particular women, in the industry. For example, a working mother herself, her effective approach has helped hundreds of working moms to be more present in the moment and feel less guilty about not doing it all, all the time.
In a predominantly male industry, particularly at senior levels, Anne continues to inspire women to speak up, use their voice, and share experiences to be heard.
In her almost 30 years in the life-sciences industry, she has successfully built and led high-performance teams of all sizes, at the largest and smallest institutions. One of her biggest career highlights was leading the transformation of Sanofi in North America from a primary care-focused business to a commercial leader in multiple specialty markets.
“When I joined Sanofi in 2011 as the region head and president of North America, the company performance was flat and engagement scores were 60% on average,” Anne says. “The company had reduced the size of the salesforce by 40% over a series of annual layoffs for the previous three years. This had left the organization apathetic and disengaged. Working with a team of internal change agents and my leadership team we deployed a major transformation initiative and established new commercial capabilities across the organization.”
These efforts resulted in improved engagement scores and strong performance across the businesses. The teams launched more than 10 products over three years across eight different businesses and grew the business year on year.
Anne has faced other similar challenges, such as when she was company group chairman at Bausch Health (Valeant) leading the branded pharmaceutical business. The majority of her team members had joined the company as part of recent acquisitions, and it was challenging to keep people focused on launching new products, especially after the company experienced a significant stock price drop and a CEO change. “I am proud of the fact that we successfully launched new products within the GI space with Salix and turned Dendreon — a business bought in bankruptcy — into a profitable business in the first six months,” she says. “Also, we were successful in building new capabilities and putting in processes across the organization that strengthened the company.”
It’s been about patients and people for Anne throughout her career. “It’s never lost on me that each of the patients we serve are someone’s parents, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, or friends,” she says. “Now that I have reached the CEO role, it’s still about making a difference for patients and helping people become their best self. I aim to do that now by building Aerami Therapeutics as a leading respiratory therapeutics business. I hope to ultimately take Aerami public where we can grow the business into a fully integrated pharmaceutical company.”
As a mentor, colleagues say Anne is approachable, willing to share her failures, struggles, fears, and always provides specific examples to put things into perspective. She encourages others to be themselves and hold fast to their values. Anne guides them to approach challenges from a place grounded in personal strengths, instead of weaknesses.
“When I first became a leader, I was constantly looking at others for how a leader should behave,” she says. “I wasted so much energy trying to be like everyone else. Fortunately, I reached a turning point in my career and learned the power of authenticity. When I became comfortable letting people see who I was, warts and all, it was like I had tapped into a new energy source. All the energy I was wasting on trying to be the perfect leader was now accessible to use to think of new business strategies, overcome challenges, and most importantly, connect with people on a deeper level. I have always tried to do things people thought I couldn’t do. I played softball growing up and I played all of the wrong positions, catcher and shortstop, as a left hander. I loved proving people wrong when they said it couldn’t be done. This has continued in my career. I am persistent about overcoming challenges. Some might say I never give up and they are probably right.” (PV)