Robin Robinson, Kim Ribbink, and Taren Grom, Editor
NOTE: The content below contains the first few paragraphs of the printed article and the titles of the sidebars and boxes, if applicable.
An Engaging Presence
Driven to innovate by Excellence
In just two years, Michelle Keefe has had a hugely positive impact at Publicis Touchpoint Solutions. Always coming up with unique, clever, and reasoned solutions, she combines a confident and energetic presence with a warm, approachable manner, and a laugh that is contagious.
A skilled networker, Ms. Keefe helps her team members to build positive relationships, gain competitive information, and provide best-practice solutions for the agency’s clients.
Ms. Keefe wears many hats, including chief operating officer and partnership general manager, all the while remaining committed to people development in every role she holds.
Her extensive experience in the industry enables her to step in and read a situation quickly and provide strategic solutions that meet the budget constraints and timelines of clients.
Among Ms. Keefe’s industry accolades is induction into the Pfizer Hall of Fame, an award designation that is accomplished by fewer than 1% of the sales leadership at Pfizer and occurs when someone has obtained six Vice President Management Cabinet awards, which are conferred annually to the top 15% of sales management.
With a unique view into the operational challenges and opportunities with industry field forces, Ms. Keefe believes that in the next five years, there will be solutions that allow healthcare manufacturers to deploy field sales teams in some very unique and creative ways.
“I believe it will become the norm to have every communication channel fully integrated and able to inform via big data the channel, timing, and message for each physician,” she says.
Ms. Keefe appropriately delegates and encourages her team to stretch and bring innovative solutions to the table. She has a true passion for wanting to see people grow and be the best they can be. And she has a way of making her reports believe they can do more than they thought possible.
A lead-by-example individual, Ms. Keefe goes above and beyond in her own role and is always willing to lend a hand to those in need of added support. She inspires by helping others recognize their own strengths and desires and then supporting them in achieving their goals. People need to self-motivate, Ms. Keefe believes, but leaders can help by creating an environment that allows people to do their best work. For example, helping employees to understand how their work contributes to the success of the company can be very motivating for many people.
If you want something, Ms. Keefe says you have to ask for it. Early in life, she thought that asking for something, such as an assignment, was brash and egocentric. Then at a fairly junior stage in her career, a coveted marketing internship position opened within her company. As the highest performing person on her team, she thought that she would be offered the internship. Instead, a lower-performing peer asked for the assignment and the boss gave it to him.
“This was a watershed moment for me,” she says. “I learned that asking for something, in reality, was simply being proactive and showing initiative. That was the last time I ever let an opportunity I wanted pass me by without asking for it.”
She learned her proactive and determined approach from her mother, who grew up with few resources in a very small town in Vermont. She moved to New York at age 18 and put herself through nursing school, eventually earning her master’s degree in nursing. She became a professor at the College of Staten Island and is an author of a number of textbooks in nursing that are still in use today.
“My mother has been a wonderful role model, mentor, and champion for me throughout my life,” Ms. Keefe says.
Ms. Keefe strongly supports Touchpoint’s commitment to giving back to the local community, including through the United Way of Bucks County and the Bucks County Housing Group. Touchpoint also supports the PheoPara Alliance, a nonprofit organization that helps patients and physicians make informed decisions for the treatment of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. And the company holds several Touchpoint Volunteer Days per year, where employees can participate in a group volunteer activity in the community and get paid for that day as if they were working.
Outside of work, for years Ms. Keefe has done volunteer work centered around her daughter’s school and extracurricular activities, from Girl Scout leader to sports and school events. She also supports her daughter’s and husband’s philanthropic passion, Oasis of Paterson, N.J., which is dedicated to feeding and clothing women and children in need, as well as providing educational resources and skills to help them obtain meaningful employment and to break the cycle of poverty.
Ms. Keefe also actively supports the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), a nonprofit organization that provides healthcare for people who often fall through the cracks. In fact, before Ms. Keefe joined Touchpoint she worked with VNSNY. The organization’s profitable business is what helps fund its charitable work and allows for the organization to provide more healthcare to those who may otherwise not receive it.
Her role at VNSNY was to help the organization build its business development function and put processes in place to ensure appropriate utilization of services and payer verification so that the organization was able to use the revenue to focus on delivering charitable care and programs to New York City residents in need.
Getting to Know…
Title: Chief Operating Officer
Company: Publicis Touchpoint Solutions Inc.
Education: B.A., Marketing, Seton Hall University
Family: Husband, Ralph; daughter, Taylor; and two Labradoodles, Mocha and Teddy
Hobbies: Golfing; traveling; New York Yankee’s baseball
Bucket List: Skydiving; racing in an Indie 500 car; attending the Masters tournament; going on an African safari; traveling to Australia, including sailing on the Great Barrier Reef
Awards/Honors: Pfizer Hall of Fame; Visiting Nurse Service of New York’s CEO Innovation Award
Associations: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA)
Tweet at: @pTouchpoint
Social Media: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram
Serving an Ace in the Fight Against Cancer
Driven to innovate by Patients
Combining wisdom developed from his years in the corporate finance and investment banking trenches with an innate ability to crystallize complex ideas into a few concise words, Robert Forrester is bringing clear direction to the biotech company Verastem.
Whitehead Institute Founder Dr. Robert Weinberg established Verastem to address complex science around cancer stem cells.
According to Dr. Weinberg, cancer stem cells are the underlying cause of cancer tumor recurrence and metastasis and it is Verastem’s scientific vision to develop drugs for some of the more challenging forms of cancers.
Mr. Forrester calls cancer stem cells “the bad actors of cancer.”
It’s this ability to clearly articulate complex ideas, combined with a finance background, and proven success in the biotechnology industry that led Verastem Founder Dr. Christoph Westphal to appoint Mr. Forrester first as chief operating officer in 2010 and then as CEO in 2013.
Mr. Forrester draws on his decade of experience in leadership positions at public and privately held biotechnology companies — CombinatorX, Forma Therapeutics, and Coley Pharma — to steer Verastem and its six early-stage clinical programs to success.
In 2012, under Mr. Forrester’s direction, Verastem became a public company, which set the stage for subsequent public offerings by other companies throughout the U.S. biotech sector.
Mr. Forrester is passionate about changing the way cancer is treated so that patients may lead fuller, more normal lives. This is no small task and he recognizes that all of his and his colleagues’ efforts are necessary to have a chance of achieving this goal.
Authenticity is of great importance to him, and he and his colleagues work out of a humble office and lab space, leaving shareholders’ investments going into drug development programs.
So while the company’s headquarters consist of a bunch of Ikea desks and chairs and no private office space, Verastem has undertaken six oncology programs in non-small-cell lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and perhaps the most challenging of all, a global clinical trial in mesothelioma, which will ultimately treat 400 patients in 11 countries at 35 to 40 trial sites.
While he describes leading Verastem as the most audacious task he has taken on in his career to date, he also says it is the most motivating, important, and rewarding opportunity he has had.
The moment Verastem’s first ovarian cancer patient treated with the company’s lead drug VS-6063 had a complete response, and she was allowed her to return to her family, is a career highlight for Mr. Forrester.
His next goal is to bring Verastem’s first drug targeting cancer stem cells to market.
“We need to create new therapies to convert cancer into a chronic disease,” he says. “Patients deserve to lead normal lives, take control of their disease in conjunction with their physicians, thereby allowing them to achieve their goals and ambitions in life.”
He is motivated by the belief that scientific discoveries will lead to changing how cancer is treated.
“I work with an incredible team of people, equally passionate about and motivated to change the way patients battle cancer,” Mr. Forrester says. “I strive to enable them to succeed by giving them access to the best science and resources available to achieve our mission. We are all acutely aware that the patients are waiting.”
Mr. Forrester understands all too well the pain of losing a loved one; his father died from a brain hemorrhage when he was just 18.
“One minute my father was here and the next he wasn’t,” he says. “It was hard to understand how such a healthy man could be taken so suddenly. His passing inspired me to find ways to help others avoid having to experience the pain that I encountered at such a young age.”
Mr. Forrester’s commitment to helping others can also be seen in the charities he supports.
These include Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, which focuses on an aggressive and deadly cancer. The foundation is the only independent, non-profit charitable organization dedicated to helping patients with mesothelioma.
In addition, he supports Beacon Academy, which provides a 14-month transformational year between 8th and 9th grades to promising, motivated, and hard-working students from the inner city areas of Boston.
“Inspired by a challenging curriculum and stimulating co-curricular experiences, students learn vital academic skills and develop habits of mind that empower them to change the trajectory of their lives, their families, and their communities,” Mr. Forrester says.
He is also a strong supporter of Tenacity, a Boston-based organization dedicated to helping at-risk urban youth develop skills, build character, and find pathways to excellence. The organization focuses on improving the scholastic, character, and physical development of urban youth in Boston by combining tennis instruction and academic support with a focus on life skills.
Getting to Know…
Title: President and CEO
Company: Verastem Inc.
Education: LL.B., Bristol University; Solicitor, Guildford Law School; CFE, London Business School
Family: Wife, Rebecca; daughters Claudia, 18, Iona, 16
Hobbies: Tennis, traveling off the beaten path travel, gardening, Chelsea Football Club (the other football)
Bucket List: Change the way cancer is treated; attend all four tennis grand slam (two down, two to go); learn to fly an airplane; have lunch with Warren Buffett; meet the Dalai Lama; watch England win the World Cup
Awards/Honors: Chief Pancake Officer
Associations: Mass Bio, Biotechnology Industry Organization
Social Media: LinkedIn, Facebook
From Engineer to Pharma President
Driven to innovate by Patients
In addition to her own hard work, business intelligence, and determination, Anna Protopapas, president of Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, can thank a man she doesn’t even know for playing a part in her career.
Born and raised on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Ms. Protopapas applied for a U.S. government scholarship to attend university, but found she was disqualified for having a working mother.
But in a true act of kindness, a staffer at the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia glanced at Ms. Protopapas’ application, invited her in to meet him, and helped her file applications independently to a number of U.S. universities, adding his own letter of recommendation. This led to Ms. Protopapas’ admission to Princeton as a scholarship student.
“I never saw that man again, but I would not be here today had he not seen something in my application that induced him to make this extraordinary effort to help me when I needed it most,” she says.
Ms. Protopapas spent her childhood in the midst of a war and the experience taught her that nothing should ever be taken for granted. The experience shaped both her personal and professional life, expressed in a mindset that makes her open to try new things.
Ms. Protopapas’ first jobs out of college was as an engineer and then as a marketer of consumer products.
She found that she wanted more exposure to smaller start-up companies in growth industries and became interested in pharmaceuticals after meeting the founding team at Millennium, who convinced her of the vision of a future in which the mapping of the human genome would transform biology and create an entirely new class of medicines to treat incurable diseases.
Science in the pursuit of a social mission appealed to Ms. Protopapas, so when she was offered the job she accepted. That was 1997, and she has never sought out a new professional home.
During her more than 15 years in escalating executive positions at Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, Ms. Protopapas has led the planning and execution of more than 20 strategic alliances that have brought $2 billion in funding, downstream capabilities, and assets to Millennium.
It is through this work that she helped transform the company twice during her tenure: first from an early-stage genomics company to a fully integrated biotechnology company and subsequently into a biotechnology company focused on oncology drug development.
She helped lead discussion and ultimately consummate Millennium’s $8.8 billion acquisition by Takeda Pharmaceuticals as well as leading the integration efforts to transition Millennium into the independent oncology subsidiary of Takeda.
In October 2010, she moved from Millennium to Takeda, the parent company, assuming the role of executive VP of global business development, corporate officer, and member of the global leadership committee.
In this role, Ms. Protopapas played an instrumental role in Takeda’s $13.7 billion acquisition of the Swiss drug company Nycomed as well as multiple other acquisitions that facilitated Takeda’s transformation from a leading Japanese pharmaceutical company to a global player with operations in 70 countries.
In May 2013, Ms. Protopapas assumed the additional responsibility of President, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company.
In this capacity, she led the oncology commercial business in the United States and the strategy globally.
Ms Protopapas has a keen awareness of the value and place of company culture and how vital it is in making any type of partnership a good fit.
Early on she understood how the addition of Millennium to the Takeda family would benefit the Japanese pharmaceutical company and its 235-year legacy of tradition. Her belief in this synergy was proof that culture can be a dynamic, flexible, and adaptive tool — one that actually makes it easier for large organizations to cope with disruptive change.
Despite facing challenges that might make others wilt, Ms. Protopapas remains optimistic about growing the business by delivering on Millennium’s oncology pipeline of new products, where the company has 15 candidates, nine of which are in the final stages of Phase III testing.
Ms. Protopapas is both a biopharma pioneer and someone who holds the keys to the future growth of the industry in her hand.
She has an ability to assess current situations and understand their impact today and tomorrow on the company. She does this by applying a soft and firm touch in her negotiating endeavors and employing the same skills she uses to motivate herself to encourage and propel others to greatness.
People who have worked with Ms. Protopapas call her a “walking classroom.” Colleagues say she has a unique ability to understand very complex science.
She also possesses acute business instincts, and the uncanny ability to quickly and accurately process ideas to make decisions.
Ms. Protopapas is well-respected as an exceptional leader who positively impacts her company, the industry at large, and ultimately, patients.
Getting to Know…
Title: President, Millennium: The Takeda
Oncology Company; Head of Global Business Development at Takeda Pharmaceutical
Company: Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company
Education: MBA, Stanford University; M.S.,
Engineering, MIT; B.S., Engineering, Princeton
Family: Husband, Tom; son, Nikolas; daughters, Sofia and Eleni
Hobbies: Cooking for family
Bucket List: World travel
Social Media: LinkedIn, Facebook
Michael du Toit
Sophistication Meets Candor
Driven to innovate by Fear
Michael du Toit brings sophistication and professionalism to his role as president of Digitas Health LifeBrands.
Always striving for perfection and known for exceeding client expectations, Mr. du Toit is an excellent problem-solver who uses innovative ideas and approaches to deliver the best marketing outcomes for the brands and organizations his team supports.
The proof of his impact is in the growth and continued success for both Digitas Health LifeBrands and Publicis LifeBrands/Medicus. Since joining Digitas Health in 2006, Mr. du Toit has been instrumental in growing the company’s business from 120 to 600 employees and has increased the company’s revenue five-fold.
Thanks to his unwavering commitment to acquiring new business, Digitas Health LifeBrands won 18 accounts in 2013 alone.
Under his leadership and alongside Co-President Alexandra von Plato, Digitas Health has been transformed from a small, boutique digital agency to one of the industry’s leading full-service agencies of record, with an average annual growth rate of 20% over the past eight years.
The growth of the agency has been a true professional highlight for Mr. du Toit.
Even more important than the financial results, Mr. du Toit says, is the privilege to be around and learn from his colleagues, whom he refers to as an amazing group of very smart friends.
He is a polished presenter, commanding the room while having a calming effect on everyone — from colleagues to clients.
Mr. du Toit is at his best in front of customers, where his focus and natural presence enable him to effectively challenge the client to deliver the best marketing outcomes.
During his career, Mr. du Toit has built organizations and client relationships that span the globe and has brought cutting-edge solutions to major brands.
One of the most defining experiences for him was being in charge of launching blockbuster drugs on the client side at GlaxoSmithKline.
“As an advertising guy it gave me a real-life appreciation and insight into what our clients are challenged with; I have never been the same,” he says.
Next on his professional agenda is to move digital into the global sphere.
“Our clients are committed to getting better at planning global and acting local, so should we,” he says.
Mr. du Toit also possesses two other key skills often lacking in senior leadership, but critical to success: openness and candor. He is fearless when difficult situations arise, yet is always willing to listen to all points of view.
He expects his leadership team to show up with solutions and never problems, and demands a high degree of business acumen. At the same time, he has a genuine desire to see his employees thrive. He is always available for guidance, support, or an encouraging word. Mr. du Toit tries to understand and actively support the dreams and aspirations of those around him.
Whether he is building teams, building relationships, or building agencies, his indefatigable pursuit of excellence and innovation are an inspiration to his clients and his colleagues.
The best advice he has received in his career came from GlaxoSmithKline’s CEO Bob Ingram: “You never want to sit across the desk from someone you had hired and tell them you do not have a job for them anymore.”
Getting to Know…
Michael du Toit
Company: Digitas Health LifeBrands, Publicis LifeBrands, Medicus International and Publicis Healthcare
Education: B. Econ, University of Stellenbosch
Family: Wife; three sons
Hobbies: Traveling, swimming, golfing
Bucket List: A summer off spent with his wife and sons traveling and playing golf
Awards/Honors: Clios, Houston Film Festival, Agency of the Year
Associations: National Pharmaceutical Council; Barnes Foundation Corporate Leadership Board; Pharmaceutical Advertising Council, Prescription Drug Advertising Coalition
Social Media: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, YouTube
Creating an Emotional Connection
Driven to innovate by People
In the sterile, often abstract world of healthcare, Jim Curtis’ innovative approach and strong leadership have helped to make healthcare real again — real connections, real stores, and real emotions.
While many in the health media world are motivated largely by revenue, Mr. Curtis is focused on what is best for patients and caregivers.
Quick to spot consumer trends that resonate with brands, Mr. Curtis recognized the desire for inspirational and emotional connections and last year developed Remedy’s tilt to emotional marketing.
Passionate about inspiring patients to engage with their health, he drives initiatives aimed at improving healthcare outcomes through improved medication compliance and condition management. And he truly understands the patient journey and the challenges people face as they manage serious medical issues, having dealt with his own significant health challenges.
He consistently strives to bring a fresh perspective to business problems, while always demonstrating value to clients.
For example, he held an event in New York for clients and a small group from Remedy Health, where he had real patients talked about what is it like to suffer from a chronic condition and how their needs are far more than simple treatment information.
As chief revenue officer (CRO), Mr. Curtis is responsible for product strategy and market positioning sales, business development and marketing across all of Remedy Health Media’s enterprise and advertising businesses. He has been a major force behind Remedy’s tremendous growth, working closely with the technology and editorial teams to ensure Remedy Health Media is building useful tools and experiences for users.
Over the past year, he and his team have developed innovative patient-oriented products. One that he is most proud of is Live Bold, Live Now, a multimedia innovation in the arena of online health information. The Live Bold, Live Now empowerment initiative is a company initiative developed by HealthCentral.com editors, editors of Johns Hopkins Medicine Health After 50, and the University of California, Berkeley, Wellness Letter to help millions of patients live their best life now. Remedy’s Real Patient Experts, through a multi-media experience and engaging content and tools, influence treatment decisions and inspire patients to take action.
Another success story is My MD & Me, which enables hyper-targeting of conditions and prescription data via emails from doctors to their patients. These products are not only one-of-a-kind, they are being used by a wide range of global pharma brands.
Rather than leading from ahead or behind, Mr. Curtis leads from beside, coaching, mentoring, and developing talent to enable team members to foster ideas that focus on building a better work experience for fellow employees, a stronger business partnership for clients, and products that are useful for patients.
One recent initiative from Mr. Curtis is the Happiness Revolution; each week he shares an inspirational video, article, Web link, music video, etc. to encourage team members to be introspective and ask if they are living a happy life. For example, do they enjoy their jobs and what they are working on each day? And what changes do they need to make to make their work the best possible experience?
He eschews the typical marketing speak and PowerPoint slides, motivating his team to infuse inspirational and relatable stories into their presentations and sales pitches. He encourages his team to create solutions that are differentiated, yet valued, and use surprising creative concepts that are brilliant in their simplicity.
In any situation no matter how critical or challenging, Mr. Curtis reminds his team members of what they have in common with each other, their clients, and patients: humanity. He encourages those he leads to find a way to connect — forgetting title, seniority, accolades, and accomplishments — and just be real.
For his part, Mr. Curtis says he is motivated by creating something great for his colleagues and for consumers.
Were he not in the healthcare business, Mr. Curtis says he would enjoy being a business coach, working with young entrepreneurial companies.
“I am curious by nature and working to make great ideas come to life is a passion of mine,” he says. “I also like the service-oriented aspect of coaching.”
Before joining Remedy, Mr. Curtis was part of the founding team at OnHealth.com, which was successfully grown and eventually acquired by WebMD. He became director of strategic partnerships at WebMD and played a pivotal role in driving the company’s growth. He then joined the founding team of Everyday Health where he served as VP and general manager and was integral to the company’s expansion to 400 employees and huge revenue growth.
On a philanthropic front, Mr. Curtis is a strong supporter of Project Sunshine, a nonprofit organization that provides free educational, recreational, and social programs to children and families living with medical challenges. He also works with STATE Bags to provide inspiration to school children in need. The organization was created to address the immediate needs of American children living with challenging — and in some cases critical — circumstances.
“For every bag sold, STATE hand delivers backpacks to students as part of motivational rallies that leave children with a renewed sense of self-worth,” Mr. Curtis says.
Getting to Know…
Title: Chief Revenue Officer/Chief Advertising Officer
Company: Remedy Health Media
Education: Whittemore School of Business and Economics, University of New Hampshire
Family: Son, Aidan, 6; four nieces and nephews; two sisters; two brothers-in-law; parents
Hobbies: Going on summer road trips with his son to visit friends around the East coast; finding great food around the country; business photography
Bucket List: Live in the south of Spain and perfect his Spanish
Awards/Honors: PharmaVOICE 100 2013; MM&M Star Award/MM&M Media Brand of the Year 2014; PM360 Trendsetter; No. 26 Crain’s NY Fastest Growing Company 2013
Associations: Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), The Guru Collective, 212 interactive, Digital NYC, Upstream Group
Tweet at: @jimcurtis38
Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Tumblr, YouTube
Solving Marketing’s Puzzles
Driven to innovate by Desire
Ken Ribotsky has the perfect career for someone who likes to solve problems. As CEO of Brandkarma, he gets the opportunity every day to deal with the complex challenges and significant obstacles of pharma marketing.
“Marketing is like a big puzzle,” he says. “It can be incredibly frustrating at times, but there’s nothing better than the feeling you get when you finally put the right pieces together.”
While others might shudder in front of a blank slate, that sort of challenge to think outside the box energizes Mr. Ribotsky.
“I love building things up from nothing,” he says. “I think I’m the happiest when I’m in a conference room brainstorming new ideas and strategies.”
Which is why he has been successfully leading pharmaceutical marketing firms for more than two decades.
With an unparalleled understanding of the business and a brain that’s wired for superlative strategic thinking, Mr. Ribotsky ensures that any strategy is as creative as the creative is strategic. This type of thinking has created coveted brands for clients and nurtures a symbiotic process that is highly energizing, filled with fun, and mutually rewarding.
From producing and directing TV commercials to launching direct-to-patient campaigns and branding new products, he offers clients extensive expertise in pharmaceuticals, biotech, and medical devices, as well as business, lifestyle, and luxury consumer products and services.
Whether he’s strategizing with clients behind a mirror in a market research center in Houston, raising sales representatives’ spirits at a launch meeting in Madrid, providing his marketing and advertising expertise as a member of the board of Providence Speech and Hearing in Orange County, Calif., or sharing his unique insights with marketers worldwide, he is always fully engaged.
“I am always 100% focused on whatever I am doing,” he says. “I commit to bringing my full attention to any situation, whether I am working on a project for a client at the office or having a conversation with friends.”
One of his most valued accomplishments includes being an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year nominee in 2012. While he did not win, he says the introspection being nominated was highly rewarding and one of his all-time career highlights.
“While the nomination process required me to analyze recent events, it also triggered a reflection on my entire body of work that was long overdue,” Mr. Ribotsky says. “They say the joy is in the journey, and it helped me appreciate where I started and how far I’ve come.”
Mr. Ribotsky has also been a key player in helping Brandkarma win notable awards such as Best Self-Promotion Campaign at the 2013 Manny Awards, The Global Awards, and Pharmaceutical Marketing Effectiveness Award.
This type of success comes with some sacrifice, however, and he wishes he could learn to not think about work 24 hours a day. He says as a business owner it is very easy to spend every waking hour perfecting and re-perfecting. When your wife is also your business partner, this habit intensifies.
“The things that keep our clients up at night are the same things that keep us up at night, too,” he says.
That doesn’t stop him from wanting to launch a product in which he is a major shareholder. Working to help clients establish successful brands, which has often resulted in them receiving staggering returns on their investments, has been extremely rewarding, but he is eager to experience being in the shareholder seat for a great product, despite the risks involved.
The most valuable business advice he ever received was to never talk about clients in an unprofessional manner.
“Loose lips sink ships,” he says. “I can remember a situation a friend told me about early in her career. She was on an airplane with some co-workers who were gossiping about a major client. Someone from the same company was on that flight. Needless to say, it did not end well for her company or her peers. I’ve never forgotten that.”
Mr. Ribotsky is proud to support the Providence Speech and Hearing Center, a non-profit service provider to the speech and hearing impaired of Orange County, offering a wide-range of speech, hearing and language services to adults and children.
“Problems with hearing and speech have a major impact in early childhood development — and in the long term, the risk of dementia,” he says. “I have personally seen the negative effects of these deficits among my family and friends over and over again. But they are often overlooked and lack strong supporters.”
His drive to help others is also reflected in his second career choice: if he could choose a different profession, he would go back to school to become a psychologist/therapist.
“I think I would derive great satisfaction by being able to help people move beyond their personal and emotional roadblocks so they can live more joyfully,” he says. “I would also enjoy helping people achieve their greatest potential, which is something I currently strive to do.”
If given the power to be a Super Hero, Mr. Ribotsky shows another side to himself by choosing to be “Disinfectant Man,” sanitizing everything he comes into contact with. Once again, his creativity knows no bounds.
Getting to Know…
Company: Brandkarma LLC
Education: B.A., New School University
Family: Wife and business partner, Dorene; one daughter
Hobbies: Painting, reading, continuing education
Bucket List: Live someplace exotic outside of the United States, more travel, write a book
Awards/Honors: Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, New Jersey Chapter (nominee); Manny Award 2013 (Best Self-Promotion Campaign); many Rx Club, Pharma Choice, Med Ad News, Product Management Today, Medical Marketing & Media, and Wed Marketing Association awards; The Global Awards; Doctor’s Choice Awards
Tweet at: @kenribotsky
Social Media: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, foursquare
A Passion for Patients
Driven to innovate by Patients
Jan Nielsen, president of access and patient support for Sonexus Health, has touched the lives of tens of thousands — possibly even a million — patients over the course of her career and in her role as an Army nurse. Ms. Nielsen has been instrumental in the drive toward better patient support services by launching hundreds of new products in a wide range of disease states, and by developing programs that have made the delivery of therapy more timely, efficient, and cost-effective, resulting in the saving of time and money for patients, manufacturers, healthcare providers, and payers.
In 2011, she brought her passion for patients to bear in becoming one of the founders of Sonexus Health, where she drew upon her past experiences to develop an integrated business model — a career highlight — for the unique needs of specialty product manufacturers.
“My colleagues and I saw a real need for specialty products and we built access and patient support, distribution services, and a non-commercial pharmacy in one location, connected through our technology platform,” she says. “This is something that had not been done in the industry before.”
With a strong clinical background in nursing — few people know she received her nursing degree through the U.S. Army — Ms. Nielsen’s business career began in operational roles where she streamlined processes and reduced costs. In one position, for example, she reduced daily operating costs for a hospital that resulted in a $1.2 million profit.
Before founding Sonexus, Ms. Nielsen served as VP of clinical services at the Lash Group, where she was responsible for all clinical operations, internal and outsourced nursing departments, and call center operations.
Today, as division president of Sonexus Health, Ms. Nielsen works hand-in-hand with both small and large manufacturers of specialty products to custom design programs and services that give patients access to these often life-changing drugs. These services include reimbursement, adherence services, compliance and persistency, and free drug distribution.
She is recognized by her colleagues, competitors, and customers as an expert and leader in market access services and takes a consultative approach to help manufacturers solve tough market challenges. For example, reimbursement services are standard offerings when a manufacturer launches a new specialty drug, however, Ms. Nielsen took a common offering and using her clinical knowledge she developed a new role: field solutions representative. This person is dedicated to providing direct support to manufacturers’ field sales representatives by providing them with data about the practices they are serving.
Ms. Nielsen’s team also developed a hybrid benefits investigation process in which the team conducts a light benefits verification of a patient’s enrollment and, within hours, triages this enrollment to the mandated or preferred specialty pharmacy (SP) for full benefit verification. This differentiated solution drives efficiencies, reduces any redundancy in services between the manufacturer and the SP, and gets the patient on therapy faster.
She and her team also designed and launched a rapid therapy initiation program for an oncology manufacturer in which patients could get a free first dosage of the product within 48 hours of prescription while waiting for prior authorization.
With the goal to get patients on therapy as quickly as possible, this initiative resulted in an 85% uptake, with 75% of the patient base then moving over to the commercial drug. This concept is now being used with other manufacturer programs today.
Over and over again, she has proven the benefit these services bring to patient adherence and patient outcomes, as well as product success.
She reminds employees that Sonexus is in the business for the patient and serving the greater good for specific populations, not for just driving profit margins. This mindset complements the overall vision of Sonexus Health, which is to put the patient first and to collaborate with manufacturers to develop the most appropriate solutions to address patient needs and market changes.
Her colleagues say Ms. Nielsen’s willingness to be innovative and try new approaches has been significant to the pharmaceutical industry. For example, she brings together manufacturers and specialty pharmacies in different ways to create risk-taking initiatives that drive value for the patient. This has resulted in patients obtaining therapy faster, while reducing the cost of patient care.
She participates in numerous walks and runs through the year to support various charitable organizations. She also volunteers her time, talent, and resources to support women’s and children’s health.
At the top of her list of interests is her dedication to her family, and Ms. Nielsen always takes a few minutes to share the latest adventures of her 3-year-old grandson.
Co-workers say Ms. Nielsen is a significant voice when it comes to making sure highly burdened patient populations gain access to the specialty, orphan, and ultra orphan drugs that can change their lives. She’s a pioneering spirit — the same spirit that she harnessed when growing up on her family’s ranch — a fitting representation for today’s healthcare leader and tomorrow’s healthcare solutions.
Getting to Know…
Jan Ellen Nielsen
Title: Division President, Access & Patient Support
Company: Sonexus Health, a Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions Company
Education: California Registered Nurse, Critical Care Registered Nurse (CDRN), Certified Nephrology Nurse (CNN); Master of Health and Public Administration, Belford University; B.S., Business Administration,
College of Notre Dame; Associate of Applied Science, Nursing, U.S. Army, Presidio
Family: Husband, Scott; four stepsons, Greg, James, Michael, and Scott; daughter Kayla; three grandchildren
Hobbies: Gardening, white water rafting, knitting, cycling, hiking, diving
Bucket List: Missionary trip through church to provide service and education; raft the Colorado River; build a greenhouse
Awards/Honors: Youngest ever hospital administrator in the San Francisco Bay area at El Camino Hospital
Associations: American Nephrology Nurses Association (ANNA); American Association of Critical Nurses (AACN)
Social Media: LinkedIn
Applying Power to Drug Development
Driven to innovate by Need
After 18 years working for one of the world’s largest CROs, PRA International, James Powers was sure of one thing: the pharma R&D model was broken. It was in retirement that Mr. Powers found an opportunity to make a better way.
Today, he is the CEO of the emerging company HemoShear, which is dedicated to changing the way drugs are discovered and developed by innovating and applying first-in-class human translational disease systems to create safer and more effective therapies for patients. Due in large part to Mr. Powers’ entrepreneurial vigor, HemoShear is now collaborating with several major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in a number of high profile drug discovery and safety programs.
Mr. Powers had both great success and hard times while at PRA International. He joined the company when it was a niche services provider with only 13 employees. From 1988 to 2006, he was instrumental in the company’s global expansion and oncology focus, which led to a successful IPO in 2004. His strategy for success was rooted in his belief in his employees. No matter how bad a situation might have been during the start-up years, Mr. Powers would never allow it to faze those around him or their performance. He took on personal risk, including equity loans on his home twice to help make payroll for his employees. By the time he retired, PRA had grown to a multi-specialty clinical trials management organization with 25 offices and more than 3,000 employees worldwide.
Yet, despite this success, he repeatedly witnessed the “next breakthrough drug” pass years of preclinical testing with positive results, only to flop upon testing in humans. Considering the tremendous amount of time, money, and patient lives that are at stake, Mr. Powers had become convinced that the current pathway for drug R&D is not sustainable.
Upon leaving PRA, Mr. Powers became an advisor to the Coulter Translational Research Partnership in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia, a $20 million program that fosters research collaboration between biomedical engineers, scientists, and clinicians, with the goal of developing new technologies to improve healthcare. It was here that he met Drs. Brian Wamhoff and Brett Blackman, two university professors who were determined to realize the potential of their joint research collaboration and apply its value to new drug discovery. His fellow Coulter advisors recommended that the professors seek his guidance for their startup HemoShear.
In the spring of 2008, Drs. Wamhoff and Blackman invited Mr. Powers to come talk to them about their innovative transformational technology. They had discovered a technique to accurately recreate human organ system biology by applying physiologically relevant hemodynamic (blood-flow) forces to primary human cells. Their technology would bridge the extreme gap between traditional cell culture and animal testing methods and human biology; it would provide predictions of efficacy and safety in multiple human organ systems and in a wide range of diseases; and it would lead to discovery of efficacious therapies and significantly reduce costly failures in clinical trials. Mr. Powers was invited to serve on HemoShear’s advisory board, and within three months on the board, he became CEO. The only person unhappy about his decision to re-enter the work force might have been his wife, as they had been enjoying retirement together for two years.
Within six months, the company had completed its first angel round of financing of $750,000 thanks to the tireless networking efforts of Mr. Powers and his team. He believes strongly in the work and talent of his scientists, and he convinced investors through his contagious enthusiasm and passion. Under Mr. Powers’ direction, HemoShear has now raised more than $22 million in private non-venture funding to complement nearly $10 million in NIH SBIR funding to date. In the past several years, the company has received SBIR grants from four different NIH institutes. One of these grants, from the National Heart Lung & Blood Institute, was the largest ever awarded by the institute.
“Although I am proud of my role in growing PRA International, a global CRO, from 15 to 3,500 employees and taking it public in 2004, I am most proud of our success at HemoShear,” Mr. Powers says. “The pharmaceutical industry still lacks an understanding of disease mechanisms and drug effects. At HemoShear, we are collaborating with our pharma partners to discover and develop new drugs by applying our transformational, human-relevant disease biology platform.”
To achieve this goal, Mr. Powers has brought together leaders from various corners of the life-sciences industry to focus on solving a large common issue. One of those members, Dr. Robert Ruffolo, recently retired president of research and development for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and corporate senior VP of Wyeth, noted that Mr. Powers has a passion that never goes away, and importantly, he doesn’t let the passion overtake his sense of judgment, which commonly occurs in small biotech startups.
Others credit Mr. Powers’ honesty, integrity, modesty, and refreshing personality that makes others want to work with him.
According to Mr. Powers, the best advice he ever received was from an entrepreneur who founded one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies and has a long track record of success. He told him never to stop searching for information and speaking with people to learn.
“If I acquire more knowledge, then I have a better chance to succeed,” Mr. Powers says.
Getting to Know…
James C. Powers
Company: HemoShear LLC
Education: B.S., Management Science, Carnegie-Mellon University
Family: Wife, Jennifer; four adult children, Kevin, Caitlin, Carolyn, and Daniel
Hobbies: Golfing, fitness, sea kayaking, and traveling
Bucket List: Drive a motor home with his wife to the western United States and visit the national parks; travel throughout Europe, to Belize, play golf in Ireland and Scotland with his sons; study geology
Awards/Honors: Tibbetts Award by the Small Business Administration; awards for business leadership and community involvement in Virginia
Professional associations: Virginia BIO; chairman, Virginia BIO Foundation
Social Media: LinkedIn
Dr. Richard Gams
Driven to innovate by Discovery
Mention the name Dr. Richard Gams to any major decision maker at a pharmaceutical company and invariably the response will be, “yes, we worked together at X company, or Y academic institution.” Or when speaking with key opinion leaders involved with a hematologic malignancy indication more often than not Dr. Gams will have trained them.
His knowledge of the cancer treatment landscape combined with operational insights and scientific acumen are unsurpassed.
In the late 1980s, Dr. Gams was senior director of clinical development in oncology at Adria Laboratories (later purchased by Pharmacia and now part of Pfizer), where he was instrumental in moving three breast cancer drugs through to FDA approval and one for acute myelogenous leukemia.
He then founded Prologue Research International, a successful oncology-specific CRO that was acquired by Novella Clinical after 12 years of growth, and which is now part of Novella’s oncology division.
As chief scientific officer of Novella, Dr. Gams provides therapeutic and indication-specific training, and serves as a medical monitor in active support of sites and investigators as well as the pharmacovigilance department. As a physician and clinical researcher, he offers valuable insights into protocol strategy and study design for Novella’s customers.
One of Dr. Gams’ previous research interests while at Adria was in Advice Rules. These are rules-based systems that interpret clinical protocols and produce patient- and visit-specific advice on how to adjust drug doses for toxicity, which events (such as lab tests or x-rays) are required for a particular visit, response determination, and so on. A randomized trial showed that use of these advice rules improved protocol compliance from 60% to 95%.
As a physician, oncologist, and clinical investigator, he has developed an acute awareness of what doctors, hospitals, patients, and pharmaceutical researchers need.
Initially under a grant from the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Gams developed computerized expert systems that incorporate the protocol rules and advise investigators prospectively as to the proper course of action to be taken at every patient visit. An international network of investigators, who were linked electronically, participated in these trials using these techniques. This resulted in extraordinarily high levels of compliance and minimized the invaluable rate, and considerably shortened the time necessary to complete the trials. Dr. Gams has made several presentations to the FDA concerning this prospective data management methodology.
His hope one day is that no one in the world is denied quality medical care and believes that fundamental research into the biology and mechanism of disease will one day lead to curative personalized therapies.
One of his most endearing character traits is his mastery as a story teller combined with a wonderful sense of humor.
In fact, he so enjoys sharing insights that he says he could enjoy working as a journalist, and sharing meaningful information about medicine and society.
And he does all this with an incredible level of modesty and likability, urging colleagues to just call him Richard and not doctor.
He believes in handing off knowledge to younger colleagues, acting as a solid resource to help them solve problems and generate original ideas. And he seeks to inspire those around him by staying calm, demanding excellence, and being logical.
His insights, involvement in the company, passion about patient treatment, and ability to master just about anything he takes on — canoeing, gourmet cooking, conquering any piece of technology, etc. — continue to motivate and inspire all those who work with him.
Dr. Gams’ compassion extends to all creatures, and he and his family are strong supporters of the Humane Society due to their love of all animals, particularly dogs.
Getting to Know…
Richard Gams, M.D.
Title: Chief Scientific Officer
Company: Novella Clinical
Education: M.D., State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center; A.B., Amherst College
Family: Wife, Aileen Hall; sons Robert, David, Michael
Hobbies: Cooking, writing, camping, photography, chess
Bucket List: Visit all the National Parks, write a novel
Awards/Honors: Academic presentations at FDA; board certification in hematology and medical oncology
Associations: American Society of Hematology, American Society for Clinical Oncology
Social Media: LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+
The Art of Labeling Efficiency
Driven to innovate by Himself
A passionate innovator and leader in a unique space, Neil Gleghorn has led his company Kallik to become a market leader in labeling software solutions by combining an in-depth knowledge of the market and a commitment to helping customers.
Mr. Gleghorn is steeped in all aspects of real-world labeling and artwork issues and has a deep familiarity with customer problems. This has enabled him to help companies be more efficient as well as keep up with the heavily regulated pharma sector’s guidelines.
Mr. Gleghorn had the foresight, more than 11 years ago, to identify the need within regulated industries to manage product and labeling information more effectively, seeing the struggles customers had with often inefficient workflows. For example, many companies were storing their “final” labeling and packaging content as artwork files disconnected from the documents they had approved, so every change meant potentially starting from scratch. This is a huge and time-consuming undertaking, requiring approvals of local translations from every country the company operates in. And because changes happen all the time in the dynamic pharma market, it also meant companies were managing labeling manually and were always one step behind in terms of compliance.
He worked diligently to design, create, and deliver processes and solutions for artwork management and data-driven authoring to make those challenges radically easier to meet, which Kallik customers agree he has done.
The technology Mr. Gleghorn created allows pharmaceutical companies to be agile and flexible while retaining one codebase for all their manifold content change processes. As a result, companies can be both responsive to market needs while supporting the tight quality controls that life-sciences markets demand.
Mr. Gleghorn has always been passionate about creating and delivering innovative professional services and software solutions to the life-sciences industry where zero tolerance to risk is the aspiration when handling business processes related to packaging and labeling projects.
Perhaps his greatest strength as a visionary business entrepreneur is his consistent belief in never duplicating existing vendor technology or ideas in the applications marketplace. Instead, Mr. Gleghorn has always looked to show global customers a different way to deliver tangible benefits through alignment and integration of his business applications with core ERP, PLM, and other graphic-related, third-party software solutions. He is committed to solutions that are outstanding; indeed he says he hates solutions that are “nearly good enough.”
The challenge has always been to condense the big idea down from 40 slides to three.
“I found that having a long-term involvement and deep understanding of a problem and its solution made it difficult to boil down to the key messages, and that’s something I’m still learning to do,” he says.
He has a vast knowledge and understanding of the pharma industry, which he passes on freely and uses to develop solutions that will help achieve efficiency and compliance.
It is Mr. Gleghorn’s very approachable, positive, knowledgeable, and inclusive communication style that really separates him from the field. He always offers fresh and frank insights on the pharmaceutical market and on the issues and drivers that are taking hold, and he possesses a strong business acumen, which complements his industry knowledge.
Along the way, Kallik has faced down more than one business or market challenge. However, Mr. Gleghorn was never discouraged; he had the confidence to know that he was carving out a new path for the industry.
Seeing the Kallik solution operating successfully in its first customer, and realizing that the hard work, lost sleep, and financial commitments were going to pay off made it all worthwhile, he says. He also followed sound advice from a previous manager who said some parts of business resemble a sword fight, you have to know when to thrust and when to parry.
Mr. Gleghorn is constantly thinking and inventing, and loves what he does. That rubs off on everyone at Kallik, which exudes an atmosphere of enthusiasm and new ideas.
Mr. Gleghorn is also a strong supporter of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution — a service that is staffed by volunteers and funded by donations and since 1824 has saved more than 140,000 lives at sea, and the Woodland Trust, which has planted more than 6 million trees in the United Kingdom and works to educate kids on the importance of woodland and providing great leisure environments.
And if he weren’t running Kallik he’d pick a career designing and building engines, because he loves the precision and challenge of taking engines apart and rebuilding them.
Getting to Know…
Neil David Gleghorn
Title: Founder and CEO
Company: Kallik Ltd.
Family: Two sons
Hobbies: Painting, golfing, traveling
Bucket List: Learn how to fly a glider
Awards/Honors: Oracle Enterprise PLM Partner
Excellence Award; Software Entrepreneur of the Year
Tweet at: @Neil_Gleghorn
Social Media: Twitter, LinkedIn
Champion of Customer Engagement
Driven to innovate by Competition
In 2012, at a pivotal time of growth and expansion for Rosetta, Shannon Hartley was promoted from her post as managing partner to lead the Healthcare Industry Group, one of the agency’s largest and most important teams.
She quickly set the tone for a new era of growth while leading a shift in the agency’s industry positioning around the idea of customer engagement. This led to more than 10 key account wins, the launch of several new pharmaceutical brands, and a return to near double-digit growth for the agency group.
She took on her current role at a time when Rosetta’s Healthcare Industry Group needed a strong and consistent leader. The agency had parted ways with eight partner-level team members in healthcare in 2011 and was in need of clearer marketplace differentiation in a competitive agency landscape. Ms. Hartley quickly set to work and laid the foundation for the agency’s long-term success.
She established an outpost in London for a key client, which led to the agency’s 2013 opening of Rosetta Europe, as well as the agency’s first healthcare Clio award.
In addition, she worked hard to focus the group on next-generation patient and physician engagement and build on the momentum of patient adherence programs and iPad technology to drive relationship marketing and convention engagement. During this time, Rosetta developed the first iPad app within the pharma industry and has driven business impact for clients with insight-driven, innovative apps, and marketing programs that support selling, internal communications, relationship marketing, and convention engagement across healthcare.
In February of 2014, Rosetta became the first digital agency to achieve full certification in Internet Promotion and Social Media Regulatory Compliance in Healthcare. The certification has equipped team members with comprehensive knowledge of regulatory compliance and demonstrated an extra level of security and peace of mind when delivering strategic and tactical marketing initiatives for clients.
And she’s not stopping there. Ms. Hartley is focused on propelling Rosetta forward into leading patient and physician engagement for some of the world’s largest healthcare brands across the entire healthcare continuum.
She has a very clear process for setting goals, based on advice from a mentor years ago: create a 2×2 grid-list of professional goals and aspirations that are aligned by impact and effort.
“Revised annually, I still use this model to identify realistic goals that include a mix of levels of impact and effort,” Ms. Hartley says.
She inspires others through a servant-leadership model and ensures her team knows she is always willing to jump in and help.
“When my team works late on crucial project deadlines, I am there with them, walking the floor and making sure they have everything they need, even if that’s just making sure they have food,” she says.
The opportunity to enhance people’s lives is a huge motivator, and Ms. Hartley reminds those around her of the important role they play within the healthcare industry.
Ms. Hartley understands the difficulties facing patients as a result of her own health challenges.
In 2008, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and as a result the National MS Society’s work became very important and personal to her. She is an avid supporter of the group’s efforts in providing care to people affected by the disease and of the work being done to find a cure.
“We do important work in healthcare and we can’t lose sight of that,” she says.
A strong advocate for women’s initiatives, Ms. Hartley is a founding member of the Publicis Viva Women! initiative and the Rosetta Women’s Network.
She is also an advisory board member of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA).
In fact, she is so deeply committed to promoting professional women that she says one other profession she would have enjoyed pursuing is running a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping adolescent girls develop leadership skills.
“We need more strong women as leaders,” she says. “Young girls start to lose confidence in their abilities at the middle school age, and tend to conform to the stereotypical norms. I would like to work with a non-profit organization devoted to building entrepreneurial skills and empowering young women to take on leadership roles.”
She comes from a long line of strong women, who have all served as personal inspirations.
“My grandmother was a pioneer in advertising and went to college at a time when most women didn’t,” she says. “After completing design school, my grandmother turned down a job on Walt Disney’s Snow White, and instead embarked on her own path to lead the advertising group and hand drew fashion ads at a department store.”
Getting to Know…
Title: Managing Partner, Healthcare Industry Leader
Education: B.S. Elementary Education, Miami University
Family: Son, Connor, age 13; Golden Doodle, Neutron
Hobbies: Travel photography; cycling; running
Bucket List: Seeing all Seven Wonders of the World with her son — four down
Awards/Honors: 2011 Publicis Executive Development Program; 2005 BMS Award of Distinction – Individual contributions exceeding role and responsibilities; 2005 BMS President’s Award – Team member of Forecasting Accuracy and Measurement improvement team; 2004 BMS President’s Award – Team leader for the development of marketing capability for segmentation and messaging; 1997 P&G President’s Club Award, awarded to top sales performer; 1997 P&G Gold Club Award, awarded to top 10% of Customer Business Development; 1996 P&G Silver Club Award, awarded to top 20% of Customer Business Development
Associations: Publicis Viva Women!; Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association; National MS Society, Princeton Junior School; Junior League of Greater Princeton
Tweet at: @shartley01
Social Media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram
King of the Copay
Driven to innovate by Need
There can be no conversation about copay without Bob Previdi’s name — and that of his company PSKW — coming up.
As the CEO of PSKW, Mr. Previdi created the copay industry and he has continued to contribute to this field through innovative pursuits, especially those geared toward integrating technology with copay assistance initiatives. Today, it’s hard to imagine a brand launch without a coupon — and that’s all due to Mr. Previdi.
Always several steps ahead of where the copay industry currently is, Mr. Previdi looks at where it is going and where it needs to be to keep up with the ever-changing healthcare landscape.
Rather than just reacting to trends, he drives the industry with forward-thinking projects geared toward enhancing the physician, pharmacist, and patient experience. He thrives under the motto: it is better to plan than react.
Mr. Previdi continues to impress colleagues and peers with his vision and knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry, which is fueled by an entrepreneurial drive. There are many people who talk a good game but few who are capable of executing their vision. From day one, this pioneer has exhibited out-of-the-box thinking to create the foundation for a business and category that did not exist before he started PSKW.
Under his leadership, PSKW’s programs have helped pharmaceutical companies to further their brands while assisting patients overcome financial barriers to gain access to the medicines that they need.
Mr. Previdi does not look back at what was accomplished; rather he looks forward to what could be and how to shape innovative solutions for patients and the industry.
He is shaping solutions for patients to complement the changing atmosphere. He has built his organization with creative thinkers and detailed managers, for the perfect blend of strategic development and flawless execution of client programs.
Mr. Previdi has grown PSKW from a small office with a few employees to a company with a world-class team committed to providing extraordinary service.
His leadership and enthusiasm for the business and industry he helped to create inspires everyone at PSKW.
All PSKW employees are encouraged to submit ideas and innovations that have potential to move the company forward. He has crafted work teams that truly collaborate for companywide benefit, and leads the organization with a quiet strength that fosters commitment at all levels.
Thanks to his visionary leadership, PSKW was named the fastest and second fastest growing company in NJ in 2010 and 2011.
These recent awards and recognition point to his tireless efforts to build and sustain amazing client relationships.
Accessible, responsive, open-minded, and flexible Mr. Previdi promotes career momentum and satisfaction.
He inspires those around him with combination of prescient vision, organizational prowess, and a self-effacing demeanor.
In terms of the future, Mr. Previdi says electronic medical records (EMR) will provide a significant breakthrough not just for the industry but for his business as well. EMR, he says, will provide more efficient channels to deliver PSKW’s products.
His innovative strategies of developing better ways to respond to the needs of the industry and consumers are an inspired vision to the industry’s future.
Mr. Previdi supports multiple health related charities in their fundraising missions, which all leads back to his company’s mission in supporting patient health and adherence.
He is a strong supporter of the United Services Organizations and the Red Cross, both of which benefit the country’s active military personnel.
Getting to Know…
Robert G. Previdi
Title: Chairman and CEO
Company: PSKW LLC
Education: B.S., Marketing, Rowan University
Hobbies: Golf, sports, poker, boating
Awards/Honors: 2013 PM 360 Company of the Year – Supplier/Vendor Trailblazer Award; 2013 PharmaVOICE 100; 2012 Inc. Magazine 500 Fastest Growing Companies; 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year; 2012 PharmaVOICE 100; 2011 Inc. Magazine 500 Fastest Growing Companies; 2011 New Jersey Fastest Growing Companies – Number 2; 2010 New Jersey Fastest Growing Companies – Number 1
Social Media: LinkedIn
Fearless, Driven, and Fun
Driven to innovate by Excellence
In just seven years, Evoke Health has grown from a two-man shop in a small office off Wall Street to one of the premier consumer and digital agencies in the business, with offices in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago. The man behind this rise has courage, conviction, and a willingness to place big bets on things he believes in. CEO Reid Connolly, a two-time honoree to the PharmaVOICE 100, has created a culture of excellence and innovation that will continue to drive Evoke’s brand success for many more years to come. His colleagues call him fearless and a true leader who embodies inspiration in all he does.
His energy, talent, and ability to turn vision into reality, coupled with his true passion for healthcare marketing make him a force to be reckoned with.
Mr. Connelly says others would describe him as passionate or determined, but intense would be more accurate. Mr. Connolly says he needs to have high energy to set the right tone for the agency and to be able to accomplish everything he has to each day.
“I like to think I am affable,” he says, noting that it is part of the company culture to have a sense of humor. “We’ve had an expression at Evoke from day one: We take our work seriously, we don’t take ourselves seriously.”
Mr. Connolly says a critical part of his job is business continuity, ensuring a great pipeline, and plenty of the right type of work that keeps teams motivated.
“Another big part is setting the culture and providing some entertainment value,” he says. “I think it’s important for people to have fun while they are at work. Advertising can be grueling at times and you can’t rely on everyone in the company to receive all of their motivation intrinsically; helping to foster a more enjoyable, light-hearted environment is an important way to complement the intensity.”
Apparently that strategy is effective, since in 2013 both the New York and the Philadelphia locations earned “Best Places to Work” awards.
“It shows that our talented employees are finding Evoke Health a true place to be both inspired and proud, and I couldn’t be happier,” he says of the honors.
Colleagues say Mr. Connolly has a sincere passion for shifting the healthcare marketing industry from what is often viewed as stodgy and “expected” to emotional, inspirational, and downright sexy — or as sexy as pharma marketing can get. He challenges his staff to solve business challenges through bigger ideas, to truly think about the patients the company’s clients serve: who they are, what they need, and how a healthcare product or service can add value to their lives.
He inspires those around him to constantly think beyond tactics or the expected and think more about what’s going to be the most beneficial to a brand and a customer’s experience. His leadership and partnership to the Evoke Health team and its clients have been transformative to the industry and truly set a new standard.
Mr. Connolly claims to be too impulsive to actually maintain a bucket list, and he finds the quality of most business reading to be lacking and often a chore to read. He prefers to find parallels to business in nonwork-related reading.
“You can often find fresher ideas — or at least enjoy yourself attempting to — reading things written on topics that focus on other areas,” he says.
He is looking forward to Evoke Health’s 10th anniversary in three years, and hopes to continue building on the momentum of the past seven years.
And word to the wise, Mr. Connolly says he has a secret talent for remembering all the things people don’t want him to.
Getting to Know…
Company: Evoke Health
Education: B.S., Saint Joseph’s University
Awards/Honors: Crain’s Best Places to Work in NYC 2013; Best Places to Work in PA 2013; also recognized by DTC Perspectives, TGaS Advisors, MM&M, PharmaVOICE, Horizon Interactive Awards, Web Awards, and Interactive Media Awards
Tweet at: @evokeReid
Social Media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube
A Vision for Care
Driven to innovate by Patients
An inspirational and visionary leader, Raman Singh has led Mundipharma to become the fastest-growing pharmaceutical company in Asia.
Mundipharma’s approach is different from the traditional pharmaceutical business model. Innovation guides everything the company does and as a boutique organization that is built on an entrepreneurial spirit, Mundipharma develops partnerships with a wide range of pharmaceutical and biotech companies around Europe and the rest of the world. Built on a network model, each company is responsible for commercializing and launching products within its own market.
In 2011, Mundipharma was present in just five of the emerging markets; today that figure has more than trebled to cover six continents, including most of Asia, as well as many countries in Latin America and in the Middle East and Africa.
An industry veteran, Mr. Singh leads Mundipharma’s emerging markets business with a breadth of experience in driving global expansion efforts gained from senior commercial positions within international pharmaceutical businesses, including GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott, and Bayer.
Adept at building talent, Mr. Singh has overseen an increase in commercial staff from 400 to close to 3,000 dynamic and informed employees.
Since joining as president, Mr. Singh has led Mundipharma to nine consecutive quarters of growth, and the company recorded 62% growth this past quarter alone.
As a result of his leadership, Mundipharma is well-positioned to achieve the company’s goal of having emerging markets contribute 30% of total revenue within the next five years, from a starting base of 2%.
The significance of the company’s expansion is that it not only improves sales, but also importantly increases medicine access to patients in emerging markets suffering with severe pain, asthma, and sepsis.
Mr. Singh puts the patient first in every decision he makes for the organization and motivates and recognizes the efforts of employees to do the same. He is passionate about improving healthcare literacy in the markets in which Mundipharma operates.
Mundipharma is committed to giving back to the community to enhance patients’ lives. To do this, the company partners with patient groups and other third-party organizations to provide sustainable support that generates awareness and delivers meaningful benefits to patient lives. Some of the professional and patient groups the company currently works with include: International Primary Care Respiratory Group (IPCRG); European Federation of IASP Chapters (EFIC); European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC); Pain Alliance Europe (PAE); People with Arthritis/Rheumatism in Europe (PARE).
Knowing that each day the company gets closer to building its portfolio through the addition of another treatment to improve patients’ quality of life is a powerful motivator for Mr. Singh.
Running a successful company always entails some challenges. Mr. Singh says these have included navigating the highly complicated regulatory landscape across many different regions, including educating patients, practitioners, and regulators about the numerous options for pain treatment.
Mr. Singh has made Mundipharma an exciting place to work while managing to grow the prescription and the OTC business at the same time.
His one-to-one coaching sessions with the Mundipharma leadership team and promotion of a fully supported training program for the best employees across the company have added to the strength of the team.
He believes in surrounding himself with strong people and taking care of them.
Leading by example and treating others the way he would want to be treated is the best way to inspire, Mr. Singh maintains.
“I make a point of spending more than 90% of my time in the market, keeping a hands-on approach, and driving our spirit of care and growth throughout the regions,” he says. “By caring for all who work for Mundipharma, providing opportunities for individual input, and listening to those voices, we promote the entrepreneurial spirit that pervades the company.”
In all of his leadership teams’ offices there is a framed quote from Winston Churchill: “never, never, give up.”
“This is a personal message to each individual and also a spur to keep on working as a team,” Mr. Singh says.
He adds that Mundipharma thrives on all of its employees wanting to improve patients’ lives and motivating those around them in turn.
Getting to Know…
Title: President, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, Africa
Education: Master’s in International Management; MBA, Thunderbird, the American School of International Management;
B.S., Mechanical Engineering
Family: Married; two children
Dr. Jean-Pierre Wery
Found in Translation
Driven to innovate by Patients
The healthcare industry faces a dilemma. On one hand, the cost of creating new drugs keeps increasing, and on the other the desire to achieve a personalized medicine paradigm means targeting a very specific sub-population of patients, which in turn means reduced revenue potential for specialty drugs. The only way to solve this daunting situation is to radically improve the efficiency of the drug discovery and development processes.
Jean-Pierre Wery, Ph.D., has come up with a highly innovative way to achieve this goal by creating cutting-edge translational science platforms for oncology and metabolic diseases to increase the efficiency and precision with which an optimized compound can be identified for further development.
Founded in 2006, Crown Bioscience has developed comprehensive drug discovery services and unique portfolio of models for both oncology and metabolic diseases that enable clients to significantly accelerate and improve the quality of their decision-making process about which candidates to move into the clinic.
According to Dr. Wery, the many failures, in particular those in Phase II clinical trials, are the key to the high cost of the discovery and development process.
In response, Dr. Wery has applied innovation and expertise to address this challenge, identifying that many clinical candidates that look promising fail to show any significant activity in a clinical trial. Moreover, the notion is that a number of these clinical candidates could actually become a successful drug, but there is simply not enough knowledge to correctly handle the clinical development of such compounds. This particular problem, the inability to translate great preclinical discoveries into clinical successes has been termed a translational problem, and the field of research that has been established to tackle this problem has been named translational science.
To have a true impact on the overall drug industry, Dr. Wery has been acutely aware that these discoveries and insights have to be validated, engineered, and transformed into a cost-effective, industrial strength research platform that can be accessed by many companies.
Dr. Wery started to develop Crown’s oncology platform in 2008 and its metabolic diseases platform in 2010. Thus far, Crown’s translational platform has been used by more than 300 companies and research institutions worldwide.
Dr. Wery has also made a big impact in the application of the cornerstones of Crown’s oncology translational platform: novel animal models called patient-derived xenograft (or PDX). These models are created by inserting a fragment of a fresh human tumor into an immunodeficient mouse.
Under certain circumstances, the human tumor will grow and the model can be maintained over several generations. Such models have been shown to be extremely predictive on how a human tumor will react to a given treatment. Dr. Wery has guided Crown to build the world’s largest and best characterized collection of such PDX models, encompassing many cancer types.
The company reached a landmark point in April 2014, passing the 1,000 model mark in its PDX collection for oncology drug discovery. Such a comprehensive and diverse collection of well-characterized models offers pharmaceutical and biotech partners a unique tool to improve the selection and development path for promising clinical candidates. Since each model represents a given patient, it is possible to use these models to simulate a human Phase II clinical trial.
“Passing the 1,000 model mark is a significant milestone in our mission to deliver the gold standard in well-characterized models and services to help reduce the attrition rate of candidate compounds in the clinic, before they enter the clinic,” Dr. Wery says. “As drug discovery continues to rapidly evolve, there is a growing desire to screen candidates earlier with more patient-relevant disease models. We believe that through using models that more closely reflect the patient situation in the clinic, we can significantly accelerate our clients’ research programs by helping them make better informed decisions about which compounds to progress into clinical trials.”
Making the transition from science to management and business can be a challenge, but Dr. Wery has achieved great success. This is evident in the many strong partnerships he has formed and the teams he empowers. He inspires others by believing in them, listening, sharing, and respecting various points of view.
He sees the value of developing an international presence and global offerings to clients, and as such seeks partnerships and strategic business acquisitions that will benefit the wider industry. Under his leadership, Crown has acquired companies in Europe and Asia.
In addition to maintaining Crown’s strong growth, Dr. Wery’s next goal is to take the company to an initial public offering.
Despite having operations all over the world, Dr. Wery stays in touch no matter what time zone and supports all functions worldwide.
He has a great sense of humor and enormous patience, which prove to be very valuable when interacting within a multi-cultural environment.
Getting to Know…
Jean-Pierre Wery, Ph.D.
Company: Crown Bioscience Inc.
Education: Ph.D., University of Liege, Belgium; PostDoc, Purdue University
Family: Married; two children
Hobbies: Reading, traveling
Bucket List: Cage-diving with great white sharks
Mending a Broken Model
Driven to innovate by Need
Tim Frank has no desire to be invisible, and so he puts considerable effort into being transparent. The managing partner at Triple Threat Communications is so focused on being genuine and authentic that the idea of being invisible, even in response to a light-hearted question, is abhorrent.
“I wouldn’t want to be invisible, because I want to be a part of wherever I am at the moment,” he says. “Invisible is not genuine, although I guess you could argue that it is transparent.”
The industry leader founded Triple Threat Communications in 2005, as a nontraditional agency that puts its clients and their brands first.
As head of an agency unencumbered by rigid process and layers, Mr. Frank puts a premium on relationships and flexibility, keeping the agency’s focus on whatever is best for its clients and their brands. He firmly believes that if this is done well, then everything else will fall into place.
Over the past 12 years, Mr. Frank has been able to forge highly effective working relationships between professional, consumer/patient, and payer communications teams at agencies and clients. His vision and skills have produced uniquely effective programs involving all three stakeholder groups on brands such as Altace, Symbicort, and Crestor.
Possessing an uncanny sense of the dynamics working within the different groups in this space, he has been able to eliminate the turf battles and resulting silos that clients and agencies often get stuck in.
According to colleagues, Mr. Frank has set a new standard of leadership in the industry. His style is not razzle-dazzle, but rather he embodies truth in advertising and acknowledges limits and what can realistically be offered to clients.
He created a different model, with a different kind of agency-client relationship that requires a deeper level of engagement. He calls it the un-agency approach and based the firm’s self-promotion on that premise.
To achieve this deeper level of engagement, Triple Threat’s model is based on team members serving as integrated members of the client’s brand team. Clients report that Triple Threat team members know their brands and challenges as well as they do. They live and breathe strategy and tactics with clients, day in and day out. This client/agency relationship is based on transparency, authenticity, openness, and a commitment to the brand. Not surprisingly, clients say, this creates better outcomes because Triple Threat’s model encourages all the agencies to work together, creating better results in terms of the thinking and creativity that come from the collaboration.
Starting his own business was definitely a career highlight, but Mr. Frank prefers to focus on the relationships that he has built along the way as the most rewarding part of what he does.
“I don’t believe career highlights are measured in percentages of growth or numbers of employees,” he says. “I believe they are measured by the people you meet and the impact you have on them.”
Creating a culture that is genuine and transparent to everyone who comes in contact with the agency is also a major challenge, but one he will never stop striving to meet.
As others experience Mr. Frank’s way of doing business, they begin to duplicate it in their own organizations, which has been Mr. Frank’s ultimate goal. He hopes to not only bring success to Triple Threat, but to also change the expectations that clients industrywide have for their agencies and vice versa. According to Mr. Frank, most agencies have their own best interests at the forefront of what they do.
“The best people in the agencies move up within the organization and get further away from working with clients and positively impacting the client’s business,” he says “In short, they wake up thinking about the agency, while their clients wake up thinking about their brands. The current model is broken by this major disconnect.”
His unique and inspiring vision for how a truly effective agency partners with its clients and the relentless energy he devotes to his clients not only provides them with a different customer experience and results, but continually inspires and motivates his colleagues and employees. As a result, everyone involved experiences a true partnership. This is how Mr. Frank and his un-agency plan to continue — business as un-usual, making the success of its clients the ultimate measure of their own success.
Getting to Know…
Timothy C. Frank
Title: Managing Partner
Company: Triple Threat Communications LLC
Education: B.S., Miami University of Ohio
Family: Wife, Joni; two sons, Noah, 14, Nate, 11
Hobbies: Spending time with family, golfing, fishing, horseback riding, reading
Bucket List: Take a trip to Ireland; catch a tarpon on a fly rod; scuba dive in the Galapagos; play Augusta National; take an acting class; go on a safari in South Africa
Social Media: LinkedIn, Twitter
Delivering Ideas of Purpose
Driven to innovate by Competition
With insight and enthusiasm Matt McNally has been instrumental in helping the pharmaceutical industry adapt and evolve to a rapidly changing media environment.
Mr. McNally and his team at Publicis Health Media have been creating an approach to media that moves beyond the banner, focusing on educating patients through their healthcare journey, and connecting them with treatments that move them from diagnosis to solving their healthcare issues.
He has the ability to make both media and pharma easy to understand, and always pushes himself and others to think beyond the obvious and look for unique ways to reach audiences that resonate with them and engage them.
Mr. McNally has guided clients and media partners to focus on communicating and connecting with consumers where they are and when they need health information. His personal and human approach and passion have contributed to his and his agency’s fast and substantial growth.
Mr. McNally has also proactively reached out to the emerging media companies to help them learn about the specific constraints pharma faces in the digital and emerging media space. He then partners with the media companies to help them find win-win situations that help both Publicis and the media partner grow their businesses.
He understands that it’s not just about having big ideas, but being able to drive sales and surpass KPIs. Countless brands have benefited from Mr. McNally’s ability to navigate the delicate balance of analytics and creativity. He challenges conventional wisdom to create great products that push his clients further into the future.
Diseases don’t define people, Mr. McNally maintains, and marketing needs to support patients holistically, beyond making treatment decisions.
Others take their cues from his insights into how the patient journey influences receptivity to various types of information and education, the importance of consumerizing health information, and an over-riding belief that marketing needs to add value to the patient; it’s not about interrupting or grabbing attention, it’s about helping patients make better decisions about all aspects of their lives.
So while consumers want their health queries answered with quality, medically accurate content, they also want to be engaged and inspired with narrative or feel connected and supported by other people like them.
In 2013, Mr. McNally launched Publicis Health Media, making it the first health and wellness media agency of its kind to fuse media into a specialized health and wellness practice. Before that, Mr. McNally launched and led the media practice of Digitas Health.
Under his leadership, the company has secured media agency of record status with a number of pharmaceutical companies and has introduced some of the most innovative programs in the space today.
Through his leadership, he is disrupting current thinking so pharma clients can be more prepared to lead and win in today’s complex and rapidly changing marketplace. And he inspires his team to achieve great things.
He maintains that media is becoming the epicenter of marketing. While in the past media was the after-thought — the TV spot would be shot, the print ad would be finalized, and the account lead would walk downstairs to the media team and say, “where are we going to place this?” — today media needs to be the first thought.
“As marketers we need to understand how our customers are engaging with channels and how and where we are eventually going to show up,” he says. “Therefore, as media permeates into agencies, I would like to continue to expand my purview across brands and geographies.”
There came a point in his career where I was being promoted to lead his peer set.
“I went from being one of the crew on the floor to leading the team,” he says. “I had to strike the balance between friendship and leadership. It took time. However, I had great coaching and mentorship to get me there. This has made coaching and leading a passion of mine.”
He learned early on from one of his leaders the difference between a job and a career, and that to build a career it’s important to put the time and dedication into it, versus simply looking at work as somewhere to be from 9 to 5.
His management style impacts the performance of his teams and the individuals he works with. He brings passion to work every day, always showing up and always engaged, and in so doing inspires others. And Mr. McNally challenges his team to be brave and bring new ideas to the agency, push clients out of their comfort zone, and be honest with one another.
Leading Publicis Health Media is the highlight of his career, and he feels very fortunate to be able to live in Philadelphia and work with world-class talent on worldclass brands.
“I feel blessed to walk into the elevator every morning and to be part of something so special,” he says. “We have experienced fantastic growth and we are known worldwide for our thought leadership, passion, and innovation.”
He is involved with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania, helping from a media and marketing perspective.
“They do amazing things for young people in our area and teach ‘Bigs’ to be great mentors,” Mr. McNally says.
Getting to Know…
Company: Publicis Health Media
Education: B.S., University of Delaware
Family: Partner, Ralph Bassett
Hobbies: Running, weekend trips to his house in Rehoboth Beach, and traveling, especially to Key West
Bucket List: Two weeks in Bora Bora, where he can paddle board in crystal clear water and relax; and complete Kona Ironman, once he finds time to train
Associations: Philadelphia Interactive Marketing Association, founding board member; Google Health Advisory Board
Tweet at: @MattMcNally4
Social Media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram
Weaving a Compelling Story
Driven to innovate by Curiosity
Speed, intelligence, and street smarts are all attributes that describe Sydney Rubin. A highly regarded communications professional, Ms. Rubin’s expertise spans decades working across the journalism, client, and agency sectors. There are many former journalists plying the public relations trade, but few have made the transition as successfully and seamlessly as Ms. Rubin.
Ms. Rubin began leveraging content for marketing long before content marketing became “the thing.” She understand the power of the story to position a company and establish its reputation; and she knows how to tell that story in a way that can be dramatic, poignant, or humorous, and always compelling.
Ms. Rubin started her career as an associate producer at WNET TV in New York, then went on to become a foreign correspondent, including working in Paris and London for The Associated Press. A career highlight was the four months she spent in Prague covering the Velvet Revolution in then-Czechoslovakia..
After returning to the United States, Ms. Rubin began a public relations career, establishing her own agency, Ignition Strategic Communications, in Washington, D.C., which she eventually sold to Chandler Chicco Companies. At Chandler Chicco she conducted popular classes for agency staff on writing, storytelling, and public relations.
Most recently, she took on the huge job of chief communications officer for inVentiv Health, establishing a corporate communications practice for the parent company, with its 13,000-plus employees, three divisions, and 21 individual companies. Ms. Rubin’s mission has been to oversee the communications strategy that is taking the company from a holding company of 21 businesses to a global operating company with a reputation for excellence.
Her methodical, inclusive, and leadership-driven approach to quickly bring a solution to inVentiv Health is inspiring. Within six weeks, she had clearly outlined the value to the business in deploying a quick and scalable solution to enhance collaboration through internal communications. She designed and oversaw the development of an enterprisewide intranet providing the first social platform on which employees could meet, share best practices, learn about other companies within inVentiv, and discover opportunities to work together on business development and client projects.
With a small staff of just three people, she conducted message development for each of inVentiv Health’s 21 businesses that not only produced great stories for marketing communications, but also yielded a unique market position for inVentiv Health. Meanwhile, she embarked on an external communications campaign that increased corporate advertising by 100%.
With extraordinary skill in crisis communications and litigation support, Ms. Rubin was a vital weapon for Adheris Health, part of inVentiv Health’s Patient Outcomes Division, when it filed suit against the U.S. government over unexpected changes to the HIPAA privacy regulation that put the business at stake. Adheris was seeking an injunction to prevent enforcement of the regulation relating to prescription refill reminders. In pursuing the litigation, Adheris hoped that HHS would issue much-needed guidance indicating that its intent was not to end adherence programs that save lives. Ms. Rubin understood that the lawsuit not only could prevent a negative impact on the business, but also on patient care and adherence programs, which are more important than ever under the Affordable Care Act.
Due in part to the sophisticated strategy she developed around the legal communications, the government very quickly — in just 15 days — issued the guidance Adheris had been seeking for more than six months. The publicity was exactly what was required, and resulted in gratitude from pharmacy partners, pharmaceutical clients, and patients who would continue to benefit from reminders to stay on their medication.
Her innate communications ability, high energy, and wise and humorous guidance inspire enthusiasm in everyone with whom she works. While she has been a lifelong communicator, her true passion lies in helping train and develop the next generation of communication specialists in the healthcare sector.
Ms. Rubin always finds the time to help her team members grow their careers. Whether working with a young professional just entering the business or a peer who runs communications at the business level, she goes above and beyond in helping them learn the industry and take on new challenges.
She creates an environment that empowers people to stretch beyond what they think they can do and to not be afraid to fail. She encourages curiosity, experimentation and, above all, fun. She also shares what she is passionate about, beautiful language and a love for writing.
She shares her talents beyond inVentiv and remains loyal to clients beyond the end of a contract. One of her past clients was the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development, and since working with the organization Ms. Rubin has become a champion for its work. Every year, 1.4 million people die from tuberculosis, yet no new drug has been developed in 50 years. The TB Alliance was created to take on the task.
“It is a brilliant example of the public and private sector partnering to more quickly bridge the gap between market opportunities and public health needs,” Ms. Rubin says. “It was an honor to work with them.”
Getting to Know…
Title: Chief Communications Officer
Company: inVentiv Health Inc.
Education: M.S., Journalism, Columbia University; B.S., Communications, University of Texas
Family: Son, 23
Hobbies: Reading, French, kayaking, yoga, traveling
Bucket List: Teach and apply her skills in volunteering or working with an NGO, perhaps in Francophone, West Africa
Awards/Honors: Multiple Silver Anvils, including awards for raising capital, for integrated communications, for investor relations and for crisis communications; PRNews Platinum Award for crisis communications; Gold Quill Awards for essay in Newsweek magazine and The Washington Post; 13 awards, including Magnum Opus Award from Content Marketing Institute, SABRE Award and PRSA Big Apple for Crohn’s Advocate Magazine; Overseas Press Club Award as part of the AP Moscow Bureau for coverage of a massive earthquake in Armenia
Tweet at: @Sydneyin140
Social Media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook
A Wealth of Ideas
Driven to innovate by Competition
A great strategist, Corbin Wood has a renowned track record for bringing patient-focused programs to the life-sciences industry.
He has vision to see the big picture, he has the talent and skills to make the vision come to fruition, and he has the courage to take risks when others would play it safe.
Under Mr. Wood’s leadership, Snow Companies is now global, offering engaging experiences to help support, educate, and empower people living with chronic illnesses.
As chief operating officer, Mr. Wood has been instrumental in growing Snow Companies to one of the largest independent patient-focused agencies in the country, with an impressive roster of 50-plus brands as clients.
Mr. Wood jointly developed one of the first FDA-compliant patient ambassador programs in the United States, and expanded Snow’s unique approach to patient engagement throughout Europe.
Together with his business partner and Snow Companies founder Brenda Snow, Mr. Corbin created a category that did not exist 10 years ago in the pharmaceutical industry — one that harnesses the power of real patient experiences and helps companies educate and motivate action in the patient communities they serve.
The Patient Ambassador platform, deployed by numerous biotech and pharmaceutical companies in partnership with the Snow Companies, helped pave the way for authentic patient-to-patient communications.
His ability to see trends in data enables him to use that information to balance the voice of business and economics with the needs of patients to connect, share their stories, and support one another.
He never ceases to amaze his partners and co-workers with crystal-clear situational assessments and strategic brilliance. When everybody is struggling to see where to go, Mr. Wood will be the one who grabs the felt pen and clearly draws out options, enabling his colleagues to identify a way.
A truly entrepreneurial spirit, Mr. Wood walks the walk every day. He is always thinking about how to make the industry work better, and then executing on the best ideas. He is not constrained by convention, fear of failure, or countervailing forces, whether conceiving a new business model, or executing a never-before-attempted marketing strategy.
Throughout his career, Mr. Wood has challenged convention around pricing strategies, advertising channels, patient education, and physician engagement models.
He is a tenacious negotiator, with a passion for big ideas and an attitude that makes almost anything seem possible.
Mr. Wood began his career working for Biogen on the forecasting team, supporting the launch of Avonex, and even then his business acumen and vision for success was clear and impressive.
During his time at EMD Serono, he led the launch of Rebif, which is approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and was instrumental in creating an in-house patient care center.
He also worked for Novartis on a new MS product launch, where he led global pipeline decisions and prepped multiple markets for the introduction of an oral MS medication.
Next on his list of goals to accomplish for Snow is to grow the company’s video business; expand the business into other health-related categories, such as nutraceuticals; and develop a syndicated TV show for patients.
Working is Mr. Wood’s hobby and passion, and beyond Snow, he explores and invests in other entrepreneurial projects such as a video production company; software development; a video game company; and a social health network, WhatNext.com, that has been described as the LinkedIn of healthcare. As an advisor for WhatNext, he helps the organization build collaborative relationships with life-sciences companies, develop new and innovative patient-centric advertising campaigns, and build a unique patient-support experience.
A trusted advisor and strategic partner to many biotech and pharmaceutical companies, Mr. Wood’s intuitive vision and humble presence instill confidence and offer support to marketers who are challenged with communicating to their target audiences.
He is a leader who instills confidence in his colleagues and a mentor who encourages independence, offering support when needed, and a great ability to inspire and instill confidence in people. He encourages autonomy and rewards risk taking, reminding others that mistakes lead to better learning.
Inspiration for Mr. Wood comes from the patients and hearing the stories about the programs that connect people, educate them, and make a profound difference in their lives.
Beyond Snow, Mr. Wood is a strong supporter of Patient Assist VI, which provides free and reduced prescription medications to the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands; these patients are often overlooked or excluded from traditional pharmaceutical patient-assistance programs.
He also supports Eat Healthy Foundation, which provides nutritional supplements to children in India.
Getting to Know…
Title: Chief Operating Officer
Company: Snow Companies
Education: MPH Healthcare Policy, Emory University; MBA Marketing, Emory University; B.A., Biology, UC Santa Barbara
Family: Wife, Kendra; daughters, Sloan, 11, Kylee, 11, Emerson, 5; son Chase, 9
Awards/Honors: 2011 Pfizer Golden Horse Award for Snow’s outstanding contribution to the business; 2011 MM&M Best Treatment Attitudes & Best Social/
Environmental Factors for the MSLifeLines Support Program for Rebif; 2012 MM&M Awards Best Use of Social Media Snow’s Management of the Epilepsy Advocate program; 2012 MarCom Award Snow’s “My Multiple Myeloma” local patient outreach programs were recognized with a Gold award for outstanding creative achievement; three Tellys for patient videos for Multiple Myeloma in the African American Community for Non-broadcast Productions, Health and Wellness, “Meet Sebastian” a testimonial video for Online Commercial, Pharmaceuticals, and Courage
Tweet at: @cdubya
Social Media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+
Passion for Helping Patients
Driven to innovate by Patients
Over the past two decades, Tracy Foster has built a reputation as an expert in the field of patient services programs — ranging from copay and patient assistance to adherence.
As president of Lash Group, she has built a culture of always putting patients first. This means developing and implementing the most efficient and innovative programs to ensure that patients can begin life-changing and even life-saving therapies as quickly as possible.
The work that Lash Group does to support patients is considered by her teams to be second to none. Under Ms. Foster’s leadership the organization helps patients obtain reimbursement from insurers for their needed medicines or patient-assistance support for low-income patients without insurance.
She understands patients’ needs and the needs of her pharmaceutical customers and has tailored a successful business model addressing both.
She is active on the national stage of healthcare in interpreting the Affordable Care Act for pharmaceutical manufacturers and developing solutions to ensure patients have access to their products.
Healthcare is always changing and at a rapid pace, and Ms. Foster’s innovative way of thinking about new copay and patient assistance solutions, including clinical nursing and adherence services, allows the Lash Group to keep supporting patients to maximize ongoing continuity of care.
Her extensive knowledge and expertise in this dynamic field provide all those she leads with the confidence to successfully navigate industry change and challenges.
Her passion for Lash’s mission is apparent in the questions she asks, her quick response to roadblocks, the people she engages, and her emphatic messages reminding associates of the company’s vision and values.
Ms. Foster’s collaborative leadership style has been an important contributor to the growth of Lash Group from 30 associates when she joined the company’s Charlotte, N.C., office in 1996, to 3,000 associates today.
“The shifting dynamics facing our industry requires associates to think and work differently,” she says. “Given the rapid rate of change, it can be challenging to recruit and retain talented associates who embrace that change. At Lash Group, we’ve made considerable investments in associate engagement, training, and quality improvement programs. As a result, our associates not only have the skills required for today, but they are also fully prepared to thrive as the next wave of change impacts our business. Although we’ve constantly evolved our recruitment and associate development programs, one thing has remained constant since I joined Lash Group 20 years ago, and that is our associates’ commitment to the patient. In everything we do, we take a patient-centric approach. This focus on the patient has served us well, and I believe it will continue to be a key to our success for years to come.”
She recognizes and respects each associate for his or her contribution to the business, but also to patients’ lives.
“My hope is that patients will continue to benefit from a market landscape where incentives are aligned to ensure that value and continued innovation, along with efficient healthcare delivery, are appropriately rewarded and encouraged,” Ms. Foster says.
She leads in a humble, heartfelt, and genuine manner, making anyone and everyone feel respected, comfortable, and cared for, all while effortlessly sharing her knowledge and expertise with clients, providers, and advocates. And while she makes sure the focus remains on the patient, she also believes the workplace must be fun.
Culture matters to Ms. Foster, who says as an employee, it is important to seek out a company culture that aligns with one’s personal values and goals, and as a leader, the priority must be to nurture a culture of aligned goals and values.
“Throughout my career I have worked to provide a culture that is patient-centric; promotes core values like collaboration, innovation, and accountability; encourages fun; ensures integrity; and rewards performance,” she says.
Outside of work, Ms. Foster is committed to the public school in her area.
“My parents were both career educators in the public school system,” she says. “I’m extremely proud of their service and their impact on students and the community. I believe our local teachers and administrators need and deserve our support.”
Getting to Know…
Tracy Ott Foster
Company: Lash Group
Education: MSA, University of Michigan College of Engineering; MBA, University of Virginia Darden School
Family: Husband, Allan; daughter, Maclaren, 11; son, Angus, 8
Hobbies: Photography, house renovating, reading, exploring the NC Mountains, walking the wieners
Bucket List: Write a screenplay with her
sister; travel to Alaska with her family; class VI whitewater rafting; teach a college course; live abroad
Awards/Honors: Top 20 Women in Business Achievement Award, Charlotte Business Journal; 40 under 40 Business Achievement Award, Charlotte Business Journal
Social Media: LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram
Driven to innovate by Passion
Tonya Mallory wants to revolutionize the practice of medicine in the United States. The affluent Western lifestyle, characterized by an overabundance of food, poor diets, and lack of exercise, breeds chronic disease conditions in even one of the most medically advanced nations. The typical patient does not seek medical attention until symptoms flare, which usually occurs in later stages of disease. The care that follows comes with a high cost to the patient, the family, and the nation. Instead of fixing the problem, Ms. Mallory is intent on preventing it from even forming.
She has a vision to create a new model for treating chronic disease, and she is undoubtedly realizing it through her company, Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc. (HDL). Ms. Mallory founded HDL in the summer of 2009. Since then, it has grown from a kitchen-table business plan to a corporation earning more than $420 million in annual revenue, employing 750 people, processing 4,000 lab samples, and running more than 60,000 lab tests each day. The company has driven near constant construction at its home in downtown Richmond’s Virginia BioTechnology Research Park, where a $68.5 million expansion soon will triple the company’s footprint to 280,000 square feet.
HDL is one of the largest cardiovascular and diabetes testing labs of its type in the world. It hit its five-year goal in its first 10 months of business. But it wasn’t always smooth sailing. The day she closed on the capital for HDL, she bounced an $11 check for a T-shirt order to one of her son’s schools.
“We were down to zero,” she says. “I was actually going to apply at WalMart the very next weekend. That’s how close to nothing we had.”
She and her husband of 23 years, Scott, already had spent much of their savings caring for his late mother during a terminal illness.
“We essentially bet the farm,” Ms. Mallory says. “We agreed that we would cash out our 401(k) accounts, the kids’ college accounts, and we took out a second mortgage on the house.”
Ms. Mallory estimates that she pitched her vision of a new type of medical laboratory corporation to about 500 investors for about a year before landing a $4 million angel investment from Tipton Golias, the founder and president of Texas-based Helena Laboratories.
Today, HDL provides a comprehensive laboratory test menu of blood biomarkers, enabling patients and their physicians to practice “proactive healthcare.”
The company was established to address the leading cause of death in the world, cardiovascular disease, by increasing patient access to advanced diagnostic tests and lowering the costs for receiving such health assessments. From personal experiences, Ms. Mallory learned that good clinical decisions are not always available to patients who cannot afford the proper diagnostic tests. Hence HDL’s business model, which is predicated on accepting whatever insurance companies will pay for tests; patients pay only co-pays or deductibles.
Ms. Mallory, however, considers HDL a health management company, not just a laboratory that conducts diagnostic tests. HDL offers patients free health coaching services, including smoking cessation, dietary, and behavioral change, in an effort to improve patient health and prevent heart attacks and diabetes. Ms. Mallory also thought to extend its early detection and health coaching services to private companies so corporations can improve employees’ health and keep insurance costs down. So far, HDL’s clients include Markel and Bon Secours Richmond Health System in addition to a pilot program with the state government of Virginia. And significant evidence for the effectiveness of HDL’s technology and business strategies has already begun to surface. In an independent study published in the healthcare journal Population Health Management, investigators found that HDL’s testing and coaching reduced patient’s healthcare costs by an average of 23% over a two-year period and also improved patients’ lipid profiles.
Importantly, her strategy is to make diagnostic tests easily accessible for both the patient and the physician.
In the eyes of medical experts, HDL provides a medical breakthrough. Health practitioners from all over the nation are realizing the benefits of Ms. Mallory’s vision and commitment to affecting patient care. Likewise, she has gained the support and respect of business leaders across the life-sciences industry.
Those who work with Ms. Mallory credit her fearlessness. She has a philosophy that is leap and the net will appear.
“You’ve got to take that leap and it will appear,” she says. “Sometimes I worry, but there’s always been a net. We’ve always managed to build that net — and if we have to build the net while we’re falling, that’s okay, too.”
Still, Ms. Mallory acknowledges that she is a long way from reaching her ultimate goal. Depending on the source, there are 208,000 to 352,000 primary care physicians in the United States. About 18,000 of those physicians use HDL’s tests and only 15,000 have received advanced training on reading the tests.
Of all the perks that have come with being the CEO of a fast-growing, respected corporation, Ms. Mallory says the most valuable to her is having a say.
She has used that voice to help direct Virginia’s biotech park and to innovate educational programs at Virginia Commonwealth University, offering direction to the VCU School of Business, and pumping up the university’s clinical chemistry program. She has also used it to support local and national nonprofits fighting obesity and promoting health prevention. But most importantly, she wants the entire medical community to hear her.
“I started HDL to impact medicine,” she says. “I definitely understood that medicine had gotten to a place in the United States where it was quite reactionary, and we want to be a catalyst to change that.”
Getting to Know…
Title: President, CEO, Cofounder
Company: Health Diagnostic Laboratory Inc. (HDL)
Education: M.S., Forensic Science, Virginia Commonwealth University; B.S., Biology, Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University
Awards: 2012, Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year award in the Emerging Company category; 2013, Virginia Business Person of the Year by Virginia Business magazine
Tweet @: @myhdltweets
Social Media: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr
A Voice for CROs
Driven to innovate by Patients
Ciaran Murray has been at the forefront of promoting the innovation and expertise that CROs bring to the drug development process and the evolution of CROs as trusted partners to the biopharma industry for years.
He has expounded on these themes at numerous industry conferences and, through his chairmanship of the Association of Clinical Research Organizations (ACRO), he continues to promote the CRO industry as one that conducts safe, ethical, and high-quality clinical research to deliver medicines that benefit patients worldwide.
Since becoming CEO of ICON in 2011, he has led the company to record levels of growth, and helped to build strategic partnerships with ICON’s customers. This has involved a significant change management effort, requiring new ways of thinking and working from both ICON’s team and those of its customers.
In addition, he has pushed for closer ties between industry and academia. Under his leadership, ICON has become a strong supporter of research and innovation as evidenced by the company’s partnership with University College Dublin (UCD), which has been heralded as a model for industry-academia collaboration.
ICON is a lead benefactor of UCD’s new Science Centre, a 67,000-square-meter building, which is home to Ireland’s largest science community. The partnership also includes the creation of a new Centre for Business Analytics in UCD’s School of Business; sponsorship of young research talent through the ICON-Newman Fellowship in Genomics; and the creation of an industry-tailored Graduate Certificate in Clinical Research in UCD’s School of Medicine and Medical Science.
While Mr. Murray continues to work closely with UCD to seek new ways of driving innovation through industry-university partnerships, he is also looking to collaborate with universities in other parts of the world, including the United States and China, to help improve research and to develop education programs that will help clinical development.
Mr. Murray believes in building a strong team and not prolonging tough decisions. He leads by example in consistently striving for excellence, and he focuses on developing leadership and talent.
Outside of work, Mr. Murray is a keen supporter of Ireland’s national games, Gaelic football and hurling. The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) was set up in 1999 to promote and protect all aspects of player welfare and to provide off-field support services for players in the areas of education, career development, health and well being. Mr. Murray was instrumental in ICON’s partnership with the GPA in 2012 to establish the ICON-GPA Life Sciences Scholarship program that provides funding for players engaged in undergraduate and post-graduate life-sciences courses. He has also helped the GPA establish its Insights through Excellence mentorship program, which aims to enhance players’ leadership competencies in a business environment. Insights through Excellence provides players with valuable access to a select and exclusive group of senior executives and management teams of Irish, and multi-national and small and medium enterprises, exposing them to leadership roles within these organizations.
Through Mr. Murray’s leadership and commitment to developing the next generation of business leaders, ICON was the first company to sign up for this mentorship program in April 2014.
Getting to Know…
Education: Bachelor of Commerce
Hobbies: Running; Gaelic games
Awards/Honors: Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, University College Dublin; The Spirit of Ireland Award from the Gaelic Players Association, 2013
Associations: Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland; Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland; Chairman of the Association of Clinical Research Organizations (ACRO)
Connecting Patients, Saving Lives
Driven to Innovate by Discontent
Inspire Cofounder and CEO Brian Loew had almost 14,000 recommendations for his PV 100 nomination. Not individually, thank goodness, but one nomination reportedly represented all of the patients from the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research (FSR), an Inspire partner. Speaking on behalf of the entire FSR group, the nominator named Brian Loew and Inspire as a critical force in saving lives. Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that can affect almost any organ in the body. It causes heightened immunity, which means that a person’s immune system, which normally protects the body from infection and disease, overreacts, resulting in damage to the body’s own tissues.
By creating a platform that allows patients who are hurting physically and emotionally to both gain medical information and communicate with others who share their experiences, Mr. Loew has provided a unique, invaluable service in an overlooked arena of engagement, and patients everywhere are thanking him for it. A service that combines factual information sharing with community building could only be created by a true visionary — someone who can see beyond the common one-dimension of the medical field and understand the power of human experience and connection toward healing. Inspire transforms patients from isolated, oft ill-informed individuals into connected, educated, and empowered community members.
Mr. Loew describes his vision for the company very simply: being a patient is isolating — sick for a day or seriously ill — and everyone can relate.
Mr. Loew created Inspire in 2005 with the goal of accelerating clinical trial recruitment through the use of safe, trusted online social networks that are organized by medical condition, for patients and caregivers. Inspire has since broadened its mission, and enables brand teams to engage with patients as well. Today, eight of the top 10 largest pharmaceutical companies turn to Inspire to connect with patients.
Mr. Loew believes that patient contributions to medical progress have been historically underappreciated, and great progress in medical research will result from involving patients and fully valuing their contributions. Mr. Loew’s vision was to build a truly patient-driven online community for people affected by life-altering diseases, and to create an environment in which patients and caregivers connected in meaningful ways — for clinical information, for practical tips, and for emotional support.
One could say Mr. Loew has effectively merged the power of networking and information with the less tangible but highly effective power of humanity and spirit. Through his work and advocacy, he is helping to bridge the chasm between the life-sciences industry and patients, while promoting the continued evolution of the e-patient. To patients, Mr. Loew personifies hope.
In the near future, Mr. Loew looks forward to a true and meaningful shift to patient-centered healthcare.
“It seems we have finally reached the point where healthcare systems are willing to focus more on outcomes than on treatment,” he says. “This will bring significant benefits to patients and to society more broadly.”
A career highlight for him was the day in June this year when Inspire reached the milestone of 500,000 members. While there is no way to tell for sure how many of those 500,000 patient lives have been improved through communication with others on an Inspire disease-specific site, collectively the members have created 6 million posts, and written almost 1 billion words, making it one of the most active community healthcare sites. Inspire has an impressive list of partners that also contribute to the content of the sites. There are 107 nonprofit patient advocacy partners that help provide resources to the 200-plus patient communities.
Beyond an online community, Inspire also provides patients with the ability to contribute in meaningful ways to R&D portfolio decisions, creating accessible ways for teams to leverage patient insights, and enable the FDA’s vision of Patient Focused Drug Development.
An entrepreneur since the age of 8 when he began breeding and selling guppies (he is still into tropical fish), Mr. Loew became an Internet entrepreneur in 1994 when he founded worldweb.net, a content management software company that created and launched more than 100 websites for major publishers, including U.S. News & World Report, Hachette Filipacchi, Time Warner, and The Washington Post Company.
Getting to Know…
Education: B.S., Physics, B.A., Economics, George Washington University
Family: Wife, two children
Hobbies: Sailing, tropical fish
Tweet at: @brianloew
Social Media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Foursquare, Tumblr, Flickr
Dr. Stephan de la Motte
Driven to innovate by Curiosity
An ability to connect the dots in a way that is seldom seen in the clinical research industry is what sets Stephan de la Motte, M.D., apart. He has elevated SynteractHCR’s medical and scientific expertise to help the company become a globally recognized contract research organization.
With almost 30 years of experience, Dr. de la Motte’s scientific and medical background and clinical trial knowledge provide Synteract-HCR’s customers with an expert resource to support their drug development needs. His input to development plans accelerates products’ time to market and increases the scientific validity of the drug applications. Without his input, feasibility and capability analysis of planned studies would be challenging.
In addition, Dr. de la Motte’s review of study data and reports provides a best-in-class critical assessment of the actual results and puts them into a context that is clinically relevant for customers.
His list of accomplishments is vast: he has served as coordinating investigator, principal investigator, investigator, pharmacokineticist, and medical writer. Dr. de la Motte’s therapeutic experience includes general medicine, clinical pharmacology, pharmacology and toxicology, anesthesia, internal medicine, psychiatry, neurosurgery, neurophysiology, and military medicine.
With regard to clinical trial design, Dr. de la Motte has studied the principles of hypothesis testing in clinical trials, which has facilitated complex study design and increased trial efficiency. In addition, he has ensured that development plans and protocols have been modified in a way that patient recruitment was possible and data are acceptable to regulatory authorities for marketing approval of new drugs.
Dr. de la Motte is very involved in developing presentations and writing for scientific and medical publications. His impressive contributions include delivering 33 scientific presentations at congresses and being featured in 22 peer-reviewed papers in quotable journals. He recently completed a white paper titled Orphan Indications and Clinical Trials: Why Rare Diseases Warrant Special Treatment, which explains the unique characteristics of clinical trials in rare diseases and orphan treatments.
One of his most significant accomplishments was leading a clinical pharmacology department where the whole staff was new to the industry and in research, from the stage where they did only bioequivalence trials in healthy young volunteers to the point where they, predominantly, performed the most complex PK/PD trials in patients of a dozen different disease areas. They became ranked among the top league of the industry within five years.
“The annual staff turnover was less than 3% during the nine years I led the department,” he says. “I am pleased to say many of the staff members were then successful in transitioning to other roles within the company, having successfully launched their careers as members of my team.”
Dr. de la Motte is a strong mentor. He explains key scientific and medical aspects of the clinical research projects he has been involved with in a clear and understandable way, both internally and to SynteractHCR’s customers. Dr. de la Motte supports his team with knowledge and patience in explaining complicated concepts. He mentors not only his own department, but also drug sponsors and other project team members. He cares deeply about his team members, their understanding of the projects in which they are involved, and how to make everyone in the team successful at the mission of bringing medicines to market.
Managing personnel issues is often a challenge, and Dr. de la Motte had to guide a team through making tough decisions while keeping the team together and reaching solutions that were fair for everyone, minimizing the overall harm, while respecting business reality.
He motivates by encouraging others to think for themselves; by respecting their judgment; by explaining how, through their commitment, their work contributes to the company’s mission of developing a better future for patients; and by giving them ownership.
Getting to Know…
Stephan de la Motte, M.D.
Title: Chief Medical Advisor, M.D,
Education: M.D., Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich, Germany
Family: Three children
Hobbies: Creating computer music, photography, Go (Asian board game), traveling
Bucket List: Visit Antarctica, Machu Picchu, Siberia; write about certain chapters and parts of his life; make a unique, symbolic movie
Associations: Bavarian State Chamber of Physicians, Medical District Chapter of Munich, German Association for Pharmaceutical Medicine
Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall
Telling the Patient’s Story
Driven to innovate by Faith
Stories are the source of inspiration for Freda Lewis-Hall, M.D. Whether it is the stories she tells to share her journey or the stories she hears from others who have inspired her, Dr. Lewis-Hall brings healthcare and research alive through her stories.
From the age of 6, Dr. Lewis-Hall wanted to be a physician, a lofty goal for an African-American girl in the 1960s. But her parents and later her husband — her soul-mate, they met when they were both 17 — supported her and moved her forward, and held her feet to the fire and to the ground to allow her to do some of the things she wanted to do.
Dr. Lewis-Hall has been focused on the needs of the patient since becoming a physician and her focus has been intensified through her work in research-based biopharma. For her, being involved in bringing an important new medicine or vaccine from the research lab to people in need is both a challenge as well as hugely rewarding.
Her position today as executive VP and chief medical officer at Pfizer is an important and challenging one, not only because she plays an important role in the safe, effective, and appropriate use of hundreds of medicines and vaccines, but also because she has taken a role in changing the general reputation of the industry.
It’s this issue — the industry’s reputation — that most concerns Dr. Lewis-Hall. During her acceptance speech at the 2011 Woman of the Year award from the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), she challenged the industry to turn itself around in order to regain the respect and trust of patients.
She recalls her father’s words to try to propel change: “Think about who you bring behind, what you leave behind, and what you learn along the way.”
Dr. Lewis-Hall looks for ways to advance the industry by thinking of other companies as partners, not competitors, and by sharing information in order to advance medicine. To that end, her goal is to exponentially grow the ability to produce and deliver new treatments and cures by establishing powerful partnerships.
She finds inspiration from her parents, who believed she could fly and sacrificed much to give her wings; from her uncle who lived with polio and held to the philosophy, “When things seem out of reach…move closer;” from her husband who for more than 40 years has been her most honest critic and most ardent supporter; and from her children who make her want to be better.
Throughout her career, Dr. Lewis-Hall has followed a sound piece of advice: never take a job you’re already positive you can do, or one that you’re not passionate about.
A trained physician, Dr. Lewis-Hall has held leadership roles in academia, medical research, front-line patient care, and at global biopharmaceutical companies, including Vertex, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Lilly. She has also led research projects for the National Institutes of Health and was vice chairperson of the Department of Psychiatry at Howard University College of Medicine.
In 2010, Dr. Lewis-Hall was appointed by the Obama Administration to the inaugural Board of Governors for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and in 2012 she was appointed chair of the Cures Acceleration Network Review Board and a member of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Health.
A highly visible industry thought leader, she can be seen on a number of TV shows, including Rachael Ray and The Doctors, she communicates about medical advances, and on Pfizer’s corporate YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter channels she talks about initiatives led by the Pfizer organization. She also connects people to reliable, easy-to-understand health information through the website gethealthystayhealthy.com.
Two charities in particular resonate for Dr. Lewis-Hall: Power to End Stroke, because the organization works to reduce risk factors for stroke, the disease that claimed her mother way too soon; and Save the Children, as it is focused on the world’s most vulnerable but important people.
Getting to Know…
Freda C. Lewis-Hall, M.D.
Title: Executive VP and Chief Medical Officer
Education: M.D., Howard University College of Medicine; B.S., Johns Hopkins University
Family: Husband, Randy; three children; one grandson
Hobbies: Reading, traveling, shopping, planning memorable events for her immediate and extended family
Bucket List: Visit the Pyramids; get a walk-on or even a “play dead” role in any of the CSI programs; dance at her grandchild’s wedding
Awards/Honors: 2012, Savoy’s Top Influential Women in Corporate America; 2011, Woman of the Year,
Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association; Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award, Howard University; Honorary doctorate, Coppin State University, Baltimore, Maryland
Associations: American Psychiatric Association; Patient Centered Outcomes Research Initiative; National
Institutes of Health: Chairperson of the Cures Acceleration Network and Advisory Council Member of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; Board of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health; The Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows; Executive Committee of the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative; Committee Member of The Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Drug Discovery, Development, and Translation; Board Member of Save the Children; Advisory Board of American Heart
Association’s “Power to End Stroke”
Social media: LinkedIn
Dr. Deborah Dunsire
A Transformative Leader
Driven to innovate by Patients
During the course of her phenomenal career, Deborah Dunsire, M.D., has been involved with the development of 14 drugs, 10 of which have been blockbusters in the sense of driving truly transformational outcomes for patients.
She attributes the success of these medicines to great science, a thorough understanding of the underlying disease, and then a comprehensive development program.
A physician by training, Dr. Dunsire is energized by being able to work on new medicines that truly change the outcome for people who are fighting diseases for which there are no current or substantially effective therapies.
Today, as president and CEO of Forum Pharmaceuticals, she and her team are focused on serious brain diseases — Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia, both devastating disorders — for which there is currently desperate need for serious improvement in terms of therapeutic outcomes and sustainable treatment.
The vision for the company is that “every mind matters.”
“This is true not just for our patients, but in our house, too, because we can’t develop new medicines without everybody bringing their different capabilities, skills, and minds to the game,” she says.
Dr. Dunsire is excited about the neuroscience in Alzheimer’s disease because she believes the technology is coming to an inflection point, too, and that the industry will soon develop transformative therapies for patients who really have nothing.
Forum is pursuing all avenues with Alzheimer’s, noting that there still isn’t enough information to enable an understanding of all of the underpinnings of what make patients different.
Her goal at Forum is to grow the company through the development of its lead molecule — an agent that improves learning, memory, and executive function in healthy volunteers and schizophrenic and Alzheimer’s patients — which is in Phase III trials.
“If this molecule works it’s going to be impactful for so many people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and potentially for people who are cognitively impaired due to other diseases,” she says. “We have a tremendous opportunity.”
A strong proponent of personalized medicine, Dr. Dunsire says the way to real health and economic benefit is to know who you’re treating and why.
In a career marked by so many highlights, including as president and CEO of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, and on so many transformative medicines, Dr. Dunsire rates the launch of Gleevec at Novartis Oncology as one of the most profound.
At the time there was nothing to treat chronic myeloid leukemia and those diagnosed invariably died. As the company went into Phase I trials with Gleevec, it was clear patients were responding well and the level of efficacy was staggering, she says.
Dr. Dunsire still corresponds with one of those Phase I patients, who now runs marathons for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, who 15 years ago had picked out her final resting place as she expected to die within the next few months.
Because of the small patient population, the team had to manage concerns that the drug wouldn’t be worth developing. Today, Gleevec is a $4 billion-plus drug.
“To Novartis’ and Dr. Daniel Vasella’s credit, when we showed him the data he said we’ve got to go forward even if the drug is only for a small number of people,” she says. “So bringing that therapy through development and into the market with FDA approval in 40 days was staggering. It was just enormously moving, motivating, and gratifying.”
Dr. Dunsire began her career in the pharmaceutical industry at Sandoz in South Africa, running clinical research for a myriad of therapeutic areas, including organ transplantation, endocrinology, and immunology. In fact, Dr. Dunsire was involved with an early organ transplant drug that Sandoz had brought to market.
Change has been a constant in Dr. Dunsire’s career. She moved from being a physician in practice to being in industry; being in South Africa to being in Switzerland; being in Switzerland to being in the United States; moving from running a division to running a company; moving from running a midsized company to running a small company.
“Each time change brings a newness and that challenges all your skills; this is intense, yet rewarding,” she says.
Inspiring others is about being able to voice one’s own passion for what you do, Dr. Dunsire believes.
“I passionately believe that when you’re facing a complex problem you need the best minds working together,” she says. “I really believe each mind matters, and everyone in our company has the potential to add value to what we’re doing in terms of speed, accuracy, quality, and insight. Everyone can have a sense of ownership.”
When she and her team were evaluating different names for EnVivo Pharmaceuticals, the name Forum won out because of the idea of a forum being a place where ideas are shared, where people come together and debate, and where new ideas emerge, Dr. Dunsire says.
Professional growth is important, Dr. Dunsire says, adding that if you’re not better tomorrow than you were today then you’ve missed an opportunity, and to achieve that people need honest feedback.
Getting to Know…
Deborah Dunsire, M.D.
Title: President and CEO
Company: Forum Pharmaceuticals
Education: M.D., University of the Witwatersrand
Family: Married; two sons
Hobbies: Cycling, skiing
Bucket List: Touring through Asia, relearn French, learn to play the piano
Awards/Honors: 2001 American Cancer Society Excalibur Award; 2009 Healthcare Businesswomen’s Associations’ Woman of the Year; 2011 MassBIO Innovator Award; 2013 Boston CEO Conference Lifetime Achievement Award
Associations: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), International Woman’s Foundation, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Massachusetts Bio
A Global Leader for Change
Driven to innovate by Patients
Johnson & Johnson’s credo, which was written more than 70 years ago, guides Alex Gorsky’s commitment to citizenship and sustainability as chairman and CEO of the company.
“To this day our credo serves as the compass that guides all decisions at our company,” Mr. Gorsky says. “Our credo defines our responsibilities to all stakeholders and to the communities in which we work and live.”
In short the J&J credo, which is prominently displayed for all to see upon entering the company’s headquarters, pledges responsibility to the doctors, nurses, patients, mothers, and fathers who use its products and services; to its employees; the communities in which its employees live and work as well as the worldwide community; and to its stockholders. More simply the credo challenges everyone at J&J to put the needs and well-being of the people it serves first.
Those who work with Mr. Gorsky say he is the perfect steward to carry forward the vision put forth by Robert Wood Johnson, former chairman and a member of the company’s founding family, in 1943.
Mr. Gorsky is noted for his vision, thoughtful approach to tackling difficult challenges, personal attention to detail, generosity, and understanding of the myriad challenges facing healthcare.
“Healthcare is one of the greatest challenges facing society now and in the future,” Mr. Gorsky says. “No other issue is as important or personal to every individual, every family, every community, and every country. As the world’s largest and most diverse healthcare company, we feel it is our responsibility to lead in the development of a comprehensive and collaborative global approach to this challenge, and to continue pursuing our aspiration to help billions of people around the world live longer, healthier, and happier lives.”
Under Mr. Gorsky’s leadership and commitment to citizenship and sustainability, J&J joined the U.N. Global Compact in 2013.
The UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption. By entering into the compact, businesses, as a primary driver of globalization, can help ensure that markets, commerce, technology, and finance advance in ways that benefit economies and societies everywhere.
“Johnson & Johnson is a company of enduring strength,” he says. “We’ve been privileged to play a role in helping millions of people the world over be well and stay well through more than a century of change. As the science of human health and well-being has grown, we’ve been able to grow along with it. Even more important, we’ve helped shape and define what health and well-being means in everyday lives. Our products, services, ideas and giving now touch the lives of at least 1 billion people every day.”
This initiative dovetails neatly with the framework Mr. Gorsky has outlined in the company’s Healthy Future 2015 goals, which include advancing global health, safeguarding the planet, suppliers sustainability, engaged health-conscious employees, advancing human wellness, philanthropy measurement, and transparency and collaboration.
“We continue to expand our efforts and engage in collaborative projects to advance global health on multiple levels,” he says. “In 2010, we made a significant five-year commitment to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to improve the lives of women and children worldwide, and we are on track to deliver our commitments by 2015.”
Mr. Gorksy’s charismatic and forthright leadership style inspire and motivate the more than 129,000 employees throughout J&J’s family of 250 companies located in 60 countries around the world.
His influence is felt by those to whom he officially and unofficially provides guidance. Mentorship is of tantamount importance to Mr. Gorsky, who was named Mentor of the Year by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association in 2009, which he has been involved with for many years.
According to one report, his favorite question for direct reports is: “Tell me the names of three to four people whose careers have been significantly enhanced by the development and mentoring you’ve provided them.”
Mr. Gorsky is also a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion and was recently quoted as saying: “If you all look, talk, and sound the same, you don’t need each other on the team.”
A West Point graduate, Mr. Gorsky also serves on the board of the Travis Manion Foundation, which honors the fallen service people by challenging the living and assisting our nation’s veterans and service members and supporting the families of fallen heroes.
Looking ahead, Mr. Gorsky is well-qualified and ready to tackle the numerous challenges: a growing number of diseases, aging populations, insufficient healthcare delivery, and rising costs.
“We also see tremendous opportunities to innovate and believe in the power of collaboration to find and deliver new solutions to serve the individuals, families, communities, countries, and shareholders that depend on us,” he says.
Getting to Know…
Title: Chairman and CEO
Company: Johnson & Johnson
Education: MBA, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; B.S., U.S. Military Academy at West Point
Hobbies: Cooking and acting as a sous chef; fitness, including bicycling, swimming and weight training
Associations: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association; board of directors of the Doylestown Hospital; West Point Association of Graduates; Wharton Leadership Council; The Boy Scouts of America
Social Media: LinkedIN
Disrupting Inefficiencies in Clinical Trials
Driven to innovate by Differentiation
Mark Wheeldon had a vision for bringing efficiency to a traditionally inefficient process — clinical trials.
Mr. Wheeldon, who founded Formedix in 2000, believes strongly that a more efficient end-to-end clinical trial process lies firmly in the successful implementation of data standards and clinical trial automation technologies. He is an active supporter of the Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC), which Formedix has supported since inception and is still one of the longest standing members. Additionally, he is a member of the CDISC Industry Advisory Council (CAC).
Mr. Wheeldon knew if he could make standards and data more practical and usable, this would lead to significant cost and efficiency savings for study designs and set-up.
The energetic, inspiring leader continues to disrupt industry paradigms in data management.
Mr. Wheeldon says building Formedix has been both rewarding and challenging.
“My career highlight is working with great people and bootstrapping Formedix to a company with more than 45 employees,” he says. “But taking a start-up company beyond survival with very limited resources and selling innovative and new products to a conservative industry has been challenging.”
His colleagues, who call him a maverick, say his drive for perfection and his determination to streamline an increasingly demanding process is what sets him apart from the crowd. With relentless energy, he has pushed boundaries and transformed technology across the entire clinical trial process.
His efforts have provided a system available to all that historically was only created on a proprietary level by big pharma companies at a big expense.
His vision has enabled study sponsors to control and manage study metadata standards, and capitalize on this to seamlessly electronically capture data based on their standards. His innovation has significantly changed the landscape of what’s possible: making the link between standards, tools, practicality, and independence.
Mr. Wheeldon says he has accomplished all this by ignoring the best career advice he ever received: know when to give up.
The Manchester, U.K.-born CEO and qualified pharmacist has worked tirelessly to provide real benefit and value to customers and partners respectively since founding Formedix.
He has been the driving force behind the considerable company growth seen by Formedix in recent years. The company’s workforce has grown by more than 50% since 2012 with locations in the United States and the UK.
With a recent new website launch and more exciting developments expected for the study design and execution tools later in 2014, Mr. Wheeldon has been the catalyst to sparking a bright future for the company. He is looking forward to continued growth at Formedix, launching more innovative products, and pushing into new markets in Asia.
In May of this year, Mr. Wheeldon realized yet another goal. The company launched Formedix Transforms, which currently falls under two categories: Transform for EDC, which integrates with the leading EDC tools, including DataLabs, Medidata Rave, OmniComm TrialMaster and OpenClinica; and Transform for Publication, a set of tools used for supporting paper studies and producing CDISC Define. This new release launches a new set of products called Transform for Conversion.
Transform offers the ability to map from any dataset to any dataset and store those mappings for reuse over again. It could be EDC to CDISC SDTM; SDTM to ADaM; or a mapping for a proprietary dataset — legacy or warehouse.
The strong partner network that Mr. Wheeldon has built includes several big players in the EDC market, including Medidata, Mi-Corporation, Nextrials, OmniComm Systems, OpenClinica, and Perceptive Informatics. The unique integrations between Formedix Universal Design tools and these market-leading EDC solutions provide huge benefits to biotech companies, CROs, and pharma companies.
Mr. Wheeldon has a genuine interest in learning from those around him and happily welcomes any tips, particularly when it comes to a new beer. One of the items on his bucket list is to start his own microbrewery.
Getting to Know…
Family: Two sons
Hobbies: Cooking, running, swimming, Euro board game playing
Bucket List: Live in San Diego and/or Boston for part of the year; travel in Asia extensively; helping his children achieve their ambitions; start a microbrewery
Awards/Honors: CDISC awards for advancing data standards; government award for innovation
Associations: DIA, ACDM, SCDM
Tweet at: @formedixinc
Social Media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube
Driven to innovate by Ideas
The life-sciences community and regenerative medicine lost a true champion, entrepreneur, and invaluable leader last year with the untimely death of Duane Roth.
Mr. Roth was considered by many to be one of San Diego’s most influential leaders in the biotech, medical research, and education sectors.
In 2005, he was named to lead Connect, a nonprofit organization that supports technology innovation and entrepreneurship. Connect has helped support more than 3,000 innovative companies since its founding in 1985. The organization had been in trouble when Mr. Roth took over, but within just three months at the helm, he had raised $250,000, more than Connect had managed to raise in the previous year.
A strong supporter of stem cell research, Mr. Roth also served as vice-chairman of the governing board at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the state’s stem cell agency. In addition, he was vice chairman of the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and had been selected to take on the role of chairman.
He also founded Alliance Pharmaceutical and served as the company’s chairman and CEO for more than 25 years before joining Connect.
Mr. Roth’s love of San Diego began when Alliance Pharmaceutical acquired a San Diego company. At the time Alliance was based in upstate New York, but after visiting La Jolla, he decided to relocate to San Diego.
When the financial crisis hit in 2008, San Diego was particularly badly affected, but Mr. Roth rallied by organizing a research and innovation summit, bringing in two heavy hitters — genome pioneer Craig Venter and Qualcomm found Irwin Jacobs — to present.
Before founding Alliance, Mr. Roth worked at Johnson & Johnson and at American Home Products, now part of Pfizer, in senior positions before founding Alliance. He started his pharmaceutical career at J&J as a sales rep.
His many contributions to the life-sciences industry included serving as a member of the board of directors and executive committees of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the California Healthcare Institute, and BIOCOM, where he also served as chairman.
He was also a strong supporter of College of Science and Mathematics at Cal State San Marcos, serving on the advisory council.
Colleagues and friends have said of Mr. Roth that he was a strong voice of reason and optimism, always seeking to move things forward.
A committed philanthropist, Mr. Roth was a supporter of the Challenged Athletes Foundation, an organization that supports athletes with disabilities. He was a supporter of Pedal the Cause, a group that raises money for cancer research through cycling events.
Mr. Roth earned a bachelor’s degree from Iowa Wesleyan College.
Mr. Roth was badly injured in a bike ride last July and later died from his injuries. He is survived by his wife, Renee Roth.
Connect said of Mr. Roth’s death that the community had “lost a tireless advocate for big ideas — ideas that can truly enhance our region and our world.”
Getting to Know…
Title: CEO and member of the board
Passed away: August 3, 2013
Awards: The Economic Opportunity Award from Lead San Diego; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Diego Business Journal
Dr. Nancy Ruiz
Driven to innovate by Continuous improvement
A physician and recognized scientist, Nancy Ruiz, M.D., has come to embody and embrace what it means to be a leader in the pharmaceutical environment.
Dr. Ruiz understands the need to drive results while developing products that address patient needs.
When she joined the Meda US team in early 2013, she inherited a group that was under-resourced, required strategic restructuring, needed alignment with a vision that was not clearly articulated, and was not structured to capitalize on the overall corporate vision. Through her experience, expertise, and strategic vision, she created a structure for her team that would support the current and future direction of the organization. Her ability to partner and enforce a viable and respectful relationship with the commercial organization allowed the Meda US team to successfully drive messaging for the in-line brands while redefining the objectives for brands in development or as a target acquisition.
Dr. Ruiz has an outstanding appreciation of business, regulatory, and development needs.
A respected scientist and clinician, Dr. Ruiz’s expertise spans therapeutic area strategy, portfolio management, clinical research, drug development, and medical affairs in immunology, infectious diseases, allergy/respiratory, women’s health, and consumer health.
In addition, she has global hands-on experience in all phases of drug development, medical affairs, and vast experience interacting with worldwide regulatory authorities — Japan, Europe, U.S, Canada, and Latin America.
Becoming chief medical officer at Meda with oversight of such varied and diverse functions and rebuilding the medical and scientific affairs group has been her biggest challenge to date.
With vast industry experience, having worked at companies including DuPont Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Schering Plough, Merck, and Optimer Pharmaceuticals, her most rewarding career experience was being involved in the development of a paradigm shifting drug for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
An adaptable problem-solver and proactive manager, Dr. Ruiz is able to establish a vision for her department, work well with her global colleagues, and influence the dynamic with her cross-functional peers. She balances leading a team as chief medical officer, with being a C-suite counselor to inform the CEO and set the stage for accelerated growth in a challenging and dynamic environment.
She listens, supports, engages in constructive criticism, and then takes the high road to be solutions-oriented.
Dr. Ruiz leads by example with creative ideas, an energizing style, and through active listening.
“I like to empower teams by building on individual strengths and fostering collaboration,” she says. “I like to bring fun into work and create loyal relationships.”
She motivates through genuine enthusiasm with an open-door policy that ensures active listening, proactive identification of issues with prompt resolution and transparency, when appropriate.
For Dr. Ruiz, motivation comes from knowing that her work will deliver medications that will cure, relieve, or comfort patients.
She manages all of this flawlessly while balancing being a mother to a special-needs child who requires her full attention.
Getting to Know…
Nancy Marie Ruiz, M.D.
Title: Chief Medical Officer
Company: Meda Pharmaceuticals
Education: Internship, Internal Medicine, Albert Einstein Medical Center; M.D., Ponce School of Medicine; B.A., Biology, Temple University
Hobbies: Music, reading
Bucket List: Learning languages
Awards/Honors: 2009, Tribute to Women and Industry (TWIN) Award, Schering-Plough; 2008, Shining Performance Award, Schering Plough Research Institute; 2003, PRI Star Award, Bristol-Myers-Squibb Pharmaceutical Company; 2002, President’s Award, Bristol-Myers-Squibb Pharmaceutical Company; 2000, Top 10 Latinas in 2000, Latina Magazine, 2000, Women of Distinction Recognition, Girl Scouts of America; 1999, Hispanic Business, 100 Most Influential Hispanics in America; 1987, The Lillian C. Grosenberg Memorial Award, Albert Einstein Medical Center
Associations: American College of Physicians; Infectious Disease Society of America; American Medical Association; American Society for Microbiologists; Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association
Social Media: LinkedIn, Facebook
Changing the Game for Investigators
Driven to innovate by Necessity
A 21st century renaissance man, Ibraheem Mahmood, B.M., has brought together his love for technology, his medical and finance experience, and a group of extraordinary people to take DrugDev from an exciting start-up to a leading global provider of “all things investigator,” as he puts it.
In so doing, “Ibs,” as he is known through the industry, is disrupting the status quo and driving transformational change in the clinical trial process — something he passionately believes has to happen now or risk “a sticky end for our industry and dragging the patients down with us.”
Mr. Mahmood went to medical school for the same reason as most, he wanted to make sick people better. However, half way through his studies he realized that there isn’t a cure for most conditions, and so more often than not medical professionals find themselves managing conditions rather than fixing them.
While many pharmaceutical leaders complain about the cost of bringing new medicines to market, Mr. Mahmood and his team at DrugDev are doing something about it and fast. Since the acquisition of CFS Clinical in October 2013 and TrialNetworks in May of this year, his team has set the stage for DrugDev to revolutionize the way clinical trials are initiated and conducted.
In just the last 12 months, he has raised well more than $50 million of capital for DrugDev and completed multiple acquisitions of best-in-class technology solutions to simplify life for the investigator at the clinical trial site.
Mr. Mahmood’s success comes from his world-class team and their approach of pragmatic innovation. For example, DrugDev was instrumental in the creation of the Investigator Databank, a cross-pharma collaboration involving more than 200,000 investigators that started as an idea to have Janssen, Merck, and Lilly work together to share just GCP certification and contact details but ended up as a broad and powerful sharing platform that is removing the mountain of admin heaped on the investigator. This strategy has been validated by Pfizer and Novartis joining the initiative, with all five companies — and more to come — now actively sharing a far more expanded data set.
In this way DrugDev is transforming how industry interacts with investigators, and making possible a whole new era in clinical research where sponsors, CROs, and sites develop more medicines by working more closely together.
By thinking big and making real, transformational change, DrugDev hopes to help bring relevant products to patients something that Mr. Mahmood is passionate about because he sees the need as so great.
“We don’t fix anything for the most part and there is a mountain of exciting prototype drugs out there that are too expensive to test,” he says. “If we can figure out a way to reduce the cost of development, many more molecules can move through the pipeline.”
Others describe Mr. Mahmood as a breath of fresh air in a slow moving industry who forces everyone around him to think outside of the box and not accept the status quo or incremental changes.
Mr. Mahmood’s inclination toward a career in medicine was practically a foregone conclusion; he is one of four children — all doctors — born to Indian parents, who also were involved in healthcare. His mother was involved in HIV program research in the UK for the British government, and his father worked for a pharmaceutical company for 30 years and before that was a math professor.
As successful as Mr. Mahmood is, he says his mother would still like him to return to medicine. But the self-admitted technology geek is very happy transforming the industry through disruptive innovation solutions.
Through his leadership, Mr. Mahmood inspires his employees to believe that they can transform the cost and effectiveness of clinical trials, thereby pushing far more medicines through the development process and improving millions of patients’ lives. He hires highly capable people and then lets them run their own show while encouraging them to take risks.
Outside of DrugDev, Mr. Mahmood is deeply committed to helping improve healthcare in developing nations and has done so through pro bono work building healthcare infrastructures in the western Himalaya Mountains of Pakistan and China, a joint Aga Khan and United Nations initiative. He has also funded building two schools in the Western Himalayas.
“I worked for a while for the Aga Khan Foundation in that region in the world and I had all these cool technology ideas about improving healthcare outcomes, such as mobile clinics because most of the time the problem is that people can’t get to a hospital,” he says. “But in the end, the real innovation was often just building a bridge or asphalting a road; it wasn’t a clever high-tech solution at all.”
His work in the Himalayas was the toughest thing he has done.
“At home you have a good day, you have a bad day, but what’s the worst that’s going to happen?” he asks. “Make a bit less money, make a bit more money, upset a client, upset an employee? Out there, you can witness a woman dying from a breach birth because there was no road to get her to a hospital. It was pretty shocking. Coming back to the Western world and tackling investment banking was easy after that.”
Getting to Know…
Title: President and CEO
Education: Bachelor of Medicine, Oxford University
Family: Three children: 5, 3, and 1
Bucket List: Become a politician, or an eccentric academic who spots interesting technology
Tweet at: @DrugDev
Social Media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+
Beyond the Numbers
Driven to innovate by Patients
Authentic, inspirational, compassionate, smart, aspirational, passionate, results-oriented, and original are all adjectives colleagues, peers, and friends use to describe Meryl Zausner.
Ms. Zausner, executive VP and chief financial officer, of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., has spent the majority of her career redefining not only the role women play in business but how business is conducted. She oversees business planning and analysis, strategic planning, business development and licensing, information technology, strategic sourcing, business and administrative services, managed markets finance as well as tax and treasury business opportunities, and financial reporting.
Ms. Zausner has spent more than 25 years with Novartis, seven years at Colgate Palmolive Co., and three years in public accounting.
She quickly moved up the ranks, and in 2000 she was tapped to help start up the global oncology business at Novartis with David Epstein. From 2000 to 2008, she served as VP and chief financial officer of the oncology business unit, and in 2001 she and the rest of the team were responsible for the launch of the future blockbuster Gleevec. She counts this experience as one of the highlights of her long career, and she remains inspired by what she and her colleagues were able to accomplish on behalf of patients.
With few female role models to follow at that time in the industry, which is why Ms. Zausner is so passionate about paying it forward, she did have the trust of Mr. Epstein, who made her part of the decision-making process and gave her the confidence to succeed.
“I worked with some of the smartest and most passionate people I’ve ever met,” she says. “We talk a lot about patients here at Novartis. I have one professional experience that really inspired me. At an advocacy luncheon several years ago, I was sitting next to a woman who turned to me and thanked me for saving her life. I said: ‘I didn’t have anything to do with saving your life. I’m an accountant by training.’ She responded: ‘don’t you help allocate resources to fund clinical studies and sites for those resources?” I replied yes. She said she was in one of those clinical studies, and was in hospice about to die when she received Gleevec. And here she was six years later. I share that story every time I speak to groups at Novartis. I tell people no matter who you are or where you work or what you do, you have an impact on saving people’s lives and that inspires me every day.”
She is very passionate about making a difference, giving back, and making the road forward easier for others.
In recognition of her efforts to empower other women as leaders, in 2007 she was named the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association’s Woman of the Year. During her acceptance speech she shared a very personal story that was inspirational and aspirational.
“My husband was ill for 14 years before passing away at the age of 43 in 1999 and as our son turned 9,” she says. “During that time I often worried that I wasn’t at 100% on the job and what would happen to us if I lost my job. What I learned and shared is that it is okay to sometimes say no, that work doesn’t have to be a place to hide your problems, but sometimes a place to solve them. We can have it all, but not always as neatly and orderly as we would like.”
She has overcome serious adversity and still rose to impressive levels in an organization that is mostly male dominated at the most senior levels. Her workload is extraordinary, yet colleagues say she always finds a way to help others and takes the time to teach.
Many of Ms. Zausner’s projects and initiatives are designed to remove obstacles that get in the way. In 2003, she helped formed Executive Women Impacting Novartis (EWIN) to provide mentoring and an open dialogue. In addition, she chaired the company’s 2006 and 2007 Global Diversity Council, of which she was a founding member. She also sponsors Novartis’ African Ancestry Cultural Exchange.
Ms. Zausner is also generous with her time and chairs the audit committee of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, which was founded by fellow PharmaVOICE 100 honoree and HBA Woman of the Year Kathy Giusti, who has changed the way advocacy groups support patients and expedite new treatments. She also is a board member for Deidre’s House, which was founded to ensure that abused and neglected children in the Morris County area are protected and counseled. Next on her list is getting involved with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). CASA is a network of 951 community-based programs that recruit, train, and support citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities.
“I have kept the application in my bill paid file for 20 years,” she says. “My first husband and I wanted to volunteer, but with his illness, work, and parenting, we couldn’t find the time to do the required training and devote enough time to the children. My husband and I have committed to doing this in the near term. Our passion is to help children who can’t get what they need to flourish from their families.”
Getting to Know…
Title: Executive VP and Chief Financial Officer
Company: Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.
Education: B.S., Accounting and Economics, State University of New York at Albany
Family: Husband, son, stepdaughter, son-in-law, and 1.5 grandchildren
Hobbies: Cooking and entertaining, theatre, tennis, fishing, mentoring and coaching
Bucket List: Join CASA; start an investment club with her closest girlfriends; join one or two boards; spend more time with her family; learn to play golf and bridge; travel to Vietnam, Cambodia, Eastern Europe, Antarctica, Hawaii, Canadian Rockies, National Parks; learn to stand on her head, visit every museum in New York City
Awards: 2007 Woman of the Year, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association; CFO Women In Finance; Gilda’s Club Red Door Award Winner
Associations: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, EWIN (Executive Women Impacting Novartis), African Ancestry Cultural Exchange, AICPA, the New York Society of CPAs
Social Media: LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube