Meet the Emerging Pharma Leaders of 2013. These 15 trend setters represent the future of an industry that knows it must change: the question is how, and to what? Past successes in a small molecule world of big, undifferentiated mass markets combined with a complacent business culture, reinforced by long, leisurely product cycles, have spawned a new shackle called size. "Big Pharma" is not a pejorative to us, but it is for many others. What is clear is this year's winners can't depend on that easy surplus from earlier times to carry their careers forward.
Instead, as the industry shrinks to fit a more challenging competitive set, they must steer their own way through an obstacle course of opposites that we characterize as "growing to be small." Today, it's all about expanding the business while avoiding bloat, the traditional by-product of success: staying externally focused; eliminating internal barriers to faster decision-making; collaborating with others to defray risks; getting close to the customer, who often wears many hats; and creating dominant therapy positions in multiple niche markets that, when combined, produce equivalent blockbuster results, at lower fixed costs and less hassle.
The search for commercial models that make sense in this new world of work is reflected in the diversity of backgrounds of this 2013 class of leaders. They include line executives from generic medicines and vaccines, two adjacent business units which under turbulent market conditions have emerged as key sources of product and process innovation. Several of this year's winners have graduated to new roles that reflect the growing importance the "c suite" places on knowledge retention throughout the organization. Other recipients hold positions that reflect the need for active, institutionalized collaboration between the R&D and commercial product teams, at the earliest stage of the development cycle. And in a business where customer insight is still in short supply, we find more leaders are entering the industry with valuable outside exposure to the fickle affiliations of the retail trade.As we profile these rising leaders who are still charting their journey to success, Pharm Exec decided to take a closer look at the organizational mindset that breeds top talent, posing the basic question: does company culture count? We spoke with Jenn Mann, vice president, human resources for the health analytics and software giant SAS, which since it's founding in 1976 as a supplier of agricultural data to North Carolina's land grant program, has emphasized a culture that challenges every employee to make a difference—starting with the customer.
The root of the SAS culture is what Mann refers to as the "SAS employment brand." "We begin with the awareness that human resources are the company's best and most costly resource, so we have to invest in it. Workplace recognition—which we do deliberately, in innumerable ways—is connected to revenue growth. We can measure it; it's not coincidental. All of the companies in our space are filling positions from the same talent pool, which explains why being branded as a strong employer gives us an edge." Finding that talent is particularly important as SAS grows into a global enterprise; approximately 50 percent of its 13,000 employees are now based outside the United States.
What skills are most needed among new industry leaders? Mann lists three: a solid grounding in technology and how it affects the overall customer experience; softer, relationship skills, like communicating effectively on complex topics that can be understood by different audiences; and focused, analytical thinking—the kind that drives innovation, which SAS defines simply as meeting the changing needs of customers before they are even aware of them.
The Winners Are...
Jeff George, Global Head, Sandoz
Alexander Hardy, Senior Vice President Commercial Affairs, Genentech
Michael Babich, President and CEO, Insys Therapeutics
Denis Chetverikov, General Manager Russia, Teva Pharmaceuticals
Francoise Berlioz-Seux, Vice President Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Nima Farzan, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, PaxVax, Inc.
Anthony Caggiano, Vice President R&D, Accorda Therapeutics
Trey Benson, Executive Director Commercial Development, XenoPort
Christopher Ariyan, Senior Director/Team Leader U.S. Oncology Managed Markets, Pfizer
Kshama Roberts, Executive Director Global Public Sector Lead Woman's Health, Merck & Co.
Josh Schafer, Vice President, Global Oncology Strategy, Astellas Pharma, Inc.
Julie Schiffman, Vice President, Portfolio & Decision Analysis, Pfizer
Buket Grau, Senior Director of Program Leadership and Management, Biogen-Idec
Craig Flanagan, Associate Vice President of Business Excellence, Sanofi
Brandon Kotaniemi, Director of HIV Marketing, Gilead Sciences