The Navigator: Charlotte Sibley - Pharmaceutical Executive


The Navigator: Charlotte Sibley

Pharmaceutical Executive

These market research operations were previously seen as service providers. "It used to be a 'Here's what needs to be done—go do it' kind of thing," explains Wassihun Alemayehu, who worked with Sibley at Millennium and then joined her at Shire. But Sibley retooled them so that they were part of the product teams and could influence decision making. "Charlotte ensures that marketing research is integrated with the business team," says Alemayehu. "It isn't secondary technical expertise residing somewhere. It's about the business itself."

At Shire, she created an intelligence unit that allowed the company to better leverage its specialty model through segmentation, patient flow models, and behavioral-based marketing. She also built the forecasting function she dreamed of—one which resided in market research, where she could assure its quality and integrity. "The secret to a good forecast is shared accountability with finance, marketing, and market research in terms of agreeing on the assumptions—what are the things that are going to drive this market," says Sibley. "It's not, as we used to say at Millennium, 'WNH'—that's wishing and hoping." With this model, Sibley went on to forecast the growth of Velcade within 1 to 2 percentage points year after year. At Shire, Sibley and her group forecasted the launch and sale of the new ulcerative colitis drug Lialda within 400 prescriptions—a personal best.

Leadership: Pet Project Goes Pro

You can't spend your life building high-powered market research organizations one after another without developing some people skills. For much of her career, talent management has been a passionate side project for Sibley. But in 2007, Shire formalized Sibley's passion into a new role, naming her senior vice president of leadership development. After years of sending human resources director Peter Lasky articles on leadership and the like, it took Sibley only about three seconds to consider the opportunity when he approached her with the offer.

Sibley's philosophy has been to first find the right people—and then let them build the organization. "She brings in amazing employees everywhere she goes," says Anita Graham, chief administration officer and Sibley's boss. "She is into attracting and developing her people, having a vision for them, and helping them see their own vision for themselves."

CEO Matt Emmens says Sibley's analytical approach is just what Shire needs to develop its people. The company grew 41 percent in 2007 and has hired 2,000 people over the past two years. It has made several acquisitions, changed the product mix, and consolidated the business. With all the commotion, it would be easy for anyone to get lost. "Our organization's culture is still evolving rapidly, and we have a large number of new employees who will need guidance and a place to touch base to figure out their growth," says Emmens, who is no stranger to the idea of leadership development. In 2006, he won HBA's 2006 Honorable Mentor award and recently published a book intended to motivate young people working in the biz. "We can't be in better hands, with Charlotte piloting and being the navigator of our people's growth."

Sibley brings to her new role some tricks she learned along the way—about shared accountability, this time between employer and employee—and a culture of inspiring greatness through career development. For example, Bridget Cleff contacted Sibley when considering a career change. She had known her from Millennium, and Sibley gladly threw open her network of contacts. When Cleff came on board at Shire, Sibley offered her the chance to head up market research for the important Lialda launch. "It was the kind of opportunity that you sit and you wait for, that opportunity to work on a new brand in multiple countries," says Cleff. "Charlotte gave me the chance by saying, 'It's yours. Run with it. Make it happen.'"


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