Emerging Pharma Leaders 2010 - Pharmaceutical Executive


Emerging Pharma Leaders 2010

Pharmaceutical Executive

Vice President of Commercial Development, Specialty Care Business Unit, Pfizer

Andy Schmeltz joined Pfizer in 2003 to help bring the firm's novel HIV drug from proof of concept to market. Pfizer was late to HIV, but Selzentry promised to be a significant addition to patients' treatment options, and Schmeltz had proved his mettle launching Abbott's Kaletra, one of the protease inhibitors that transformed the disease.

Although Selzentry's performance has been underwhelming, Schmeltz himself did not disappoint, handling the scientific and regulatory hurdles with aplomb. His reward? More responsibilities, of course. "At the end, I was leading our infectious-disease therapeutic area, including HIV, hepatitis C, and our hospital anti-infective portfolio," he says.

His career path took an unexpected turn when he was asked to be chief of staff to Ian Read, the then-president of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, in 2007 and 2008, when the firm was restructuring its business model and deciding the company's future. "It was a big change, from being the head of a small cross-functional team to a staff role supporting a top manager," says Schmeltz. Yet his exposure to how top-level strategy is done, especially at such a formative time for the company, taught him a great deal. "My takeaway from that experience is, Be flexible with your career aspirations."

Schmeltz was in on the decision to acquire Wyeth and worked closely on the integration of the two companies. These experiences primed him for his current position as head of commercial development for the specialty-care business unit, which went from a pre-merger $6 billion revenue line to $16 billion once Wyeth's rich biologics line was added. The job combines global marketing with new product planning—in other words, the full Monty. "The main challenge," he says, "is focusing energy on the commercialization issues that are relevant to each individual asset, rather then trying one-size-fits-all."

"It's the unique combination of both hard skills and soft skills that can set people apart as leaders," says Schmeltz. Emotional intelligence, situational management, and other fashionable phrases make his soft list, but so do time-honored talents as communication and inspiration and such outmoded traits as accountability. "You have to walk the talk and model the behavior that you expect from others," he says. "A good leader is committed to the development of future leaders, not just future products."

"I try to create an environment where people feel proactive and personally engaged. Don't wait to be told what to do. Go out and do it." In the spirit of walking the talk, after observing that Pfizer lacked junior-level marketing talent, Schmeltz has spearheaded the creation of an MBA marketing rotational program, recruiting fresh MBAs from the top schools.

As pharma goes global, diversity makes economic as well as ethical sense. "Making sure that our workforce and our leaders reflect the diversity of our customers will enable us to realize better business outcomes," he says. But managing an organization that spans continents poses new challenges, ranging from how to communicate to how to create a coherent culture. Technology helps on a day-to-day basis, but that doesn't change the need for face-to-face contact and taking the time to build relationships, especially where we're working on matrix teams," he says.

The growing complexity of technology, science, and society itself is roiling the drug industry. "It often feels like no one is in charge," Schmeltz says—and that makes the need for leadership even more acute. But if there's such a thing as next-generation leadership, it is distinguished by coming to grips with this ever-increasing rate of change.


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