Emerging Pharma Leaders 2011 - Pharmaceutical Executive


Emerging Pharma Leaders 2011
Managing in the Era of Lean

Pharmaceutical Executive

Salvador Grausso
Executive Director, Global Pricing, Merck

If you work on a team with Sal Grausso, you've probably heard the following phrase: "Strategy without execution is not strategic." As executive director, global pricing, at Merck, Grausso likes to keep himself at "the tip of the spear" with respect to market access and reimbursement; the difficult and politically ticklish issue of drug pricing requires not only good ideas, but also implementation. "Global pricing demands transparency, being objective, making rapid decisions—and putting out lots of fires, and that takes an executive with the ability to pitch consistently in the strike zone," he says.

Grausso started out as a pitcher, and went to the University of Maryland to play baseball. In high school, Grausso was a star; after the first practice at the University of Maryland, however, Grausso came home "and cried in my room, because I realized that I was not good at this game. It was a humbling experience." Grausso recovered of course, and as it happened, Johnson & Johnson was offering an internship, and even though it was advertised as a full-time commitment, J&J worked around Grausso's baseball schedule, letting him work 20 hours a week. During the internship, which turned into a full-time job with J&J Health Care Systems, Grausso "fell in love with the industry," and he hasn't looked back. He worked for Janssen as a sales rep for a year, and then, while working on a Master's degree in accounting, worked for two years at Ernst & Young. Grausso says his accounting background helps him to spot the lines connecting different elements of the business together.

After Ernst & Young, Grausso went to Pharmacia, and left that company after it merged with Pfizer. He joined Schering-Plough after Pharmacia, and stayed on with the company after its merger with Merck. Grausso says the Merck/Schering-Plough integration is moving a little slower than he'd like, but there's a lot at stake. "You have two different processes, and a large group of products, and in the world of pricing, it's very important to stabilize the situation in terms of governance around pricing, and the processes to approve pricing." Aside from working on a doctorate in health technology assessments, Grausso is excited to be at the forefront of a changing industry, where "governments and payers and patients are at the center of the discussion." As the industry evolves, says Grausso, "market access has to become a more mainstream part of commercial operations."

Nicole Mowad-Nassar
VP, Cardiorenal & Metabolic Marketing, Takeda Pharmaceuticals

As vice president of cardiorenal and metabolic marketing at Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America, Nicole Mowad-Nassar is responsible for the company's key brands—Actos, Uloric, and Edarbi—as well as its diabetes pipeline and partnerships with Orexigen and Affymax in the areas of obesity and renal care, respectively. "Diabetes, hypertension, and obesity are conditions almost every person can relate to in some way. Either they are a patient themselves or have a loved one or friend who is impacted," says Mowad-Nassar, who is attracted to her sector of work for these reasons. "Marketing in this space presents daily opportunities to educate and improve healthcare in meaningful ways, not only patient by patient, but with the potential to change society overall."

For Mowad-Nassar, a lean organization isn't a new concept, but it's never been more important to pharma. As an example, she notes how Takeda's entire organization shared stories about their experiences as employees and the company created a unified statement of culture that everyone could embrace. "We all share a common vision to transform into a new Takeda, through purposeful innovation powered by a forward-looking culture to achieve sustainable growth," she says. "To do this will require new thinking, an ability to anticipate, and perhaps most critically, a contingency plan."

Meanwhile, what does this Emerging Pharma Leader attribute to personal motivation? Her family. "It is in my two sons that I derive my source of pride and accomplishment," Mowad-Nassar admits. "The greatest job title I ever got was Mom. I work hard to make sure they know they are my first priority. I learned that from my parents."


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