Associate General Counsel, Clinical Trials and Medical Affairs, EMD Serono
Many of this year's Emerging Pharma Leaders started out as physicians, sales reps, or pharmacists. Leigh-Ann Durant took a
different path—she became a lawyer. Durant debated between medical school and law school for a while, and law school won.
After becoming involved in international law and relations during a year abroad in Finland, and after clerking for the Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, Durant says pharma crept into her career. "I was hired by a major law firm that
had a number of pharmaceutical clients," she recalls. "It was really the perfect opportunity for me to marry my interest in
law with my interest in medicine and science. And so I was a trial attorney doing pharmaceutical work, with a particular focus
on FDA and regulatory issues."
Now, Durant is at EMD Serono, where she serves as lead attorney for medical and clinical activities and is involved in legal
aspects of all the clinical trials the organization runs in the US. And it's excellent mentoring experiences, especially through
the Women's Bar Association (WBA), that have brought her here, she says. "For me, mentoring has been incredibly helpful, in
terms of not only providing me professional advice but also business and personal growth advice. I really had the benefit
of having a generation of women lawyers above me who were willing to reach down, pull up rising young leaders, and help them.
Those mentoring relationships were some of the key formative relationships in my personal and professional development."
Now, with a team of lawyers, paralegals, and support staff who look to Durant every day at EMD Serono, she's focused on paying
it forward. "I promised myself that when I made it, when I became this successful woman lawyer, I would turn around, reach
down, and pull up the next generation of women lawyers behind me, and help them in the same way that the generation before
me helped me," she says. "I make a conscious effort to create an inclusive work environment, to tap into the strengths of
my team members, and to focus on the precise types of skills each of them needs in order to move forward. The strengths might
be different between and amongst the team members, but we're stronger collectively than we are in our individual parts."
Twenty years ago Heather Bresch accepted a data entry position at Mylan, a small generics and specialty pharmaceutical producer
headquartered in Canonsburg, Pa. Today, she is president of the company.
As an advocate for access to affordable healthcare and generics utilization, Bresch admits that her professional life has
influenced the causes that she cares about. "Mylan's mission is to provide the globe's 7 billion people access to high-quality,
affordable medicine. However, there are many parts of the world where universal access is far from a reality, for instance
in sub-Saharan Africa," she says. "This is in large part what is behind Mylan's drive to develop generic anti-retroviral medicines
to treat HIV/AIDS."
Bresch remembers a time when generic utilization in the US was at only around 35 percent; today it has more than doubled to
over 75 percent—and is still growing. She emphasizes the importance of generics and their vital role in keeping costs down
and ensuring access to life-saving medicines. "While many of the changes to our industry have been positive, as a company
and as an industry we still have to fight every day to retain our position and ensure that consumers have access to low-cost,
high-quality generic pharmaceuticals," says Bresch. "This fight extends across regulatory, legislative, and operational fronts.
A key focus of these efforts is achieving a healthy balance between competition and innovation."
In a nutshell, Bresch believes that common sense, good judgment, and a strong work ethic are required of the next generation
of leaders. However, she notes that communication and mentoring talent are also key qualities: "I have placed an increasingly
higher value on communication as our company has globalized," she says. "Identifying and mentoring talent is also very important
to me. At Mylan, we have a unique and unconventional culture that requires people to think differently and challenge the status