Emerging Pharma Leaders 2012 - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Emerging Pharma Leaders 2012


Pharmaceutical Executive


Daniel Seewald

Team Leader, Smoking Cessation & Neuroscience, Pfizer



Dan Seewald has not only worked his way up but also across several functional areas during his 15 years in pharmaceuticals in paving the way for his current position as head marketer for Pfizer's Chantix.

At Pfizer, he leads a group of internal consultants responsible for the global success of its smoking cessation product, Chantix, known outside the United States as Champix.

A CPA, Seewald progressed in the industry through various company positions that ranged from financial auditor to market research to global product director—and now global team leader for a major brand.

Seewald describes himself as a "left and right brain thinker" who is adept at both the creative and the analytic. Early on in his career, as CPA and auditor, he used analytic skills, but then gradually transitioned to positions that focus on innovation.

"To be successful, you have to play the different roles," says Seewald, noting that he aspires to "use his passion to make a difference in the evolving world of healthcare."

At Pfizer, Seewald and his NYC-based team drive the success of various local and regional teams spread across the developed and emerging markets. He acts as a "touchstone" between them and headquarters, he says, sometimes advising about the commercial implications of new clinical studies.

He interfaces with the medical, regulatory, and legal functions; he partners with the regions and the local markets to help spread best practices; and he becomes directly involved when a market wants to partner.

Last December, an emerging market team in Eastern Europe agreed to pilot a headquarters-developed quit-smoking program, which was then customized by regional and local teams. The program used a gift-giving concept to encourage friends and families to provide emotional and financial support in a smoker's quit attempt.

In second quarter, the initiative and the teams received a Pfizer Worldwide innovation award. "The novel aspect was not necessarily the idea but the collaboration between the local and global marketing teams," notes Seewald. "Without each person, the idea would never have won the award." The program's success demonstrated that "friends and family can be activated as a meaningful influencing channel and payer network," notes Seewald.

Seewald developed a sense of compassion for smokers, after commiserating with them standing in front of city buildings, as he came to realize that "it's a dependency...an addiction...that for so many people is as hard to break as heroin."

Pfizer makes products and finds healthcare solutions for people, says Seewald. "If you don't care, you're not going to be a good marketer. It's all about creating messages. If you care first, you'll become curious and find the answers."

He finds his experience as a part-time wrestling coach during his academic years to be of particular value in developing the potential of his subordinates and the matrix of individuals in his sphere of influence.

"There's an invaluable lesson about leading without having authority. Sometimes you have authority to coach; sometimes you don't. You have to help enable people in a positive way. You can't always be the doer."

While at Roche in 2006, Seewald won an innovation award for a program involving the antiviral Tamiflu. The award-winning endeavor transformed the way that organizations stockpile antiviral medications based on a model used in the buying and selling of futures options.

A few key career moves allowed Seewald to leap across traditional boundaries to the strategic marketing job he holds today, starting with Bristol-Myers Squibb, when he moved from CPA to process reengineering in 1998.

At Pharmacia, he moved from process reengineering to global business research in 2001; and at Roche, he made the important transition from market research to brand management in 2006.

As to trends, many companies are using an integrated approach that looks to solve a problem rather than just sell a drug, he adds. For example, with smoking cessation: "It's about selling a solution to help people quit smoking and remain smoke-free. It involves behavior modification."

To succeed, one requires the ability to constantly innovate, to take ideas and make them better. "But it's not throwing the baby out with the bath water."

He attributes his successes to his ability "to constantly reinvent oneself and to be adaptable. The moment that you stop evolving, learning to improve yourself, you cease to be someone who excels at what you do."

His greatest personal challenge has been to ignore those who questioned why a successful CPA would want to make a career change to marketing. "You know when you know yourself. It [the transition] took courage but it paid off. I like what I do. I enjoy the people that I'm around."

—Ann Roberts Brice


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