Emerging Pharma Leaders 2012 - Pharmaceutical Executive


Emerging Pharma Leaders 2012

Pharmaceutical Executive

Jeff Haas

Divisional Vice President, Integrated Managed Care and Policy, Abbott Laboratories

Lots of kids want to be professional baseball players when they grow up. Abbott's Jeff Haas wanted to be a trauma surgeon, but then his life took "a little bit of a turn," and he became a professional baseball player. Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in 1992, Haas' baseball career was short-lived, but that allowed him to get back into healthcare, which is where he wanted to be from the start.

Going back to finish his degree after the major leagues, Haas landed a job during an Indiana University job fair, and headed to upstate New York as an Abbott sales rep. Since then, he's held a variety of sales and marketing roles during his 17 years at the company, culminating in his current position as divisional vice president, integrated managed care and policy.

If that sounds like a big job, it is. "I have the pleasure of working across public as well as private payers, large group practices in the United States, and then also our trade customers, which includes specialty pharmacy, wholesale, retail, and then I work closely with our colleagues in Washington DC and throughout the United States, relative to policy issues and regulatory issues." Haas says the job "doesn't lack for complexity," but he doesn't mind. "That's actually what I enjoy the most." Asked for his thoughts on healthcare reform, bundled payment models, ACOs, medical homes, and the like, Haas says it's precisely these new models that keep things interesting. "That's what makes my job fun, being able to work with those groups as they evolve, and think ahead of where they're at to figure out solutions that benefit everyone in the system, and most importantly, our patients."

With respect to patients, Haas says one of his most prized accomplishments is working on the design and introduction of a Medicare assistance program with Humira, one that was designed before Medicare Part D existed (Humira launched in 2003). Haas had a family friend with rheumatoid arthritis who had been taking a different therapy, but needed to try something else. The assistance program allowed "patients who didn't have a drug benefit, but were Medicare recipients, to actually access the product...for me that was a great experience."

Haas oversees a team of nearly 200 individuals, and says being an effective listener is critical, along with being an effective communicator. Right now, he's focused on "engaging my team to be proactive thinkers." Given the level of experience and expertise present on his team, Haas says the ability to think and then act—as simple as that sounds—is a "very powerful tool for us to be able to use, especially in a market environment that's moving as rapidly as this one is."

The combination of talent and expertise is an engine for good ideas, but with a larger team, how do managers stay the course? "That is a challenge for us," says Haas. But healthy debates around strategy—where to go, and just as importantly, where not to go—are part and parcel of the decision-making process. Haas's Monday morning staff meetings, held at 9 a.m., are an important forum for these debates. "We describe things as 'Monday morning ready,' are we Monday morning ready, are we set up in a path where all 183 of us know where we're headed and why we're headed there," says Haas. "I think for all of us, it's important to describe the 'why' behind what we've chosen to do, why we've chosen to do it and why we've chosen to de-prioritize other initiatives. This helps my team understand the strategic rationale, which facilitates organizational alignment and commitment."

Haas says the greatest joys in his life are his three kids and his wife, the latter of which has been at Abbott longer than he has. "She's got me by two months, so she's the elder statesman and the brains of the operation," says Haas. Tracie Haas began at Abbott in September of 1995; she's currently leading Abbott's endocrinology franchise. Both work at the Chicago office. Haas says his son is an avid Yankee's fan because his mother is from New York, and because it was a marriage requirement. "It was understood that I had to raise my kids Catholic and I had to be a Yankee fan, and I'm not sure it was actually in that order."

—Ben Comer


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