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Rise and Recognition

Pharmaceutical ExecutivePharmaceutical Executive: May 2023
Volume 43
Issue 5

This year marks my first involvement in Pharmaceutical Executive’s Emerging Pharma Leaders (EPL) Awards, and what a ride it has been. We received so many wonderful nominations, and it’s always humbling to learn about some of the intricacies of the research that’s being done as well as the accomplishments of both current leaders and up-and-coming leaders.

Meg Rivers

On behalf of Pharm Exec, I’d like to congratulate our 2023 EPL Award winners, each of whom is profiled in this month’s issue, beginning on page 12. This year’s list includes (in alphabetical order):

  • Natasha A. Hernday, chief business officer, Seagen
  • Simon Holland, VP, women’s health commercial lead, Organon
  • Justin To, chief operating officer, skeletal dysplasias and gene therapy, BridgeBio
  • Hanadie Yousef, PhD, co-founder and CEO, Juvena Therapeutics
  • Frank Watanabe, president and CEO, Arcutis Biotherapeutics

I, personally, had the opportunity to speak with Yousef about her journey into pharma and the inspiration behind her starting Juvena Therapeutics. Admittedly, I wasn’t familiar with the world of “rejuvenation” therapies, as Yousef describes it. But I found the company’s approach to treatments unique in that its research is intended to either halt the progression of aging and degenerative diseases or to reverse it and promote regeneration and repair.

I also enjoyed learning about the other EPL winners (of course!).

Watanabe shared how his experience in the military influenced his leadership style, including the power of delegating and earning loyalty and respect (rather than demanding obedience). Drug pricing and patient access are other areas of focus for him, as he strategically prices Arcutis’ dermatologic drugs where insurance companies wouldn’t put unnecessary restrictions on access.

One thing I found admirable about To’s approach in pharma was how he spoke on bureaucracy, specifically that he works to avoid it getting in the way of good ideas. He describes how decisions are made by individuals closest to the science and patients. This then empowers those facing a problem to be involved in the solution.

You can’t help but smile when reading Hernday’s description of how she “tripped” into the world of pharma. (As I’m sure many of us can relate to, best-laid plans can sometimes become irrelevant, and we can find ourselves in a field or on a journey we never expected.) Hernday also describes how her experience in corporate development and strategy allowed her to learn about the different aspects of biotech, such as discovery, manufacturing, corporate law, contract law, and commercial.

Similar to Watanabe, patient access is a key focus for Holland. Working in women’s health, he details his involvement in Organon’s Her Promise Access Initiative, which seeks to provide 100 million women with cost-effective access to contraception, information, and education.

Huge thank you to everyone who submitted to our EPL Awards, and thank you as well to our judges. We appreciate your interest and support. None of this would be possible without you.

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