Assessing leadership in pharma
Carol Stiff says she is still surprised when she is the only woman in a room of senior pharma leaders (1,175 words, 5.5 minutes)
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Carol Stiff has experienced the demands of a wide variety of diverse positions in pharma—from carrying the bag to marketing to working with patient support organizations and setting up clinical trials. But four months into her new role as General Manager at Rhythm Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., she says she is ‘still drinking from a fire hose.” Rhythm is a Boston-based pharma company focused on rare genetic diseases of obesity.
Speaking on episode seven in Season Eight of the NPC Podcast, Stiff (photo below) described the lessons she has taken from her experiences with the cultures of different companies, and the challenges faced by women in the industry.
She says the organizations she has worked with, including Purdue (twice), Biogen, Baxter, and Allergan, were different not only from a cultural standpoint but from a therapeutic standpoint as well. “I was also in vastly different roles in each of these organizations, [which] colours how you experience the culture. As with many things in life, you learn a lot from the experiences you don't want to replicate. I've certainly been in situations where I've witnessed culture eating strategy for breakfast.”
She has participated in several high-functioning team cultures, cultures that she has attempted to replicate during her career. “Some of those team members have become lifelong friends,” she said. “These are the types of people, for me anyways, that I tend to seek out as teammates, managers, and to hire into teams later.”
“This is what I aim to foster when I'm building a team. (. . . ) Transparency, communication, and having a little bit of fun.”
When asked to describe some challenges she has had to face as a woman in a leadership position in the pharma industry, Stiff said: “I've only ever really worked in this industry, so I'm only speaking from this experience. Sometimes it is the obvious thing—being the only woman in the room. It’s still surprising to me [when] I walk into a room of senior leaders [and I am] the only woman there.”
“I do think our industry appears to be balancing out in terms of the male: female ratio in junior and middle management. I think where we still see a big gap is in senior leadership roles.”
Small gestures are important, she said. “When a woman walks into a room . . . pull her into a conversation, make introductions, [and] make sure she has the opportunity to have her voice heard. These small gestures can [create] a shift in attitude.”
In November during the 16th National Pharma Congress, Stiff was inducted into the Canadian Healthcare Marketing Hall of Fame. She has also just been appointed to the Board of Directors of Innovative Medicines Canada
THIS WEEK 11/29/22
Bristol Myers Squibb Canada announced that Health Canada has approved Sotyktu (deucravacitinib tablets) for the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in adult patients who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy.
Health Canada has authorized Roche Canada’s Polivy (polatuzumab vedotin for injection) in combination with rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and prednisone for the treatment of adult patients with previously untreated large B-cell lymphoma (LBCL). That includes diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) not otherwise specified (NOS), high grade B-cell lymphoma, Epstein-Barr virus-positive (EBV+) DLBCL NOS, and T-cell/histiocyte rich LBCL.
The U.S. FDA has approved CSL Behring’s Hemgenix (etranacogene dezaparvovec-drlb) for the treatment of hemophilia B in adult patients who currently use factor IX prophylaxis therapy, have current or previous life-threatening hemorrhage history or have repeated, serious spontaneous bleeding episodes.
GSK has filed a New Drug Submission to Health Canada for its respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) older adult vaccine candidate. If approved, GSK’s vaccine candidate could become the first vaccine to protect adults aged 60 years and older against RSV.
In season eight of the NPC Podcast, Angelina Brathwaite, Senior Client Partner, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Leader for the Americas at Brunel, talks about women's leadership in the pharma industry, community advocacy, and the true takeaways of formal education. Hear her in conversation with podcast hosts Mitch Shannon, Jim Shea and Mark McElwain.
CANADIAN HEALTHCARE MARKETING HALL OF FAME
The Canadian Healthcare Marketing Hall of Fame awards were established in 2002 to honour healthcare marketers who have contributed to our vocation and inspire others.
More than 100 honourees have been selected during the past 18 years. In the selection committee’s view, they represent a cross-section of the qualities that make our business unique and fulfilling. NPC Healthbiz Weekly will acknowledge one past Hall of Fame Honoree each week.
This is the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Canadian Healthcare Marketing Hall of Fame, and for the next few issues, we will be revisiting the inaugural class of inductees.
Jean-Robert Marcotte will be the first to admit he leads a charmed life. At a time when many a career veteran might be entertaining thoughts of retirement, the athletic, indefatigable Marcotte is savouring the fruits of his labour, having spent a successful 30 years in the pharmaceutical business.
Relaxing at his 50-acre retreat in the scenic Eastern Townships of Quebec, Marcotte reminisces about the early years when Berlex (then Pentagone) was struggling to find a niche in Canada. Having joined the company as a sales rep in 1970, only five years after its inception, Marcotte was one of a handful of employees who looked after a small number of products. “Our yearly business during that time was about $800,000. We were really a very small player in the pharma business,” he recalls.
But the research-oriented company would soon see sales figures soar with the introduction of Isoptin injectable, the first calcium channel blocker to be launched in Canada, and Androcur, which became the leading treatment for advanced prostate cancer. “Then we started to put together a real sales force,” says Marcotte, who had fast-tracked his way to VP of sales.
With Marcotte’s help, the company would soon make its mark in a number of specialty areas including women’s health, and neurology (with Betaseron, the first treatment approved in Canada for multiple sclerosis and oncology in leukemia. Today, “we are a $100 million a year company,” says Marcotte. “We have really found our niche, we have found where we wanted to be, and where we were going.”
Marcotte, who is now VP of Corporate Affairs at Berlex, jokingly suggests that he might consider retiring by the time he’s 85. But while he enjoys working, he likes to make time for his favourite pastime–two European warm-blood horses. “I’m looking at my horses right now and I find it is too bad that I cannot spend more time with them,” says Marcotte, a sportsman, accomplished skier, and avid equestrian.
If he has any regrets, it’s that he has never been president of Berlex, although he has acted as interim president twice in his career. “To be president of our company I would have had to spend some time in Berlin in our head office [but] because of family considerations it would have been very difficult for me to move from Montreal to Berlin. It is probably the only regret I have, but it is a very minor regret. If you asked me, I would redo everything exactly the way I did it.”
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