Recruiting Life Sciences Executives: Three CEO Archetypes

By Morten Nielsen

No two life sciences companies follow the same path of growth and development, but they often do go through similar phases as they transition over years from inception to commercialization. The same CEO is rarely equipped to run a drug, device, or diagnostic company from beginning to end, as leadership needs evolve at the same rate as the growing enterprise.

Therefore, different CEOs are often needed to optimize the different phases of growth. There can be many phases…



Board Best Practices: 6 Ways to Get Ahead of the Curve

By John McLean and James Gauss

curve-27681_640Executives are accustomed to change. They consider it a point of pride to anticipate the future and prioritize staying ahead of the curve.

Their boards of directors don’t always have this mindset. Boards typically don’t see themselves as needing to be proactive and progressive. Governance has a staid and static connotation to it.

On this note, we believe that boards can do a better job of embracing…



Building a Foundation for Future Women Leaders

Witt/Kieffer is a strong believer in the need for greater representation of women in leadership positions, and we work with all our clients to provide candidate pools that include capable, proven female leaders. For this reason, we were proud to sponsor a recent “Women in Science” luncheon at Chicago’s Field Museum. The event was aimed at raising funds for female students in scientific fields.

“In almost all the searches we do, clients specifically request a candidate slate featuring many female…



The Chief Patient Officer in the Life Sciences: Engaging Patients, Payers, and Providers

Life sciences companies are rethinking and revising R&D. To avoid wasting years on drugs and other innovations with poor or no return on investment, they are placing greater emphasis on understanding a product—and its potential for sustained market success—earlier in its lifecycle.

The key to this strategy is incorporating the “voice of the patient” during the early stages of development, says Lisa Flavin, consultant in Witt/Kieffer’s Life Sciences practice. This shift is partly…



Readers’ Choice: Witt & Wisdom’s Top 13 for 2013

2013 was a year of tremendous growth and change in healthcare, higher education, academic medicine, the life sciences, IT, not-for-profit, and the other industries we serve, giving leaders in those areas plenty of challenges. While Witt & Wisdom strived to cover trends and transformations along these many fronts last year, the following 13 blog posts were, according to our click data, the most widely read. (We’ve listed them in chronological order by publication date).



Life Sciences Executive Search: Best Practices in CEO Transitions

In his 30 years at GlaxoSmithKline, in particular as head of Human Resources, Dan Phelan played an integral role in the company’s most significant leadership transitions. This included the successful CEO hand-off between J.P. Garnier and Andrew Witty in 2008. Witty, promoted from within, has proven to be one of the more dynamic leaders in the industry.

In the following interview, Phelan looks at the question of whether to pursue internal or external candidates in a life sciences executive search, and…



In Future Talent Wars, It’s Survival of the Fittest

For anyone involved in recruiting and talent management—or anyone concerned about his or her long-term career viability and talent development for that matter—it’s helpful from time to time to step back and consider the global forces that are shaping our labor markets in the U.S and abroad. Do they favor you? Your organization?

In many of the industries and market niches that Witt/Kieffer serves, executives who make a difference with sophisticated skill sets are near-impossible to find. We’ve written about…



In Life Sciences Partnerships, Will a New Type of Leader Emerge?

In the life sciences, the era of monolithic, self-reliant Big Pharma corporations is fading. To boost efficiencies and quality, companies are shrinking operations down to fundamental core competencies while relying on outsourcing and assorted creative collaborations to fulfill “non-core” needs.

Nowhere is partnering more prevalent and necessary than between drug makers and academia. At places like Pfizer, drug development budgets and teams have been slashed. Pharma and academic medical centers “need each other as never before, driven to collaborate by…