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April 15th, 2021

The Solution: Executive Search

How TSP Helped a Rare Disease, Clinical-Stage Pharmaceutical Company Find the Ideal Teammate to Bring a Life-Changing Product to Market

The Background:

Our client is a small, clinical stage pharmaceutical company in the Rare Disease space focused on the development of novel bile acid modulators to treat orphan pediatric liver diseases, and other liver and gastrointestinal diseases and disorders. Their team of diverse specialists were looking to launch a first-in-class treatment for a rare, pediatric liver disease called Progressive Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis (PFIC). With no current treatment options for this condition, hopes were high to launch this product into the market and make a lasting impact on patients suffering from PFIC. To successfully launch this product, this “Best Places to Work” company needed to bring on a Commercial Leader for their North American Business – an expert who would be responsible for building the entire North American team and executing all sales strategies. They needed help finding a leader with a Rare Disease resume, who was capable of leading from the front and comfortable with having their small team roll up their sleeves. In addition to the President of the Americas, we supported two other Commercial searches.

The Goal:

Our client was relying on our Executive Search team to find a strong Commercial Leader who was comfortable being heavily involved with customers and operations and not just strategy and leadership.

The Challenge:

The client is smaller in size and structured themselves in a unique way to support their ultra-rare patient population. A limited population, however, can make it more challenging to appeal to the candidate market and build a big, commercial team. Because of this, the scope needed to highlight the role as an opportunity candidates would be eager to learn more about.

Thankfully, our client tapped into our extensive experience in working with startups and understanding of the Commercial talent landscape.  We partnered with our client to improve the initial job description and responsibilities, working closely with them to learn of their overall organizational hiring strategy. We evaluated roles and titles and helped them to identify when to onboard specific roles. As the job description began to evolve, we emphasized the incredible Business Unit Leadership opportunities that came along with this position such as setting up their distribution network, handling the full Commercial Profit and Loss, and working to get the product covered by insurance companies. These responsibilities were very attractive to those looking to move into a C-suite role.

The Process:

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Our partnership with our client began with an in-depth, in-person meeting at their Boston offices. We toured the space, met their team and learned more about their culture and vision. During our meeting, we reviewed their entire Commercial organizational chart, reviewing titles and ensuring they matched industry standards. Additionally, we looked at recruiting timelines; we went over target start dates for hiring and assessed how much time we needed to hire each person across their Commercial organization. Throughout this process, they had met face to face with TSP’s President, our Head of BD, our Head of Search, and our Boston-based BD Lead. Our consultative approach and combined 75+ years of experience in the industry across our leadership team gave our client the security they needed. They simply knew they could trust us to get the job done.

Culturally, their team was predominantly clinical. Most of their employees were scientific in nature, but they were aware that the transition to commercial could change their environment. For the Commercial Leader role, they were looking for someone who was a driver, inclusive, aggressive, and could lead a strong team, while bringing everyone else along for the ride.

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To source the appropriate talent, our recruiters targeted companies that aligned with our client in the rare disease and biotech space. We specifically looked for companies with a product on the market. This brought us candidates that were familiar with launching a product and had the appropriate experience running a Business Unit. Upon identifying our pool of candidates, we put them through our detailed phone and video screens and assessed competencies.

We acted as a true partner to our client — exchanging information about the market. We relied on them to provide guidance on their vision and structure. In turn, our recruiters were diligent about providing feedback from candidates and gauging the market reaction.

The initial scope of the Commercial Leadership role wasn’t striking a chord with the type of candidates they were looking for, creating a disconnect. Our client trusted us to work with them to make some changes. Throughout the process, we were able to adjust and rescope the role to enhance its appeal in the market. This also allowed our client to attract the type of talent they were looking for.

Although this search was long and challenging, our hard work paid off. We ended up filling the position.

The Outcome:

Overall, our client was very satisfied with our work and our ability to evolve with them as their strategy changed over time. We successfully filled the President of the Americas position. We presented a slate of competitive candidates who were all equally suited for the role. Ultimately, our client secured their ideal pick within two and a half months, an impressive feat for a role this high profile.

Although this search presented a variety of obstacles, the true partnership we built with our client ultimately drove us to success. Our consultative and strategic approach brought them the ideal teammates who will help them further their business and bring a life-changing product to market.

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