ELITE Strategist Jesus Leal of Novartis

Jesus Leal

VP, Head of Early Development, Strategy and BD&L



The Marketing Mastermind

Jesus Leal, is, in a word, strategic. Anyone who works with Jesus sees his brilliance instantly as he dissects information and insights to derive the core essence of how to approach a marketplace. Just one example of his success: Launching Pegasys in an entrenched market owned by Schering-Plough—and dominating it a mere six months later.

Throughout his career, Jesus has entered into situations in which his creativity, analytical thinking and strategic intuition has helped brands shift from dismal failure to raging success. And, he is fearless in his approach. As Jeff Meehan, CEO, Cancer Action Now, once heard him tell a colleague, “While you test it, poke it and prod it, I’m applying it and will always be 10 steps ahead of my competition.” Yet, Jesus takes the most pride in simply working in an industry dedicated to improving patients’ lives.

“My greatest achievement is not one that I take credit for,” Jesus explains. “I give credit to all of the researchers, clinicians, patient advocates and my industry peers that have labored for more than 30 years to bring what is essentially a ‘cure’ to patients suffering from hepatitis C. In the early 1980s, I launched Intron-A with a sustained virologic response (SVR) of only 10%. Two decades later in 2003, I launched Pegasys with a SVR of roughly 54%. Despite leaving the field of hepatology, many of my close friends have stayed committed to HCV and today SVRs exceed 90%!”

That dedication to patients is exactly why Novartis appointed him VP, Head of Early Development, Strategy and BD&L, a role that will help ensure that the patient is at the center of the company’s entire development lifecycle.

“My short term goals are to help Novartis improve the lives of millions of patients with heart failure, psoriasis, transplants or other conditions,” Jesus states. “My long term goals are to watch the Jets win a Super Bowl, grow my wine collection, to work for one of the individuals that I have mentored in the past and to retire in a place where the only salt sold in 50lb bags is to be used in swimming pools.”


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