ELITE Transformational Leader Saeed Motahari of Purdue Pharma L.P.

Saeed Motahari


Purdue Pharma L.P.



A Leader With Vision

Saeed Motahari was on a very good career track at AbbVie, but Purdue Pharma offered him the opportunity to do something he always wanted—run the commercial business. While he had experience running various aspects of a pharma business—sales and marketing, managed care, operations, etc.—Purdue wanted him to run everything. And the company clearly made the right choice.

“You really need to have a clear idea what your vision is and how you’re going to execute that vision,” Saeed says of his leadership philosophy. “Because people are not going to follow you if they have no idea where you’re taking them.”

Saeed has a very clear vision of how he wants a commercial organization to operate. First, build a foundation of strong capabilities and diversified talent so the organization can effectively compete in the marketplace against its competitors. Second, maximize the value of the company’s assets. And third, develop a framework for diversification. In looking for opportunities beyond opioids, last year the company made a deal with VM Pharma for a novel chronic pain treatment. But diversification also involves looking for opportunities in new areas. That’s why Purdue also made a deal with Eisai for an insomnia treatment, and continues to look for new opportunities.

But having a plan and executing it are two very different things. In order to achieve what he wanted, Saeed had to make some changes. Since operations functions were highly fragmented, he brought them under one umbrella to achieve alignment and clarity of purpose. Saeed also recognized the importance of active input from representatives from all functions across the company. One part of this is integrating Legal and Compliance into key decision-making, which is essential to Purdue’s highly regulated marketplace. This collaboration ensures the company achieves its commercial and societal objectives. Finally, and maybe most importantly, Saeed spends a significant amount of his time on talent development. In the two years under Saeed, the company has brought in more than 300 people to augment the talent already in place and elevate the talent across managed care, sales, marketing, and operations. The changes implemented have led to positive outcomes for the business and the patients Purdue serves.


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