PM360: You like to get involved in the disease areas you work in outside of your day-to-day job. Can you tell us about that?
Prior to being in the pharma industry I had several different businesses. What I found missing from that experience was a feeling of having a positive impact on people and that I was changing lives—that’s why I joined the pharmaceutical industry.
As we say at UCB, patients are our true north—if we keep them and their interests as the hub of all decisions then we ensure that our true value to society is realized.
For example, while launching a urology product, I realized the lack of awareness around bladder cancer. So I decided to personally work with a group called the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN) on a way to raise awareness through one of my passions—competing in triathlons. I started to build teams to raise awareness and funds for BCAN. Through five different triathlons, we raised more than $65,000.
What kind of triathlons have you competed in for BCAN or on your own?
I’ve done an Ironman, a couple of half Ironmans, and the Escape from Alcatraz, in which you swim from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco, then ride through some of the local parks and run past the Golden Gate Bridge and down to the beach where you have to go straight up about 500 feet of sand steps, and then you run back down.
How much training do you do beforehand?
Normally, it’s an hour to an hour and a half every morning before I get into work, then an additional three to five hours on weekends—depending on the size of the race—doing long runs or bike rides.
What is the feeling like when you complete the triathlon?
It is an amazing experience and one that really stretches your physical and mental strengths—I normally crash straight afterwards. But I also have a great sense of satisfaction, especially when I compete as part of team like for BCAN. Because then you are not just competing for yourself but helping others and raising awareness for different patient organizations.
Do you have any plans to top your participation in Escape from Alcatraz?
I would like to do one more extreme event, but I don’t know what that is yet. One option is a marathon from the base camp at Everest down. Another is a 100-mile race in Mexico where you run through the jungle and into the City of Mexico. Or maybe it is just getting my three daughters through college—I believe that is extreme enough.
The key point is, I’m not an overly athletic person. I guess I’m a type A person that loves the idea of doing something that is just a little bit above and beyond and making sure that at the same time I keep helping others front and center in my mind.