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An international healthcare diagnostics and pharmaceutical company with more than $42 billion in sales was seeking a research and development leader who would be expected to drive existing initiatives and to hire the best researchers in the world, which senior management and the board of directors considered essential to the organization’s long-term success. So, while stellar research credentials were critical, the ideal candidate also had to be a proven leader with the skills and dynamism to attract marquee talent to the company’s mission.
Given the dual nature of the position—a world-class research talent who also possessed world-class leadership skills—the company wanted to explore candidates not only from the traditional pharmaceutical realm but also from the world of academic research. Egon Zehnder’s global Health team scanned the industry and delved deep into pharmaceutical research. It examined research institutions that received the most funding from the U.S.’s National Institutes of Health, institutions that dominated peer-reviewed scientific publications, and institutions that led in private donations—the latter being a reflection of leadership skills and outreach.
Extremely qualified candidates emerged from across the commercial and academic realms, but the search zeroed in on an executive who had led the turnaround of one of the country’s most esteemed medical research institutes. During his tenure, the executive quadrupled research dollars and added scores of staff; the organization became the third highest funded lab-based research institute in the United States. By spearheading this transformation, the executive demonstrated the dual business and research skills sought by senior management and the board of directors for the company’s research and development efforts.