Qualigen Therapeutics is a biotechnology company that develops novel therapeutic products to treat adult and pediatric patients with rare cancers. A leading name in the industry, they have decided to build a therapeutics pipeline within the last few years. In this first episode of a three-part series featuring top executives of Qualigen Therapeutics, Ammon interviews Amy Broidrick, the firm’s President and Chief Strategy Officer. She shares what she brings to the table in the company’s transition from a preclinical stage company to a brand new business venture. She also talks about her deep love for market research, her career’s pivotal and most fulfilling moments, and how she deals with negativity.
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Qualigen Therapeutics: How Do You Develop A Successful Therapeutics Pipeline In Oncology With Amy Broidrick
This is episode number 56. The next three episodes including this one are going to be a series focused on a company named Qualigen Therapeutics. To kick off our series focused on Qualigen Therapeutics and three of the executives leading that company. We have Amy Broidrick, who is the President and Chief Strategy Officer and also the Board Director of the company.
She brings a long successful history from her career in pharma in the biotech industry, and she brings all of that here to Qualigen. Now she joined Qualigen a few years ago, and let me tell you a little bit more about Qualigen Therapeutics. They are an interesting biotech company because they originally started as a diagnostics firm started by the CEO himself, Michael Poirier, who we also will have on the show in the next episode and he tells us a little bit more about this history. They started as a diagnostics company. They do have an active diagnostics product on the market that is being used in cancer detection, and then they have decided to build out a therapeutics pipeline.
With that, they have a few different assets in the pipeline that are all in the pre-clinical stages. As I mentioned, we are going to be interviewing three of the executives in this series with Amy, who I give you a brief introduction on Michael Poirier the CEO, and Tariq Arshad, who is the Chief Medical Officer, who is also a trained oncologist.
We have great conversations with all three of these individuals. I loved learning about their backgrounds. In this episode, I had the opportunity to get the perspective from Amy of what her career has been like and what she’s bringing to the table to move Qualigen Therapeutics forward in transferring from a pre-clinical stage company and ideally moving these assets into the clinic.
I will let you read the episode to catch the full detail from her on that. It’s a great conversation. I loved it. Full disclosure, Qualigen is a client that I have worked with. With that being said, I’m appreciative of all of you being here reading the show and devoting time to reading. I’m glad that you are getting value out of it.
Thank you to all those that have reached out to me, connected with me on LinkedIn, and messaged me. I want to encourage you to continue to do so. Don’t forget to leave a review. We do our best to read every review, and that does help the show grow when you leave a review on whatever platform you tune in on. I also encourage you to share this on your social media. If you read this episode, please share it out there and let those in your network know that you are tuning in to the show. Without further ado, let’s roll that intro and get to the show.
Welcome to the show, Amy Broidrick, President and Chief Strategy Officer with Qualigen Therapeutics.
Thanks, Ammon. A pleasure to be here and I’m looking forward to this conversation.
We have prepped for this. We have talked a little bit and I’m glad to have you on to showcase some of your background and also talk a little bit about what’s happening with Qualigen. It should be a good conversation. I hope you don’t mind, maybe sharing with people how you and I met. We met through a mutual acquaintance someone I know that I have worked with in the past.
I know that he introduced us because I’m a professional recruiter. All of my readers know that. I had the opportunity to get introduced to you and your team and do a little bit of work with you. I was pretty interested in what you are doing because Qualigen is pivoting from a company that is a diagnostics company and on the market diagnostics product and is pivoting to a therapeutics pipeline, which we are going to get into. Sorry, I don’t mean to take us down that road too soon, but it’s a pretty interesting thing. Before we get down into that conversation, I want to know what led you into the biotech pharmaceutical industry.
I love puzzles and strategy. If you like strategy and puzzles, you like to take something complex and figure out what needs to be done in a practical way, work through that puzzle and do that for a meaningful purpose, which is to serve patients in some way. Take some scientific hypotheses in all the challenges it brings with it, have that play through, and be a part of that puzzle. Work with so many other brilliant minds in that puzzle, try to make good progress, and get there. It’s super rewarding from a contribution standpoint, purpose standpoint, and intellectual growth.
The way you worded that, it’s something that I have noticed being on the side of the table. I am in having my connection to the industry, which is the complex nature of developing treatments, but also the great impact that you can do. You love puzzles and figuring this out, how is it that you end up entering the industry of biotech? What was your first position leading you into the industry?
My first position in the industry was as a market research analyst, and being inquisitive. At the very core, I’m somebody that’s always been curious and inquisitive in marketing research. You are faced with a lot of challenges in how we understand the market. How do we figure out what the core needs are? How do we take to develop a drug in a very satisfied market? How can we turn it on its side? How can we gain access to something? How can we command and get the return on this investment in X number of years? How can we model for success? How can we bring something to patients and clinicians that they need a time ahead of the competition? Marketing research and puzzle.
Marketing research is driven by what’s your business objective. What question are you trying to answer? Each and every situation is a new set of questions and objectives. It’s never a one size fits all. You never go through one drug development program, commercial preparation, life cycle management challenge, or end of patent life and prepare for the next string of paroles or assets along the way.
It was the marketing research that piqued my interest. I was fortunate when I was in undergraduate school before I went to graduate school to work for a marketing research company, get that experience and have that on my resume that piqued my interest in marketing research. I knew I wanted to do that in an industry that could bring products or medicines that mattered.
I’m very fortunate to start my career with a company called G.D. Searle which was based in Chicago that got acquired by Pharmacia, which got acquired by Pfizer for one of the drugs that I was Director of Marketing got to launch. We’ll probably talk about that a little later, but it was marketing research and that inquisitive nature, the love for solving puzzles and applying that to drug development.
Discovering that first position with the first company you are with, do you feel like that was almost by happenstance? Were you turned onto the idea of being able to work for a company that’s creating a treatment through some other experience and then that caused you to want to apply to it?
Even in college, I was a pretty serious about trying to build some experience that was going to be useful down the road. In my first job, I was a waitress in a restaurant for a very short period of time and then said, “I want to try to get some experience where is it I want ahead.” I loved the puzzle of market research. I wanted to work in an industry whose products made a real difference in the world and targeted pharma. I started early on to build a network and have fortuitous good luck along the way for someone who has opened a door.
A recruiter contacted me and it was a beautiful fit. I got to start my career at Searle, which was an amazing company. Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Searle was a great example that our culture was one of collaboration with no shortage of challenges. We brought our best every day. It wasn’t about any individual success. It was about the collective success of taking great science and moving with agility and high quality. I spent six years at Searle before being acquired by Pharmacia.
It sounds like a very cool pivotal experience. I appreciate you. I dug a little bit more trying to understand how you ended up in the industry. Part of my curiosity is trying to understand people a little better and what it was that drove them in that direction. What were some of the pivotal experiences you had? You mentioned Searle being acquired by Pharmacia, Pharmacia being acquired by Pfizer, and then being part of a drug launch. Throughout that time, what were some of the pivotal experiences in your life?
I will name three in my career off the bat, and the first would be my first drug launch. The first drug launch was a drug called Arthrotec, which was indicated for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It was a fixed-dose combination of two drugs. It’s an incredible experience to be part of the ending of the pivotal trials, the new drug application, and approval.
In the case of Arthrotec, I was involved and served on the US launch of the drug and the drug had been approved already in the United Kingdom and some other markets. From that experience, having it all come together and learning the importance of building a cohesive team, you have a lot of naysayers along the way. You have a lot of people that look at the challenges as obstacles that can’t be overcome. You are teaching everyone to get in shape and hike up that hill and say, “It’s going to be worth it.”
All of that training we are going to do. Arthrotec was a phenomenal experience. That was our preparation for the biggest blockbuster at the time in the industry Celebrex. I got to be the director of marketing for the Celebrex launch one year later. The first drug launch leading to the blockbuster launch was an experience on Searle which I was fortunate that shaped a lot of what would go forward.
I remember Celebrex commercials. It was pretty cool to hear that you worked on the launch of that. That’s awesome.
I think I still have the first run capsules from that launch that are still sitting in my living room with a little plaque because there were so many challenges along the way. I worked with brilliant colleagues across the globe to make that happen and third parties. I’d say preparing for Merck. Working for a small mid-sized Midwest pharma company was the engine that could. We were smaller. I remember when we hit $1 billion in sales. It was a landmark moment and then moved into a global role at Merck and the company. Relocating to Merck and then being part of one of the other drug launches that were very challenging and exciting that I’m proud to have been part of is Zetia.
Zetia is for cholesterol management. It’s a cholesterol absorption inhibitor and it was a first-in-class drug. The challenge there was we took a very highly satisfied market. If you were to interview 1,000 physicians who were treating patients with hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia, they would be very happy with statins. The Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor, and statins.There will always be naysayers along the way. Instead of seeing these challenges as obstacles, you must get in shape, take the hike up that hill and say, 'It's going to be worth it.' Click To Tweet
We were in partnership with Schering-Plough long before the company acquired Schering-Plough. We had a lot of challenges along the way. We had different joint ventures in the US. We had a different agreement in Europe. I led the pre-launch and post-launch marketing for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
To take a highly satisfied market, and then peel back the onion and say, “How do we do this?” I will tell you that there was a lot of pressure from the street. A lot of pressure internally that we believe the science could be blockbuster and nothing short of the blockbuster was shortchanging the opportunity for patients to benefit from what the science could do and for investors to realize their return. We were able to do that.
We created this concept called Dual Inhibition. How do you create a pneumonic and a visual that works for the highest level scientist and yet you can take that down to a patient level? This concept of dual inhibition that you are dual inhibiting what happens in the gut and you take genetics and need both sources of cholesterol.
Having that concept, which later proved to be a model for other launches we did at Merck such as Januvia. That would be number two, and the third would be having the honor to have a discussion with Michael Poirier, who’s the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Qualigen Therapeutics, and through someone in my network who said, “This company has deep roots in diagnostics. Michael and the company have a vision for drug development and therapeutics. Can you have a conversation?” Michael and I had several conversations and I was asked by the board to join the Board of Directors as an Independent Director back in 2020, and the start of the Qualigen journey is fun.
I love how you connect those experiences to where you are now. I should mention which everyone will read in the intro. You are a member of the Board of Directors with Qualigen Therapeutics, as well as the President and Chief Strategy Officer. We are going to talk about them in a second. I wanted to jump back to something you said in one of your first experiences, which was about the naysayers. You mentioned dealing with that and dealing with that negativity and doing it in a positive way and overcoming that obstacle. How do you do that?
We talk a lot in 2022 about inclusion. I have been fortunate my entire career that if you have the mindset of inclusion, it doesn’t take work at all. If you understand that where you are trying to go, everyone plays an important role and working with people so that you can understand what is going to inspire them to be part of that. Where do they want to live in that process?
Getting on the same page with operating principles, which are your values. What are your own values? What drive you as a person? How do we bring that forward as a company value? How do we live it? Finding the sweet spot where everyone is impassioned about who they are. I have never met anyone in life or in corporate life that doesn’t want to make a difference.
Having operating principles that reflect the values of who you are. I’m trying to think if I have an example of operating principles at Qualigen. Our mantra is driven to deliver. Operating principles are we put the patient first while maximizing stakeholder value. Stakeholders are employees, employees’ families, investors, collaborators, and people like you, Ammon, who are part of the journey that we are on.
How can we ensure that we are putting the patient first while delivering what you need and what all of our stakeholders need? We have a lot of language behind that. We keep this true in our DNA. Michael Poirier founded a company and you’ll hopefully have the opportunity to talk to Michael, our Chairman. Michael said, “Our values are to treat everyone with the respect that they deserve and inspire the trust of others.”
It’s all integrity. What do you do when no one’s watching? How do you act? That’s who we are at Qualigen. There’s not a lot of room at Qualigen for people whose egos get in the way. You’ve got to leave your ego at the door and say, “We are trying to solve a tough problem. We are focused on patients and investors for the greater good.”
Our way to win. How do we build win-win outcomes? Importantly, our operating principles, continually improve. We don’t have the answers. There are going to be a lot of things that I’m faced with now. Just now that I’m going to have to say, “I don’t know. It’s a good question. What do you think? How about we do this?”
Help others bring their best and know that we have got to continually improve. There’s no way to successfully overcome this obstacle course of drug development, commercialization, access, and reimbursement unless we get better every day. Its operating principles. I’m a big advocate of having shared and corporate goals, having everyone know what they are, and having us all hopefully be inspired, but most importantly, be accountable to those goals and deliver them.
What I’m hearing you say when you are talking about operating principles is having your company culture infused into everything that you are doing. In a culture of doing the right thing first. It’s easy to hear those words, but when you see it in practice and you watch what companies do and accomplish when they have it in practice.
This is one thing that has me so interested in doing these kinds of interviews and launching the YouTube channel in some of the things that we are doing is because I want to understand the people that are driving the company, innovating, and helping to make all of this come together. If I remember correctly in our initial conversation when you and I first met, Qualigen has a pretty long average employee tenure. Am I right on that?
You are hitting the nail on the head. Back to the culture that I have to acknowledge that Michael created and the people who have been with the company a long time. There are even some that have left the company and think the grass might be greener because new experiences are great, and realize in Qualigen that we have this family feeling in the sense that we have got each other’s back.
We are not going to call people out publicly. We are going to support one another, yet we are going to hold ourselves to a high standard of accountability. I have never been part of a company that has that staying power. The company was private for the first 23 years of its life and then went public in 2020. We went public a few years ago. I and my career have only worked for public companies, and so I understand that.
To step back and learn about the multi-decade family, private company feeling, and be true to that is my number one goal in joining the company after I came inside. I joined as an independent director and then I was asked five months later to come inside the company as the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer.
At that point, my number one goal is to not disrupt the magic of that culture and not have any attrition. I’m proud to say that we have very low attrition. What we are doing is saying drug development is challenging. We need everyone on the same page, a level of accountability, and performance at a certain pace where there’s very little room for error in drug development while keeping all of the wonderful things that the diagnostics team and the company have done so brilliantly over so many years.
I’m reading a book and it’s called Breaking Through. It’s very industry-specific for me. It’s a book written by $100 million staffing business CEOs. They interviewed all these different CEOs because the numbers break down that there’s a very small percentage of recruiting staffing companies that reach that level. It’s usually a lot of small boutique firms.
I’m in the stage of leadership and that’s the number one thing that they talk about in terms of directing the growth of a company. They gave two examples. I have read this. I sit on my bed right before I go to sleep and try to read a few pages of the book every night. The two stories that they share were one is an example of an individual who builds a small private company where he takes on a lot of the work. He has a core group of employees that stick with them for a long time. The small organization does well, but it’s more of a lifestyle business.Egos get in the way. Leave it at the door when trying to solve a tough problem. Click To Tweet
Then the next example is of an individual who launches a company and takes the growth stage. It has to figure out the balance between treating the employees that have been part of that family correctly and giving them the opportunity but at the same time, helping them understand that in order to grow, we have to make certain changes.
How do we balance that while helping the company grow to where it needs to while also maintaining that culture and helping the culture grow into a flow into something greater than what it has been? Let’s shift the conversation back now to talk about Qualigen and your role now. I had two questions in mind and they wrapped together as you very astutely pointed out in our conversations prepping for this. Number one, what is your part of the mission and what does a Chief Strategy Officer do?
Let me step back for a minute and talk a little bit about Qualigen. We have been talking about Qualigen. I want to say that Qualigen Therapeutics is a very special company. There are not very many companies. We talked about the nature of having been private for many year years in our culture. The fact that we are revenue producing for many years on our FastPack diagnostics business, which is a proprietary system medical diagnostic.
We have got FastPack over time and over one thousand physicians’ offices worldwide. We are day to day working on this business producing that, serving our customers there while also building out an early stage and very promising therapeutics pipeline. We are a company that’s doing both and doing both well. That requires different skills across the company. I joined the company and my background is on the pharma space. We have a brilliant team of folks that have deep diagnostics experience. Our diagnostics business is led by Shishir Sinha, who we have promoted to Senior Vice President and the Global Head of Diagnostics in the diagnostics space.
We are thrilled with that in the diagnostics business. Not only do we have FastPack, but we are investing in new promising technologies that we think are game-changing. We have our eyes and ears open for technology, and we announced a majority stake interest in an innovative antimicrobial susceptibility testing system from NanoSynex which is based in Israel.
We serve on the Board of Directors of NanoSynex and work closely with them. There are our roots in diagnostics or our investment in diagnostics and being innovative and being part of the future there while also ensuring that we are executing well on our oncology pipeline and bringing in the right talent to do that. We outsource as much as possible. We want to be judicious about that, but bringing in core talents such as Dr. Tariq Arshad, who’s our Chief Medical Officer and an oncologist.
We are focused on cancer therapeutics, so we need an oncologist at the helm there for driving our pipeline. That’s a little bit about Qualigen. My role as a Chief Strategy Officer is essentially an old expression, “Plan the work and work the plan.” It’s all things strategy and operations and make sure that we have a long-range operating plan and an annual strategic plan. We are preparing for what does success look like and how to create milestones that are meaningful to our stakeholders and well execute them.
Along the way is one of the most fun things. You’ll find a theme with me as a leader. The greatest joy is in helping people come together, build cohesive goals, take someone who doesn’t have experience in a given area, leverage, and leapfrog what they have been able to do intellectually. Pull people together against that goal and that’s exactly what we are doing in therapeutics.
Our diagnostics team has been in place for a long time. We have great leadership there. We always have a new addition and then have people get into our operating principles and fold behind that, and then on the therapeutic side. Having everyone sing from the same song sheet, be clear on what our milestones are and what our plan is. What are our funding requirements? How are we making decisions?
Pulling together, I have co-share the therapeutics review committee which is making sure that we identify the right decision points. We are being very careful to try to get a return on investment that isn’t feasible for our investors. Planning, being there, helping execute, and having an open door to any issue that comes up along the way.
There’s a lot going on. I can’t remember the exact phrase you used right now, but you basically said, “Create the plan and then work the plan, and make sure that’s what’s taking place. Making sure if something’s not working here, perhaps we need to adjust and shift along the way.” From a high-level view helping the company to be able to do that versus leaving it in the lapse of each department head or manager.
A lot of my time these days is spent externally as well. There’s that fine balance between external and making sure we are communicating and telling the Qualigen story in a compelling and succinct way to investors and people like you, Ammon. I’m so happy to have this conversation so that Qualigen can come to life for people internally and keep that internal focus.
As you can imagine, with all of the meetings and everything going on, being visible enough to the employees in the team, and there to solve whatever problems. There’s no one at the front door. Grab the front door. Do whatever it happens to be. Some of the DNA that you’ll find in Michael and the team is that we all do whatever it takes, and then we help develop people with the skills they need.
I appreciate being able to tell the story of Qualigen. I had the opportunity to be down in your area. I was meeting with another organization in Carlsbad. Not far from where your offices are. I love understanding and learning about the ecosystem of biotech biopharma there. Everyone says San Diego, but the Carlsbad-San Diego area. What a great place to be as well, in terms of such a nice, beautiful, and weather-wise place. I love when I get the chance to go down there.
Most of us in this industry that lives in San Diego have been in lots of snow, lots of seasons, and lived lots of places and wind up saying, “There’s a great community and industry and a lot of subject matter experts here in San Diego. Why not?”
What is it that you would say brings you the most satisfaction from the position that you are in now?
I’d say it’s threefold. Stepping back and taking a look at our early stage and promising therapeutics pipeline. Taking scientific hypotheses like that we have for QN-302, which is a G4 selective transcription inhibitor. That is our lead compound and taking that science. Taking the promising data that we have in Vitro and In Vivo and advancing that.
That’s great satisfaction in going through that process and those steps on QN-302 on all of our programs. Same thing we are doing to continue to grow, bringing it back to diagnostics. Taking great science and advancing it, whether it’s an oncology drug handed, diagnostics, or collaborating with NanoSynex in their antimicrobial susceptibility test could be game-changing and looks exciting.
That’s number one. It is advancing good science. Number two is collaborating with a myriad of brilliant minds. The people in this industry are so bloody smart. Getting better and trying to pick up and learn from other people around and the depth of subject matter expert expertise it takes. Whether it’s pharmacology, regulatory, or toxicology, and the list goes on and on, and learning from that.
Knowing in my case, I’m a generalist. I don’t need to deep dive go into any one of those areas. Collaborating with people like that and helping them understand our mission and wanting to jump on board and be part of it. Beyond like, “I have a mortgage to pay and I want to take care of my family.” Be inspired by and be part of this great mission we have and work with brilliant minds to get there. Number two is collaborating with so many people and so many functions.A chief strategy officer's greatest joy is in helping people come together, build cohesive goals, and teach an inexperienced person to leverage and leapfrog. Click To Tweet
The third is the honor of having worked across and been in positions in so many functions. Business functions, commercial functions, business innovation, digital, and across so many countries and spending a lot of time on the ground. In Europe in my career. In the Asia Pacific and to some extent LATAM, and clearly deeply in US operations and sometimes in Canada.
Realizing the more you work around the globe, the more similarities we have. How do we do things globally, but it comes down to local so you have to understand the local healthcare environment and reimbursement. Apply some emotional intelligence to understand how people are coming at things and listen for what they want to get to that win-win regardless of whether one is in Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, or the US. I think that brought tremendous satisfaction.
Going to your collaboration comment, I feel that way when I talk to you and to most people in the industry. I’m on this journey of learning and understanding. Even within our own country, the United States, without getting into too deep conversation about all the crazy stuff happening is pretty interesting. I’m originally from California. I was born and raised there, but I live in Utah now. I go from Utah to meet with people in California to have an opportunity to have flown across the country to meet with companies in New Jersey and the East Coast area.
It’s like when you sit down with people, you were talking about that emotional intelligence aspect. When you sit down with people and you start talking to them and understanding. You may have different views like culturally, going to your comment on other countries. When you get to the core of understanding people that those barriers fall down.
If you can make a connection with people and understand all of this other stuff, we can set that aside for a second. You realize that with people, there’s a connection there. It’s pretty awesome. BioTech IQ is one of the things that is understanding the people, the cultures, and all that around those who are involved in developing medications and treatments for the ailments that we have.
That’s why BioTech IQ is getting so much traction as a show and people are very keenly interested. I love what you do by peeling back the onion of this industry that everyone says we want to make a difference. Getting to know the people and what brought them there, how they are hardwired, and why they are doing it. There are a lot of things that are a lot easier, but nothing is more rewarding than being part of medicines and solutions for patients. You are giving a lot of visibility to that and painting the picture of what it’s like to live in this wonderful industry.
You bring up an interesting point. I want to get some more questions that I like to ask. We are coming up closer to the end of the time here. People in the general public have a misinformed view, and then a lack of understanding of how drug development works. You in your career have been lucky, blessed, right place, right time, or whatever you want to call it. You’ve been part of multiple drug launches and have seen things go to market. Some people don’t understand like a scientist may discover a molecule or some type of biological thing, and they may be at the discovery stage of that or even at the pre-clinical stage of that.
They may never see that get approved. They may not be a part of it when it does get approved or if it gets approved. You said that there are easier things that you could do, but the satisfaction that you get from creating and helping to be part of this creation, bringing this creation of treatment to the market, and what it can do for society is something that can’t be matched. I haven’t had the opportunity to be a part of that.
Sometimes when I helped place somebody at this company and this is what they completed or I worked with such and such company that has an approved treatment in new cell therapy or something like that. I think, “I placed somebody there that’s been a part of that.” I get a little bit of satisfaction from that.
Back to the lucky or fortunate. My background is in business but it all comes down to stellar scientists having a hypothesis. I have worked with many PhDs for instance that have been focused on one indication and one therapeutic area for many years. In drug discovery, there’s a lot of attrition. There are a lot of failures before you get success. I have been fortunate in that I have been later on in many times in my career.
Right now, I consider myself very fortunate that we have an early-stage pipeline, but we are bringing in what’s differentiated science, and again, working with some amazing MDs, PhDs, scientists, third-party collaborators, and CROs such as TD2 on our lead program. Envision Clinical Research who’s based here in San Diego that makes us much better when we outsource so much of this. I bring the business side, the leadership, strategy and the ability to get everyone singing from the same song sheet, but it’s the science and the early scientists that we have to give a lot of the credit too.
Let’s shift the conversation to the last few questions that I like to ask individuals that come on the show. The first one is you. If you could go back in your career and give yourself some advice, what would that be?
First and foremost, be patient, soak in as much experience as I can, and realize that it takes time. Enjoy the ride. Have some fun with it. Constantly thinking about what’s next, what’s ahead, and planning for it. Have fun in the moment and be driven by your own sense of purpose. I got very good advice from a mentor of mine who decided to mentor me as a CEO of a big pharma company. We were in a business lounge in Europe between flights. He said, “If I can give you a piece of advice, don’t take on every problem as though it’s yours to solve, and don’t worry about making everyone happy.”
I would say that caring deeply is so much part of who I am, but recognizing when you need to step back and let some of the tough challenges work themselves out, and guide and get out of the way. My leadership style is I’m not a fan that anyone wants to be managed more closely than they want at any given moment. It’d be patient, soak it all in, have some fun, and be true to why I’m doing this thing and purpose. I’m sure you’ll ask about that one in a minute.
The next question is a new one, and I will give this credit to you to let the readers know. Whenever I get the opportunity to prep with somebody for one of these interviews, is there anything that they think we could change, ask, and we should cover that maybe I haven’t written down in my preparations? I love this question coming here that we can maybe incorporate now. that is given your experience and many years in the pharma industry, what keeps you excited to get up, keep you in the business, and go strong?
Why do I do it? For me, we talked about purpose. It’s both purposeful in being part of creating medicines that are going to either improve lives or improve survival substantially and making a difference. It’s also personal to be part of cancer therapeutics. I’d say to reveal a little bit about myself, the greatest hero in my life, fortunately, was my father who had a love for science and a second-to-none work ethic.
Unfortunately, he succumbeded to a very aggressive form of lymphoma, a diffused B-Cell lymphoma two months after he was diagnosed back in 2011. It’s very poignant and very painful. I think most of us have been touched or have stories like this, whether it’s their dad or someone close to them whether it’s friends or family.
Having worked across many therapeutic areas, I wanted to be part of a company that is dedicated to cancer and cancer therapeutics knowing that there are many challenges in drug development in cancer. Some way to advance science to solutions is the purposeful part. The personal and purposeful part is to take individuals and have the honor to take individuals that might be early in their career and help guide them to be the leaders that they don’t even know that they can be yet. Help them soar and watch them soar way beyond where I could go personally and be in the background to guide and help in that processes. It’s an incredible joy every day.
We talked a little bit about a book I’m reading earlier. Are there any books that you have read or maybe are reading now that you feel made an impact?
I’m reading a book right now called Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. I don’t know if you’ve read this book, but a friend of mine recommended it. A friend of mine is from Germany from BIO International. He came over to my house for dinner and we are talking about books, and so he shared that book with me. I’m early on in the book, but it’s about negotiation and it’s never split the difference because we always think it’s about win-win and compromises.Be patient. Soak in as much experience as you can and enjoy the ride. Have fun at the moment, and be driven by your own sense of purpose. Click To Tweet
This book talks about the dangers of compromise and how you set up and successfully negotiate. Some very pragmatic tools do get to a win for the other party, but not a loss for yourself. A couple of other books. One book that has had a tremendous impact on me, I read about several years ago was by Jim Collins and it’s from Good to Great.
Jim Collins said, “Good is the enemy of great.” I have been in many corporate environments where people have asked the question, what does good look like? In other words, what should we be doing? What’s good enough? I always have a visceral reaction, and I go back to that book because good is never going to get you there. It’s all about great.
Jim Collins, that’s highly recommended written about several years ago. It has had a big impact. Our mantra at Qualigen is that Qualigen Therapeutics is driven to deliver, and it has a lot of roots in the fundamental philosophy and from good to great. The third one that I’d say is Emotional Intelligence. It is a great book and it’s the five characteristics of emotional intelligence. It’s being aware of yourself and then empathy, and it’s got all those characteristics. It’s not only for business, but it’s for your life. When people have conflict and they have disagreements, how do you understand where other people are coming from, and apply that? It’s a fantastic book that has an impact to bear in my life on a daily basis.
I didn’t read but I listened to Never Split the Difference. I should go back and read that or listen to it again. He started a master class as well that you can go back or that you can go take on that. It’s pretty interesting. Good to Great is is a good one as well. Emotional Intelligence, I got to write that down. I think I have heard of it, but I don’t think I have ever read that.
The author is Daniel Goleman. It’s a fantastic book.
A few years ago when I started in recruiting, we read this book. It was part of a book club within the company that was called Crucial Conversations. It doesn’t directly go over what you are talking about in Emotional Intelligence, but it has some application to it. Good stuff. Given the state of the market right now, with the bear market, inflation, and all of these things going on.
The economy is fine. Don’t worry. That’s what I’m hearing.
That’s what I hear, but then I also hear, “We are going into recession. There’s a recession coming. It’s going to be bad. Everybody should be prepared.” It’s easy. I’m trying to launch my company and really go. I have been in recruiting. I have built a good little recruiting business, but I want to grow. I want to grow my company. Given all of that, what are your thoughts on where things are headed in the next 6 to 12 months? I don’t obviously expect you to know all the answers or have a crystal ball, but based on your experience, what are your thoughts?
Back to the bigger issue of the economy, we are likely to see some economic hard times and the implications are focused on executing and being crystal clear about what needs to be done and declared. For small public companies like Qualigen, setting out milestones, bringing everyone together, executing, and leveraging the tools that are out there, some new and emerging tools, and disruptive technologies. Personalized approaches are part of the future. AI is going to be critical as we proceed through clinical trials and computing power. Be on top of a lot of the innovation as it applies to our own programs, and then keep that steel eye focused.
We talked earlier about naysayers and people that don’t believe but focus on getting there and helping others get there and hold people accountable to execute. Take advantage of the technology. The pharmaceutical industry is $1.2 trillion in revenue worldwide. Anyone in life sciences, pharma, and medical diagnostics and devices being on top of the technology where wearables are going in monitoring health conditions.
Companion diagnostics on personalized approaches. Biomarker strategy preparing and funding for that. I’d say it’s the continual learning and making sure that we are listening and learning to the folks around us on how we can be better, quicker, and smarter about it along the way. To get those medicines and the diagnostics to patients that are most needed and be savvy about setting the stage for the reimbursement. Understand the barriers to that and use AI in a more predictive way than we have in the past.
Stay the course, execute, and make adjustments, cashflow is going to be huge for people to survive if there’s enough of a contraction. I’m glad that I was able to get you on the show to talk about your background and Qualigen. I should let the readers know that I do have interviews scheduled with both Michael Poirier, the CEO and Founder of Qualigen, as well as Tariq Arshad who is the Chief Medical Officer, both of whom you’ve mentioned.
Those should be some pretty cool interviews. We are going to be doing a little bit of a company feature on Qualigen. We’ll be having those interviews come out in a little bit of a succession, trying to understand the different aspects of their positions and then their view of where the company is at.
From strategy to the overall company to even the science and medical aspects of it. It should be good. Everyone, thanks for reading. Thanks for being here with us. If you are watching on YouTube, like, subscribe, and share the episode. We appreciate that. If you are on the regular long format of the show, leave us a review. Reach out to me on LinkedIn at Ammon Rivera, or look up BioTech IQ, and you’ll find me. I love hearing from all the readers that have been reaching out to me, connecting with me, and having any questions and things like that. With all that being said, thanks everyone, and we’ll see you on the next episode.
Thank you, Ammon. I very much appreciated being part of the show. Thanks for having me.
- Qualigen Therapeutics
- Tariq Arshad – LinkedIn
- Amy Broidrick – LinkedIn
- Breaking Through
- Shishir Sinha – LinkedIn
- Never Split the Difference
- Good to Great
- Emotional Intelligence
- Crucial Conversations
- YouTube – BioTech IQ Podcast
- Ammon Rivera – LinkedIn