Welcome to the Woman of the Week podcast, a weekly discussion that illuminates the unique stories of women leaders who are catalyzing change throughout the life sciences industry. You can check out all our podcast episodes here.
For Laurie Stelzer, CFO and executive vice president of Mirati Therapeutics, the more pieces to the puzzle there are, the better. Having spent the majority of her career in the biotech space, she thrives on the complexity of the business, from the science to the chain of payment.
“For folks like me in the back office, that complexity is exciting — it’s hard and super interesting,” she said. “I’m a problem solver. Bring me a puzzle any day and it had better be thousands of pieces. When I think about how long it takes to develop a product, how much we spend before we get the product even to the commercial setting, it’s just fascinating. Our problems are big and important, and for me solving those problems is a real reward at the end of the day.”
Stelzer joined Mirati just over a year ago, where she leads a multitude of functions in addition to finance, including business development, strategy, corporate affairs, communications, investor relations, IT and facilities.
“This is a broad group that touches every part of the company,” Stelzer said. “We’re like the glue that threads all of those groups together. We are first and foremost support. Over the years, having a nice broad business background lends itself to be able to manage the disparate parts of the business. I hire strong people and good leaders and I just have to play the orchestra leader so it’s quite rewarding.”
In December 2022, Mirati received approval for its first product Krazati for “KRAS G12C-mutated locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.” Stelzer said this is the first approval from a portfolio of first-in-class or best-in-class KRAS-based targeted therapeutics.
Stelzer is positioning the Mirati for the next phase of growth and building on the launch of Krazati to move the company from the development stage to the commercial stage.
“We are putting our vision in place for the next three to five years, determining what investments are needed to drive the business forward with that vision, and making sure that we’ve been able to secure the capital we need to be able to execute on that vision,” she said. “Those are the important parts of what I do and what I can help the company look forward to.”
Stelzer is leaning into experiences gained over close to two decades in the biotech sector. She said she had the good fortune of having started her career at Amgen, where she spent 15 years in the 1990s, a time she called “the go-go days of biotech.”
“Amgen had two blockbuster drugs. They were a small company, much smaller than they are today, with an amazing vision,” she said “They were really pioneers in the biotech space and doing amazing things for patients. It was very exciting. Amgen gave me opportunities to grow as a finance professional. I also got to work in commercial. I got to work outside the U.S. And then I also spent three years at Shire. I had done enough different things in finance in biotech after all those years, it was time to leap into the CFO role. And leaping into a smaller company [Halozyme Therapeutics] as the CFO, seemed like the right move at the right time.”
Throughout her career, Stelzer has been patient-focused, which is key to why she joined the life sciences.
“This may be a cliché, but for me the patient focus of our industry is why we get out of bed every day,” she said. “When you have an opportunity to hear from patients directly, to hear their story, to hear the impact the medicines that we’re inventing and bringing to the market have made on their lives, it always makes me cry and it reminds me why I work this hard — it’s just incredibly rewarding.”
Here, Stelzer shares the reasons she believes biotech is the business of science and innovation, why listening to her mother led her to a fulfilling career and how the benefits of taking a professional risk can pay off.
Welcome to WoW, the Woman of the Week podcast by PharmaVoice powered by Industry Dive.
In this episode, Taren Grom, editor-in-chief emeritus at PharmaVoice meets with Laurie Stelzer, CFO and executive vice president, Mirati Therapeutics.
Taren: Laurie, welcome to the WoW podcast program.
Laurie: Taren, thank you for having me. I’m super excited to be here.
Taren: I’m super excited to have you here. You have spent most of your career in biotech at all size companies. What is it about the biotech industry that appeals to you so much?
Laurie: A couple of things. The first is the complexity of the business. The science is complex; the way we supply our products, how we sell our products, how the patients get the medicines – all of that, very complex. The reimbursement, how we get paid, and the chain of payment – very complex. And for folks like me kind of in the back office, that complexity is exciting, it’s hard, and super interesting. This may be a cliché, but for me the patient focus of our industry is kind of why we get out of bed every day. When you have an opportunity to hear from a patient directly, to hear their story, to hear the impact the medicines that we’re inventing and bringing to the market have made on their lives, it always makes me cry and it reminds me why do I work this hard; and that’s just incredibly rewarding. So those are kind of the two main drivers for me why this industry is so appealing.
Taren: I love the patient focus of that. And, yeah, I can hear it in your voice the passion you have for that. The complexity part, that was a little bit of a surprise to me. Not everybody loves to solve all those complex problems and yet you find it exciting, hard, and interesting. Is that part of your DNA or…
Laurie: It is. I’m a problem solver. Bring a puzzle any day and it better be a thousand pieces, I just love that. And from a business perspective, finance, budgeting, accounting – all that is great, but if the business is complex it’s very interesting. When you think about how long it takes to develop a product, how much you spend before you get the product even to the commercial setting, it’s just fascinating. And then I just think our problems are big and important problems, and for me solving those problems is a real reward at the end of the day.
Taren: It’s a great analogy, the thousand pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and the thousand pieces of putting together a business in a complex space. It’s a great analogy. Can you share a little bit about your career journey with our audience?
Laurie: I started my career in public accounting and then I moved to finance; and I did finance in several industries before landing my role at Amgen, my first biotech role in the late ‘90s, and I fell in love. I fell in love with the biotech industry and I really never looked back. I’ve spent 15 years at Amgen. They gave me opportunities to grow as a finance professional. They gave me opportunities to move lateral promotion type moves. I got to work in all areas of finance to build my career. I also got to work in commercial. I got to work outside the US. And then I also spent three years at Shire; and at that time, I decided it was time for a leap. I had done enough different things in finance in biotech after all those years, it was time to leap into the CFO role. And leaping into a smaller company as the CFO, that just seemed like the right move at the right time.
Taren: Fantastic. And Amgen in the ‘90s, that had to be a wild ride.
Laurie: I often refer to it as the go-go days of biotech. Amgen had two blockbuster drugs. They were a small company, much smaller than they are today, with amazing vision for biotech. They were really pioneers in the biotech space and doing amazing things for patients. Yeah, it was very exciting.
Taren: Because I can remember those early days in the ‘90s when Amgen was just getting started and how exciting it is. It was really the dawn of biotech; and to be there at that time had to be really…I mean, what a wonderful experience.
Laurie: It was. It was a lot of fun.
Taren: Fantastic. So what drew you to Mirati?
Laurie: People, first and foremost. For me, I’ve been in this business a long time. There’s a lot of companies with amazing science, Mirati is one of those. But the people you surround yourself with are important, and it’s very important for me and how much I enjoy my job. From the first moment walking in Mirati’s door, you could just feel the energy around the people in the place. David Meek, our CEO, he’s been building an amazing C-suite. And the team that I inherited, just an amazing group of people. So that was kind of first and foremost. It has to be the right culture, the right vibe for me.
And then where Mirati was as a business. I love having the opportunity to grow a business. And I could see that we were on the cusp of transforming from a development stage company to a commercial stage company, and I love nothing more than to help a company grow and build and change. And so it was just the right company at the right time for me.
Taren: Fantastic. Obviously part of your role is the finance as the CFO, but what other aspects of the business do you oversee?
Laurie: Yeah, it’s interesting; every company organizes just a little bit differently. So at Mirati, in addition to the finance functions, as you said, I lead BD and strategy. I lead corporate affairs that includes communications and investor relations. I lead IT and facilities. So it’s a broad group of functions that really touches every part of the company.
Taren: Wow. That is really big. Are you relying on some of your past experiences? Because they’re pretty diverse too areas of responsibility to have to be an expert in. So how do you weave it all together?
Laurie: For me, we support the business of Mirati and we’re the kind of glue and so that’s what kind of threads all of those groups together. We are first and foremost support and I think we all think that way. We are here to augment the discovery, the clinical studies, the commercialization of our products. And I think just over the years, just having that kind of nice broad business background, it lends itself to be able to manage this kind of group of what seems to be disparate parts of the business. I hire strong people and good leaders and I just have to play kind of the orchestra leader so it’s quite rewarding.
Taren: That’s wonderful. You have to speak to investors and you’re working in a hot area, obviously, in terms of cancer. You have one drug on the market. So when you speak to investors, how do you pitch the company to them? What excites you about the company’s pipeline and what makes it different?
Laurie: I think what makes a difference with Mirati is our focus on targeted therapies and probably in the last number of years this is where oncology has evolved. And it’s the idea that our medicines are targeted to the tumor using biomarkers and what we call selectivity for something in the tumor. Rather than like a chemo, rather than going everywhere and making you quite sick, this is targeted toward the tumor rather than hitting all cells in your body. And I think that’s exciting to investors. We have a portfolio that is either best in class or first in class in the different tumor types and different mutations and so forth; and so that too is exciting to investors. And so it resonates, and they’re asking a lot of questions about the pipeline and can’t wait to kind of see how these develop.
Taren: Wonderful. Can you share a couple of the goals the company has for 2023?
Laurie: Yeah. For 2023, the goals of the company are really about getting ready for the next phase of growth. As I mentioned, we are recently a commercial company. We launched Krazati in December of 2022 and we’re kind of on that path to becoming a broader-based company, not just a development stage company. So putting our vision in place for the next three to five years, determining what investments are needed to drive the business forward with that vision, and to be sure that we’ve been able to secure the capital we need to be able to execute on that vision. So that’s important. Those are the important parts of what I do and what I can help the company look forward to.
Taren: It’s so great to hear that biotech companies are maintaining control of their destiny; and that’s quite a difference from 10 or maybe even 15 years ago where companies like Mirati would bring those drugs up to the pipeline, have great science, and then they’d be handing off the commercialization of it to a bigger partner. But you all have kept your commercial rights and are embarking on this journey on your own; is that correct?
Laurie: That’s correct.
Taren: And how does that feel? You’ve got the chops to help them do this, obviously, so this is a great new horizon for companies.
Laurie: Definitely. And not all companies have the privilege of taking a product from the lab to the patient and Mirati is one of those unique companies, many don’t have that pleasure. We have scientists in the building that basically discovered this product, this molecule, and have been able to see it over the course of 10 years go from the lab to the patient. And so that’s incredibly exciting. And I think as a small company, it’s all about competition. We’re competing in the marketplace now with Krazati with big companies. I think our ability to build from scratch the business, we have a singular focus in the marketplace on lung cancer, on Krazati, I think that allows us to compete. We’re not stuck with kind of the big pharma way of doing things, and so that’s been exciting.
Interestingly enough, earlier this week, we had an all-hands meeting. And at the all-hands meeting, there was a physician that spoke to the staff. He comes from a large community practice in Texas. And one of the things he said that just really sat well with me, he said really what sets us apart is that we have listened to them. We have listened to the physicians, what matters to them, what matters to patients, what’s working, what’s not working, and we’re able to adjust our approach. And we can do that because we are still a small biotech and nimble. And I don’t think big pharma can be that flexible. I think that’s what’s allowing us to get to this place and will allow us to compete and to bring more products forward. So that differentiation I think is speaking to physicians and to patients, and that’s exciting as well.
Taren: That is exciting in that competitive edge. But at some point too, when you bring more products to market, you’re going to have to get bigger. You’re going to have to scale up all of those things that make you so competitive right now, with your agility, flexibility, ability to pivot; those will sort of diminish over time. How do you maintain that sort of entrepreneurial spirit within the company?
Laurie: I think that’s a good question. And I’ve been part of organizations, as I mentioned, Amgen in the early days had that entrepreneurial spirit and wanted to hold dearly to that. I think you can do that in the way you operate, in the way the mentality that the staff has. But certainly as you grow, you’ve got to balance that nimbleness with also some processes of governance. And so I think we’re certainly focused on doing the right thing internally but not losing that ability to pivot to focus on what matters, to not get caught in the trappings of the larger companies and I think that evolves over time. But being very conscious of keeping that competitive edge, keeping that spirit of innovation, being sure we’re investing in not just the later stage pipeline but what’s coming out of the lab in the early stage part of our development process, and that’ll be important over the course of time.
Taren: Fantastic. Thanks for sharing that. You have a perspective as to why the biotech sector has become such a powerhouse of innovation. Would you share that with our audience?
Laurie: First, our business is science and business of science just is the business of innovation; so that’s the base, that’s the starting point. I think as long as there are patients who are suffering, who continue to have diseases that are not met by modern day medicines, the scientists are motivated. They’re motivated to crack the code on these diseases. And as long as the science are motivated, they’re in the labs working tirelessly to find new drugs, new modalities, new ways of delivery. I think we’ve seen some amazing breakthroughs in research in recent years. You can just almost every day read about new ways of delivering medicines and these include precision medicines, things like gene editing. To a CFO it just seems so foreign, but gene editing that can tailor a drug to the patient’s individual genetics as well as target oncology like we’re discovering here at Mirati.
And one of the things that I think has brought biotechnology to the forefront of people’s mind, when COVID broke out and the ability for some companies to rapidly bring forward medicines or vaccines based on RNA technology, this was a huge breakthrough. It’s been great to see it in the news and it’s been great to see biotechnology kind of go from some science experiment to the forefront of how people are thinking about medicines and discovery.
And I think the other reason biotechs are able to be kind of a powerhouse, as you said, really until the last 18 months the investment inflows into the sector were incredibly strong. It allowed companies to take products or take discoveries out of the lab, make companies around these discoveries, and be able to progress these scientific ideas, take them into the clinic where we can start to test in people and see if these drugs really will benefit the patients and their diseases. It’s just been an exciting time and kind of why I think we are seeing a lot of innovation right now.
Taren: Thank you for that. That was great. And I love how you describe where the industry is going and that biotech is the business of science; that’s a wonderful perspective. Let’s get a little personal, if you don’t mind. I know you talked about going from being in the public accounting kind of sector and you jumped over to Amgen. What was it about Amgen? Why the life sciences? Because you could have continued down a different path and then you got hooked.
Laurie: I did. In a nutshell, it was my mom, and that always makes me a little teary. My mom was an executive assistant at Amgen, and she loved that company. She loved the company, she loved the culture, she loved everything about it. I was in the banking sector at the time, and my company was acquired and I had a choice to move to Seattle, and she said, “Come and talk to some people here at Amgen. Come see what this business is about, I think you would love it.” And I went to Amgen and found a position and joined the finance team. And as you said, I fell in love with the industry; I never looked back. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. And I always tell people this story and I tell them, “You must listen to your mother.” I try to tell my girls this, “Listen to your mother, they’re very smart.” So it was really my mom that introduced me and I’ve never been so happy.
Taren: At the risk of pushing the envelope, why did that make you teary to talk about your mom?
Laurie: I don’t know, we just passed Mother’s Day. I adore my mom. She’s still with us and I see her often. And I’m an emotional person, I guess. I got the chance to work with my mom for many years; what a great opportunity. Her desk was outside my desk, right next to my desk. It was just such a special time so I look back with such great fond memories on that.
Taren: I have to say, I don’t know that I’ve ever had come across that before. That’s really quite unusual. I love that mother-daughter bond. What a fantastic connection.
Laurie: Yeah, it was wonderful.
Taren: Did you both have the same name at the same time?
Laurie: No, we didn’t. But once the word got out that she was my mom, then executives that I worked with would pass by her desk and say, “Hi, mom.” It was fun.
Taren: What a nice time. And especially back then when it was still a little bit smaller and it still felt like family at Amgen, I bet.
Laurie: It did. It definitely was.
Taren: Well that’s wonderful. Thank you for sharing that story. That’s great. You sit in the C-suite and you sat in the C-suite for quite some time now, that gives you this almost responsibility of being a role model. Do you see it as such?
Laurie: I hope I’m a role model. I hope I’m a role model to my team. I have two daughters; I hope I’m a role model on the home front. For me, if my actions, if my work ethic, I have an authentic style – if that inspires others, I think that would make me very proud. At Mirati, we have a set of corporate values like most companies do. These values of collaboration, open-mindedness, accountability, work with urgency. The values of a company are important to me. It’s important for me and my team to achieve results, but to achieve results and be true to the values, live the values, and inspire others as a role model – that, to me, would make me proud. So I hope I am a role model.
Taren: Do you also mentor some folks?
Laurie: I do, I do mentor. I actually find nothing more rewarding than to help people in their career. I think one of my strengths has always been building relationships and I think that’s the root of a good mentoring situation. And I’ve maintained these relationships that I’ve built along the way with peers, with employees that have worked for me over time. If they ask for my time, I never say no. I enjoy that aspect and I feel it my responsibility to give back, and give back to others that are coming up in their career.
And I think the other part of mentoring is helping people make connections. I think I mentioned earlier this always feels like a small industry and people that you meet along the way, you meet again at other companies. And so I love that interconnectivity and I love helping others make those connections in their career. So, yeah, I think mentoring is an important part of leaders’ responsibilities to pay it forward.
Taren: Fantastic. And you touched on something there. Often I have conversations like this with folks who are changing the dynamics of the industry, and in that whole piece about relationships and connections, I think it’s an undervalued currency in our world but yet it’s so important.
Laurie: I couldn’t agree more. At the end of the day, any company you work for, it’s made up of a bunch of people. You work long hours, and you work hard for the company and the company’s mission and it’s good to believe in that. And certainly in this industry, that’s easy to believe in the company’s mission; but you’re here with people. Each person you meet, the relationship is slightly different, but it’s really what makes a company’s culture really same is that relationships and interconnectivity. So it’s one of the things that I find most rewarding.
Taren: Wonderful. Is there anybody in your career who has stood out to you, is particularly significant, who has been a mentor to you?
Laurie: There’s really not been any one mentor I could point to. There are many along the way – bosses, colleagues, et cetera, that have given me advice or guidance as I grew in my career. But I will say one of the most impactful types of mentoring I’ve received is a group of colleagues who became good friends that I met early in my career. We kind of grew up over the years as we grew our careers, even from the early days as a young mom trying to balance the stress of motherhood and the desire to move ahead within my career. And the advice I’d get from this group to providing sound advice, sage advice in dealing with difficult situations, dealing with different bosses, decisions about what career path, what new roles I should take, managing office politics – I mean, you name it. And it’s a group of women and men. I consider this group kind of my personal board of directors, if you will. And I still today am close with many of them and I seek out their advice. Even sitting in the CFO role, I use this group as a personal board of directors and it’s just been invaluable. So I think it doesn’t have to be this one person in your life. It could take all shapes and forms as you seek out mentoring.
Taren: That concept of everybody having their own personal board of directors I think is so important, especially to women who are just coming up, as you noted, and you built yours. I think it’s one of the most valuable things you can have as part of your career journey. And some of those people may come in and out, but having that core, it’s priceless.
Laurie: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. And they then know you, they know you will. Sometimes people do want the more formal mentoring relationships. The best mentoring builds over time, you get to really know each other. I kind of also think sometimes it’s a two-way street. Sometimes I mentor people and sometimes they mentor me, and it really is very situational.
Taren: Absolutely. And it’s good that it’s able to ebb and flow because it’s not so prescriptive then. But, as you said, over time it becomes more relationship based as well and it’s a trusted relationship.
Laurie: Yeah, that’s right.
Taren: So let’s talk about some of the leadership lessons you’ve learned along the way. Let’s talk about those and how would you describe yourself as a leader.
Laurie: So leadership lessons along the way – I would say as I moved up in my career, I did realize that it’s okay to be a little vulnerable. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to recognize you need more resources. So a little story on that. I took a role in a new area, an area I had not worked in before, and I jumped right in. They gave me a small group, a small team. We were kind of forging new ground, and I jumped in and I started working hard. After about six months of long hours, I didn’t feel like I was doing what I needed to be doing, but surely they must have given me the right resources, the right number of resources, et cetera.
And so I just kept working harder and longer hours, and I couldn’t get my head above the water to even diagnose the problem. And I finally did, something had to give; and I went to my boss and I said I need a number of new people on the team to be able to execute the vision that had been laid out for me. And I got the resources; I had justified it, but it really didn’t take much to get these resources. And so I learned don’t be afraid to ask and diagnose early; those two kind of leadership lessons were super invaluable as I moved around my career.
I think the other thing, kind of good lessons learned, I often found myself as the only woman in a group of men in many of my leadership roles. And for me, I needed to be sure I had a seat at the table. I needed to be sure my voice was heard. And that wasn’t always easy in some of these settings. Now the good news is here at Mirati I sponsor our DE&I committee, and it’s quite rewarding. It gives me the opportunity to be sure that here at Mireta we have diversity at the table. We’re training the company, we’re training across the whole organization this year to recognize and to avoid bias, and then to be sure that we are allowing diverse voices are heard at the table. And for me, to learn that lesson early on and then to make room for those voices now as a leader in the company, I think it’s incredibly important to me.
Taren: How did you find your voice as you noted sometimes being an n of 1 at the table?
Laurie: That’s a great question. I think it’s just being sure that I was prepared, being sure that I had positive self-talk, that I had the confidence going in. And even when I didn’t, kind of convince myself that I had a reason to speak and they needed to hear what I had to say, and over time that becomes easier and easier. But I do remember being very early in my career almost a shaking voice, almost petrified to speak out, and just making myself do it, realizing I had something to say that they needed to hear and it becomes easier over time, kind of force of nature, if you will.
Taren: Laurie, thanks for sharing that. Do you find that today women who are early in their career, maybe a little mid in their career, have found that voice faster than maybe some of us who are more senior in our careers did? Do you feel that confidence level has risen?
Laurie: I do. I mean, we still have a long way to go, but I do think partly because there are more women in leadership roles. There’s lots written that we’re not where we need to be yet. But I think there are more women that have forged the way and are conscious of bringing others up behind them. I just remember being in the mid ‘90s and the advice being given was be more like a guy, which just is not that helpful. Now, I think we are focused on diversity not just gender diversity but all kinds of diversity. And companies are doing better jobs at training and opening the eyes to biases and how to avoid bias. I think that’s important, hard work, and it will take time but I think it’s allowed young people of all kinds of diversity have more of a voice. But the work’s not done and we just need to continue to kind of make inroads there.
Taren: Absolutely. You serve on a number of different boards. Tell me about some of these roles. Obviously, they’re important to you because you have to carve out the time, you’re a busy person. So tell me about those. And any advice to other women who are looking to secure a board seat? Because sometimes that’s part of the legacy, right? That’s your next step after you’ve been in senior roles.
Laurie: Exactly. Especially for a finance professional. Boards need that and so I’m quite lucky in that way. I do sit on two public company boards today, the audit committee chair of both, and I sit on the comp committee of both. So it does keep me very busy and you do have to carve out the time to do the job right. I think these roles are rewarding for a couple different reasons. But kind of back to the mentoring, I thoroughly enjoy being in a mentoring position for the CFOs of those companies, being able to be a sounding board on non-public information. And when you sit in the CFO spot, it isn’t easy to always find guidance because you’re often having to keep things quite private and non-public.
So I do find that mentoring to be important. I also really enjoy helping think about and help develop company strategy; and as a board member, that’s an important part of the job. And then I think the last kind of reason that are rewarding for me or the third most important, I guess I should say, is it broadens my exposure to other ideas, the other ways of doing things. And that comes from the company itself, the companies that I’m on the boards of, but also the richness in the other board members and the perspectives they are bringing. They’re upcoming from other companies and other roles at other companies. And so it’s kind of a rich source of information that I take back to my company and hopefully make better decisions in the company that I’m operating.
And I think for advice for others trying to get on boards, I think you need to know what you’re getting into. There is a considerable amount of work, it takes a great deal of dedication to be a good board member and so be sure you’re ready for that. There’s always a time and a place and you can’t underestimate the commitment. And then the other kind of bit of advice is be sure to understand the board culture and the dynamics, and the connection between the board and the company. When you go on a board, you’re often on the board sometimes longer than your operating role. So be sure you like the dynamics of the board itself because I think it’s important to the role.
Taren: Great advice. Thank you so much for that, I appreciate it. What’s the one thing that most people don’t know about you?
Laurie: Well, that’s a tough question for me. I am an open book, and I honestly don’t know that there is any one thing that people don’t know about me. I probably talk too much and so therefore, I cannot think of a thing.
Taren: Well, let me approach it from a different way. When you do have that moment to unplug and have some downtime, what’s your go-to?
Laurie: Well my family has recently picked up pickleball; and I have to tell you, we are having a literal ball with it. I’m hoping to get better this year, but that kind of fun, it’s not too serious, it’s not too hard. Even the uncoordinated can play which I include myself in that category. It’s just something I very much enjoy to unplug and take my mind off more serious things.
Taren: It is sweeping the country. Everybody’s in the pickleball kitchen. Isn’t that what they call it, that kitchen part of it?
Laurie: Yup, all in the kitchen.
Taren: Fantastic. So we are at the end of our time, and we always end our WoW podcast with that WoW moment that either changed the trajectory of your career or has left a lasting impression on you. What is your WoW moment?
Laurie: At one point in my career at Amgen, I was asked to leave finance completely. I was asked to move to Europe. I was asked to take on a role leading emerging markets. So you can imagine how foreign that sounded, and I said yes. It was a super exciting and scary kind of decision to make. I moved my family to a new country. I moved into a role completely out of my comfort zone. I was running a part of the business that I knew little about in countries I knew even less about. And with no obvious benefit on my path to become a CFO, which was my career goal at the time. I have to say it was the best thing that ever happened to me. It brought in my view of the world. It gave me a level of confidence I didn’t even know I was lacking. It expanded my knowledge of the business of life outside of the US, functional areas within biotech that I didn’t know before. And I would just encourage others to take the risk – take the risk in your career, say yes to the opportunity even if it isn’t obvious and even if it isn’t comfortable. And for me, it really changed the trajectory for me.
Taren: ‘Yes’ is one of those most powerful words in the English language, so I love that you said yes. What country did you go to?
Laurie: We moved to Switzerland which was amazing. And my job actually took me to amazing places from Ukraine to South Africa, Middle East, South America. So I was hopping all over the world trying to expand Amgen’s products into these new markets and it was incredibly rewarding.
Taren: Wow. That is a big job. And your girls, were they little then?
Laurie: They were, yeah. They were junior high and high school. And it was incredibly rewarding for the family as well. It was hard to convince them to go back.
Taren: So that’s great because sometimes it’s hard to convince them to go, but they went and then they loved it so much. What a great experience for everybody.
Laurie: It was terrific.
Taren: Well, I want to thank you so much, Laurie, for your time today, and thank you for being part of our WoW podcast program. We look forward to Mirati and what you all have coming down the pike and continued great success with the drug you have on the market today. So looking forward to see where you all go next.
Laurie: Well, Taren, thank you so much. It’s been an incredible pleasure getting to chat with you over the last hour. So thank you so much for inviting me.
Thanks for listening to this episode of WoW, the Woman of the Week podcast. For more WoW episodes, visit pharmavoice.com.