April 25, 2017 – Executive search firm Curran Partners/ECI Group has recruited Gary P. Budney as vice president, head of quality assurance and compliance at publicly-traded Achillion Pharmaceuticals. Founding partner, Michael Curran, led the assignment.
“Our client is a development-stage pharmaceutical company, which means that its principal activity is research into prospective treatments for various diseases, the development of those that are sufficiently promising and their submission for approval by regulatory authorities and their eventual commercialization,” said Mr. Curran.
Therefore, he added, pharmaceutical companies typically establish a quality assurance and compliance unit to set up and manage internal systems to adhere to the regulatory codes that affect all aspects of drug development, as has this client. “The importance of this organizational unit can’t be overstated,” he noted.
Communicating a Vision
Since safety and efficacy need to be clearly established to win regulatory approval, said Mr. Curran, an executive was needed with proper experience in these areas. “It was important that this leader have academic training in a scientific discipline, e.g., pharmacy, chemistry, and microbiology, followed by a significant track record of advancement in the quality assurance and compliance discipline, he said. “Typically, these individuals begin their careers in larger pharmaceutical companies and have later successfully transitioned to smaller entities.”
As with executive candidates in other industries and other disciplines, personal attributes and management style mattered in this search. “Interpersonal skills, likeability, credibility, a sense of humor and of course great communications skills were all requisites and we found found someone who fit it all,” he added.
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In this particular role, he said, it is also important for the executive to relate well with regulatory authorities, and to accurately and persuasively present the company’s case and, ultimately, to accept and comply with final regulatory opinion. “Our finalist candidate fit that bill as well,” he noted. “We, in fact, produced several finalist candidates who met this specification. But Gary Budney won out,” he said.
“In addition to meeting the specifications, he is the one who best communicated a vision of the critical importance and the essential, strategic value of quality assurance and regulatory compliance. In addition, his personal style fit very well with the demands of the position for close interaction with the senior team and for achieving cooperation from the many functions within the company, outside suppliers, and regulatory bodies,” he added.
Mr. Budney has held a number of top positions, including VP of quality at CorePharma, senior director of global compliance at Schering-Plough, VP of operations at Cardinal Health, and VP of quality operations at Watson Pharmaceuticals, among other roles. He began his career with Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi).
The organization he now joins, Achillion Pharmaceuticals, is a science-driven, patient-focused company seeking to leverage its strengths across the continuum from drug discovery to commercialization in its goal of providing better treatments for people with serious diseases.
A Who’s Who Client List
Established in 1989, Curran Partners serves the recruiting needs of companies in the consumer and industrial products, healthcare & life sciences, and business-to-business services sectors. The firm’s clients include public and private U.S. organizations and, to a significant extent, foreign entities establishing or enhancing their U.S.-based operations.
Some of the firm’s life sciences clients come from a long list of well known brands across the field, including: Battelle National Biodefense Institute; Celgene Corporation; Genzyme Corporation; GlycoMimetics; Guilford Pharmaceuticals; Intarcia Therapeutics; Johnson & Johnson/OraPharma; Lev Pharmaceuticals; MacroGenics; MaxCyte; MedImmune; Northwest Biotherapeutics; Novartis Pharmaceuticals; Origene Technologies; PharmAthene; Radius Health; Raptor Pharmaceuticals; and Sucampo Pharmaceuticals.
Mr. Curran’s experience in executive search covers a broad range of sectors and management disciplines, with particular emphasis on life sciences. Typically, his clients are development-stage pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies gearing up to advance through R&D, clinical development, regulatory approval and commercial stages of growth. He contributes key executives who not only bring much needed experience, but also match the clients’ organizational culture.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media