Kingfisher Talent Adds Life Sciences Veteran

June 28, 2017 – Kingfisher Talent, the Boston-based consortium for biotech executive search and leadership development, has expanded with the addition of Merle Kummer, a leading figure in life science research and development leadership.

“Merle brings a unique value proposition, specifically in biotech innovation, that will bring immense value to our clients as we continue to push the boundaries of traditional executive search,” said Lucy Watson-Baker, Kingfisher Talent’s president. “We are delighted to welcome her to the team.”

Ms. Kummer’s work on building innovation capability for life science teams accelerates the development of novel new treatments for the patients who need them. A pioneer in the practical application of new discoveries in the cognitive and interpersonal mechanisms of innovation, she brings cross-disciplinary creativity into the everyday work of life science teams.

As creator and facilitator of the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development’s acclaimed course “Leadership for Drug Development Teams,” she has helped build the careers of a generation of high-performing biopharma leaders. As principal of Kummer Consulting, she has delivered breakthrough R&D performance improvement for leading innovators including Biogen, Shire and Alexion. Her de-risking approach to decision-making enables companies to synthesize knowledge across scientific, regulatory, financial and commercial domains to make sound strategic choices in the fast-changing world of life science.

“I’m excited to join the Kingfisher team,” said Ms. Kummer. “We know that bringing in a new executive is an opportunity for transformational change. I look forward to leveraging Kingfisher’s deep level of understanding and trust developed in the executive search process to help companies excel in advancing drug development.”


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For these top 50 executive recruiters working in the life science and healthcare sectors, the last decade has been one of transformation. Pressure on pricing, regulatory changes, emerging innovations, growth, and an uncertain political environment have all helped shape a new field of play.

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Helping Life Sciences Companies

Kingfisher Talent was launched last fall to provide executive search services to life sciences companies in Massachusetts. Ms. Watson-Baker, an executive search veteran in the life sciences industry, has worked in executive search and talent acquisition for over 15 years and was previously a partner with boutique search firm MSI Life Sciences, where she co-founded its life sciences practice. Ms. Watson-Baker is joined by consultants Susan Peppercorn, Carol Bergeron, Carol Nicholson, Karen Carmody and Jacqueline Sonnabend.

“We’re seeing life sciences companies in Massachusetts being held back because they’re struggling to compete for great hires,” said Ms. Watson-Baker. “Bringing top performers into the fold within this market is what keeps CEOs up at night. Getting the right team in place and retaining those people so the business can grow is a make-or-break proposition.”

Massachusetts is a growing global hub for life sciences innovation. According to the Boston Business Journal, the biotech sector accounts for many of the fastest-growing companies in the state. Coupled with an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, the result is low labor supply and intense competition for top leaders. Given these realities, Deloitte’s 2016 “Global Life Sciences Outlook” identified talent shortages as a continuing obstacle for companies looking to grow and evolve.

“Missed opportunities in the executive search and hiring process can limit a company’s chances for immediate growth and long-term success, especially for startups and small to mid-size businesses,” said Ms. Watson-Baker. “Part of our mission is to level the playing field by giving clients an elite level of customized services. We help clients choose the best available talent, retain that talent, and ultimately fulfill their strategic vision.”

The life sciences sector has changed beyond anyone’s expectations over the last two decades,” said Bianca Coulter, CEO of life sciences-focused search firm Coulter Partners. “Advances in science and technology obviously cause the bio-pharmaceutical and medical devices sectors to evolve at a pace that outstrips most others. This has major implications for search firms serving the sector.”

“Specialization as a search firm in this sector involves keeping very close to a host of scientific, technology and market trends, and requires deep understanding and access to leaders across the whole of the sector’s value chain.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Chase Barbe, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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