Russell Reynolds Associates Tapped by RAPS to Find Executive Director

March 11, 2016 – Russell Reynolds Associates has been selected by the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) to lead its search for a new executive director. Past director Sherry Keramidas recently retired. She will help facilitate the transition by working with the search committee to provide support on specific key initiatives.

Stephanie Tomasso, head of Russell Reynolds’ trade & professional association practice group based in Washington, D.C., will lead the assignment. According to the association, the board’s priority during the search process is to ensure that the same level of excellence and commitment in programming and other essential functions for RAPS members and partners continues, and that day-to-day operations are managed successfully in support of its staff. No other organizational changes are expected during this transition period.

RAPS is the largest global organization involved with the regulation of healthcare and related products, including medical devices, pharmaceuticals, in vitro diagnostics, biologics, cosmetics, nutritional products and veterinary products. Founded in 1976, RAPS helped establish the regulatory profession and continues to actively support and lead the professional as a neutral, non-lobbying non-profit organization.

RAPS offers education and training, professional standards, publications, research, knowledge sharing, networking, career development opportunities and other valuable resources, including Regulatory Affairs Certification (RAC), the only post-academic professional credential to recognize regulatory excellence. RAPS is headquartered in suburban Washington, D.C.., with offices in Shanghai and Singapore and chapters and affiliates worldwide.

The regulatory function is vital in making safe and effective healthcare products available worldwide. According to RAPS, individuals who ensure regulatory compliance and prepare submissions, as well as those whose main job function is in clinical affairs or quality assurance, are all considered regulatory professionals. And their numbers are growing. Aside from healthcare-related sectors, regulatory professionals are employed in industry, government and academia, among others.

“Regulatory roles and responsibilities often begin in the research & development areas,” said Dale Zupsansky, managing editor of Hunt Scanlon Media, “but often move into clinical trials and extend through premarket approvals, manufacturing, advertising, and after-market surveillance.”

Finding senior leadership within the regulatory and compliance functions is exceedingly complex today, as companies face intense pressure under the current regulatory environment. It therefore requires leaders who can foster close collaboration between compliance and other corporate functions as well as communicate to a more complex and sophisticated set of stakeholders.

According to a recent Heidrick & Struggles report, sharply rising demand for compliance talent, the absence of a clear career path in the discipline, and greater need for compliance executives with leadership and influencing skills are creating difficult challenges for organizations seeking to identify and retain talent in a world of increasing regulation. 

According to recruiters, demand for talent is seen as so great that they are constantly looking “outside the box” for candidates. Highly sought-after regulatory professionals now come from diverse backgrounds, and more than half have an advanced degree, most often in a scientific or technical field. Recruiters are also finding many candidates with skills sets that are transferrable, notably from completely unrelated sectors.


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Maurice Gilbert, managing partner of Dallas-based Conselium, a boutique search firm that specializes in recruiting regulatory and compliance professionals, has seen a major uptick in activity, particularly for chief compliance officers. “About nine years ago companies that were in highly regulated industries like financial services, medical devices and pharmaceuticals saw a critical need to bulk up in the compliance area,” said Mr. Gilbert.

The result: Conselium has seen a 20 percent, year-over-year growth rate for compliance professionals as a direct result of ongoing or potential measures being taken by the U.S. government to investigate companies they potentially deem as having behaved improperly or who have not been compliant with new regulatory measures.

Russell Reynolds Associates’ public sector, trade and associations search practice group serves a wide variety of public sector and not-for-profit organizations, related public bodies, regulators, and government-owned companies. It also fills the executive leadership needs of global charities, healthcare providers, and local government and trade associations.

Ms. Tomasso, who is also a senior member of Russell Reynolds’ external / government affairs practice, focuses on leading searches for clients in complex, highly-regulated industries and has particular specialization in the healthcare and consumer products industries. In addition, she often partners with senior management and board search committees to oversee their executive assessment and succession management projects.

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media

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