5 Questions with Stephanie Duatschek, Biopharma Executive Management Consultant
“5 Questions With……” is a new BioBuzz series where we reach out to interesting people in the BioHealth Capital Region to share a little about themselves, their work, and maybe something completely unrelated. We’re grateful to have Stephanie Duatschek as our 5th guest.
Stephanie has over 20 years of experience in various strategic and operational roles spanning clinical development, portfolio management, and commercial operations in the biopharma industry. She has spent the last 6 years as a consultant partnering with C-suite executives primarily in the commercial space. Prior to launching her consulting business, Stephanie was Vice President of Commercial Operations for MedImmune. She is Adjunct Faculty at Georgetown University where she lectures on Commercialization Strategy. Stephanie received her MBA from The Fuqua School of Business and lives with her family in Arlington.
1. What was your first job/role in biotech?
My very first role was as a Clinical Study Coordinator (CSC) in an oral surgery practice. I was actually working at the practice as a surgical assistant while completing my last semester of undergrad and they were approached by a large pharma company to participate in a clinical study for an investigational analgesic. Turns our third molar extractions are a very good pain model for clinical trials. The Surgeon new nothing about clinical trials (and neither did I at that time), but the company required him to have a “CSC” on staff and he asked if I’d do it. I said yes and we were on a plane to Austin, TX the next weekend for an Investigator Meeting. I spent my Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday screening and ultimately enrolling, college students in need of third molar extraction and some extra cash! After we became the top enrolling site, a clinical research organization (CRO) approached us about building a phase 1 facility in the adjoining office suite: the surgeon said “yes” and I became an employee of the CRO. I spent another 6 months or so with the company before taking a full-time position with a Regulatory Affairs consultancy focused on Medical Device.
2. What can you tell us about your current role and company?
For the past 6 years I’ve been a recovering biopharma executive and a teacher. Said differently, I’m an independent consultant and adjunct faculty at Georgetown University. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside industry leaders of many companies right here in the MD/DC area and learning from my remarkable GU students.
My roles span both strategic and operational engagements. Sometimes I am valuing clinical stage assets, other times I am advising on commercialization strategy and operational design, and sometimes I’m building functions and capabilities in a leadership capacity. These past 4 years all of my engagements have been local to the MD/DC/VA region and I will say every company is always looking for good talent.
Most recently I’ve been working with Emergent BioSolutions, headquartered in Gaithersburg, MD.
3. What do you think is the biggest gap in this industry, and how would you suggest closing it?
I’m not sure if it’s a gap, but it is something I think we should be seriously considering in the next 5-year planning horizon. As our science progresses toward more and more customized/personalized medicine the volume-based model that much of the industry is accustomed to could see significant reductions. This will change the commercialization model requiring us to think differently about everything from manufacturing to market access.
4. What advice do you have for somebody looking to get into your field in this industry?
My path has not been a traditional one. I tripped into my first role in the industry, but every move there after was driven by a genuine curiosity for learning. It wasn’t until after I had spent nearly 10 years on the clinical development side of the house in a variety of positions that I started actively pursuing a path to move into the business side of the house. I contemplated Law School and Business School; landed on B-school and transitioned to my first Commercial role half-way through my 2 year program. So my advice, is to get in, accept the risk of learning new things, pay attention to the things that give you energy (you enjoy doing them) and the things that don’t (your least favorite parts of the role) and use every experience (good and bad) to guide your longer term career ambitions. Talent is not defined by any single characteristic and the broader your experiences are the broader your perspectives become.
5. If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs—such as food and water—were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you and why?
Wow, this question reminds me of Business School interviews, “If you were an appliance, which one would you be?”. Maybe it is reflective of my current state of mind after 9 weeks in quarantine;
Item #1: I’d have to say a photo album of my family and friends. Even as an introvert, social isolation has been hard.
Item #2: Definitely a water squirter! It doesn’t require a power source, and it has proven to be quite entertaining for the entire family (yes we EACH have one) these past few hot days!
Thanks to Stephanie Duatschek for participating in the ‘5 Questions with BioBuzz’ series and stay tuned for more interviews with others from across the BioHealth Capital Region.