John Kelly, a 40-year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry, joined Thought Leader Select in the spring of 2010. Throughout his career, John has served in many leadership posts, directing commercial development and clinical operations for a host of companies in the United Kingdom and Japan. John holds an MBA from Oxford (UK) Brookes University, and has run a successful pharmaceutical consulting firm since 2006. Prior to founding his consulting firm, Moffat-Dickson, Ltd., Kelly established and managed the European operations of Kowa Japan, a Japanese pharmaceutical company with clinical development in Europe, Russia, and India. Kelly also established and managed European operations for another Japanese pharmaceutical concern, Kyowa Hakko, and served as commercial manager for Martindale Pharmaceuticals of the United Kingdom.
The Thought Leader Select Blog sat down with John, via Skype, to discuss his industry experience and his professional contribution to Thought Leader Select.
TLS Blog: Good morning, John. What made you sign on with Thought Leader Select?
John Kelly: When I began talking with Paul Meade (president of Thought Leader Select) and Neil Mellor (principal agent for North America), I could see from the outset that this would be a concept that’s potentially new to a lot of companies. From my experience in commercial development of new medicines, I could see how structuring groups of medical experts would help those processes immensely. When I was in the industry, our method of key opinion leader selection was rather ad hoc in nature. We’d find one KOL, start working with him, and ask him to name another one. We’d go to that doctor and do the same, hoping we had the right people working on the right aspects of the business.
What I loved about Thought Leader Select was the measurable, objective quality that I hadn’t seen before in KOL identification. Companies can choose to take different approaches, but this, to me, seems like the right one, the best one, to implement. It’s a way to drive the business of pharma—commercial development, market access–meeting previously unmet needs for new medicines that only the medical experts themselves can pinpoint. It really gives pharmaceutical companies an idea of what sort of development environment they’re entering at a particular time.
TLS Blog: How do your academic and/or professional background inform your work at Thought Leader Select?
John Kelly: What I bring to the party is that I’ve operated in marketing and drug development at very senior levels—I was even president of one company. So when I’m talking to prospective clients—brand managers, product managers and the like—I’ve been in their seats, experienced the same situations they do. I know what they are looking for, in terms of information, and it gives me a great deal of empathy for them and a strong desire to understand their needs and provide solutions.
>From an academic point of view, having done graduate-level work, I use my ability to dig into each company, gather as much information on what they need. I spend an equal amount of time getting them to understand the level of objectivity Thought Leader Select provides its clients for their unique situations, an invaluable tool in what has been such an ad hoc process for many companies. I want to arm them with the information that will justify what they are doing with medical experts—good, solid data that backs up their strategies for research, new protocols, et cetera when they are speaking with their superiors.
TLS Blog: What do you enjoy most about your work at Thought Leader Select?
John Kelly: I’m a great believer in breaking down boundaries—the challenge of talking to a non-believer and making him a believer! What I’m doing now relates to my days as a representative, showing doctors how effective a new medication could be in improving the health of their patients.
To change minds, you have to be passionate and express that belief to the fullest. Now, when I’m talking to someone in my network of industry contacts, I’m telling them, “You really must see this service—it’s quite special. This is something you genuinely want to hear about.” And when they get it—what a beautiful thing that is! It proves you not only have the service you can believe in, but it also proves you’ve understood their needs and how you can tailor your service to match those needs.
TLS Blog: Final question—how do you spend your down time?
John Kelly: Well, I grew up in Scotland so I’m required to play a lot of golf, which I’ve been doing since the age of seven. I’ve been going at it such a long time, and I’m still no good!
My father was an engineer, and even though I didn’t pursue his profession, he instilled in me a love of how things work. I love reading about mechanical things—I have every issue of the enthusiasts’ club magazines for Alfa Romeo, Mercedes, and Jaguar!
I’m also a student of history, particularly of the time around when I was born—1948. I love studying that period at the end of World War II and just after, seeing what was going on the world when my mother brought me into it.