Neil Mellor joined Thought Leader Select as its principal business development agent for North America in the spring of 2009. Neil spent over 20 years working at the highest levels of the pharmaceutical industry, including a stint as vice president of business development at Spexell Pharma, a Canadian specialty firm. Mellor has also worked as international public relations manager for Pharmacia (now part of Pfizer), as well as multiple roles at Solvay Pharmaceuticals, including senior product manager for Pantoloc®, director of marketing (interim), and associate director of business development.
The Thought Leader Select Blog recently sat down to catch up with Neil Mellor and learn about his background and how he makes his professional contribution to the work of Thought Leader Select.
TLS Blog: Good morning, Neil. Tell us why you joined Thought Leader Select.
Neil Mellor: I recognized the opportunity, especially in the Canadian market, for the KOL services that Thought Leader Select provides. Traditionally, we’d used influence mapping technology up here, and I felt that, while it was good in some ways, ultimately, it was based on data that was too subjective. I knew, first-hand, that there was a real need for objective, validated research data on KOLs that would help pharma companies manage one of the most important parts of their business—the development of new medicines. I just didn’t feel, as a product manager, that influence mapping really delivered the kind of data that would stand up to our growing needs in working with thought leaders.
Also, I knew Paul Meade (Thought Leader Select’s president) from our time working together at Merck almost 25 years ago. I’ve always really trusted and had faith in Paul as a business mentor. Even 25 years ago, when he was managing me as a pharmaceutical sales rep, he told me almost every day to “put patients first.”
TLS Blog: How does your academic background and/or professional career inform your work at Thought Leader Select?
Neil Mellor: The professional part is so easy. It’s just a seamless connection, since I spent two decades sitting in the exact seats where our clients sit—product manager, business development manager, and marketing. I worked in neurology, gastroenterology, and tobacco control. I also had the opportunity to work with the World Health Organization in Geneva, collaborating between the pharma industry and government agencies to drive smoking cessation campaigns in many countries—I loved this work, unifying pharma executives and physician key opinion leaders to work for a great common purpose.
TLS Blog: What do you like most about your work at Thought Leader Select?
Neil Mellor: I love different aspects of my work at any given time. I love getting involved with different kinds of people who work in health care—product managers, brand managers, business development people, those who work in new product planning. I love working with big companies as well as specialty firms and biotech companies. Working with all of these different constituencies reaffirms for me, on a daily basis, that we are providing a crucial service in helping them work with the right key opinion leaders for the right reasons at the right time.
I also really enjoy collaborating with the research team at Thought Leader Select—they are so conscientious about delivering great work. With each client, I know we can deliver superior KOL work for them because I work with such a great team that really cares.
TLS Blog: One more question—how do you spend your free time away from your work at Thought Leader Select?
Neil Mellor: I’m an avid gardener, and I enjoy cooking and reading—not too much fiction, mainly books that cause me to reflect and seek ways to improve myself. Nothing, however, beats a nice, long walk with my wife!
I should mention how much joy I get from working with the CHLA—the Canadian Healthcare Licensing Association. Besides meeting and getting to know some really wonderful people from the Canadian pharma industry, it’s also great being able to see where these companies are taking the next generation of medicines for better health.