Paul Meade, a 25-year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry, founded Thought Leader Select in 2006. Throughout his career, Paul served in several leadership positions in sales, marketing, and strategic planning, culminating in his role of director of worldwide commercial development for predictive medicine at GlaxoSmithKline.
After leaving GSK, Paul launched two companies, Clear Point Health, in 2005, and Thought Leader Select, in 2006. Paul’s work with these two companies entails marketing planning, consulting for research and development and clinical operations, as well as his breakthrough work with medical expert collaborations for the pharmaceutical industry.
The Thought Leader Select Blog sat down with Paul to discuss his industry experience and his professional contribution to Thought Leader Select.
TLS Blog: Good afternoon, Paul. Why did you start Thought Leader Select?
Paul Meade: About a year before starting the company, I had begun consulting with the health industry with my partner, Lisa Smith, through our company, Clear Point Health. We were taking on a number of projects, working with medical affairs teams, marketing teams, and research and development groups within the industry.
One of our large clients came to me and told me that, even though they’d been working with thought leaders for over ten years, they realized how little they really knew about them. When they sat down to consolidate all of their knowledge about their medical experts in one database, they realized how little information they really had on these people and that this lack of information was hampering their effectiveness in working with key opinion leaders. When they asked if I could help, I said, “Sure!”
Lisa and I sat down and developed several professional categories to use in our analysis of thought leaders, and we added these categories to the ones our client was already using—areas like publishing and clinical research. We then developed a methodology that would differentiate each physician, according to their documented skills and experiences. The idea that there’s one specific template is a myth—KOLs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are very proficient in publishing, while others are particularly experienced in working with committees and advisory boards.
I felt like we’d uncovered a huge need for the industry, and we had developed a customized methodology that would match thought leaders with specific development needs for pharmaceutical companies. We had come up with something that was also very ethical and would meet the most stringent transparency requirements as well.
TLS Blog: How do your academic and/or professional background inform your work at Thought Leader Select?
Paul Meade: After finishing my master’s degree in biomedical sciences, I worked in research for a couple of years and then took an unusual turn in my career by becoming a sales representative for Merck in Canada. After working in sales for a few years, I entered the marketing side of the business– I remember interviewing with a medical affairs official within Merck, and they found it refreshing that someone with a scientific background was entering the marketing field within the company.
I ended up spending 10 years with Merck, and then I worked for 15 years with GlaxoSmithKline. During my career, I worked in sales, marketing, and research and development, with my last role at GSK leading worldwide commercial development for predictive medicine.
When I embarked upon my second career as a consultant to the industry, I just knew I could do this better than anybody, since I had worked with medical experts throughout my time at Merck and GSK. I had the understanding of what people in marketing and medical roles need in terms of their collaborations with thought leaders. If I were an IT guy, I suppose I could build the shiniest database in the world. But since I come from the same roles as the people we now serve at Thought Leader Select, my team and I are building services that fill various needs for knowledge about key opinion leaders.
Just this year, I finished a Master of Public Health degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, and that’s really informing my work, too. I’ve always had a passion for ethics and transparency in the health industry, and this has renewed my focus on always keeping patients first in everything we do.
TLS Blog: What do you enjoy most about your work at Thought Leader Select?
Paul Meade: The people. I love working with our clients—these are some really great people who are trying to bring the next generation of medicines to the market for better public health. I especially enjoy working with our team at Thought Leader Select. We have crafted an environment that promotes creativity and achievement, and we have filled our team with people from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives. We have a lot of fun at this company, and I really enjoy seeing the fruits of my hardworking team’s creativity.
TLS Blog: How do you channel your energy outside of Thought Leader Select?
Paul Meade: I’m a pilot, and I’ve been volunteering for years with the Civil Air Patrol. It’s a volunteer organization, a non-profit auxiliary of the US Air Force. I really enjoy working with the organization, and I have used our Thought Leader Select methodology there, too. We studied all of our volunteers, based on their skills and experiences, so that we could produce cross-functional teams that would optimize the entire organization.
We were able to find groups that worked well with each other, no matter the task. That’s what is really great about what we do—we enable groups to work together to achieve goals, a sum that’s greater than any of the individual parts.
TLS Blog: We know you like to read. . .
Paul Meade: I just finished a great book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It’s about a black woman who had cancer, and they used cells from her tumors to promote research at Johns Hopkins. From her cells came the famous HeLa cell line, which has led to many pieces of breakthrough research in multiple therapeutic areas and disease states. While the book celebrates the medical advancements made through her cell lines, it also discusses several ethical questions brought to light through the years, such as informed consent—she never agreed to the use of her cells for research purposes. This book has been very helpful to me, in helping me to continue to see the right thing to do in any circumstance.