Sara Demy on Biotech CEOs

Sara Demy, CEO, Demy-Colton; Founder, Biotech Showcase

Bio and Contact Info


0:00 Biotech Showcase, where the action is

3:53 Biotech CEOs cut from a different cloth

12:56 Topic fatigue?

15:52 What’s the challenge for the scientist CEO?

19:10 How is the industry doing with gender equality, sexual harassment?

Our topic today: biotech leadership. What makes a good biotech CEO? Are there unique issues to biotech and diagnostics that shape and demand a different kind of leadership?

But first an introduction to our guest. Each January after we put down the champagne glass, after we’ve danced in the new year, all of us in the field of biotech, pharma, diagnostics, and digital medicine feel the pull of another annual dance: the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. And each year this second dance fills ever more ball rooms and spills out into ever more hallways, streets, cabs, pubs, restaurants and bars. There are “survival kits” for this dance.

But while it’s called the JP Morgan conference, in fact, much (most?) of the excitement takes place at the sister conference, the Biotech Showcase which explodes with the energy of the up and coming.

Sara Demy is the founder of the Biotech Showcase, reaching next month it’s 10th anniversary. Formerly at BIO (Biotechnology Industry Organization), she has worked directly with CEOs for many years and has gathered some ideas on biotech leadership. And in what turns out to be more of a tribute than a tutorial, she starts out by saying that the biotech CEO is “cut from a different cloth.”

"They lead a company that has no products, that's built on science, that may or may not bear fruit in the future. They have to raise a lot of money. They're not making money. They're not selling a product. But they have an end game in mind. That end game is what I think carries the successful CEOs through. And that end game is treating patients."

We end with a question about how the industry is doing on the topics of gender equality and sexual harassment. The annual JP Morgan has been known for parties unkind to women, and Sara says offending companies have turned their attitude around and are making amends.

The Biotech Showcase runs again January 8th, 9th and 10th, 2018.