The Best Career Advice from Axovant's CEO

Published: Oct 12, 2017

Here’s the Best Career Advice from Axovant's CEO October 12, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Want career advice? Plenty of people are willing to give it, of course, but when as a chief executive officer you led your early investors a 20,932 percent return on investment, people are more likely to listen.

Meet David Hung

The CEO in question is David Hung, who founded Medivation in October 2003, raised $440 million in public offerings over the life of the company, and then sold it to Pfizer in 2016 for $14.3 billion in cash. And raked in $354 million for himself in the sale.

Shortly after selling Medivation, Hung surprised most everyone by taking on the role of chief executive officer for Axovant Sciences , one of Vivek Ramaswamy’s life science companies. Reportedly, after leaving Medivation, Hung received 20 job offers, ranging from chief executive officer positions to venture capital partnerships. Instead, he chose to helm a biotech startup in one of the riskiest areas of research—Alzheimer’s disease.

Axovant acquired its initepirdine drug candidate for mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease for $5 million from GlaxoSmithKline . It is in the MINSET clinical trial, which looked at 1,315 patients on a stable background therapy of donepezil (Aricept) who will receive either intepirdine or a placebo. Results are expected in late September 2017. [Note: It hasn’t happened as of this writing, but might be the time this article goes out].

Prior to founding Medivation, Hung was president and chief executive officer of ProDuct Health , a medical device company sold to Cytyc in 2001 for $168 million. And before that, he was vice president of Lead Discovery & Development and vice president of New Projects for Chiron.

Hung is a physician (MD) by training, undertaking basic science research fellowships at the Brain Tumor Institute and Cardiovascular Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, and also fellowships in Hematology, Oncology and Transfusion Medicine.

Career Advice: Seek Value

Business Insider recently asked Hung what his best career advice was. He answered: “Prioritize the value of what you’re making over wealth.”

He expanded on that, saying, “One piece of advice I’d probably give to everyone is that there’s a very big difference between creating wealth and creating value. I’m not sure that a lot of the things that are worked on in Silicon Valley necessarily address some of the world’s biggest needs or constitute the great value creation.”

He noted that worldwide, there is still a great need for solutions in healthcare, the environment, energy and poverty. “I think that if you do something important, it should be plenty lucrative, but you can’t make that the goal. The goal should be to create value, and if you create real value, you’ll create wealth. Sometimes I feel that people are doing it a little bit backwards,” he said.

Career Opportunities

Axovant, itself, has a number of career openings in various locations around the world. Examples include:

Associate Director, Clinical Research in New York City. This position calls for a PhD or PharmD and a minimum of five to seven years of biotechnology/pharmaceutical experience, ideally in therapeutic areas related to the central nervous system (CNS). The candidate will act as a key member of a clinical development program focusing on treatments for dementia.

Field Scientific Lead. This position is in the field, involving about 80 percent travel. Advanced scientific degrees, such as MD, PharmD or PhD are strongly preferred with experience in neurology, neuroscience and Alzheimer’s. The individual will develop and maintain professional relationships with scientific experts and ensure high-level scientific exchange regarding Axovant’s commercialized products, clinical development activities, and pipeline products.

Senior Director, Biostatistics in New York. This candidate will lead the company’s biostatistics, data management and programming activities for an entire program area, ensuring that data collected from a clinical trial development program is properly performed, designed, analyzed and presented. The position calls for an MS or PhD in statistics or equivalent field, experience in supervision, and a minimum of 12 years of clinical development experience with statistics, statistical programming, data mining, and design and clinical study analysis.

Medivation is now a part of Pfizer, which has numerous open career positions. Examples include:

Scientist, Medicinal Chemistry at Pfizer in Groton, Conn. Calling for a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or equivalent and three years of experience as a synthetic organic chemist, this position will be part of Pfizer’s Global Research and Development laboratories in Groton. The job is to design, refine and enable synthetic routes to target molecules.

Manager Clinical Pharmacology for Pfizer in La Jolla, Calif. Calling for a PharmD with fellowship, a PhD or MD and solid training in clinical pharmacology, this person will report to a group lead in San Francisco that supports full development of oncology products. The team is the Pfizer Oncology Clin Pharm team, which has about 35 scientists in San Diego and San Francisco.

Immune Assay Research Associate for Pfizer in La Jolla, Calif. This position calls for a Bachelor of Science in life sciences and a year of relevant laboratory experience. The position is in Pfizer’s Cancer Vaccines Immunotherapeutics and focuses implementing cutting-edge immunological techniques and conducting assay work.

All of which sound like they’re about value, working to develop drugs for significant diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer and infectious diseases.

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