Greg appeared on the Venari Podcast's CCO series
Launching a new product in life sciences can be a thrilling if challenging undertaking. It requires meticulous planning, a strong value proposition, and effective market access strategies – and Greg Gangemi, recently Chief Commercial Officer at Baudax Bio, knows all about this. He has plenty of experience in sales, marketing, and market access to draw on – and Joe Knight, our Life Sciences Commercial Consultant, was delighted to host Greg on an episode of the Venari Podcast’s Chief Commercial Officer series. Here, Greg shares his insights on product launches, the importance of building a supportive network, and more.
Lessons from product launches
‘Launching a product is one of the most exciting things you can do,’ says Greg. He notes that knowing where the economic and clinical value of your product line up is crucial – as is knowing what position you wish to occupy in the marketplace. ‘I’m somewhat biased on the market access side’, he notes. ‘You need to be able to represent your brands to the payers’, because customers will want to navigate your offerings smoothly. Additionally, Greg emphasises the importance of building robust plans and staying responsive to market feedback, while flexibility and agility during the launch phase are essential for adapting to customer needs and maximising traction. Finally, he believes that ‘there is no substitute for your leadership team to be in the field at launch, looking at the selling process and the customer engagement process with a different set of eyes’. The first 18 month will determine the overall success of the launch, Greg notes. ‘After that, you can flex and maximise.’
In response to the challenges faced by Baudax Bio during the pandemic, Greg started Joyned Together, a networking group aimed at supporting professionals in their job searches and career transitions. Joyned Together focuses on helping professionals to polish their skills, collaborate, and network for new opportunities. ‘If anyone has been out there looking for work as a result of downsizing, it can be a very isolating and lonely place,’ Greg notes. Recognising the isolation and loneliness that can accompany downsizing or job hunting, the group provides a supportive environment for executives, offering mentorship, sponsorship, and collective expertise. (Please reach out to Greg if you’d like to be included in the next session!)
Advice for aspiring CCOs
For execs who aspire to become Chief Commercial Officers in the life sciences industry, Greg stresses the multifaceted nature of the role. Understanding the specifics of the position within different companies is essential: ‘In some organisations, your CEO might be externally facing, working with investors, working with the marketplace,’ he says. ‘The CCO might be inward facing, focused solely on commercial ops. But that could be very different elsewhere.’ Thinking globally and focusing on team development are crucial attributes for an effective CCO. Pushing your team to improve is key – though Greg is careful to note that good CCOs should ‘challenge the concept or idea rather than the person’, creating a safe environment for respectful debate. A CCO’s strong organisational presence will help to develop leadership skills in your team – as will investing in mentorship and sponsorship opportunities.
Building a successful commercial team
When it comes to building a commercial team ahead of a product launch, Greg highlights the significance of hiring talent that complements each other's strengths and breadth of experience. Inclusivity and culture start where the most recent hire enters, ‘because you should build on the diversity to strengthen the team.’ Greg mentions the importance of personal networks and word of mouth for building trusted contacts – as well as using recruitment professionals ‘who understand what you’re looking for’. Transparency about your team’s culture and non-negotiables should make new talent feel ‘very comfortable’ about working with you – but that requires commitment to openness. ‘You can’t say it and then not do it, because it’s all about trust in a launch,’ Greg notes. ‘You want people to give you bad news, to feel comfortable to say when something isn’t working. If you don’t model that, you won’t get it.’
Timing and strategic investments
Greg recommends bringing the commercial leadership Team, as well as the CCO, on board around 24-30 months before approval ‘to have a commercial point of view’ when starting to build Phase 3 endpoints. Additionally, incorporating Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) data from Phase 3A and 3B is essential for a strong launch. He also recommend ds bringing in the VP of Marketing/Market Access, as well as the VP or Head of Operations during this period. In small companies, you will need talent who can talk strategy as well as budgets; ‘in larger companies with larger brand budgets, you can afford to diversify and have stratification of roles’. In Greg’s view the timing ‘all comes down to money. It all comes down to how well financed the company is, and are these strategic investments it wants to make and can afford? [...] As a Head of Commercial, you need to be very mindful of that.’
Future trends in commercial strategy
Looking ahead, Greg stresses the importance for companies to adopt an omnichannel approach in this increasingly digitalised world. He also notes that ‘you really need to know what your access strategy is from a patient acquisition standpoint.’ Understanding how patients will access therapies upfront is crucial; ‘you can’t just wait to see what happens. You need to have those plans baked [from] day one at launch, because the customer won’t forget it.’