OWL Interview with Bob Dempsey
Building a Franchise, a Team and Success in Ophthalmics
OWL: Shire has been a huge supporter of OWL and we are thrilled to have you as our first member of the Champion Circle – which is a new membership level launched in January 2017. What motivated you to become a member of OWL?
Mr. Dempsey: I believe OWL was a critical organization for Shire to partner with as we entered the Ophthalmics space. I remember attending a meeting a few years ago and the leadership talked about their mission and the importance of collaborating with professionals across industry and patient care, and that really resonated with me. I knew it would be important for Shire, as a new organization, to become an active participant. I continue to encourage our team members to become involved. I am extremely proud of Beth Marsh, Susan Benton, Vic Noble and others on our team for their dedication and contributions during OWL meetings.
OWL: Four years ago, Shire entered into Ophthalmics. Now you have your first FDA-approved product, Xiidra®, and a pipeline of assets in early-to-late-stage development. Can you tell us more about your vision and approach to building the franchise from the ground up?
Mr. Dempsey: The interesting thing about ophthalmics is that despite advances in eye care technology, we think that it’s marked by a bit of an innovation vacuum; there are some areas of unmet patient needs. That’s where we’re focused — on making valuable and meaningful contributions where we have opportunities to make a difference. Our vision is now a reality and most importantly, we’re making a difference in the lives of patients and eye care professionals who are in need of new treatment advances. We also built a strong team of category experts who are all contributing to the overall success of the franchise.
OWL: Can you tell us more about your team and your culture within the ophthalmics franchise?
Mr. Dempsey: I’ve worked in eye care for nearly 25 years now, and I’ve seen many different teams and working environments. And I have to say, this group of unbelievable smart, dedicated, and creative people stand out to me. We’ve taken a unique approach to building our team of high-caliber category experts. We call it “cognitive diversity” – a collaboration of different experiences and perspectives that collectively provides us with a wider lens and a more profound approach to our work. Our team is entrepreneurial in spirit and determined to make a difference in the lives of patients.
We also embrace the changes occurring in ophthalmics where more women, both on the industry and physician sides, are taking the lead in making important and critical advancements in this important field. I am excited by this, and fully support OWL’s work to make this happen. One of our hallmarks is hiring and providing opportunities for the advancement of women.
Our extended ophthalmic team includes women leaders, among others:
• Vic Noble, Head of Marketing
• Kathy Kobe, Head of Sales
• Susan Benton, Head of Business Development
• Beth Marsh, Commercial Strategy Lead
• Michelle Nguyen, Consumer Marketing Lead,
• Christie Markowitz, ECP Marketing Lead
OWL: Ophthalmics is a highly competitive category. What are you doing differently?
Mr. Dempsey: We are active participants with so many professional eye care organizations and we regularly interact with optometrists, ophthalmologists, technicians, and practice administrators – those in the early stages of their career as well as our seasoned experts – to better understand how we can help address their needs.
OWL: So many people consider you a mentor. What advice can you give someone building a career in eye care?
Mr. Dempsey: One of the reasons I love eye care is this community. I’ve found it to be challenging and rewarding, and there are so many people who have given me tremendous support.
And, this is a community that is big on networking, so take every opportunity to meet and talk to others in eye care. OWL is a great proponent of that. I would also challenge you to think outside the box, and explore ways to do things differently. Finally, I would say that people are critically important to your work, whether they are your colleagues, KOLs, clients, or patients. Give them the time and attention they deserve, show appreciation, and build a lasting rapport with them.