Magazine article New Zealand Management

Managers Abroad: Michael Feehan: CEO Observant, Massachusetts, US

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Managers Abroad: Michael Feehan: CEO Observant, Massachusetts, US

Article excerpt

What prompted you to seek work outside New Zealand?

Initially it was a matter of academic opportunity. I had done research work in New Zealand that led to a fellowship at the John Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore. As a postdoctoral fellow and then visiting assistant professor, I carried out preventative mental health research there but returned to New Zealand when my visa expired. Then in 1996, I immigrated to the US to join the faculty at Harvard Medical School's Department of Psychiatry as assistant professor of psychology and stayed on, becoming a US citizen in 2006.

Can you provide a sketch of your current role?

I founded the medical market research and consulting company Observant LLC with my partner Rich Durante in 2003 and we were joined by a third partner, Erik Coats, last year.

As CEO, my role is to provide strategic vision and direction for the firm, ensuring we stayon top of major trends in the US and worldwide pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, and that the firm's value proposition to those industries is engaging and needed. A critical role at present is managing growth in a way that ensures we have the capability to serve multiple clients effectively, without the loss of in-depth client engagement. Observant LLC has grown rapidly from its inception and is now a full-service preferred research supplier to several Fortune 100 pharmaceutical firms, and smaller biotechnology companies developing innovative products.

How does it fit into your career path?

Throughout my academic research I was always focused on the potential application of theoretical findings. In 2000, wanting to become more applied in my work I joined a marketing consultancy in Boston and helped grow its pharmaceutical practice. A consistent theme in my work as an academic and as a consultant has been to better understand deep-seated motivators and drivers of behaviour. I really enjoy the challenge of pushing the limits of conventional approaches to research in an effort to truly understand why people behave the way they do--and to develop strategies to produce change in these individuals, organisations, or populations.

What are its main challenges?

One of the biggest challenges the pharmaceutical industry is facing is how to capitalise on the rapidly increasing wealth of genomic data becoming available. Although the era of "personalised medicine" is some way off, eventually the methods by which therapies will be delivered to individuals and populations will be truly transformed. …

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