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very seriously. One of the things you find when you walk into the company is that this is a “patients-first” company. People come to work at Dendreon because they want to do something for patients with cancer, with our first product being for prostate cancer.
X: What worries you about this job, and keeps you up at night?
HB: It’s helpful to have a degree of paranoia when an organization is growing very fast. You need to pay attention to the details. You need to be involved in the key hiring decisions. You need to make sure that your first line of managers are really very able.
Katherine Stueland: We had 190 employees in March, and we started the year with 450. By the time we plan to launch Provenge, we should be at about 600 people.
HB: You’ve got to be intimately involved in many aspects of the business. You’ve really got to pay attention to where the team is just doing great and you can leave them alone, or where they need a little more support and coaching, or where they might need additional resources.
X: What other key slots need to be filled on the management team? Are there certain lieutenants you need to bring in to help you?
HB: There are two sets of positions that I am most focused on right now. We’re looking for a senior vice president of sales and marketing. In fact, the breakfast I just had was with [a job candidate]. And we’re also soon to hire two more vice presidents, who will be manufacturing heads in our second and third manufacturing plants. Those are very important hires. Those are big jobs inside Dendreon, and we are looking to bring in some new talent.
X: What kind of applicants are you getting? Because in talking to people around this meeting, I’m struck by how many Dendreon haters are still out there.
HB: They’re fading fast.
X: People are asking me if they think the drug is going to be approved. I don’t know if it’s jealousy, mistrust, something historical, or what it is, but this still seems like a company that some people love to hate.
HB: I’m new. I’ve been here one and a half weeks. I’ve had, I don’t know, 50-odd meetings this week. Overwhelmingly, the impression I get is that even former skeptics now get it. They now understand this is going to be an important therapeutic. There will always be skeptics out there. Apparently, you’ve met a few. But the impression I get is that the vast majority of people now get the importance of what we’re doing.
X: Are you becoming a talent magnet? Can you draw the kind of people you need to make this drug into a success?
HB: Yes, absolutely. Before I even joined the company, my hiring had been announced [December 10]. And you know how the e-mail addresses at Dendreon are pretty simple. And I picked up my new BlackBerry, about three weeks before my first day. I switched on my BlackBerry, and on my first day, I had e-mails from premier oncology company reps who were saying, … Next Page »
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