“Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create.”
Alex Zwyer, the CEO of the globally acclaimed NLS-1 Pharma AG (NLS-1), can be portrayed as the leader who possesses this life-enriching wisdom.
“The entire purpose of life can never and must never be the career or business. That is an inordinate investment with illusory Return on Investment. I always try to be a balanced and integrated person. No level of career or business success will compensate for lack of meaningful friendships, family, romantic love, spiritual enrichment, recreation and contribution,” so observes Alex.
The Fascinating Journey
Alex started his career as a marketing assistant in a mid-size pharma company and successfully made it to the rooftop of that firm within 15 years. He held key positions such as Regional Director Latin America, Global Head Marketing & Sales, and Executive Vice President Global Markets. He was globally responsible for Marketing, Sales, Regulatory Affairs and Medical Affairs.
Alex is a natural leader and strategist, who has a track record of producing extraordinary results during a career spanning more than 25 years. A creative entrepreneur, Alex is highly result-oriented, performance-focused and excellence seeker. Armored with all the leadership skills, he is a multi-lingual negotiator with a strong international management background. Alex earned an MBA from the State University of New York at Albany and an executive MBA from the Lorange Institute of Business Zurich.
This natural leader possesses expertise in developing purpose-built organizational structure while balancing cash burn, development objectives and resource allocation. Apart from that, he shows brilliance in strategic planning, alliance development and partnerships. Alex has highly developed emotional intelligence, demonstrating a strong ability to influence thinking and build lasting relationships. He describes himself as an ‘outside-the-box’ thinker who is committed to the highest levels of professional and personal excellence. Leadership and pioneering new ideas fuel Alex’s passion and drive.
Journey from an Entrepreneur to a Leader—‘the essentials’
According to Alex, ‘Creativity’, ‘Direction’ and ‘Delegation’ are the three main essentials to become a successful leader.
Creativity: One has to be creative in the use of limited resources, and have the ability to catch a potential investor’s eye – especially if he or she is looking further than his or her circle of friends and family for funding – you need to see a future that other people can’t and you must have faith in your vision when others may not.
Direction: Understanding that financial goals are extremely important, direction is not limited to money matters. It also includes having a clear idea about your value proposition and effectively articulating your vision to stakeholders in a way that is measurable, inspiring and achievable.
Delegation: Hiring the right team who you trust to believe in and respect your vision is of upmost importance at this stage. Understanding your organization’s needs and hiring the most competent employees with a focus on workforce diversity (gender, experience, skills, ideas) is essential. Delegation requires accountability to deliver on mutually agreed objectives and investing in governance processes and systems to track financial and employee performance is key.
NLS-1 Pharma AG- Safeguarding the Brain throughout all Stages of Life
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a highly genetic, brain-based syndrome characterized by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. According to American Journal of Psychiatry 2007, in the USA, approximately 6.4 million people under the age of 18 have been diagnosed with ADHD at some point at their lives while over 10 million adults in the USA suffer with ADHD as per a report by the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2014.
NLS-1 is a Swiss-based clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing innovative and more effective, safe treatments for ADHD and other CNS disorders. Behavioural disorder like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects children and adults and impacts negatively across all aspects of their life, from schooling to work to relationships. Most treated patients in the USA currently take simulants which have a significant risk of abuse, misuse and diversion and other associated safety risks. Safer and more convenient treatment options are important and can significantly affect the quality of life for children and adults affected by this condition. This dilemma is why a company like NLS-1 matters.
Disruptions Changing the Industry Scenario
“It’s fascinating to witness how disruptive innovations can truly change the way healthcare is delivered and medicine is practiced. Enormous technological changes are heading our way and they will transform pharma too”, Alex focuses on the promises technology brings in.
He points out some of the key trends that have impacted the industry:
Empowered patients: Empowered patients leverage technology to become better educated as they strive to become equal partners with their caregivers. They do research, gather information and keep informed about medical advances made in the care of their conditions. In ADHD, parents and patients take an especially active role in the selection of their individual treatment.
Gamifying Health: The incentives pharma companies are currently using to motivate patients and medical professionals to use a certain product are at risk of becoming obsolete. They need to turn to gamification to engage people where they are online, which can help improve both adherence and pharma’s image.
New kinds of reality: Augmented reality and virtual reality with devices such as Google’s digital contact lenses or Oculus Rift give us a new view of the world through digital information.
Home sequencing of genomes: The cost of DNA sequencing is dropping constantly. When it’s finally available to the majority the whole concept of prescribing medication will change as individualized treatment become more common.
The quantified self: Body sensors, inside and out measure health parameters in a comfortable and cheap way to provide crucial data. The success of clinical trials largely depends on how medical professionals collect data about their patients.
The end of human experimentation: The end of human experimentation through detailed simulation of human physiology. We live in a barbaric era where new drugs are tested directly on people. What if thousands of drug targets could be tested on billions of simulations that model the physiology of the human body in seconds with supercomputers? No more ethical dilemmas, just letting science do its work. It will be cheaper, faster and more reliable.
Supercomputers: Medical decisions made with artificial intelligence using the power of supercomputers will revolutionize everyday medicine. Cognitive computers, such as IBM Watson, have been used in many ways to analyze big data, not only in genomic research but also in biotechnology. This will change the way new drugs are found.
Nanorobots: Nanorobots in blood could make early diagnoses by constantly measuring any health parameter. If the technology of transporting drugs to the actual cellular targets in nanocages becomes viable, the pharma industry will have to start producing different end products to make sure they are compatible with nanotechnology.
Creating a Rich Work-Culture
“I’m always readily willing to listen and make decisions based on a diverse range of views”, asserts Alex. The leader with charismatic power, guides or coaches his employees himself, repudiating any dictatorship. The generous leader never hesitates to give credit to his subordinates for the success and achievements of the organization, rather than claiming it for himself.
Alex empowers his employees by providing free reign on business functions. “I seek to inspire others through a level of personal belief in the business venture. I motivate people through positive reinforcement and rewards. Last but not least, I serve people, looking out for their best interest”, he concludes.
Words of Advice for Future Entrepreneurs
Alex is an award-winning entrepreneur and he has some brilliant advice for the to-be-entrepreneurs. Let’s have a look:
Solutions: A successful start-up will focus on solving a problem and fit the technology to it, not the other way around.
Context: Know your industry and build a solution for its present struggles and future challenges.
Teamwork: Build a squad of driven and reliable experts.
Single-handedly fundraising $15 Mio USD and the successful execution of – what is currently considered as the most successful phase 2 clinical trial in the ADHD space has been marked as the major achievement of NLS-1 under the leadership of Alex.
“The promising phase II results are very encouraging and indicative of the potential for mazindol C.R. to make a difference in the lives of millions of patients suffering from ADHD across the globe,” Alex emphasizes.