Thank you, Ludwig, for your very kind introduction. You’ve been a true mentor and inspiration for nearly my entire career.
Actually, it was amusing how I found out about this very special recognition. Ludwig called me to his office. As I walked in, standing there were the heads of HR for Baxter BioScience. Now, naturally, I assumed it was an intervention, but I was very pleasantly surprised with the news – and my sincere thanks to Ludwig and the HR team for their support.
I also owe great thanks to the HBA nominating committee for this recognition, as well as to Jeanne Zucker and Laurie Cooke for their stewardship of the HBA. I’m truly humbled because I’ve been fortunate enough to be mentored by three prior recipients of this award – David Epstein, Alex Gorsky and Kevin Rigby. Undoubtedly their gift of mentorship is one of the reasons I’m standing here today.
I also applaud the three Women of The Year. I’ve heard your stories and they are incredible. You’re certainly bright lights in our industry, as is Ilyssa Levins, the HBA STAR. And congratulations to all of our Rising Stars and Luminaries –- you each have already accomplished much and clearly have bright futures ahead.
As someone who has worked in the healthcare industry for more than 20 years, I’ve always felt driven to serve patients. But it wasn’t until two years ago when I had one of the most inspiring patient-oriented moments of my career.
I’d recently started my position at Baxter and was beginning to learn about hemophilia. For those who may not be aware, hemophilia is a rare congenital disorder affecting about 20,000 people in the U.S. and about 400,000 people worldwide. Hemophilia occurs due to an abnormality in the X chromosome –and since boys have only one X, they’re most affected. Simply described, hemophilia patients lack blood clotting factor and are at risk of suffering a lifetime of bleeds – often in joints –- which can be disabling or even, in the case of intra-cranial bleeds, life-threatening. However, access to the right treatment can have a profound positive impact on patients’ lives.
In 2012, I attended the World Federation of Hemophilia conference in Paris. I had the privilege to meet many people with hemophilia, but two in particular stood out because they were separated by just one generation. The first person I met was a hemophilia patient advocate in his 40’s who walked slowly with a cane as a result of decades of bleeds and damage to his joints.
At the exact same time I was speaking with this man, I was truly inspired to see a young boy with hemophilia racing down the hall in front of his parents. And he was racing because he had completely healthy joints, unlike most with hemophilia from previous generations. In fact, if I wasn’t at a hemophilia conference, I would never have known that this young boy had a rare congenital disease.
This juxtaposition of these two people, separated by just one generation, embodies one of the greatest miracles of modern medicine and speaks volumes about the potential of advancements from our industry. Meeting those patients stands out as one of the defining moments in my career.
For my colleagues and I, stories just like this have inspired us to put forward a lofty vision. At Baxter, we strive to ultimately achieve a ‘bleed-free world.’ This means that we’ll continue to innovate to reduce the number of bleeds patients experience, and to increase access to care worldwide. Delivering on this vision will require many great minds and incredible inspiring leadership. And that’s why mentoring matters.
Mentoring guides us, helps us push boundaries and ultimately reach for a greater good. When you serve as a mentor, you listen, challenge and help others focus on what makes them great. You help them see their blind spots and quiet the inner voice that may hold them back. Your support can help them unlock their potential to be innovators.
Our industry is special. And the leaders we mentor and develop for the next generation, will determine what diseases we’ll cure, which lives we can improve and which patients and societies will have better access to our therapies.
You are all drawn to this HBA event for a reason. And I encourage you to seek out opportunities to mentor those around you. Inspire greatness. Identify those who can benefit from your guidance so we can continue to innovate and tackle some of the toughest health challenges of our time.
In closing, I thank my wonderful, loving family, and I’m fortunate and grateful to have them here with me today. My four amazing children – Tyler, Alex, Sarah and Connor –- you inspire me each day. And to my loving wife, Kim, my best friend, who has been with me since college and through more houses and moves than we care to count, we share this honor.
Thank you for this wonderful award. I’ll be proud to carry forward the HBA mission for years to come.