Shaji Procida, Eisai

Shaji Procida
Teaming up to drive innovation

Company: Eisai
Title: President and Chief Operating Officer

Shaji Procida has enjoyed a long tenure at Eisai, joining the company in 1998 as the manager of financial consolidations and rising through the ranks before assuming her current role as chief operating officer in April 2014. But despite her personal victories within the industry, Procida attributes much of her career success to collaborations with colleagues.

"There's nothing more powerful than having a team move toward something versus an individual," Procida told FierceBiotech. "Part of growing in your career is looking for moments of learning … so your breadth of experience can be wider when you grow into a leadership role."

After earning a bachelor's degree in business administration from Pace University and completing an internship in the computer technology field, Procida set her sights on biotech. Her interests always geared toward the pharmaceutical side of the industry, especially agriculture and animal health, Procida said.

Procida has faced her fair share of ups and downs throughout her time at Eisai. In 2011, the company announnced a corporate realignment to counter the loss of patent protections on top-selling Alzheimer's disease treatment Aricept, eliminating 600 jobs in the process.

But a bright point came in 2013, when the company gave Arena Pharmaceuticals ($ARNA) $60 million up front to expand an agreement to market its weight-loss drug Belviq. Earlier this year, the company inked an agreement with CVS Caremark to provide more than half of insured Americans with access to the drug and added 200 contract reps to its sales team.

"Challenge is how you define it," Procida told FierceBiotech. "Financially, how do we help shift things so it's not a challenge and it's an opportunity? If we have a market with a big unmet need in obesity, how do we get access in that market?"

Overcoming obstacles within the industry requires passion and the ability to challenge the norm, Procida said. But for women in any industry, having the confidence to spearhead difficult conversations is critical, she added.

"Know what your passion is, have a love for what you do. Don't be afraid to challenge, don't be afraid to have your voice heard. Work with all your colleagues throughout the organization to make that happen," Procida said.

For more:
With DTC on a roll, Eisai plots another 200-rep boost to Belviq sales team
Eisai bets another $60M on Arena's Belviq with worldwide marketing deal
Fresh off a TV ad launch, Eisai plots another 200-rep add to Belviq sales force

-- Emily Wasserman (email | Twitter)

Shaji Procida, Eisai
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