An exceptional group of people who love what they do will lead Day 1 discussions. 

Preparing to launch the first ever Pharma PPM Toolbox in the United States, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this new market. Will people trust me and my company, EBCG, when they probably never even heard of our successful European conference? Will industry experts in the US share our enthusiasm towards innovation, interactivity and personal approach? Will they welcome “our“ kind of conference and agree to speak at it? Confession: I was terrified.

How One „Yes“ Changed Everything

Then I got the first „yes“ from the man who would become our keynote speaker, Eric Towler, Director of Recombinant Coagulation Projects from CSL Behring. „Hi Kristina, I should be able to do this.“  With this yes, a rollercoaster ride entitled The Pharma PPM Toolbox has started. To say I was thrilled that this renowned expert with over 20 years of experience agreed to participate in our event is an understatement. As Leigh Shultz (Executive Director, Global Project Management, Merck), who had worked with Eric in Merck and would soon follow him on to our speaker panel, said of him: “Eric was recognized in our organization for his teaching and mentoring skills, and walking by his office, it was not unusual to find him at  the white board, explaining a concept or brainstorming solutions. He is never afraid to speak up for what is right or to ask a difficult question. Eric was an asset to our organization, and his leadership, scientific background, and solid project management skills set him apart from his peers. He is a great asset to these kinds of conferences and loves to share his experiences.” I have no doubt that Eric is going to kick it off in grand fashion with his session “The Why, What and How of Project and Portfolio Management” on January 20th.

Thoughts on Collaboration, Risk and Leadership

I am happy to report our speaker panel is now chock full of experts just like Eric who have agreed to take part in the inaugural US Pharma PPM Toolbox.  Leigh will give an inspirational talk on Day 1: “Growing Project Managers: Managing and Developing a Team of Talented Drug Developers.“ She will offer her view on critical competencies for project managers and selecting and developing talent, plus she will explain the fine line between managing project managers and managing their projects. “Leigh’s knowledge of drug development is impressively comprehensive. In terms of Leadership skills, my experience is that Leigh fits almost any definition of a leader one may apply and I have found her to be the utlimate professional. She is also an excellent speaker, so the conference will be enhanced by her presentation,“ describes Eric.

Day 1 will consist of many more talks of high relevance for both project and portfolio management professionals. We are very happy that Rich Sonneblick from Enrich has decided to join us again. He absolutely wowed the audience at our last European event and any mention of him, anywhere is filled with nothing but respect and admiration for his vast knowledge. Paul Andrews from UCB will share his experiences with identifying & planning for risks and opportunities, Randy Lane from Roche will focus on cross-functional collaborations and Bill Izzo from AstraZeneca give a talk on assessing organizational change and minimizing the impact to project execution.  Shan Rahman from Takeda, who is currently responsible for setting clear project goals for team members from different geographies and then see them attained, will talk about long distance leadership and utilizing abilities and skills of a physically “scattered“ team. Liz Somers from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai will offer her view on PMO in a hybrid academic/business environment. Another enthusiastic presenter is Paraminder Talwar from Apotex, formerly a Global Director of  Project Management. He is an expert on Benefits & Value Management, which is also the title of his hands-on workshop. Param will explain how this can help companies save substantial amount of money in terms of efficiency, better process and less re-work from a project/program management perspective. Or you can choose a concurrent workshop lead by Darshan Shah from AstraZeneca, focused on running effective and productive meetings.

These workshops will be followed by an evening cocktail reception, where all this new knowledge will be absorbed with help of delicious food and drinks. My colleagues from EBCG and I can’t wait to get to know all of you personally!

And the rest of the conference? Look for my follow-up article about hyper-interactive Day 2. Coming soon!



This article was written by Kristina Priecelova, Conference Program Manager at EBCG. Kristina is the driving force behind some of our most successful healthcare conferences such as the Pharmaceutical PPM Toolbox series and Medical Devices 3P Forum.


Like what you’re reading? Check out my previous article: Difficult Beginnings and Improbable Successes: Our Journey To The US Pharma PPM Toolbox