The Vanguard Forum for Life Sciences Leaders

The online forum was held from noon - noon on October 21 and 22, with eight virtual sessions over the two days.

Vanguard focuses uniquely on pragmatic, real-world leadership challenges for top executives like you. We have been working with C-suite colleagues for more than seven years of highly impactful programs.

Session leaders were deeply experienced CEOs, Board members, and other leadership experts. 

Participants learned from the sessions — and each other. 



  • Cameron Durrant, Chairman and CEO, Humanigen


  • Ken Banta, Founder and Principal, The Vanguard Group for Leadership

  • Charles Wohlforth, Author and Strategic Advisor


  • Mike Atieh, Board Chair, ElectroCore Inc.; Board Member, Immatics

  • Stephen Brengle, Principal, Korn Ferry

  • Alisa Cohn, CEO, Alisa Cohn & Associates

  • Matt Davis, Strategic Communication Consultant, Matt Davis Communications

  • Cameron Durrant, Chairman and CEO, Humanigen

  • Amber Edwards, Chief Commercial Officer, Alastin Inc.

  • Daniel Eramian, Co-Founder, Opus Biotech

  • Mike Gaffney, Managing Director, Bancroft LLC

  • Julian Gangolli, Board Member, Revance Therapeutics, Krystal Biotech, Outlook Therapeutics

  • Jason Grenfell-Gardner, Chairman, Pfenex

  • Carl Guess, Executive Presentation Coach, Elevator Speech

  • Jason Hanson, President and CEO, enGene

  • Rick Heinick, Founder and Board Chair, TearClear

  • Michael Hyter, Chief Diversity Officer, Korn Ferry

  • Charlotte Jones-Burton, Vice President, Otsuka Pharmaceutical

  • Matt Meyer, Chief Corporate Development Officer, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati

  • Vivek Ramaswamy, Founder and CEO, Roivant Sciences

  • Dickie Steele, Partner, McKinsey & Company


Leading into the Unknown: The new roles of CEOs and C-suite leaders

Recovery from the pandemic crisis will demand new and unexpected leadership from CEOs and C-suite leaders. This must begin with a clear-eyed assessment of what has changed, and what a good future would look like. This session also explores how executives can accelerate recovery and build high performance by focusing on critical factors of leadership, including self-knowledge, top team selection and leadership, and board relations.

The founder’s journey

Founders confront special challenges as they evolve into leaders of a rapidly growing and changing organization. As this discussion will articulate, it is critical that founders recalibrate their role as the company transforms. This includes assessing their own leadership strengths and weaknesses, developing broader leadership bench strength, and continuously evaluating their role and relevance to the organization.

Turning the pandemic challenges into positive change: The opportunity
to improve from Covid

The unique challenges of the pandemic open great opportunities — if you can find them. This workshop develops pragmatic top leadership skills to build your business in the wake of the pandemic, including rethinking strategy, processes, and talent.

Do you need a DC strategy?

Earlier stage and mid-size companies sometimes wonder whether they need to address FDA and government relations in a systematic fashion. Often, the answer is “yes.” That is because effective beltway relationships are based on trust that is built over time and a strong understanding of how decisions are really made. This session builds a pragmatic framework for how to handle these matters smartly and efficiently.

What have we learned from the pandemic about building and leading high-performance teams?

Many top leaders focus on strategy, process, and structure. But the success of newer companies is most defined by the culture of the team. Post pandemic, every life sciences leader will need to evaluate what needs to change in people and culture. This session will dive into the best ways of intentionally creating a high-performance way of working, and how to ensure that this culture becomes infused into the DNA of the organization. The discussion will also cover what new and different capabilities may be needed in the pandemic recovery period.

If diversity drives performance, how do you achieve it?

Diversity is clearly a societal good. But it also drives higher performance for organizations. Diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their less diverse competitors. But how do you make diversity, equity and inclusion actually happen in your teams? Where will the people come from, given the relative lack of diversity in the current life sciences pipeline? This session will assess the real-world challenges, and hear from colleagues who have implemented strategies that worked.

What do investors want from you now?

In six months’ time, what will your investor narrative be — and what will your investors be expecting? Will things be essentially unchanged, or does everything change? In this period, it will be critical to effectively communicate the strategy and execution of the leadership team. Now more than ever, we face a tension between investor expectations of certainty and the uncertainties of real-world business. This session brings perspectives of investors, advisors, and experienced CEOs to bear on what will work best, and what will not.

Leading from a distance

Communication is a critical threshold skill without which we cannot be effective leaders. But the arrival of the coronavirus forced a radical change in how we relate to our teams, with online meetings substituting for face-to-face discussions, and emails and Slack messages taking the place of one-on-one conversations. Those who cannot adapt will be like silent film stars in the age of talkies, hopelessly trying to motivate and inspire colleagues on clunky, boring Zoom calls, while they go on mute and check their email. In this session, a trio of independent communication experts provides coaching tips and examples of mistakes to introduce key concepts in effective online executive communication. Later, they will critique individual participants’ real-time communication efforts and provide constructive feedback.

Closing Discussion

  • Key take-aways
  • What will change on Monday Morning
  • Next steps for continuing our work together



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Roivant Sciences is a valued contributor.