The Mix Tape: Ep. 3 — A Focus on Cell Therapy Leadership

The Gene and Cell Therapy industry continues to grow, and with growth comes many brilliantly led startups, filled with wisdom on business management and therapeutic science. With her third appearance as Mix Tape interviewer, Patty Adams talks with Rich Daly, President of CARSgen Therapeutics. CARSgen Therapeutics is a pharmaceutical company focused on innovative CAR-T cell therapies for the treatment of hematological malignancies and solid tumors, with a vision to make cancer curable.

Transcription

Natalie Taylor:

Welcome to the Mix Tape. I’m Natalie.

Valerie McCandlish:

And I’m Valerie. And we have had an amazing week. If you can’t tell, I’m losing my voice a little bit. Had a little too much fun because we had our all company retreat this week.

Natalie Taylor:

We did. We had the best week. It was an incredible couple days of events. Every year Mix brings together all of our teammates to Columbus, usually in the fall for our all company retreat. And it’s the most special tradition that we have. We’ve done it since we’ve started and it’s turned into this two day event. Yes. And this year it was at [inaudible 00:00:49], I would say.

Valerie McCandlish:

I know it was so much fun. Everybody participated and we of course had a costume competition on Wednesday night.

Natalie Taylor:

We had it be themed the ’90s because what a great theme and everyone dressed up, and it was so cool to see everybody’s interpretation of the ’90s as well for the costume contest. Because there are a billion different directions you can go in and that was evident in everybody and how everybody dressed. And it was so much fun.

Valerie McCandlish:

Yes. And our team is a little competitive in nature.

Natalie Taylor:

A little is an understatement.

Valerie McCandlish:

A little competitive. So everybody brought their A game. It was so awesome. Everybody had fun. And then yesterday we had a full day of learning and education and motivation and it was just a wonderful time. So feeling very thankful for our teammates, and just being excited about the future of Mix.

Natalie Taylor:

I know. And so special to put some faces with the names that we’ve been able to maybe just see on a screen for a while now because most of our teammates actually don’t live in Columbus, so really cool for some of them to even come to Ohio for the first time.

Valerie McCandlish:

Yes, I know. Welcome to a wonderful state.

Natalie Taylor:

And the fun doesn’t even stop there for some of our team because this week is the Meeting on the Mesa.

Valerie McCandlish:

That’s right. Yep, our team is headed to California for Meeting on the Mesa, which is a cell and gene therapy conference out in California. So that’s perfect timing for when this episode airs as the topic of conversation is around cell therapy leadership. So it’s great timing.

Natalie Taylor:

Yeah. Our very own Patty Adams, who has been on the podcast a couple episodes before, joins us again with-

Valerie McCandlish:

She’s an all three season guest.

Natalie Taylor:

Yeah.

Valerie McCandlish:

Yeah, Patty’s an all star.

Natalie Taylor:

She is an all star. And today she brings with her Rich Daly, who is the president of [inaudible 00:02:44] and they’re going to have a really awesome conversation for you to listen to. And with that, we’ll turn it over to Patty and Rich.

Patty Adams:

Hi everybody and welcome to today’s podcast. My name is Patty Adams. I am the head of HR consulting for Mix Talent and I’m very fortunate today to have Rich Daley, who’s the president of [inaudible 00:03:12] Therapeutics, joining for the discussion of focus on cell therapy. I met Rich, gosh, 1995?

Natalie Taylor:

That’s right.

Patty Adams:

When we were both at TAP Pharmaceuticals, back when there was at TAP Pharmaceuticals. And like me, Rich has spent over 30 years in the life sciences industry in a number of leadership roles at companies that include Abbott and Takeda. And I smile when I say Takeda because Rich was employee number 14 in the US organization. Experience also includes the president at US Diabetes at AstraZeneca.

Patty Adams:

Rich has been the chief operating officer at the [inaudible 00:04:00] Spring, and chairman and CEO at Neuralstem. Experiences that span early stage, emerging, established organizations, and we’re going to spend some time talking about that in just a moment. And Rich also serves as a board member at Catalyst Pharmaceuticals and Opiant Pharmaceuticals. So welcome Rich, and thank you so much for joining me.

Rich Daly:

It’s a pleasure, Patty, and thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. Thanks.

Patty Adams:

Oh yeah, it’s good to have you here. I’m excited for our discussion. And I just gave a little bit of a summary of your career path, but I’d like to jump in a little bit more and understand what were those life experiences, career and otherwise that you feel best prepared you to accept the challenges for a leadership role, like the president of CARsgen Therapeutics?

Rich Daly:

That’s a really great question. I would break my career down into four parts. So I’m a microbiologist by training, so I really love science. I’m also somebody who, right out of college, took a job in big pharma and didn’t like it and was actually quite miserable at it, and left it less than a year. So that was the second phase.

Rich Daly:

The third phase was doing teaching. I taught high school and did fundraising and was a sports coach, professional coach. And that was spanned about 5, 6, 7 years. And then came back to pharma. So the fourth part of it was actually pharma biotech, and really fell in love with the startup, scale up, and transformation part of it. And that’s really where I think I really found my niche and the opportunity to thrive.

Patty Adams:

So tell me, Rich, a little bit more. You’ve talked about your leadership including startup, and your energy level when you talked about that. Because like CARsgen, starting US operations. Your background just screams startup, employee number 14, [inaudible 00:06:14]. And I think oftentimes when people think about startup companies, it’s almost as if, it’s smaller, it’s less complicated. How challenging can it be? So can you just tell me a little bit more about that startup experience that you have and why that’s something you gravitated towards?

Rich Daly:

I think there’s almost nothing more complex. So when we worked with TAP and I left TAP to join Takeda, the thinking I was going through was I wanted to see every part of the enterprise. I wanted to understand. And when you’re at a startup and you’re the 14th employee at a startup, really there is nothing that’s out of bounds. You’re working across the enterprise. I’m a microbiologist, as I said before, and the challenge that we had in starting that enterprise, starting that business… This is a great example. We didn’t have an accounts receivable function.

Rich Daly:

I’m not a finance person. And we were sitting in a meeting one day and somebody said, “We need to develop an accounts receivable function. Who wants to lead that?” And I said, “Well, I don’t know anything about it, but I’ll certainly help out.” And so I got to experience that firsthand, how to build an accounts receivable function. And so that’s something that I think people don’t really appreciate if they haven’t lived inside of a startup, is you get to touch a lot more. And really that’s what I saw was the opportunity to accelerate my career. When I came into this, I thought…

Rich Daly:

I was a little bit older, I was probably the oldest person in my sales training class when I came into the business. And I looked around and I said, “This is a real career accelerator for me. If I stay in this startup, scale up, and transformation,” because rather than getting niched into a specific part of it in a larger company, in a smaller company I could really touch a lot of different bases of the company very quickly, and accelerate and learn more and get a breadth that probably is absent from most careers. That’s how I saw it and how I thought about it.

Patty Adams:

Yeah, interesting. So the exposure to the various functional areas, the level of expertise in terms of what comes with that exposure, that at a larger organization might take years, if you ever get to see that type of detail.

Rich Daly:

So when I talk to people about the development of their careers, this is something I’ve observed over time. People talk about the 10,000 hours to become an expert. And if you think about that, if you want to become an expert and you want to run a company, I think of it as there are five basic parts of a biotech company. There’s R&D, finance, operations, sales, and marketing. If you want to spend 10,000 hours in each of those, how many years do you have? Now, I realize that’s an oversimplification of the structure of the company, but it’s serviceable.

Rich Daly:

But the fundamental question, when I’m in these development discussions with people with whom I work, I say, “What can you see from where you are?” So a great example is finance. You can see everything when you’re in finance, but how much context do you have for what’s going on? And I don’t think you have a lot of context. You can see everything. And that’s not to be disrespectful to our finance colleagues, but you just don’t have a great understanding what’s going on in R&D. Now, in R&D, what can you see? Well, you can’t really see a lot. You really focus on R&D, but you can see really far into the future. And that has a lot of value in sales.

Rich Daly:

What are you allowed to see? Well, not a lot. You only see a very short distance into the future. Your deliverable is the next quarter, the next semester, the next year. So you have to think about what it is you can learn and how you can put this to good use and what’s the accelerator that gets you there. And fundamentally, it all depends on where you want to go. So it’s not one size fits all. So you have to start putting these questions together. What can you see from where you are? Where do you want to go? And then what experiences and roles will give you the expertise that will get you where you want to go?

Rich Daly:

So those are the three fundamental questions that I think about when I was entering and trying to think about what I wanted to do. And I really wanted to be in a situation where I could make a difference. And I love this smaller startup scale up because of its complexity, because of the puzzle nature of it. And it’s hard, there’s not a lot of structure in it. One of the things we say to people when I’m interviewing, I often get accused of, and I do mean accused, of trying to talk people out of wanting to join the organization.

Rich Daly:

And I say to people all the time, “If you join a larger, more structured organization, an organization that’s further down its development path, the job description exists. It’s page 242 to page 247. Sometimes we don’t have that job description. So it doesn’t exist. And when you come in, we’re going to write it, but that last line and any other things that your boss tells you to do is probably where you spend most of your time.” So it becomes a very interesting world. So I think that’s how I like to think about where people can really make a difference in their careers.

Patty Adams:

Thank you for that perspective. And taking this a little bit deeper, there’s something you touched on that I want to circle back to, the meaningfulness, the mission driven mindset. And that’s true in life science in general, any organization in which you work, what we do has profound impact on patients, the people who treat them.

Patty Adams:

So I want to talk a little bit about that mission driven mindset because you’ve talked about it a couple of times. Clearly in a smaller, earlier stage company, you have that broad exposure very close to the technology regardless. So tell me about how that drove you to the work you’re doing now at CARsgen, because I find the mission of the organization powerful. I’ll ask you to share that with our audience, and just tell me a little bit about how that impacts how you think about your talent strategies at CARsgen.

Rich Daly:

Sure. So we’re in the CAR T space, and as many people know, CAR T is quite affected in liquid or hematologic cancers. Our mission is to make cancer curable, it is. Our people are really drawn to that. And CARsgen’s technology and technological platforms are pretty powerful. There are probably 60 or 70 companies in the US that have an RMAT designation, regenerative medicine advanced technology, that’s given by the FDA. Probably four or five of them have more than one. And only one company has an RMAT designation in liquid or hematologic cancers and solid cancers for CAR T.

Rich Daly:

So solid cancers are really, really tough to crack the code with CAR T, because of the micro tumor environment and the other issues, CAR T is not that effective in solid tumors or has not been that effective with solid tumors to date. And it’s 90% of tumors. And CARsgen has the most advanced program in solid tumor CAR T in the world. And so, making cancer curable is really important to us. And so when we look at this opportunity to advance, we want to pull people in, our people, and tell them we can make a difference.

Rich Daly:

Think about making cancer curable and helping people, there’s nothing more exciting I think than that. And people are really drawn to that, and the ability to focus on the individual patient. Now, certainly we can’t know the individual patient, but it doesn’t get any more personal than making a living drug, because that’s what we do. You make a living drug for an individual patient and then there’s an opportunity to actually expand this technology beyond cancer, to neurology as an example.

Rich Daly:

So there’s so much exciting going on in the CAR T space and at CARsgen. So we think about the people we want to draw in and help us with this, we’re looking for people who are functional experts, but people who understand that they can make a difference every single day within the space that we work. So we’re really excited about our opportunities to draw great talent to the company.

Patty Adams:

That’s a powerful pull to make cancer curable.

Rich Daly:

Absolutely.

Patty Adams:

And you touched on something because I think some of our listeners, Rich, may not be as familiar with cell therapy, gene therapy, this emerging sector of life science and the number of organizations that you referenced that are doing work in this space. You came out of what I would call, and challenge me on this, a little bit more traditional pharma biopharma.

Rich Daly:

Sure.

Patty Adams:

So walk me through how do you make that transition and a little bit more about this new space and how it’s really differentiated from a pretty basic question, but a cell therapy 101, if you will.

Rich Daly:

So let’s just talk about making the transition from a large pharma to maybe a more established pharma to a startup. So for me, having worked in a number of different organizations that you highlighted at the beginning, and watching people, myself included, going from an established pharma to a startup, a scale up. I’ve established a philosophy of, the fundamental question is, hiring is choosing what to teach. And the answer for me is as little as possible, but never nothing.

Rich Daly:

So somebody’s coming to an organization, you want to teach something as an organization, but you don’t have the energy or the resources as a startup to teach everything. But you don’t want to teach nothing because then what’s exciting for that individual, then be bored. Typically in a startup organization, you don’t have a training department and you want functional experts to come. So a further elucidation of this philosophy is we look at people and we say if they’re taking more than one jump, it’s probably going to be a problem for them unless they’re an exception.

Rich Daly:

So I’ll give you a couple of examples. So if somebody is currently a manager in a large pharma company, and they go to director, that’s a jump. If they are coming from a large pharma company and they’re coming to a biotech, that’s a jump. If they’re going from QA to QC, that’s a jump, quality assurance to quality control, that’s a jump. In my experience, if anybody is doing more than one jump, it’s likely they will not be happy.

Patty Adams:

Interesting.

Rich Daly:

It’s not that they will fail, I should say, but it’s likely they won’t be happy because it’s too much change. So typically when they come from a large pharma to a small pharma, or a focused pharma as we like to say, they typically are experiencing a lot of change. Or if they go from a manager to a director, all of a sudden their responsibility set changes. And if you’re lumping too much change onto them, it’s overwhelming and their flexibility then becomes much less. They don’t understand how to operate in that world. So we look for folks who are not making that much change.

Rich Daly:

So it narrows your scope. Have they done a startup before? Are they going from director to director positions? Are they staying in the same line of expertise? And so you start looking for those things. Those are things that start pushing candidates aside right away, and you can really focus your search. Having said all of that, I have seen people who have made that jump, they have a much more entrepreneurial mindset, but they’re the exception. And if you can prove or show or demonstrate that, I’ve got that mindset, we’re willing to take those folks on.

Patty Adams:

That’s interesting. So if I’m in a larger, more established organization and more of a traditional pharma, I’m looking for a promotion and a jump to a small organization that’s in a completely different, let’s say cell therapy, that’s three levels of change that may preclude my ability to be successful in that transition.

Rich Daly:

Right. So if you’re coming from diabetes to, and I’ve worked in diabetes, and you’re coming to oncology, that’s a jump. Again, all of these things we would look at and say, “We don’t have the time where the energy. You’re going to come in and we expect you to make a difference day one.” But again, if there’s an opportunity, if you’re making one jump, that’s great. Now you’re learning. We want you to get something from it too. It’s like a balanced equation, if you will. What are you getting? What are we getting? But we can’t give that much. We expect you to come in and really be contributing right away. We’re a small organization.

Patty Adams:

I don’t know if you would agree with this, Rich, but others I’ve worked with in earlier stage and emerging companies say, “There’s no tree to hide behind.” If one person fails, the enterprise could potentially fail.

Rich Daly:

That’s true.

Patty Adams:

There’s just not that luxury of having a bench to absorb. So let’s get back to that mission driven mindset and you’re a biochemist, former teacher, but you’re a lifelong teacher as well. What is a primer for people to help them understand a little bit about the differences between traditional pharma biotech and this emerging sector in cell and gene therapy? What are some of the key differences to how you see this really transforming our industry?

Rich Daly:

So nobody can see this, but I’m smiling, probably broadest smile as I can have. What’s more exciting than curing a patient? You’re talking about cure, the potential to cure a patient. I think getting behind the science and understanding what’s really happening here. I think the challenge of the logistics in this business, we harvest cells from an individual patient. We take them into our factory, into our plant. We infect them with a virus, we amplify or multiply those cells and then we shift them back to that same patient or same site to be re-infused into that patient.

Rich Daly:

The logistics around this, if a patient catches a cold or is sick and can’t be harvested on the day that we need, that slot disappears. And we reserve those slots weeks in advance, the logistics are intense. And our site, the labor around producing for a single patient, everything is focused on the patient. And I know the industry loves to say we’re patient centered, we’re patient focused. You have never seen anything like patient centricity until you’re in cell and gene therapy. This is true patient centricity. So that’s the autologous side of this where we’re getting from a patient and giving back to that specific patient.

Rich Daly:

And the industry hopes to be able to move to what’s called allogeneic, which is, I take from a healthy patient and then can multiply the cells and then give to many patients who are sick. So I harvest from healthy and I give to the sick, and we have platforms that go across it. CARsgen go across autologous, allogeneic, and then what are called armored CAR T. So we actually have a CAR T that actually can produce cytokines and chemokines that go along with the CAR T and can help the cells live longer, and then actually send chemical signals to draw in lymphocytes to the tumor to help battle the tumor as well. This is incredible science.

Patty Adams:

Remarkable.

Rich Daly:

And then we have another technology. So on your computer you have two factor authentication. So off target effects are a problem in every type of drug therapy. We have a technology that is very similar to two factor authentication. So this is an artificial receptor that we have, it’s like a lock and key, which is the classic example that you talk about with receptors. Except it targets the cancer, but it won’t allow the CAR T to turn on because so many healthy cells have receptors, just like cancer cells. So the artificial receptor then identifies only the cancer cell.

Rich Daly:

So it makes it much more specific. It increases the number of cancers we can go after and has the potential to reduce the adverse events associated with this by preventing off target effects. So it’s almost like two factor authentication. It’s phenomenal. So you can think of CARsgen as a portfolio of platforms, if you will. So anyway, I don’t want to get too deep into the science. But you think about the things that we could do around this, it’s just so incredibly exciting. People just get really excited and jazzed about it.

Patty Adams:

So thank you for that analogy, because that helps me understand. I’m not a biochemist, not a very technical person. So that really paints a very clear picture of the promise and the hope that goes along with this type of therapy. How do you see this transforming our industry?

Rich Daly:

So diabetes used to kill people. A hundred years ago, you were diagnosed with type one diabetes, you died. Diabetes is a devastating disease today, absolutely a devastating disease. Nobody wants to have diabetes. But today diabetes is a disease you live with, and you can live a relatively normal life. The hope is that with technologies like CAR T and other technologies, you can cure people. But there’s also a possibility that we can convert cancer into a disease you can live with.

Rich Daly:

Because there’s an opportunity here to not only treat patients, but potentially those patients who respond may keep responding, and then you can actually create an opportunity for people to live a relatively normal life with cancer, which is odd to think about. But a hundred years ago, more than a hundred years ago, if you got type one diabetes, there was no living with diabetes. It was impossible. And the world changed with [inaudible 00:26:33] and their discovery of insulin and how insulin worked.

Rich Daly:

And so now you see this change. And so this is personalized therapy, it doesn’t get any more personal than this. And then what we want to do is we want to convert it to this opportunity to improve access with allogeneic and reduce cost and then reduce these off target effects and just make it just more accessible, and the opportunity just keep moving down the line. So fundamentally, I think cancer is a scourge and just fundamentally change it, and the way we look at cancer as a society and as a culture.

Patty Adams:

Remarkable, really remarkable. And that’s what led you to, from a leadership perspective, one of the reasons why this opportunity was so appealing to you.

Rich Daly:

Yeah, and I think the opportunity to make a difference every day. That’s one of the reasons why I’m drawn to companies that are startups, scale ups, and transformations because you feel the difference you make every day. No disrespect to larger companies, but you feel how your work makes a difference every day. You’re showing up… As you said earlier, when you don’t show up, it makes a difference. And so you love those more focused companies because your work matters. It’s great.

Patty Adams:

Yes, no doubt about it. So you talked about how quickly this sector is growing, understandably, given the number of promising therapies that are in development right now. Tell me about some of the opportunities and challenges that you faced in scaling your organization. How much time do we have?

Rich Daly:

So you have to build a plant. Because the logistics, again, we have to receive these cells from these patients, and you have to build a plant and building a plant, this is an intense manufacturing process. And imagine a process where, imagine if you were at Ford and every person working the manufacturing floor at Ford was a PhD. Everybody works our floors, masters or PhD. These are highly trained people and they’re in demand. And we are in research Triangle Park in North Carolina. And there are 50 cell and gene therapy companies in Research Triangle Park.

Patty Adams:

5-0?

Rich Daly:

5-0. More than 50 actually. And everybody wants the same manufacturing, CMC people, quality people, MSAT people. And MSAT is essentially the research and development for manufacturing, put it that way. And so everybody wants the same people. And so getting those folks on board, keeping them on board. So the classic attract, retain, and develop talent. But getting your manufacturing up and running, getting your people on board, tech transfer. We’ve got to go from a CDMO to our own plant.

Rich Daly:

And a lot of CAR T companies like to say that they are vein to vein, which means they control the manufacturing from the time that the patient is harvested to the time they get back. That’s great. We are actually one of the few, if not the only company that is vector to vein. We make everything in the supply chain. We make the vector, we make the plasma, we do all of the manufacturing. So we believe that has a number of benefits for us. We believe it increases control, it provides an opportunity to increase quality and reduce cost.

Rich Daly:

So we make everything. So this is a great opportunity and a great challenge for us too, to continue this supply chain. We don’t face the challenges that some of our competitors do in supply chain. They have to buy the vector from somebody else, they have to buy the plasma. We do our own antibody research, we do it all. So we believe we’re a fully integrated CAR T company, and we may be one of the only ones that are out there. So having that talent is really critical to our success.

Patty Adams:

And how do you find them?

Rich Daly:

It’s challenging.

Patty Adams:

Because I would imagine, Rich, with this emerging technology, there’s a shallow pool. Because the training programs at academic organizations, research organizations have not been able to turn out enough people with these niche skill sets. The technical background and experience that you’re describing.

Rich Daly:

Right. Well I think there’s a couple factors. Number one, we’re located in a place where a lot of people are. This is Michael Porter’s the competitive nature of places. So you locate where those people are.

Patty Adams:

Micro port?

Rich Daly:

Michael Porter’s.

Patty Adams:

Oh sorry.

Rich Daly:

So from Harvard, the competitive nature of places. So I apologize, speaking a little too fast. So you go and you locate where those people are. That’s why we’re in Research Triangle Park. I think working with companies like yours, Mix, that helps us a lot, get access to talent. I think just trying to tell the story of who we are and the differences that we have.

Rich Daly:

Again, having a portfolio or platforms, manufacturing, having this fully integrated vector to vein, why we’re different and what our goals are. We want to actually increase access, reduce adverse events, and improve the cost, reduce the treatment associated costs of CAR T. And we think we can do that with these different portfolios, different platforms that we have. And I think those are compelling stories.

Patty Adams:

So you’re looking for that mission driven mindset that we talked about earlier. So Rich, we’ve talked about the mission driven nature. You’ve talked a bit about the difference in working in a startup. If you’re talking to people who are thinking about making that transition or would like to have an experience similar to how you’ve described your path, let’s talk first about what does it take to survive in a startup? Especially if you’re coming from an organization that might be a little more rich with resources. So let’s start there.

Rich Daly:

That’s a great question. I think it takes a lot of flexibility. I think one needs to come into the organization with a great deal of humility, and it’s essential that you have a breadth. And so, you mentioned that I’m on these boards, and so boards are really interesting and I think there’s a good analogy here. So board is 7 to 10 people. No board is big enough that a person can come and sit and say, “I’m an expert in marketing.” One of the things I like to say is have to be able to occupy more than one chair if you want to sit on a board. You have to be an expert in compliance, you have to be an expert in marketing, you have to be an expert in legal.

Rich Daly:

Now there will be other people on the boards who have expertise in those areas as well. But you cannot be just an expert in one thing. It doesn’t work because there’s only 7 chairs, it 7 to 10 chairs. People have to be able to play off each other. Same thing here. You can come in and you can be an expert in, you can be that’s me, that subject matter expert, but you’ve got to have breadth. So if you’re developing your career and you’re saying, “Look, I’m going to be a sales person or I’m going to be that marketing person.” I’ve got to be honest with you, that’s not enough. You’ve got to be able to sit at the table and say, “I have a question or a comment or a contribution about manufacturing.”

Rich Daly:

So I would recommend people dive deep into those areas and be curious, and where you are right now, ask the dumb question. Say, “Hey, I don’t understand. Help me understand more about regulatory compliance.” The breadth… Earlier on in the conversation I did mention the five areas of a company. As I said, that was a simplifying assumption. Companies are clearly much more complex than that, but become a subject matter expert in more than that, so that you can contribute breadth.

Rich Daly:

So let’s say you’re the marketing person, we need you to be an expert in regulatory and in legal and in compliance and in marketing and in sales. Not to the level that you could run those functions day in and day out. But you can ask intelligent questions and contribute in the conversation. So that’s what we need is somebody who can say, “I have an idea,” that becomes important. So that level of flexibility and expertise. And then I would say you need a sense of humor.

Patty Adams:

Well said.

Rich Daly:

You definitely need a sense of humor because startups are interesting. The focus migrates almost minute by minute. You’re working on something and somebody comes in and says, “Gee, that was important five minutes ago. Now it’s this.” And if you are one of those people who is just like, I’m on this and I’m not going to change, you won’t survive. And it’s not just the flexibility part of it, but you need to be able to laugh about it and say, “Okay, I’ll move on.” And you need to have a good attitude about it.

Patty Adams:

That gets back to that humility, that self-awareness you were referring to earlier. I’ve often said, you float between terror and euphoria within seconds of each other while you’re in [inaudible 00:36:25].

Rich Daly:

I wish I had said that, that’s probably the best description I’ve heard.

Patty Adams:

The highs are highs and lows are low, but they come fast. Just keep rolling with it. When you think about the transferable skills and experiences, so if I’m sitting across from you, Rich, and I’m hoping to make a leap, to use your language, to CARsgen, what are some of those transferable skills and experiences you’d be looking for? I have no cell therapy background. What is it that are those critical must haves for you?

Rich Daly:

I think I would look for people who overcome adversity. So what are the projects you’ve run and been in charge of and how have you worked with others? Because resources are scarce. So how have you worked with others to bring something to fruition, to closure successfully, and quite frankly, unsuccessful projects. And then how did you overcome those? So talk about when you faced adversity and what did you do to make a difference? And it doesn’t always have to be successful. And I think people focus too much on success.

Rich Daly:

We bask sometimes in the success, but success doesn’t cause us to reflect. So what have you done? What have you led? Because in the end we’re looking for leadership and people who can learn. One of the things you said was I’m lifelong teacher, I actually consider myself a lifelong learner. I had a boss one time who said, “What drives you?” I said, “To me, learning is the coin of the realm.” It’s the thing that I really suck it up. I want to understand. And I think that’s what we’re looking for is people who really endeavor to understand what’s around them. So I would look for those kinds of folks who’ve proven that and can demonstrate that.

Patty Adams:

And that can happen anywhere.

Rich Daly:

Absolutely.

Patty Adams:

Large, small, cell therapy, non cell therapy. So bring those experiences to the table.

Rich Daly:

And quite frankly, we can teach cell therapy. That’s easy.

Patty Adams:

Well…

Rich Daly:

No, we have great expertise in cell therapy. You can just sit around a table and just absorb it by being a part of the conversation. There are other things we can’t teach. We don’t have a lot of commercial expertise in the company. And I don’t have a lot of time to teach that. I might be the only person with any commercial experience in the company right now. I don’t have time. So I would hire that as opposed to say, “Hey, let me take some time to teach that.” So those are the things that we say… But if somebody came to me and said, “I have great commercial expertise.” Great, “But I don’t know cell therapy.” I might be inclined to say, “Don’t worry about it.” But we’d see what other candidates come forward.

Patty Adams:

Great. Rich, thank you. I think the summary that you’ve given about your personal journey, your leadership journey, incredibly valuable to our audience and the primer on what’s happening in terms of the evolution of technology and life sciences with the emergence of these therapies and these technologies. Really inspiring and remarkable. And to hear about the good work you’re doing down there in [inaudible 00:39:57]. Very exciting times at CARsgen, and I’m glad and grateful that you shared those experiences with us. So to wrap up our Mix Tape, is there anything I’ve missed? Anything else that you want?

Rich Daly:

No, it’s been a great conversation. Thank you.

Patty Adams:

Thank you. We end with two questions we always like to ask our guests. Number one, what is your favorite interview question?

Rich Daly:

Can I have two?

Patty Adams:

I would make an exception for you, definitely.

Rich Daly:

So I think it harkens back to an earlier question here in this discussion, which is what is a pivotal inflection point in your life or your career, and why? I think that gives great insight into somebody’s motivations and what drives them. So I like that question a lot. I like to understand, it could be personal, it could be professional, but just tell me about a moment in time that changed your life.

Rich Daly:

And then as I just discussed, I like to ask a question, describe a moment when you failed. Everybody likes to talk about success. They always want to talk about, “Look what I did, I did this, I brought this on.” No, I want to talk about when you failed. Tell me about a moment when you failed and what you learned from it. Help me understand what happened and what you took away from it.

Patty Adams:

And what are you listening for in their response?

Rich Daly:

On the inflection points, I’m listening for what their motivation was. On the first question, their inflection points, what their motivation was and how they dealt with it. On when you failed, I’m looking for reflection. Are people taking the moment or moments or the feedback and how they’re dealing with it. If there’s adversity there, or are they a learning being? Because I think that’s really pivotal to long term success.

Patty Adams:

Thank you for that, Rich. And my guess is you would also see glimpses of that humility present.

Rich Daly:

Yes.

Patty Adams:

Is the humor present. All of those things you said are really important. The final question that I have for you today is, as you know, this is the Mix Tape. So we always put together compilation of favorite hits both for our guests and for the Mix team. So what would you have on your playlist? What’s your favorite song?

Rich Daly:

Oh, that’s easy. Live Like You Were Dying by Tim McGraw. So in 2003 I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, thankfully it was benign. But as a result of the surgery that took out the tumor or the tumor effect, that the tumor was there, I developed epilepsy. And so in my late thirties, early forties, to be a patient now and to be a patient now for the rest of my life, the perspective it gave me was just incredible. But in those first moments after being diagnosed, it wasn’t clear that it was benign. And so that song came to mind right away. And that to this day is my favorite song.

Patty Adams:

Remarkable story. And I think further underscores your commitment to the work that you do.

Rich Daly:

Absolutely. It actually colors everything that I do, every day.

Patty Adams:

Thank you for sharing your story.

Rich Daly:

Thank you, Patty. I really appreciate it.

Patty Adams:

It’s been a pleasure having you on the podcast.

Rich Daly:

Thanks. It’s been my pleasure as well. Thank you.

Valerie McCandlish:

Wow. Thank you so much Patty and Rich for joining us. And Nat, I think we’ve got to change it up and talk about the song first this time for our outro, because how impactful to hear Rich’s story. After hearing him talk for this whole discussion, it’s so evident how much he cares and is truly passionate about the work that he’s doing. And then for him to then connect it to his why, just makes it so much more impactful and really demonstrates that this industry is comprised of so many people that are directly impacted by difficult challenges that they meet in their life medically.

Natalie Taylor:

You couldn’t have said it better. I completely agree with that. And it’s a great reminder, again, I feel like a lot of our episodes this season have this similar theme, but it’s very cool to see how much this industry impacts everybody. Patients that we’re working to help, and your teammates that you might be working alongside are also impacted by this industry and the work that we do every day. And we just love to hear stories like this from incredible leaders like Rich, who have excellent backgrounds and wonderful experiences to share and great leadership styles. And then can also share this personal story and round everything out.

Valerie McCandlish:

Definitely. So we’ll be adding Live Like You Were Dying by Tim McGraw to the playlist. And as a reminder, our Mix teammates will be at Meeting on the Mesa this week. So if you are there, come say hello. We would love to chat with you.

Natalie Taylor:

And with that, thanks for being in the Mix. We’ll see you next week.

 

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