Dr Kay Wardle, Coulter Partners, Managing Partner

What attracted you into executive search after ten years in the pharmaceutical industry?

It wasn’t something I had planned. I went into the pharmaceutical industry with a passion for science and a desire to make a positive difference for patients. Moving into the company’s internal recruitment group was an opportunity that presented itself because of a major restructuring within my department. I decided to give it a try and have never looked back. From in-house recruiter to executive search was a logical next step. As a scientist, you develop very deep knowledge in one narrow area. By making the transition, I had the chance to learn about so many other scientific innovations and so many other facets of the healthcare industry.

What drives your passion for your role with Coulter Partners?

Our team is working with the smartest, most innovative and creative people in this industry; individuals working on the discovery and development of the next generation of technologies, medicines and diagnostics. As leadership advisers we have contributed to the creation of many of the most pioneering life sciences organisations worldwide. It is a privilege to provide a consultative service to these entrepreneurs, working with them to understand their needs and sharing with them our 20+ years of experience in life sciences to help them clearly identify the best way to take their company forward and build their teams.

What are the main challenges you face and how are you tackling these?

Technological disruption is accelerating in every sector. The companies we work with are transforming and expanding to embrace a host of new scientific advances and digital technologies like AI and machine learning. We too have had to evolve at pace and our team is fast developing the tools and technologies to allow us to respond accordingly, while continuing to build on existing relationships. We have grown across the globe and brought in people with diverse backgrounds, expertise and ways of thinking, to allow us to meet the constantly changing needs of each industry sector and gain access to the right leadership talent.

Which areas of healthcare innovation are closest to your heart?

As a former researcher in the field of CNS, I am personally excited to see so many creative solutions emerging to target unmet medical needs in this area. Many psychiatric and neurological disorders have long gone underserved by the industry and it is encouraging to see companies bringing creative approaches to help solve such devastating diseases as Alzheimer’s and motor neurone disease. Spearheading Coulter Partners’ centre of excellence in R&D leadership, I have enjoyed immersing myself in hard-core, innovative research again and going back to my roots.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be open to opportunities. When you start your career, you often have a very definite path mapped out, but my advice would be to keep an open mind and embrace opportunities as they present themselves. This may take you down a route that you hadn’t anticipated but can lead you to the most rewarding destination.