How Our Head of Global Asset and Portfolio Management Leads Teams to Deliver a Pipeline of Innovation

How Our Head of Global Asset and Portfolio Management Leads Teams to Deliver a Pipeline of Innovation

Michele Schmidt headshot with DSI banner

Clinical research scientist, head of the clinical scientist function, global team leader, head of clinical operations – these are some of the roles that Michele Schmidt, RN, has held in her 20-year plus career in oncology drug development bringing new and innovative medicines to patients.

However, no matter her role, Michele is a nurse at the heart of it all, who not only puts the patient at the front and center of everything she does, but also thrives on connecting with people in order to help bring out the best in them.

And cancer has become even more personal: her father recently passed away from a rare cancer only one year following his diagnosis.

Delivering a pipeline of innovation... 
Currently, as the Head of Global Asset and Portfolio Management, Michele leads a diverse team of global team leaders, the global project management and leadership function. These leaders are responsible for heading the Global Project Teams (GPTs), which are at the center of our Development model and one of the critical innovation engines at Daiichi Sankyo across oncology, specialty medicine, and vaccines.

One main goal of Michele’s function is to integrate R&D portfolio planning and prioritization to ensure an agile and informed approach to deliver Daiichi Sankyo’s innovative portfolio now and in the future. Driving the pipeline forward means to not only learn from the development of previous medicines, but to also better understand the portfolio cross-sectionally, to improve the speed in which clinical trials are conducted in order to get new medicines to patients faster.

"We already have shown great tenacity and perseverance in bringing new and different therapies to patients around the world. However, we cannot take our foot off the gas. We must continue to innovate. What will separate Daiichi Sankyo from the rest of the industry is the way we deliver on our research pipeline."

- Michele Schmidt, Head of Global Asset and Portfolio Management, Daiichi Sankyo

…requires caring and compassionate leadership
Michele believes that in order for Daiichi Sankyo to deliver on its ambitious mission, great emphasis must be placed on growing the people and diversity within the company. “It is important to get to know every single person in your organization and to do more listening than talking,” says Michele. “It is the people of our company around the world that are most valuable and that make the pipeline a possibility.”

People at all levels within an organization need to be comfortable in knowing their voice can be heard and continuously are open to share ideas. One of these ideas may just be the one that motivates people or changes a process for the better. “Once a good idea comes forward, it is then my responsibility to help as needed to advance it forward,” continues Michele. “This needs to be shown in actions and not just words.”

Drug development is not easy—it requires extensive scientific rigor and at times difficult decision making—and some days are tougher than others. To get through these difficult times, Michele remembers to always put the patient first, similarly to what she did when she was working as a nurse.

Michele also carries something her mother said to her while her father was undergoing treatment for his cancer: “There are some days where you have really bad days and are frustrated, but I want to let you know – and tell others you work with – that what you do matters. What you are doing does make a difference.”

People matter. People are the heart of medicine. It is imperative to not lose focus on this mindset in drug development.



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