Camilla Oldgren, CEO of Immuneed
16 september 2020
On September 1st. 2020, Camilla Oldgren left her position as Managing Director Nordic/Baltic at Kyowa Kirin to assume the role of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Immuneed. Besides an MSc in Pharmaceutical Science, an MBA and 25 years of experience in pharmaceutical business development, she brings with her a keen team focus and entrepreneurial spirit. All will be used to help Immuneed – with its versatile preclinical testing platform based on fresh, circulating blood – reach a broader market of drug developers and deliver on its growth potential.
We asked Camilla for her thoughts about Immuneed today and the road ahead.
Q: Congratulations on your appointment as CEO. How are you settling in?
A: For the first time in many years I can walk or bike to work, since I live in Uppsala, Sweden, where Immuneed is based. That’s quality of life for someone like me who loves to be active and outdoors! But I’m mainly thrilled to dig into this new role.
Q: What was it that led you to Immuneed?
A: I was approached, in large part because of my history of entrepreneurship in the pharmaceutical industry. That started during my time at Baxter, where I built up an entire division. After that I was one of those involved in starting up Celgene, and I later joined ProStrakan when that company was in its infancy. I helped build up those two pharma businesses from little or nothing. The latter was then acquired by Kyowa Kirin, where I’ve been for the last 11 years.
Q: Kyowa Kirin is a large company. What attracted you to leading a smaller one?
A: It appealed to both my entrepreneurial and my team-oriented sides. I’m no lone wolf by any means. There’s something special about developing an organization – about building a team and a business simultaneously. Part of that is getting to wear many different hats in my work. I like getting involved in all aspects of the company.
Q: Does that mean you’re a micromanager?
A: Goodness, no! I can’t stand micromanagement. I have a lot of humility when I put myself in someone else’s shoes. But I do want to understand what’s going on, so that I can make the right decisions for the team. When I understand what everyone else does, I can make the right contributions with my leadership, so that I push the organization in the right direction. I didn’t do sales myself at Kyowa Kirin, for example. But getting involved in a sales meeting now and then let me know what our customers were saying and how we were speaking to them. Those perspectives are vital.
Q: What perspectives do you expect to gain at Immuneed?
A: I’m very excited to work in the early stages of the pharmaceutical process. That’s going to be fascinating, since my previous work has concerned finished drugs. Instead of healthcare professionals, my customers will be my former colleagues, the drug developers. That doesn’t change the goal of bringing safe and effective drugs to patients. But instead of marketing finished drugs, I’ll be convincing drug developers that Immuneed’s platform is the right one to bring their molecules and drug candidates to fruition.
Q: You’ve had some time to get underway now. What are your impressions?
A: The cooperation here at Immuneed is fantastic. This is a truly competent team, and I’ve been impressed by how deep Immuneed’s pool of scientific knowledge is. That’s where the focus has been, on the science, which is absolutely as it should be. The science is the basis for everything. But the Immuneed platform is fully developed and ready for a wider, more commercial world. I look forward to guiding this amazing team in that process.
Q: How far along is Immuneed on its journey?
A: Immuneed is at a crossroads, where we have to become more visible in order to reach our full potential. We have a diverse service offering, built around a biological testing platform with unique capabilities for exploring blood–drug interactions in real time. But we need to market ourselves more, because there are so many that haven’t yet discovered who we are and what we can do. I think I can contribute a lot to that.
Q: How prepared is Immuneed to grow?
A: Immuneed is growing already, and things are beginning to move very quickly. We’re gaining more and more customers, and among those who know us we have an extraordinary reputation. So while we need to make noise on the market, it’s not only that. We have to organize and present ourselves in the right way for maximum effect. Where do we set the balance between service promotion and service development? Which challenges do we tackle first? There’s enormous competence here at Immuneed, but now we need to use it in the right way – and to complement it with the right new skills as we develop.
Q: How will Immuneed respond to your leadership?
A: That remains to be seen, but I’m a team player, as I’ve said. I listen as much as I speak, and I’m very transparent, which I think people appreciate. I share as much with the team as I can, because I want everyone pulling in the same direction. If they understand where we’re going, it’s easier to do what has to be done in order to get there. That said, I do set high expectations. I give people my confidence, and I want them to deliver as agreed. This role is a lot about having confidence – in our offering, in our choices and in each other. I’m very confident about Immuneed’s future, but it’s going to take work to bring it about. That’s a challenge I welcome, and I think my colleagues would say the same.