"Career Pathways and Journeys in STEM"
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Myrtle Potter & Company, LLC
Myrtle Potter is the founder and CEO of Myrtle Potter & Company, LLC (MP&C), a global healthcare and life science advisory firm that she has operated since 2005. The firm specializes in increasing the value of healthcare industry businesses, portfolios and brands through the development and execution of strategies that are aimed at driving revenue growth and margin expansion.
Potter is also an independent board director. She is on the board of directors of Liberty Mutual Holding Company where she serves on the Risk Committee and is chair of the Compensation Committee; Rite Aid Corporation where she serves on the Nominating and Governance Committee; Insmed where she serves on the Compensation Committee; Axsome Therapeutics where she serves on the Audit and Nominating and Governance Committees and is chair of the Compensation Committee and Proteus Digital Health where she is chair of the Nominating and Governance Committee. Potter is also on the Board of Trustees of The University of Chicago. Formerly, Potter served as an independent board director of Everyday Health, Medco Health Solutions, Express Scripts, eV3, FoxHollow Technologies, Amazon.com and as chair of the Genentech Foundation. Ms. Potter’s career highlights include her service as president and chief operating officer of Genentech, Inc. where, from 2000 to 2005, she helped transform the company into the world’s leading biotechnology company. Under her leadership, Genentech launched seven breakthrough products including Avastin™, the blockbuster cancer treatment. Avastin remains the most successful prescription drug launch ever in pharmaceutical industry. Genentech achieved record sales and earnings growth for nineteen consecutive quarters of the twenty that Potter led the company. Revenue grew more than five-fold to over $5 billion over the same period. During her tenure, she was also co-chair of the Product Portfolio Committee which made all investment, prioritization and “go”/“no go” decisions for Genentech’s drug pipeline that was deemed the most valuable drug pipeline in the world. Genentech was later acquired by Roche.
Prior to Genentech Potter was president of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s (BMS) $4 billion, 3500-person U.S. Cardiovascular and Metabolic Business. In this role, she led the launch of four drugs including the anti-platelet medication Plavix™, making it the fastest growing prescription drug in the industry and setting it on track to be the largest selling prescription drug in the world at that time. She was responsible for leading the commercialization of Pravachol™ and the Glucophage™ Franchise, both multi-billion dollar businesses. Prior to being named president, she was group vice president of Worldwide Medicines Group where she led a team charged with redesigning Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Research and Development strategy, resulting in a forty percent reduction in R&D cycle time. These methods are still used today throughout the pharmaceutical industry. This team also designed and launched the new Global Commercialization Model designed to accelerate revenue growth of the BMS Worldwide Medicines Group. In this role, Potter reported to the president of the BMS Worldwide Medicines Group who was also vice chairman of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Board of Directors.
Myrtle joined Merck in 1982 where she worked for fourteen years. While at Merck she started the new pharmaceutical company, Astra Merck, Inc. She then directed the marketing of the lead Astra Merck product, Prilosec™, and set it on course to become the largest selling prescription drug in the world at that time, and the first prescription drug ever to reach $5 billion in sales. Astra Merck was subsequently acquired by Zeneca to form AstraZeneca. Earlier in her career with Merck she led the commercialization of the anti-ulcer medication Pepcid™ and the commercialization of Merck’s portfolio of adult and pediatric vaccines. Her last position at Merck was vice president of an $800 million U.S. pharmaceutical business unit. Ms. Potter began her career in 1980 with Procter and Gamble in the Patient Care Products Division.
Ms. Potter has been named to FORTUNE Magazine’s annual list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business on three separate occasions. Potter’s business skills have been hailed by numerous other business publications, including BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, TIME Magazine, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Black Enterprise Magazine and Savoy. Myrtle is a sought-after speaker and is represented by the esteemed Washington Speakers Bureau.
Ms. Potter graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Chicago in 1980.
Alan R. Thompson
Chief Executive Officer
Higher Ground Electric Company (HGEC)
Alan R. Thompson Mr. Thompson co-founded Higher Ground Electric Company (HGEC) in 1995, and serves as Chief Executive Officer. HGEC provides labor and equipment resources to build and maintain the country’s power and telecommunications infrastructure. Their customer base includes Georgia Power Company, Union Pacific Railroad, and the U.S. Department of Defense.
An experienced systems and procedures professional, Alan served in an Industrial Engineering role on the management team of the Little Rock Municipal Water Works from 1990 to 1995, leading the utility’s Work Management Program. His responsibilities included the development and implementation of the company's Productivity Enhancement Program.
Mr. Thompson is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Air Force, serving in various assignments, ranging from logistics to management engineering, during the 1980s. His assignments involved creating and applying manpower guides for communications, computer, and electronics work centers at 26 Air Force Communications Command locations, supporting the mission of the Strategic Air Command.
Having been born into a U.S. Navy family, he’s originally from Cocoli, Panama. Mr. Thompson holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Arkansas- Fayetteville (1989), and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Park University (1981). He has also completed advanced executive study programs sponsored by the American Water Works Association (1992), and The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College (2004 & 2009).