Heritage Partners Expands Executive Search Practice to Atlanta

ATLANTA, GA – May 8, 2019 – Heritage Partners International (HPI), a leading retained executive search firm, announced expansion to the Southeast U.S. with the opening of an office in Atlanta.  Charles Grebenstein will head the new office located in the technology hub in Atlanta’s northern metro.  Grebenstein is a cofounder of the firm.

The new Atlanta office extends the firm’s presence to six major U.S science and technology hubs including Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.

The office positions Heritage Partners’ retained executive search practice in a vibrant and rapidly growing Atlanta entrepreneurial community.  In addition to the biotech vertical in Atlanta, the new office also serves the life sciences hub in North Carolina, the digital healthcare hub in Nashville, and the agtech sector in the Southeast U.S.

Formed 16 years ago, HPI focuses on C-suite assignments in high-growth life science environments. HPI’s core competence is finding and recruiting executives who understand the business/science interface and growing emerging businesses. Verticals include biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, medical diagnostics, digital healthcare and agtech.

“Managing transformative growth has always been a serious leadership challenge,” said Grebenstein. “There is an art to bringing commercial competence to visionary ideas.  The trick is to find leaders who understand the applications, who can develop the team, and who can meet the management challenges without compromising the creativity.”

Glucose Monitoring: Still on the Frontier of Innovation

”…To a large degree, medical care depends on a transfer of information.”

There is almost no overnight success.  That is why Alphabet subsidiary Verily’s cancelation of work on a glucose-sensing contact lens last fall shouldn’t be a large surprise…nor should it be viewed as the last word on the concept.  The history of glucose monitoring is replete with fits and starts, and with some specular success.

In 2002, Cygnus, Inc., launched The GlucoWatch – the first approved commercial transdermal continuous glucose monitor. The GlucoWatch failed to gain traction, however, because:

  • There was no reimbursement for the device at the time;
  • It was expensive;
  • The technology was novel but not yet bullet-proof; and
  • The data was interesting, but difficult to transmit, store, access, share, analyze and act on.

More recently, advances in glucose monitoring by companies including Dexcom and Medtronic/MiniMed have been life-changing for diabetes patients and their caregivers.

Verily’s project cancellation does point to some relevant truths:

  • The management of complex diseases depends on timely and accurate information;
  • Collecting, transmitting, recording, analyzing and acting on clinical data is intolerant of failure;
  • Despite of the urgency for a better solution, all the links in the solution set must work in concert and “the fleet sails no faster than the slowest ship”; and perhaps most significantly,
  • It was an initiative by an information company.

Things to be considered in glucose monitoring go well beyond new detection technology. For the entire generation of new physiological wearables – including new glucose monitors – to be both useful and competitive, they will need to be information-driven and include:

  • Seamless and user-friendly data collection, transmission, aggregation and analysis methodologies;
  • Integration into existing and evolving medical information systems;
  • integration into the dominant next-gen smart phone and home-assistant tech;
  • Clinically relevant, actionable information presentation;
  • Relevance to the payers, other interested third parties and population health;
  • Data security and data access; and
  • Synergistic data-driven alliances with the relevant device and pharma companies.

Better, cheaper, faster glucose measurement technology will always be welcomed; but in the end it’s all about the data.


Charlie Grebenstein


† Johns Hopkins’ Barbara Starfield, M.D. from Primary Care: Concept, Evaluation and Policy in 1992

Heritage Partners has published a “A History of Digital Healthcare” (http://bit.ly/2u9AIoI) that incorporates advances in glucose monitoring as an allegorical representation of the historical integration of technology and clinical medicine.

Meditations on Early Stage Innovation – The Talent Valley of Death

The Valley of Death is a much-suffered phenomenon in the financing of early-stage science-based start-ups: ideas too late for basic research funding, but too early for venture or industrial financing.  Less talked about, but just as real and painful, is a related Talent Valley of Death.  Critical to the viability of such early-stage ventures is attracting a founding CEO who can articulate a compelling and fundable vision for the concept.

But the difficulty of finding such talent and connecting it to promising early stage ventures is as frequent a failure point as early financing.  Innovation geography obeys cluster economics.  Start-ups, venture backers, entrepreneurs, skilled workers, service providers, and acquirers co-locate around a small number of zip codes.  This creates deep labor markets for skilled workers, ready availability of expertise and resources, and collective learning.  The ability to conceive and execute start-up concepts is significantly enhanced, the perceived and actual risk proportionately lowered.

But what if you are outside an innovation cluster?  The geographical dispersion of basic research funds to research universities does not overlay innovation clusters. Indeed many, if not most, inventions arising from basic research are born outside of them. They are geographically marooned, potentially exciting and viable in the right hands, but much less likely even to get to the starting line.

When I was at the University of Chicago, we managed a portfolio of inventions from Prof. Susan Lindquist which we pitched aggressively to venture in the late nineties and early 2000’s, with consistent feedback that this was too early and too risky.  In 2001 Dr. Lindquist moved to MIT as Director of the Whitehead Institute.   Rapidly thereafter a start-up called FoldRx was founded around the portfolio and venture funded, going on to successfully develop the drug tafamidis, and to be acquired by Pfizer in 2010.  The only thing that changed in this story was the zip code of the inventor.

The lens of executive search is a particularly instructive one with which to look at this founding CEO challenge.  To power an effective search, 200 candidates that meet the spec might be approached, 20 might be qualified, interested, and available, and 5 may be interviewed to result in one successful hire.  Such a search in Chicago might yield 2 qualified candidates.  In Boston or San Francisco: 200 readily: at least a two order-of-magnitude different in talent density.

It’s not practical to use executive search for university start-ups.  Among other factors, there is no money.  But it speaks to a feature of the valley of death: the need for expensive resources when they are least likely to be available.  And it helps quantify just how underpowered the talent search is in this situation, even if there was money and bandwidth for it.

What is the cost of this geographical mismatch?  I’d warrant hundreds if not thousands of lost projects and start-ups, lives not saved or improved; swathes of wasted research dollars, wasted effort and talent, lost opportunity, lost economic value.

Small improvements could make a big difference. Basic research funding into North American universities (including some $35 billion/yr of combined NIH and NSF extramural funding) yields about 25,000 inventions per year, 16,000 patent applications, and 1000 start-ups (here).  Currently enough invention “baby turtles” hatch on the beach and make it to the water to keep the innovation economy humming.  But the number unnecessarily eaten by the “seagulls” of distance and isolation from resources is, I’d observe from experience, shockingly high.

So what are those outside of innovation clusters to do?

  1. Recognize reality. In cluster economics, the rich get richer.  Build the best possible connection to cluster regions, become effective satellite feeders to them and allies with them;
  2. Funds and talent are attracted to critical masses of invention and opportunity: well-curated, well-articulated, accessible;
  3. Look for unserved niches where you can build your own cluster that can compete at a national level.

Alan Thomas

RSA and Heritage Partners announce Strategic US partnership

RSA-HP-logos-smallerEstablished Life Sciences talent firms to modernise Talent Consultancy at highest levels

New York & London, 17th June 2015:

RSA, the world’s largest executive Talent Consultancy for the Life Sciences and US Life Sciences executive search firm Heritage Partners, today announced an exclusive partnership.

The combination, which will operate under the banner Heritage Partners-RSA, brings together the experience and advisory abilities of the two established Life Sciences specialists. It will offer clients skilled local expertise across the United States, including East and West coasts and access to an unparalleled global presence. It will also extend unique due diligence on candidates for senior permanent and exec interim positions, based upon

RSA’s Proof of Candidate™ and Talent equity™ approach.

A shared focus on people will ensure that the partnership seamlessly supports clients and candidates through every step of the hiring process. Innovative new services will also bring much-needed modernisation to a recruitment market too dependent upon legacy approaches.

Heritage Partners has broad US coverage and domain expertise on both coasts, with over 20 years of experience in Life Sciences recruiting, advisory services and placing industry leadership roles. RSA is the world’s largest Talent Consultancy for the Life Sciences, specialising in due diligence and evidence-based analysis across search, exec interims and boards. Both firms share an ambition to modernise the way Talent Consultancy is performed at senior level.

“This partnership will extend the presence of both firms across the US and worldwide,”Matt Vossler, Partner with Heritage Partners, explained. “Focusing on the growth markets in the Life Sciences, our innovative, evidence-based approach aims to shake up Talent Consultancy, enabling the industry to thrive in the face of a new era of digital media and biotechnology.”

Chris Molloy, CEO of RSA said “We are delighted to have this exclusive relationship with the team at Heritage Partners. It offers Heritage and our US-based clients’ access to an unparalleled level of expertise and global coverage, and it reflects our shared values of excellence in Knowledge, Networks and Service”.

Elizabeth McCabe Partner of RSA in North America said “Together we will change client expectations of how senior-level Talent Consultancy is performed for the Life Sciences in North America. We look forward to a great future”.

About RSA

RSA is the world’s largest Talent Consultancy for the Life Sciences industry, with offices in New York, London, Brussels, Frankfurt, Basel, Istanbul, Singapore and Hong Kong. To find out more go to www.theRSAgroup.com.

Your Career in “Specialty Pharma”

Med Ad News; October 2011 — Tig Conger, partner at Heritage Partners provides perspective on creating a successful specialty pharma career. Click here to read the article.

New Faces For A New Pharma

Med Ad News; October 2009 — Peter Goossens and Matt Vossler, partners at Heritage Partners interviewed the executives that provided their insights to this article. Click here to read the article.

Launch Success in Specialty Medicine

Med Ad News; August 2009 — Successfully launching specialty medicines requires marketers to adopt a new set of skills and priorities. Tig Conger, partner at Heritage Partners interviewed the participating executives and provides his insights. Click here to read the article.

Leadership: From Big Pharma to Biotech

Med Ad News; October 2008 — Although the skills required to lead in both big pharma and specialty/biotechnology companies are similar, the application of those skills is what determines success. Tig Conger, partner at Heritage Partners interviewed the participating executives and provides his insights. Click here to read the article.

What Leaders Need

Med Ad News; October 2007 — Leaders from across the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry discuss the experiences and characteristics they possess that have helped them succeed in a challenging business. Tig Conger, partner at Heritage Partners interviewed the participating executives and provides his insights. Click here to read the article.