North­eastern alumnus Frank Con­della trav­eled from London to his old campus last week to describe the pro­fes­sional doors that opened to him in inter­na­tional phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals after he earned his phar­macy degree in 1977 and his master of busi­ness admin­is­tra­tion in 1984.
Most recently, Con­della served as the CEO of SkyePharma, working from London.

Pre­vi­ously, he held other major posi­tions, including CEO of Faulding Phar­ma­ceu­tical Co.; vice pres­i­dent of Spe­cialty Care Prod­ucts at Hoffman-​​La Roche and vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager of the Led­erle divi­sion of Amer­ican Home Products.

Back on Northeastern’s campus to dis­cuss raising ven­ture cap­ital during Global Entre­pre­neur­ship Week on Nov. 20, Con­della told an audi­ence of mostly phar­macy stu­dents that he never imag­ined his inter­na­tional suc­cesses when he was sit­ting in class­rooms at North­eastern so many years ago.

I had no idea I would be involved in inter­na­tional busi­ness when I was sit­ting in class­rooms like this,” he said.

His odyssey began after working a few years as a hos­pital phar­ma­cist and deciding to return to North­eastern for an MBA. His inter­ests were broader than pure phar­macy work. He wanted to take an entre­pre­neurial approach. And he wanted to see the world.

The com­bi­na­tion of a phar­macy and busi­ness degree has been tremen­dous,” he said. The sci­ence back­ground gave him the knowl­edge to easily con­verse with sci­en­tists, and the busi­ness degree gave him a tool to develop lead­er­ship skills in the areas of trans­la­tional research.

He described the excite­ment of working at SkyePharma during a Phase 3 trial for an asthma drug that involved 2,500 patients in 30 coun­tries, and he fur­ther elu­ci­dated on issues facing phar­ma­ceu­tical com­pa­nies nav­i­gating the reg­u­la­tions of 27 coun­tries within the Euro­pean Union. A cen­tral­ized process for devel­op­ment of mol­e­c­ular enti­ties in the Euro­pean Union is one that allows each country to retain a con­nec­tion with the process of drug devel­op­ment, he explained.

There are also major dif­fer­ences in health care in Europe, where the payer is a gov­ern­ment agency. This dif­fer­ence in health care sys­tems can usu­ally add about two years to the time it takes to get a drug approved for market, he said.

Con­della encour­aged stu­dents to seek out inter­na­tional oppor­tu­ni­ties when pos­sible. He cred­ited the co-​​op pro­gram as a good vehicle to take them to new sites. “It’s a great oppor­tu­nity to travel and see some things,” he said.

Con­della was on of about a dozen speakers par­tic­i­pating in the speaker’s series hosted by the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences during Global Entre­pre­neur­ship Week.

By Susan Salk