CEO Q&A: Maria Halasz, Cellmid

Published 30 January 2013 11:48, Updated 16 May 2013 10:22

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CEO Q&A: Maria Halasz, Cellmid

“I read anything and everything relating to our products.” - Cellmid CEO Maria Halasz

How has your industry changed in the past 10 years?

Dramatically; 10 years ago the only mature biotech company we had was CSL. Now we have several large companies and the smaller ones consolidated significantly. Those that survived the GFC are on a real growth path and there is enormous value in the small cap biotech sector. Our skills have also matured. We now have service providers, such as clinical and preclinical trial specialists that are world leaders in their field.

What has been the most challenging task of your professional career?

Turning the company around; I took on the CEO role five years ago when the original business failed, there were serious funding issues, a big legal action was in progress with one of the largest universities and the board was divided. Turning this around to our current position with a growing business, cash flow and an outstanding board has been a challenging journey.

How did you manage that?

I still don’t know how but the best thing I managed to do was to convince my current chairman, David King, to join the board four years ago. He has not only been a great mentor but got down the trenches with me.

What are you reading?

Twists in the Sand by Rick Wilkinson, which is the story of Beach Energy going back 50 years. It is a page turner on entrepreneurial drive through some pretty hairy legal battles. It is the good, bad and really ugly of corporate life with a Hollywood ending, at least for now.

How do you improve your own skills?

In biotech technical skills are essential. I read anything and everything relating to our products including scientific publications, industry reviews and trend analyses. I also tend to do a formal course on management or law every couple of years.

Where do you do your best thinking?

On planes; having 10-13 hours without mobiles and emails creates the space that is essential for creativity. Qantas, you don’t need wifi on your long haul flights!