Strategy – and Humanity
Sitting Down With... Jeanne Hecht, CEO of Ora
Phoebe Harkin | | Interview
Tell us about your path to ophthalmology...
I actually spent 23 of my 25 years in pharma services within the field of oncology. I came over to ophthalmology in 2018, when I was approached by a head-hunter who was looking for external board members to support the evolution of Ora. I learned more about the company and came to adore the family who started it – the Abelsons. They are a special family; very passionate about advancing ophthalmology and supporting their pharmaceutical and device customers as they bring new medical interventions to the market. And that’s what brought me over.
Right after I agreed to join, a long-time work colleague and friend of mine died of ocular melanoma. Christine was a larger-than-life woman who ran a non-profit group focused on advancing clinical research. We had spent a lot of time together trying to progress clinical research as a care option. I didn’t even know that she was sick. It was heart-wrenching. There I was, about to start work in ophthalmology, and Christine died of ocular melanoma. It felt like the field was calling to me.
How did you transition from board member to CEO?
I joined the board in 2018, then took over the role of Chief Strategy Officer in January 2019. And finally assumed the role of CEO in August. The board, the family, and I were working behind the scenes to plan my move to CEO. We wanted to be careful because Ora is a special company; it is a 44-year-old, family-owned, privately-held organization, and many of the employees have been here for 10, 15, or even 20 plus years.
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