UNLIKE MOST lawyers entering a big commercial firm, Dan Devine sought to get out as quickly as possible. He moved over to an in-house role, then to business development, and finally became CEO of a leading pharmaceutical company.
And it wasn’t an easy feat. Despite now overseeing a company making significant inroads on the bio-technology market, Devine had to convince previous employers that just because he was a lawyer, he still had the drive to move into business development and be successful there.
Fresh out of law school, Devine took on what he then considered an “exciting opportunity” to join Dewey Valentine, a big Wall Street firm. However, devoid of interest in making partner and realising he could not identify with his work, he decided to join a pharmaceutical company.
“I wasn’t targeting an industry, I just wanted to be in-house,” he said. “I felt that I’d be better working for a single company and identifying myself with it.”
Later, he moved on to Warner-Lambert, a pharmaceutical company at that time on the brink of launching some significant products. Although he was a representative on business development deals, Devine said he often found himself sitting in meetings with cross-functional teams of marketers, sales and manufacturing teams.
“I found that lawyers never really got to run the meeting,” he said. “We were purely a service and that kind of got to me after a while.
“I said: ‘I’d like to move over into the business side’ and they said: ‘You can’t do that.’ I asked why not and they said: ‘Because you’re a lawyer and lawyers can’t run businesses!”
It was, however, a three-to-four-year process before he could work his way out of the law side of the organisation and into the business.
“People didn’t see it as a good thing because I was a lawyer,” he said. “But when I went over to the business side and realised I liked it, I never went back.”
After structuring a deal with Pfizer, Devine made contacts within the New York city-based business. When Warner-Lambert was bought out by Pfizer, his new employers offered him the position of director, managing Pfizer’s international business development group.
Two years later, Devine started his own biotech company — Acceptys Inc — which was later acquired alongside a German Company to form Patrys Limited.
Now, as CEO of Patrys, Devine still does not have a background in medicine, but he’s deeply passionate about the potential of the company’s drugs, which offer promising treatments for a number of different diseases.