Paul Zhang is currently a Partner at BlueStar Bioadviors LLC., having been a Partner at Easton Associates LLC, a Managing Director at Navigant (which acquired Easton) and ClearView Healthcare Partners. He is now an accomplished life science consultant, but his career began in the research and development group at Bristol-Myers Squibb, a world-renowned pharmaceutical company. And he started his academic training as an undergraduate student in the Biochemistry Department at Nanjing University and as a graduate student at Rutgers University. It seemed like the ideal career path for many biology graduates. What made Paul change his mind and devote himself to consulting, and eventually become a partner at world-class consulting companies? Mybiogate had the opportunity to interview Paul during China Focus @ San Francisco and discussed the question in detail.

When we asked why he switched from R & D to the consulting industry, Paul said that originally it was pure coincidence – he was a client to Easton Associates. On deeper reflection, the major reason was that during that period, he analyzed himself and eventually found his interests, goals and strengths. He said, “Know your goals, recognize your strengths, try your best and seek for opportunities.” Therefore, Paul carefully analyzed his personality and realized he is more a “thinker” rather than a “doer”. He then attended Cornell University’s Johnson School of Business. During this period, he actively learned the consulting industry, looked for various opportunities, and practiced the core skills. After earning his MBA, Paul has always wanted to focus on how to commercialize products. When he worked for Knoll Pharmaceuticals, he participated in the Phase III commercialization of Humira which is the number one selling drug in the world (Knoll was acquired by Abbott Pharmaceuticals in 2002), with global sales in 2018 of nearly $ 20 billion.

After that, Paul joined Pharmacia as a senior manager. During this period, he mainly involved in the business planning of the company’s primary care products. After two rounds of acquisitions, Paul joined Eastern Associate and began his career in consulting. During his ten-year career at Eastern (acquired by Navigant in 2012), many European and American pharmaceutical companies wanted to further explore the market in China and seek opportunities. He honed his consulting skills on the rapidly evolving China market, built a consulting team in Shanghai and Beijing over the next 10 years, advising clients on China market entry strategies and BD&L approaches. He successfully built a team of 15 members in China from scratch, setting up offices in Beijing and Shanghai, and developed major clients such as Bayer, Roche, Sanofi and others. 

With a strong desire to build his own firm, and apply the experience gained in the last 25 years of a pharmaceutical/consulting career, Paul teamed up with his former colleagues at Bluestar. At Bluestar, Paul and colleagues are rapidly growing the team, offering services in commercial and BD strategies for pipeline assets, integrating scientific acumen with commercial industry knowhow to generate experience-based, actionable advice to global client management teams. Currently, Bluestar mainly focuses on these three aspects of business: 1) Pharmaceutical product lifecycle management. Mainly this is about how to maximize the value of existing/developing products. This includes new indications for the product, improved formulations, etc., expanding the utility of existing products and improving efficacy, safety and patient experience. 2) Help life sciences and pharmaceutical companies develop practical strategies and plans before next round of funding, provide strategies to customers on product introduction, investment and acquisition to avoid potential risk.3) Provide evaluations on innovative projects/products for life sciences and pharmaceutical companies, determine the future commercialization prospects, innovation levels and quality of the product, and the potential of future implementation.

One of the key competitive advantages of Bluestar is that the leadership team has deep expertise and industry network. For example, in Paul’s career, he has led over 800 engagements serving clients from startups to top ten pharmaceutical companies. He is also a preeminent expert on the rapidly evolving China market. The Bluestar team can help establish successful partnerships for major Chinese and American pharmaceutical companies. Regardless if a US company wants to enter the Chinese market, or a Chinese pharmaceutical company wants to enter the US market, Bluestar can provide a variety of dedicated consulting services. 

According to Paul, the current hotspots for R&D and investment include cancer treatments and orphan drugs. In the next 5-10 years, due to new technologies, such as gene editing, new biomarker discovery, new diagnostic technologies, etc., all major companies worldwide will seek new breakthroughs in drug innovation and technological improvement, especially cancer treatment. Neuromuscular disorders, Alzheimer’s and other fields have great potential as well. This provides great opportunities for Bluestar to provide market strategies and strategic guidance for Chinese and American pharmaceutical companies. 

Towards the end, Paul mentioned that he has attended many conferences organized by China Focus in the past. The conferences are well organized and provides high quality presentations and panel discussions. Paul said, “This time I am very glad to have the opportunity to collaborate with China Focus as a panel moderator for the first time. I am fortunate to talk about the potential needs of the Chinese market and challenges to succeed. I expect that there will be more cooperation and collaboration opportunities between US and Chinese pharmaceutical companies, and then will need a smart and dedicated consulting team like Bluestar BioAdvisors along the journey.”