17 June 2019

CEO Life: A Q&A with Ian Crosbie


The former banker is now CEO of Belgian listed medical device innovator Sequana Medical

What excites you about Sequana Medical?

We have developed the alfapump®, a very simple platform technology that we believe can bring about a breakthrough in two important disease areas with significant unmet clinical need. First, the growth of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) will make liver cirrhosis a mainstream ‘socially acceptable’ disease, just like coronary artery disease is today. Society will demand a therapy more modern than the drainage developed by the ancient Egyptians. Secondly, volume overload in heart failure is a huge cost to society, responsible for 90% of heart failure-related hospitalisations (which costs the US over $13 billion each year). In both of these markets, we can deliver real outcomes for patients, transform lives and save costs for society. That’s hugely exciting.


Where would you like to see the Company in five years?

Within five years we hope to be launching our second product into the US market, alfapump DSR (direct sodium removal) to treat volume overload in heart failure. This would build on the success of our first product – alfapump for the treatment of ascites (fluid build-up in the abdomen), related to liver disease. These are both achievable goals, particularly following the presentation of positive first-in-man data with DSR at the end of May and approval from the US FDA at the start of June to begin the pivotal POSEIDON clinical trial of the alfapump for liver ascites.

What inspired you to make the transition from the banking world to the corporate world?

I wanted to be in a role where I could make, and live by, decisions rather than provide recommendations. I wanted to be directly responsible for long-term outcomes.

What’s the biggest difference between your old job and your new one?

Being CEO of a life sciences company is a privilege. We have the potential to change the lives of patients for decades to come. We have a responsibility to ensure we do our jobs diligently and relentlessly. The level of regulatory scrutiny is particularly stringent, but patients’ lives are at stake.

What piece of advice would you give someone starting their career?

Take pride in everything you do. Don’t take shortcuts – build a career with real substance and experience – it pays off. Reputation is everything. Learn from your mistakes!

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Sort out your first serve – it’s still not reliable.

What do you do to relax?

Chop wood. So much of my day is spent in meetings and on calls, there is something strangely satisfying about splitting logs and building up a pile at the end of the day…and it gets rid of all the pent-up aggression. Eurostar – this one’s for you!

Night at the Cinema or Netflix?

A touch of Netflix and I’m currently on the third series of Game of Thrones. Quite a long way to go.

What was the last book you read?

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou. Read it. Not only is it a great thriller but also a wonderful reminder of how not to build a start-up company.

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