On June 3rd, 2016 Shire completed its $32 billion combination with Baxalta, making Shire the global market leader in rare diseases and highly specialized conditions. The combined company now employs more than 22,000 people across more than 100 countries. Among those employees are two MSEM alumni who played an important role in this historic combination of two biotech giants.
Mert Aktar (MSEM ’05), Senior Director of Corporate Due Diligence at Shire, and Sean Hemingway (MSEM ’01). Vice President and Head of Strategy and Operations Efficiency at Baxalta, first met during pre-close integration planning efforts. It was in one of their initial meetings that the two realized they had both earned an M.S. in Engineering Management at Tufts Gordon Institute. From that moment onward, each knew he had a counterpart to rely on. “When you meet someone who has gone through the same program you have, it gives you a better appreciation for who this person is going to be, how they will approach their work, and what their attitude will be” said Hemingway.
The work the two conducted was enormous in scope, complex in nature, and under an extremely condensed timeline. “To put it in simple terms, we were leading our teams in a project to diagnose two companies, put them together, and develop a roadmap for the future,” said Hemingway, who added that “a project of this magnitude is always much more complicated than that.” The two were also able to leverage their technical backgrounds and years of experience in biotech to assist in in the integration of the companies’ Technical Operations groups. “Sean and I both saw the value of TechOps as a strategic partner, not just a service provider within the company” said Aktar.
Aktar and Hemingway acknowledge that their common background along with the knowledge and skills they gained in the MSEM program contributed greatly to their successful work on the combination. Aktar notes that in the MSEM program “business acumen gets layered on technical thinking that is essential when dealing with people at all levels of the integration.” The two team-leaders were able to balance technical execution while working toward a strategic vision – a skill that is emphasized through the MSEM program. Hemingway added that “one of the tie-ins to the MSEM program is the idea that a technical leader is someone who understands the different disciplines that are coming to the table, but who can also deal with them on a human level.”
With the combination now complete, Aktar and Hemingway will continue their work in support of Shire’s strategic business priorities. They both feel strongly that their ability to work together effectively on the combination highlights not only the strength of the MSEM education but also the power of its alumni network. Hemingway, who has now assumed a new role as Head of Product Operations and Network Excellence at Shire, states: “the network can provide a lot of insight and value and we can all benefit by staying tuned to it as we move through our careers.”