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October 22, 2008

The ‘Greenie’ Way

Big shout-out to great sponsor the University of Maryland! The A. James Clark School of Engineering and Robert H. Smith School of Business partner to deliver a groundbreaking executive education series. See ad to the right for more details.


We know President Bush likes to give out nicknames, but it took a trip to the Biotechnology Industry Organization on Maryland Ave. to meet the one known as “Greenie.” CEO Jim Greenwood oversees the 1,250-corporate member group, representing for-profit companies like Pfizer, Merck and Amgen as well as universities and cancer centers. Any industry making products using living organisms (real life Jurassic Park stuff) can fall in Jim’s purview.  


The nickname came after rides on Air Force One during Jim’s 12-years in Congress representing Bucks County, PA. A self-described “Save the World Baby Boomer,” he tells us advocating for companies that cure diseases and expand food production is as noble as a job in Congress. In fact, he says it's even more so now that healthcare is a pervasive issue because biotech innovations will lead the fight against chronic diseases. No longer in a state of constant campaigning and fundraising, Jim says he can hone in on issues in a way he couldn’t in Congress and is confident he now knows far more about industry-related bills than the legislators who vote on them.


During his BIO job interview, Jim says he revealed the three secrets of successful lobbying: truth, truth, and truth. (And then make a right to get to Carnegie Hall.) So we believe him when he says the ability of today’s biotech industry to take four billion years of evolution down to single strands of DNA is “the most transformational endeavor in human history.” Beyond advocacy, BIO also organized “speed-dating” for members at its annual convention. Just like it sounds, several thousand of the 20,000 attendees signed up to meet with company reps of their choice. If both parties approved, a 30-minute meeting was arranged. The result was 14,500 meetings, in 500 booths, over just three days (and perhaps a few confused spouses).


The walls are certainly on message. Jim says BIO also helps tech start-ups, and a recent CEO conference in New York drew 2,000 investors to meet two hundred biotech firms. When not in his office, you might find Jim out birding. During a recent trip to Tempe, Jim spotted 10 new birds to add to the 300 on his life list. And, if you walk by his office, you might hear him “pshhh-ing,” to draw the attention of curious winged friends. Interestingly, we hear (from our most unreliable sources) that pshhh-ing can also be used to woo the vote of West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd.

Cardinal Bank
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