Inhalation Sciences’ new CEO Lena Heffler: science, sales, win-win
In her last CEO role Lena Heffler tripled the number of customers for a blood cancer analysis tool—in just 24 months. Her insight? Reaching out to a new, previously untargeted, segment. “I’m always curious, analytical and engaged,” ISAB’s new CEO says “my first meetings with ISAB were exciting! It felt like time to take things to the next level.”
With powerful expertise in both science and sales, Lena Heffler has worked on the launches of a wide range of innovative labtech and medtech devices—from Point of Care blood analysers to automated microscopes for microbes and fungi to biosensors. A trained clinical immunologist with a research-based M.Sc. from Karolinska Institutet and a M.Sc. in biochemistry from Uppsala University, Lena knows how the best innovation gives researchers today what they’ll need tomorrow, and how to show them that, with maximum credibility and impact. With senior roles at Aerocrine, Philips and Agilent Technologies (amongst others), it’s easy to see why ISAB actively sought Lena Heffler out when current CEO Fredrik Sjövall decided to step down.
What was it that attracted her to ISAB?
“I’m endlessly curious. I like to go find out for myself what a company’s really like. So when I was approached I took a load of meetings. I met with the CEO and major investor. Then CSO Per Gerde, then Commercialization Manager Tom Sundelin. At each meeting I got more and more excited. I saw how much the company had already built and put in place. It felt like now really was the time to take it to the next level, and that I could help with that.”
What does she believe is the potential of PreciseInhale?
“Most importantly for me is that PreciseInhale provides a real solution to a real need. When you do anything in science there are a million things that can go wrong. You can either keep doing them over and over again. Or you can do them a few times, precisely, and get it right. The more you can control a process the better it is. There are so many opportunities in inhalation right now. From drug development to toxicology and environmental research, from formulating new substances to nanoparticles. It’s a high-potential field, and success always boils down to having a great protocol where you can compare results and data. In all scientific niche areas people look for a Gold Standard. Something they can truly rely on to deliver the best results. I believe PreciseInhale has the potential to be that gold standard. To be the technology that lets researchers seize those new opportunities.”
Lena Heffler in action
In her most recent work, and her last CEO role, Lena Heffler stepped back in to help launch the second generation of the blood cancer diagnostic analysis tool she originally launched 10 years ago. Her willingness to challenge thinking and find new strategies shows powerfully Lena Heffler’s strengths and style: “When I came back aboard I noticed that we were focussing exclusively on lab personnel as targets. But we weren’t talking to Doctors. I believe that when you’re marketing products you have to dare to think bigger. So I went to Doctor’s congresses and shook lots of people’s hands to identify who we wanted to work with. I found two partners at large medtech companies whose capabilities, combined with our analytic tool, made a total solution that gave everything to doctors, from diagnosis to monitoring. The result was we had three times as many customers and prospects on the market, for one third of the budget. It took 24 months to launch the whole thing, after 10 years of trying!”