How following a shared purpose can save lives: Insights from Curium CEO Renaud Dehareng on the future of cancer
Renaud Dehareng is the CEO of Curium, the world’s leading nuclear medicine company. Curium provides life-changing diagnostics and treatment to millions of cancer patients around the world. It has recently refined its purpose to redefining the experience of cancer – improving the way cancer is diagnosed and treated.
Here, Renaud talks to The Beautiful Truth about focus, perseverance, the power of nuclear medicine to impact people and patients, and why Curium employees are his priority.
This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.
TBT: Tell us about the work Curium does and why it is so important.
Renaud: Let me start by saying that in everything we do, our priority is on making an impact on people and patients – a steadfast focus on redefining the experience of cancer through our trusted legacy in nuclear medicine. Our diagnostic products have supported physicians around the world by precisely identifying cancer and determining the effectiveness of treatment. Importantly, we are leveraging this legacy to develop game-changing cancer therapies which are less painful and more targeted when compared to traditional chemotherapy or hormone therapy – ultimately improving the experience of cancer for patients and those at their sides.
TBT: How did Curium come to be the global leader it is today and how did you get involved?
Renaud: In 2015 I was the CEO of IBA Molecular – one of around a dozen nuclear medicine companies operating around the world. I realised that in order to generate the necessary capital to enable much-needed innovation, we would require a larger organisation. The answer was to bring roughly half of these companies together to create the worldwide leader in nuclear medicine and a scale of operations that could drive innovation. This new organisation had to be defined by a shared purpose and motivators.
Today I’m extremely proud that everyone at Curium – from regulatory, R&D, operations, compliance, distribution, supply chain, commercial, project management, and administrative teams have this shared purpose and a personal role to play in making an everyday impact on people and patients around the world. It is our legacy of reliable and consistent nuclear medicine solutions that allowed us to become the global leader and help us to refine our purpose to include cancer therapy.
TBT: Why is being purpose-driven important to you? What does it bring to Curium and your thousands of employees?
Renaud: It won’t be a surprise for me to say that today people are looking for more than just a salary from their work. Of course an income is important for us all, but I believe that for Curium in particular there are three unique things that motivate everyone at Curium and drive our shared purpose:
The first is the feeling that you’re doing something important and making a difference to a patient’s experience of cancer – ultimately to save a life. It is incredibly moving to speak with cancer patients and listen to their personal cancer journeys, and learn that Curium’s product was used to help.
“Curium employees can go home to their families and proudly tell them about the patients they helped to save. They can say, ‘You know what, today we’ve done something for patients of which I’m really proud.'”
The second motivator is the opportunity employees have for self-development at Curium. We try to provide all our people with ways of developing new skillsets and learning new things across physics, engineering, clinical, pharmaceutical, and management disciplines.
And finally, the third motivator is that Curium is doing something to the experience of cancer that no one has done before. This creates a sensation of excitement, anticipation, and pride which together are incredibly contagious. By focusing on our mission and following our shared purpose – each Curium employee is helping to save a life.
TBT: Tell us about your journey to expand into therapeutics, and what your vision is.
Renaud: Nuclear medicine has traditionally been used for diagnostics – which is the important foundation of everything we do at Curium. However, from our R&D programs we discovered that there was an opportunity to make a broader impact on patients by using another type of molecule for cancer treatment. This treatment is in many cases more efficient than hormone therapy and painful chemotherapy, and can be more effective with fewer side effects. As a result our approach to treatment is completely changing the experience of cancer.
I should stress that while our foundation diagnostic business remains extremely important and recent expansion into therapeutics is also vital, both are equally important for both patients and our people. At the end of each day – or when each shift finishes, Curium employees can go home to their families and proudly tell them about the patients they helped to save. They can say, “You know what, today we’ve done something for patients of which I’m really proud.”
TBT: Why is perseverance so important for an organisation like Curium?
Renaud: In the execution of any business strategy, there are many obstacles that can normally be overcome by perseverance. An example for Curium is that we have clinical trials underway in the US for a prostate cancer therapy product which involves a very complex production process for the isotope molecules. They need to go from Helsinki to New York and then to Miami, to finally arrive at one of the hospitals in Florida within 48 hours of production in Helsinki. Every single step of the journey is an obstacle and if a ball is dropped anywhere in the process, individual patients won’t be able to participate in the clinical trial. Perseverance throughout this journey will ensure that we ultimately get the results of the clinical trials to demonstrate to the FDA that the product works, the product should be on the market, and be available for everyone in the USA.
“There are two things that keep me moving: the shared purpose we have of developing diagnostics and therapies for people with cancer, and the motivation of continuing to build an organisation where people are engaged in our purpose.”
TBT: How do you filter your vision through to every team member across the globe? How do you say “You’re part of this”?
Renaud: Fundamentally, we need to ensure that everyone at Curium has a shared experience of pride and purpose, which is not easy as we have locations around the world. For me as CEO, it is important that our purpose and motivators are understood and embraced by every Curium employee. We do this by sharing the stories of our teams and patients they serve as often as possible within the company. We also – albeit more difficult to do – try to have our teams meet individual cancer patients to make that crucial personal connection so that employees can see first-hand the impact of their hard work. Importantly, we also get together for sporting and charity activities – such as the recent St. Louis triathlon where 60 Curium employees competed.
TBT: What have the last ten years taught you about leadership?
Renaud: I believe that I have evolved as a leader over the last decade. Years ago, my modus-operandi was to do most things myself. However as I built a highly-capable team around me, I evolved to do things differently: now I’m focused on two things – setting the strategy and motivating people to deliver. With capable people and teams in place, and combined with clear motivators and purpose – the rest follows naturally. Ten years later, as a CEO I now focus on where I can have the most impact on the business and on supporting our people to do their best.
TBT: What do you want your legacy to be?
Renaud: My legacy should first and foremost be the patients and people on whose lives Curium has made an everyday impact – whether on cancer diagnosis or treatment. I want to ensure that my legacy includes a team that’s not only delivering, but also focused on doing better than we are now and continually developing, innovating, and growing. I take great pride in thinking that the next CEO is already at Curium, and that we’re developing him or her internally to take Curium to the next level.
TBT: Finally, what keeps you motivated on tough days?
Renaud: There are two things that keep me moving: the shared purpose we have of developing diagnostics and therapies for people with cancer, and the motivation of continuing to build an organisation where people are engaged in our purpose, motivated, and ultimately happy. If you visit any of our facilities around the world you will find highly motivated people following our purpose. I see our people take great pride in their work, feel secure in their roles, confident in their development, and motivated to move forward; seeing this is what motivates me.