Why did Liz Bar­rett turn her back on a top job at No­var­tis in ex­change for the helm of a biotech you nev­er heard of?

Liz Bar­rett wasn’t look­ing for a job in biotech when she got the call from a cor­po­rate head­hunter she knew well. The tim­ing was ter­ri­ble — just in­to a new job as head of No­var­tis’ glob­al, $14 bil­lion on­col­o­gy group un­der a new CEO look­ing to push a longterm change in cul­ture.

That’s a big deal. And she had moved over from the head role at Pfiz­er on­col­o­gy, an­oth­er Big Phar­ma with a ma­jor mis­sion in on­col­o­gy.

There was al­so one oth­er prob­lem: She didn’t know the com­pa­ny. What was Uro­Gen Phar­ma about? And while she knew of ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Arie Bellde­grun, who led Kite to a $12 bil­lion buy­out, she had nev­er met him be­fore.

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