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Dr. Bassam Damaj | CEO | Innovus Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Dr. Bassam Damaj: Proven Track Record of Doing Commercial and Partnership Deals, Building a Rich Pipeline and Turning Around Biotech and Pharma Companies

To lead an organization effectively, the CEO of the organization should have certain skills, talents, and abilities to utilize available resources optimally for the successful growth of the organization. Every best performing CEO should have strong communication skills, be able to build healthy relationships, and learn from the past. Confidence in communication is key in any setting and as someone in charge. A CEO must learn how to communicate effectively to boost morale when necessary. A confident communicator is trustworthy, and able to rally those they are managing, and complete tasks and projects more efficiently. A CEO must have the ability to build relationships with employees and both current and future investors to be successful. These strong relationships often create loyalty and a positive image for the CEO and the company. A CEO must have the ability to learn from past experiences and instill lessons for the future. As mistakes happen, it is imperative that the CEO is able to understand how they occurred and how those mistakes can be used as steps to building success.
Dr. Bassam Damaj, CEO of Innovus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 
Dr. Damaj is an award-winning scientist and experienced drug developer. He created a breakthrough test for anthrax and helped bring drugs to market at such major companies as Pfizer, Genentech, Pharmacopeia, Tanabe Seiyaku (now Mitsubishi-Tanabe) and Apricus Biosciences. But Damaj is much more than just a technical expert. He’s also proven to be an adept biotech and pharma chief executive, with the talent and connections needed to spot the potential for products and growth where others can’t. In a recent stint as CEO of Apricus Biosciences, for instance, Damaj pulled the company from the brink of bankruptcy and transformed it into a thriving full-fledged pharmaceutical company with a full pipeline of products and a number of important deals with major drugmakers such as Takeda, Abbott and Novartis-Sandoz. “We were able to turn the company around,” says Damaj. Investors also know that Damaj invested his own money in Innovus and did not take salary for three years, he has long been familiar with Innovus, even though he became the CEO in 2013. That’s because Innovus started as a spin-off of Bio-Quant. When Damaj was running Bio-Quant, making millions of dollars as a contract research organization for drug companies, he also had a small drug discovery operation called FastTrack. At the time, Damaj wanted to focus Bio-Quant on contract research, so he spun off FastTrack in 2009 and then it merged with another small company to form Innovus. Now he’s picking up the reins again. A final reason why investors are enthusiastic is that Innovus is a fast and nimble company. It can get products to market quickly without needing to build a sales force first because of Damaj’s network of partners. And when sales do rise, the company can meet market demand quickly simply by contracting out the manufacturing.
Extensive Scientific and Clinical Research 
Competitors of Innovus Pharma, in the over the counter and consumer health products industry, typically formulate products using combinations of ingredients already on the market with the intention of spending significantly on marketing to differentiate from others. Innovus Pharma takes a drastically different approach leveraging the expertise of Dr. Damaj to use his extensive scientific and clinical research and conduct pre- and post- market clinical trials to develop safe and more effective products for its’ consumer base. This leads to maintaining a target audience who can trust that Innovus Pharma will provide the best possible product on the overthe- counter market.
Valuing Trustworthiness 
Dr. Damaj feels that it is critical to ensure that all employees clearly understand their roles and responsibilities, that they are challenged on a daily basis and are able to develop their strengths and skills to the best of their ability. He believes that the organization must have a clear vision of what the future of the company will be and the direction that it is headed which helps motivate all employees. The environment at Innovus Pharma is one in which all employees feel comfortable raising issues or discussing more effective or efficient processes. This helps the organization to continuously improve. Additionally, maintaining a trustworthy and honest personality provides a necessary framework that provides employees with confidence in the direction of the company.
Challenging the Status-Quo 
Through his significant and diverse experiences, Dr. Damaj has learned that failure is a part of any organization, but he believes that it is critical to learn from those challenges to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Additionally, he has recognized that surrounding himself with talented, motivated individuals who will challenge the status quo is critical for the development of a company as it goes through the various stages of the life cycle of an organization. He is aware that it is important for any leader to be able to trust his employees as it is impossible for a CEO to be involved in all aspects of an organization as it grows to a substantial size.
Being Genuinely Exemplary 
A strong CEO recognizes that all employees watch and react to all communications and behaviors of their leader and this will essentially establish the culture of the organization. Additionally, a CEO should realize that they are helping to develop future leaders and potentially future CEOs within the organization and that the leadership skills that he/she exudes will dictate how these employees manage in the future.
Dr. Damaj encourages employees to participate in difficult conversations or situations so that they may learn firsthand the appropriate manner to operate. When the leader is a generator and enthusiastic, those around them are inspired to put forth like efforts. A person, who sees their leader working diligently and efficaciously, seeks approval of that leader by mirroring their actions. That effect trickles down, as everyone seeks approval of those in authoritative positions. Typically, the leader is perceived as possessing the knowledge necessary to be successful and further the company objective. An employee who feels confident behind their leader desires approval, and feeds off of their energy, applying it to their work.
Reflective Approach 
Each month there is a company-wide meeting to discuss the progress of the Company, explain how certain product or marketing ideas are now being implemented, and allow individuals to ask questions or voice their opinions on certain activities or the organization. During the meeting the group reflects on where the Company was in the past and how far it has come in make progress and growth.
Reaching out to Maximum Consumers 
Innovus Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is in the rare position of having a proprietary sales and marketing platform backed with the right mix of pharmaceutical and clinical expertise combined with strong marketing skills and individuals who have a great vision for the future of the company which sets itself apart from its competition. The Company plans to continue its expansion to markets outside of the United States and identify products which are in high demand by the general population but for which effective solutions have not been identified while continuing to explore niche channels to reach as many consumers as possible.
Inspiring Words for Young People 
Dr. Damaj advises young people to find a mentor or a group of holistic and reliable individuals that one can learn from and receive constructive criticism. He says that to be successful, one needs to be willing to change, and work for that change. A successful entrepreneur is always learning and consuming as much information as possible. With the intake of mass information, new ideas and innovation develop when you surround yourself with a strong and knowledgeable team who compliments your own weaknesses. He says that success is not always private and is often measured with social status. He points out to make one’s name known in the community, one must contribute philanthropic services.
Dr. Damaj believes that a genuine entrepreneur has no difficulty building relationships which is a key step in becoming successful. The last bit of advice he gives to young people is to never give up. Not only does failure humble you, failure is often the foundation to success. It’s not always because you did something wrong, or your product/service was subpar, that you fail. There are a whole host of forces both within and outside of your control that will affect whether you have success in your business.