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For over three decades, Myrtle Potter has dedicated herself to the needs of patients and consumers worldwide as a leader of some of America's most noted healthcare companies.

A University of Chicago graduate, Potter began her career at Merck and Co. Inc., rising from sales representative into management. During her time there she directed the marketing of the antiulcer medicine Prilosec, which became the largest selling pharmaceutical product in the world. She also led the creation of Astra/Merck which, following a merger, became AstraZeneca.

Moving to Bristol-Myers Squibb, Prosser became president of that company's $4 billion, 3500 person US cardiovascular/metabolic business. She led the launch of four drugs including Plavix, an antiplatelet medication, which became the fastest growing pharmaceutical product in the world. She also introduced innovations that redesigned research and development, reducing R & D cycle time by 40%.

Potter now runs her own companies, Myrtle Potter Media, Inc. and Myrtle Potter and Company LLC; the first company deals in consumer healthcare, showing Americans how they can get the best for themselves and their families out of the complex US health system, while the Myrtle Potter and Company deals with life science and healthcare, focusing on business strategy, licensing, commercialization, acquisition and product development. She also serves on the board of directors of Medco Health Solutions, Inc., 3G Biotech, LLC and Everyday Health, Inc., has been a director at Amazon and served on the advisory council to the Dean of Stanford Business School.

A regular contributor to CNBC as a business expert, Potter has been recognized for her business and healthcare leadership in the most prestigious business journals in America, among them BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, FORTUNE magazine, TIME magazine, Forbes, Black Enterprise Magazine and The Harvard Business Review.She has also been cited as an example in more than twenty business and leadership books.

Full Profile

    Myrtle Potter is recognized as one of America’s foremost healthcare leaders and innovators. She has dedicated three decades of service and leadership to America’s most successful global healthcare companies. She has leveraged her vast experience with large consumer health, pharmaceutical, biotechnology and non-profit companies to serve the needs of patients and consumers worldwide.

    Potter founded Myrtle Potter Media, Inc. in 2007. Myrtle Potter Media Inc. is a consumer healthcare company that was formed to help consumers navigate the complex U.S. healthcare system on behalf of themselves and their families. Potter also operates Myrtle Potter and Company, LLC, a life science and healthcare consulting firm whose clients include for-profit and non-profit corporations and boards of directors. The focus of this firm is business strategy, licensing, acquisition, product development and commercialization.

    Potter was president and chief operating officer of Genentech, Inc., where from 2000 to 2005, she helped steer the company through one of the most successful periods in its history. Genentech achieved record sales and earnings growth during each of the five years she led the company and sales grew more than five-fold to over $5 billion over the same period. Under her leadership the company launched seven breakthrough drugs including the blockbuster cancer treatment Avastin™ and Xolair™, the blockbuster treatment severe allergic asthma.

    Prior, Potter was president of Bristol-Myers Squibb’s $4 billion, 3500-person U.S. Cardiovascular/Metabolic business. In this role she led the launch of four drugs including the blockbuster anti-platelet medication Plavix™, making it the fastest growing product in the pharmaceutical industry and setting it on track to be the largest selling pharmaceutical product in the world. Prior to being named as president, she was group executive vice president of Worldwide Pharmaceuticals where she lead a team to redesign BMS research and development, and reduced R&D cycle time by 40 percent. She also innovated key measures for driving worldwide sales and marketing effectiveness. Both of these innovations are still used today.

    Before working for BMS, Potter worked at Merck and Co Inc. for fourteen years where she began as a sales representative and quickly rose to the ranks of management. One of her first brand marketing jobs was for the anti-ulcer medicine Pepcid™. During her tenure at Merck, she established the new pharmaceutical company, Astra/Merck, Inc. that later merged with Zeneca to form the company AstraZeneca. Following that assignment, she directed the marketing of the blockbuster anti-ulcer medicine Prilosec™ and set it on course to become the largest selling pharmaceutical product in the world. Her last position at Merck was vice president of an $800 million U.S. pharmaceutical business unit.

    Potter is on the board of directors of Medco Health Solutions, Inc, 3G Biotech, LLC and Everyday Health, Inc. She also served on the board of directors of Amazon.com from 2004 to 2009. Formerly she served on the advisory council to the dean of Stanford Business School.

    Potter has been an on-air business contributor for CNBC since 2008. She is also a sought-after speaker on healthcare and business leadership topics.

    Potter’s business and healthcare leadership has been hailed by America’s most influential business publications, including BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, FORTUNE magazine, TIME magazine, Forbes, Black Enterprise Magazine and The Harvard Business Review. Potter is also referenced in more than twenty business and leadership books including, The 100-Mile Walk – A Quest to Find the Essence of Leadership by Sander and Jonathan Flaum (2006); The One Thing by Marcus Buckingham (2005) and The Cycle of Leadership by Noel Tichy (2004).

    Potter is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the mother of two young adults.


Videos Back to top

Taking The Next Step Keynote: Myrtle Potter


“I also knew that I didn't know enough to do anything more after that job,” says Myrtle Potter as she shares the story of her life and her incredible success in the pharmaceutical industry. “Without building a broader, stronger foundation, at twenty-eight years old I'd be in this big job and there I would still be sitting at sixty-five.”

Myrtle Potter Interview



Programs Back to top


Myrtle Potter brings her wide-ranging knowledge and success in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries to her keynote speeches, which analyze the pitfalls awaiting those trying to find their way through the complexities of the US healthcare system. Using her frightening personal experience of ill health and the difficulty of taking control of her own care, Potter shows how you can assume responsibility and become a confident, effective director of your and your family's own healthcare.

Potter also shares the secrets of her success, showing how she broke through the glass ceiling to go from being a young black girl from New Mexico to one of the most trusted voices in American healthcare.

In her own specialist field of pharmaceuticals, Potter brings her stimulating views on what must be done to shelter the pharmaceutical industry from the “perfect storm” which it is now facing.

    MPower! – Control Your Healthcare NOW!
    At 45, Myrtle Potter was at the top of her game. At the time, she was president of Genentech, Inc., the world’s most successful biotechnology company, and was directly responsible for bringing life-saving medications to patients. She simply seemed unstoppable.

    Yet, Myrtle lay in a hospital bed fighting for her life—failing lungs, failing liver and no kidney function. She was losing skin so badly that a vacuum was used to pick up her remains as it shed off her frail body. Myrtle was literally dying, ensnared in the same U.S. healthcare system for which she had made so many profound contributions. Myrtle ultimately wrested control of the direction of her care in order to save her own life.

    Myrtle came out of her frightening experience with one single focus: to dedicate her remaining working years to insuring that no-one goes through the same life-threatening healthcare maze that she endured.

    There are 85 million Americans just like Myrtle who bear the responsibility for directing and providing healthcare for themselves, their family or their loved ones. In Myrtle’s, MPower speech, Myrtle introduces the audience to her emotional, true story and shares the lessons she learned about being a confident, effective director of your and your families’ healthcare. Myrtle believes that it is essential for all of us to take control and be MPowered! to get the most out of our healthcare system where resources, time, and personal attention are increasingly difficult to come by.

    Healthcare Reform: The Good, The Bad, and The Unintended
    Healthcare reform has captured all of our attention over the last twelve months, and yet, no topic in recent political history, has caused such divisiveness in our country. To understand why this topic has emerged to be such a lightening rod, one needs to understand the facts, the intended and unintended consequences of the decisions that have been made and the implications for the Country, your business and your family.

    Myrtle Potter, a 30-year healthcare industry veteran and one of America’s foremost healthcare leaders, has made healthcare her business. She shares her candid, straightforward assessment of U.S. healthcare reform as only a strong, seasoned insider can. Her talk will leave you motivated to make healthcare your business too.

    Breaking The “Glass Ceiling” and Shooting Beyond
    Against all odds, a young black girl from the dusty, dessert town of Las Cruces, New Mexico, has grown to be one of the healthcare industries’ foremost leaders and America’s “Trusted Voice in Healthcare™. Myrtle Potter has dedicated three decades of service and leadership to saving and enhancing the lives of patients through her leadership of America’s most successful global life science companies. Myrtle Potter’s story is a true American story of hard work, determination, and passion for making a difference.

    With the mastery of a great leader and the storytelling gifts of a great coach, Myrtle shares her life story and the 10 secrets to her success. You will walk her life journey – she will take you from her candid discussions about her childhood, to her revelations about her experiences running multinational, multi-billion dollar healthcare businesses, right through to the offices and board rooms of her own successful companies where she is shooting beyond the “glass ceiling” as a trailblazing entrepreneur.

    This talk is will make you laugh and cry and you will be inspired by Myrtle’s belief that anyone can do what she has done. You will leave knowing that you too can break the glass ceiling and shoot beyond.

    The Perfect Storm: Will America’s Most Successful Industry Fight off Demise
    The pharmaceutical industry is facing the “Perfect, Category 5 Storm”: pipelines, patents, pricing and profits, are all converging in a manner that makes many gravely concerned. Here are a few facts:

    Currently 40% to 60% of industry pipelines are comprised of drugs that are externally sourced (in-licensing or acquisition, versus drug that are discovered in house. Approximately $218 billion of current worldwide branded drug sales are expected to come off patent between 2008 and 2015. The ever-growing U.S. healthcare costs means pricing pressures are expected to continue. It is not surprising then, that pharmaceutical company profits are also in decline, with the industry losing its position as the most profitable U.S. industry.

    All these factors together create the “Perfect, Category 5 Storm” that has the potential for widespread and lasting damage to the pharmaceutical industry.

    Yet, this perfect storm isn’t just about pipelines, patents, profitability, and pricing. It’s mostly about patients—and the inability of the pharmaceutical industry to meet their medical needs. A large proportion of the medications available don’t work for large segments of patients. Drug adverse reactions remain a leading cause of death in the U.S. despite efforts aimed at making drugs safe. This results in tremendous waste in terms of healthcare spending, human quality of life, and life itself.

    So where does this vital and important industry find shelter from the storm? In this stimulating talk, Myrtle shares her views on what the pharmaceutical industry must do NOW to regain its position as a strong, innovative, leading business sector. She will also speak candidly about why she believes we should all be concerned. Change will not be easy and certainly it is not for the faint of heart. But, change is essential if this sector is to regain its place at the forefront of value creation for patients and investors.





* Please note that while this speaker’s specific speaking fee falls within the range posted above (for Continental U.S. based events), fees are subject to change. For current fee information or international event fees (which are generally 50-75% more than U.S based event fees), please contact us.

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    MPower! – Control Your Healthcare NOW!
    At 45, Myrtle Potter was at the top of her game. At the time, she was president of Genentech, Inc., the world’s most successful biotechnology company, and was directly responsible for bringing life-saving medications to patients. She simply seemed unstoppable.

    Yet, Myrtle lay in a hospital bed fighting for her life—failing lungs, failing liver and no kidney function. She was losing skin so badly that a vacuum was used to pick up her remains as it shed off her frail body. Myrtle was literally dying, ensnared in the same U.S. healthcare system for which she had made so many profound contributions. Myrtle ultimately wrested control of the direction of her care in order to save her own life.

    Myrtle came out of her frightening experience with one single focus: to dedicate her remaining working years to insuring that no-one goes through the same life-threatening healthcare maze that she endured.

    There are 85 million Americans just like Myrtle who bear the responsibility for directing and providing healthcare for themselves, their family or their loved ones. In Myrtle’s, MPower speech, Myrtle introduces the audience to her emotional, true story and shares the lessons she learned about being a confident, effective director of your and your families’ healthcare. Myrtle believes that it is essential for all of us to take control and be MPowered! to get the most out of our healthcare system where resources, time, and personal attention are increasingly difficult to come by.

    Healthcare Reform: The Good, The Bad, and The Unintended
    Healthcare reform has captured all of our attention over the last twelve months, and yet, no topic in recent political history, has caused such divisiveness in our country. To understand why this topic has emerged to be such a lightening rod, one needs to understand the facts, the intended and unintended consequences of the decisions that have been made and the implications for the Country, your business and your family.

    Myrtle Potter, a 30-year healthcare industry veteran and one of America’s foremost healthcare leaders, has made healthcare her business. She shares her candid, straightforward assessment of U.S. healthcare reform as only a strong, seasoned insider can. Her talk will leave you motivated to make healthcare your business too.

    Breaking The “Glass Ceiling” and Shooting Beyond
    Against all odds, a young black girl from the dusty, dessert town of Las Cruces, New Mexico, has grown to be one of the healthcare industries’ foremost leaders and America’s “Trusted Voice in Healthcare™. Myrtle Potter has dedicated three decades of service and leadership to saving and enhancing the lives of patients through her leadership of America’s most successful global life science companies. Myrtle Potter’s story is a true American story of hard work, determination, and passion for making a difference.

    With the mastery of a great leader and the storytelling gifts of a great coach, Myrtle shares her life story and the 10 secrets to her success. You will walk her life journey – she will take you from her candid discussions about her childhood, to her revelations about her experiences running multinational, multi-billion dollar healthcare businesses, right through to the offices and board rooms of her own successful companies where she is shooting beyond the “glass ceiling” as a trailblazing entrepreneur.

    This talk is will make you laugh and cry and you will be inspired by Myrtle’s belief that anyone can do what she has done. You will leave knowing that you too can break the glass ceiling and shoot beyond.

    The Perfect Storm: Will America’s Most Successful Industry Fight off Demise
    The pharmaceutical industry is facing the “Perfect, Category 5 Storm”: pipelines, patents, pricing and profits, are all converging in a manner that makes many gravely concerned. Here are a few facts:

    Currently 40% to 60% of industry pipelines are comprised of drugs that are externally sourced (in-licensing or acquisition, versus drug that are discovered in house. Approximately $218 billion of current worldwide branded drug sales are expected to come off patent between 2008 and 2015. The ever-growing U.S. healthcare costs means pricing pressures are expected to continue. It is not surprising then, that pharmaceutical company profits are also in decline, with the industry losing its position as the most profitable U.S. industry.

    All these factors together create the “Perfect, Category 5 Storm” that has the potential for widespread and lasting damage to the pharmaceutical industry.

    Yet, this perfect storm isn’t just about pipelines, patents, profitability, and pricing. It’s mostly about patients—and the inability of the pharmaceutical industry to meet their medical needs. A large proportion of the medications available don’t work for large segments of patients. Drug adverse reactions remain a leading cause of death in the U.S. despite efforts aimed at making drugs safe. This results in tremendous waste in terms of healthcare spending, human quality of life, and life itself.

    So where does this vital and important industry find shelter from the storm? In this stimulating talk, Myrtle shares her views on what the pharmaceutical industry must do NOW to regain its position as a strong, innovative, leading business sector. She will also speak candidly about why she believes we should all be concerned. Change will not be easy and certainly it is not for the faint of heart. But, change is essential if this sector is to regain its place at the forefront of value creation for patients and investors.



Taking The Next Step Keynote: Myrtle Potter


“I also knew that I didn't know enough to do anything more after that job,” says Myrtle Potter as she shares the story of her life and her incredible success in the pharmaceutical industry. “Without building a broader, stronger foundation, at twenty-eight years old I'd be in this big job and there I would still be sitting at sixty-five.”

Myrtle Potter Interview