June 24, 2024

The Boss: Peter Miller of OptiNose: A Pioneer at Heart

My older brother followed in my father’s footsteps and became a radiologist at the same university. But even at an early age, I was interested in the business world. Around second grade, I collected day-old newspapers from neighbors and tried to sell them, at a discount, to others in our neighborhood. That was not really successful.

After high school, I went to Trinity College, in Hartford. I was an economics major, but my true interest was playing soccer and lacrosse; I was captain of both teams.

I met Karen, my future wife and best friend, at Trinity and started a business with a friend to sell food at the student pub on campus. First we sold pizzas, then sandwiches, which made us more money. I loved everything about our business, which we called PM Delights, down to buying dozens of fresh sandwich rolls every day.

When I graduated in 1983, I joined Procter Gamble. I worked in its paper division, selling brands like Bounty, Charmin and Pampers. The job meant going to supermarkets and convincing managers to offer and display our products.

After five years there, I enrolled in the M.B.A. program at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. As I was about to graduate in 1990, I accepted a job offer from a major consulting company. But that night I began thinking about being on the road constantly when my wife was about to have our first child. And I realized that I wanted to run a business, not tell others how to run theirs.

The next morning, I called to turn down the job. Then, while scrambling to find another possibility, I met Tony Vernon, who was recruiting on campus for Johnson Johnson. I was sold when he told me that the company ran its operating units in a decentralized way. Tony, now president of Kraft Foods North America, became a lifelong friend and mentor.

I worked at J. J. for 15 years, overseeing brands like Tylenol, Pepcid AC and Duragesic, and serving as president of two operating companies. When I left in 2004, I started medical clinics in retail pharmacies with a friend, Hal Rosenbluth. We created Take Care Health Systems, and I became C.E.O. Three years later, we sold the business to Walgreens. I stayed on as C.E.O. for three more years, and we expanded the operation to more than 350 clinics nationwide.

In 2008, I was asked to join the board of OptiNose, a company started by a Norwegian doctor-and-wife team who created a nasal delivery device in which the patient’s own breath propels a drug to the upper part of the nasal cavity. I helped the founders raise $50 million in capital to develop our first products. I left Walgreens in 2010 and became C.E.O. of OptiNose that year.

We moved the headquarters to Yardley, Pa., near Philadelphia, from Oslo. I’ve been in my element because I love creating something new. I’ve been able to use my coaching and mentoring skills, and my experience, to assemble 17 wonderfully talented people who are working together to get federal approval and market this new system of delivering drugs.

The device will be tested in clinical trials starting later this year. It holds the promise to bridge the barrier between the nose and the brain, enabling new treatments for difficult-to-treat conditions, including Alzheimer’s, depression and Parkinson’s.

As told to Elizabeth Olson.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=173b4d88c70af443a9830c3743fc61dc

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