Name:  John P. Butler
Major at Baruch College:  MBA Marketing management
Company: Akebia Therapeutics
Title:  CEO
Graduation Year(s):  1994
School (if applicable) within Baruch College:  Zicklin School of Business
Please briefly describe your current profession in-detail including your responsibilities and tasks.

I am President and CEO of a development stage biotechnology company in Cambridge, MA.  We are developing products for the treatment of patients with renal disease, cancer and diseases of the eye.  Our lead program is about to enter its final stage of development (Phase 3) I joined the company almost two years ago.  Moved the company from Cincinnati to Cambridge, hired a new management team, lead the initial public offering (IPO) for the company, which now trades under the ticker AKBA on the NASDAQ, raising $115million.  We recently completed our first follow on financing raising an additional $69 million to fund our Phase 3 development.  Post IPO, I also completed a process to strengthen my board from a private to a public company board, adding three outstanding, accomplished board members.

Please briefly describe your career path to-date, including the reasons behind job changes you made since graduating from Baruch College.

I received a BA in Chemistry with a minor in business from Manhattan College.  My interest was a career on the business side of a pharmaceutical or chemical company.  I became a sales representative at Hoffmann-LaRoche.  I began my MBA studies while at Roche.  I moved to a similar role at Amgen Inc, One of the first biotechnology companies.  Upon completing my MBA I moved to Thousand Oaks, CA into a commercial role in house at Amgen.  I desired to return to the east coast for personal reasons, so in 1997 I joined Genzyme Corp as a Product Manager.  I spent 13 years at Genzyme, where I was given the opportunity to assume many roles including Director of Marketing, Vice President of International, VP, Europe, President of renal, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and finally as President of the rare disease division of the company, our largest division with revenue of about $4 billion.  When Genzyme was acquired, I left to become CEO of Inspiration Biopharma, leading the sale of the company before joining Akebia in 2013.

How did your experiences at Baruch College (e.g., academic studies, extra-curricular activities, student groups) prepare you for your career?

Studying at Baruch exposed me to an incredibly diverse population of people, who had an equally diverse set of experiences.  This in particular helped me to navigate running businesses outside of the US, a key component of my success. In retrospect it is clear that the quality of the faculty at Baruch was as good as I have seen anywhere.  The knowledge they provided me, in an environment conducive to learning was central to my success.

Today, what advice would you give to an undergraduate or graduate Baruch student interested in your field?

Biotech and the life sciences in general is an exciting, growing sector.  I would encourage students to look closely at the sector, even if you do not have a science background.  It has never been an area of focus at Baruch, but as one of America’s strongest performing, leading industries it is worth a look.

How can an interested person contact you?

LinkedIn:  John Butler CEO Akebia

Twitter:  @jpbut86

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