Today’s Investor Relations Officer is a leader required to have expertise in multiple areas – shareholder relations, strategy, finance, sustainability, communications, capital markets, ESG, and competitive intelligence. Jen Robinson, Vice President of Investor Relations & Corporate Communications at Deciphera Pharmaceuticals, checks all of the boxes for your ideal IRO.
Jen Robinson is a strategic communications leader with nearly 20 years of experience, including 10 years directing investor relations and corporate communications for biopharmaceutical companies. She is currently Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications for Deciphera Pharmaceuticals, a public, commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company delivering important new medicines to improve the lives of patients living with cancer. At Deciphera, Jen leads a team that focuses on external and internal communications. To date, she and her team have successfully announced pivotal Phase 3 data, guided the company through its first FDA approval and commercial product launch, and provided key communications for the company’s progressing research pipeline. Before joining Deciphera in 2019, Jen was Senior Director, Investor Relations, Corporate Communications at resTORbio, and prior to that held similar roles at Ra Pharmaceuticals, Ariad Pharmaceuticals and Dyax Corp. Earlier in her career, Jen worked as an equity research analyst on the buy-side, including Putnam Investments, as well as a consultant liaison at Leerink Swann, now SVB Leerink. She received her B.A. from Dartmouth College.
We spoke with Jen to get her insights on the challenges facing IROs and the skills needed to be successful.
How has the spread of COVID-19 affected your strategy as an IRO?
It has certainly been an interesting and unusual time. At the beginning of the pandemic, there were more virtual group events. As time went on, there was greater demand for virtual one-on-one meetings. Our team had to think of more individualized, customized approaches to help investors and potential investors.
Specifically, have you had to answer significant questions from investors around supply-chain impact?
At the beginning of the pandemic, we received more questions related to supply chain impact, especially since we were preparing to launch our first FDA-approved drug. Since the launch in May 2020, we really haven’t been asked this question. It’s imperative for us to be able to mitigate any supply chain-related issues since patients depend on us to get their medicine.
How has your team prepped for earnings and post-earnings investor engagement?
Other than being virtual, our earnings preparation process hasn’t changed very much. We typically review recent investor interactions and have several sessions with our earnings working group to prepare the earnings materials. Post-earnings, we typically do one-on-one calls with both sell- and buy-side analysts. There has been more demand for one-on-one interactions, so we have been doing our best to accommodate the needs of investors.
What advice do you have for the next generation of IR leaders?
Be curious about your company and about companies in your industry and outside your industry. As an IRO, you can wear many hats, and it’s useful to know different areas of your company. Everyone is a resource! Using all your resources can really help tell a unique, distinct story that can highlight value for investors. In addition, looking at other companies can help evolve your practices and provide helpful ideas for telling your own story.
What is one important initiative that you’ve championed or experience that you’ve had as an IRO?
During my first IRO role, we decided to do a complete corporate re-branding effort. We had just emerged from a restructuring. We ran a process to gain perspectives from various stakeholders to evolve our corporate communication initiatives and, ultimately, decided to shift our focus from our marketed product to our research pipeline. Part of the organizational changes that happened was bringing a new Chief Medical Officer onboard. He was instrumental in communicating our plan, especially as it related to our research and development programs. The success of these efforts came through in many parts of the organization, but the ones that I’m most proud of was the increase in employee engagement and satisfaction, which was reflected in being named one of Boston Globe’s “Top Places to Work,” as well as a significant increase of the stock price.
What has been the most rewarding aspect as IRO of Deciphera?
I’ve been at Deciphera for two years, and so much has happened during this time. We have experienced considerable growth, received our first FDA-approved drug, and progressed our clinical pipeline. At the center of this has been our intense focus on patients, which is the most rewarding part of being at Deciphera for me. I love helping people, and I’m a people person by nature. To be able to make a difference in people’s lives and impact their health in a positive way is tremendously rewarding.
What are some benefits you have seen from being an IR Intelligence client?
As we continue to do more one-on-one investor interactions, it’s been extremely useful to have IR Intelligence provide us specific information on investors as well as analysis on comparative companies so we can better tailor our interactions.
While you have been at Deciphera, can you recall a highlight while working with Nasdaq?
A moment that stands out to me was when Deciphera reported its Phase 3 data for its now approved drug, QINLOCK. On the back of positive data, it was extremely useful to have IR Intelligence’s insight, especially since there was a high volume of trading. IR Intelligence provided useful, timely information that helped us assess the market and, eventually, do a successful equity financing.