Mark Emkjer wants to put Accelrys through boot camp. “I think we need more discipline. I think we absolutely need to obsess about our clients,” he says, still brand-new in his position as president of the Pharmacopeia subsidiary. Emkjer, who replaces former Accelrys COO Mike Stapleton, says this client-centered strategy will bring the company to its goal of $200 million in revenues.
Emkjer is a 23-year veteran of the healthcare industry, most recently as president and COO of Sunquest Information Systems.
He is confident that Accelrys will soon meet its goal of profitability. “I’m not a scientist, but I am a proven software executive, and the processes are all identical. It’s obsess about your client, it’s deliver on time. … In this space, historically, many companies have had a focus purely on the science without looking at the [business] metrics, and unfortunately I think that era is over with,” he says.
In line with fashionably sober post-Enron business mores, Emkjer notes, “one of the things I’m going to focus on is making sure that the disciplines are here to be profitable.”
Emkjer boasts an impressive track record of turning around his previous employer. When he joined Sunquest in 1999, the company’s stock was valued at $8 and it was earning 48 cents per share. When Sunquest was acquired in 2001, the stock price had tripled to $24 and earnings increased to $1.39 per share. And the company’s employee turnover rate decreased from 25 percent to 7.8 percent.
As a newcomer in the informatics space, however, Emkjer certainly will be heavily scrutinized. Some observers are skeptical of his chances for success.
“Mike [Stapleton] was a guy who understood the software business pretty well,” says Stefan Loren, an analyst with Legg Mason who covers Accelrys. “The software business, when you’re selling to a pharmaceutical company, is very different than the software business when you’re selling to healthcare companies.”
However, says Loren, experience in healthcare is better than some alternatives: “We’re not getting somebody who was selling peanuts or anything.”
— Bernadette Toner