Biotech firm Beam Therapeutics is pioneering the use of CRISPR base editing techniques that enable the permanent rewriting of single letters in the human genome. Beam’s founders are three of the world’s leading CRISPR experts. David Liu, Ph.D. of Harvard University is the inventor of base editing and a co-founder of one of the world’s first CRISPR companies, Editas Medicine. Keith Joung, M.D., Ph.D., a gene editing researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, is also an Editas co-founder. Rounding out the trio is Feng Zhang, Ph.D., of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, one of the inventors of CRISPR gene editing.
Beam found themselves at a critical stage in their organization’s development: after having raised $200 million in private funding, the company was certainly well capitalized but wanted the option to tap into public investors. In order to have that option, they needed a highly respected Wall Street veteran deeply connected to The Street and able to articulate the Beam story in a way that would fully capture the company’s ambition and potential.
The challenge of recruiting a seasoned Wall Street banker to a private, entrepreneurial startup resides in psychological nuance. Investment banking is a radically different environment than a high science platform company. But there are transferrable skill sets around crafting narratives. Finding a banker with the requisite narrative gifts and managerial potential capable of being a team player in an early stage company was a challenge.
Occam successfully placed Terry-Ann Burrell, former Managing Director of Healthcare Investment Banking at J.P. Morgan, as Chief Financial Officer of Beam. Terry-Ann is thriving in her new role and successfully prepared the company for its February 2020 IPO.