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A Decade of Arvinas

Bringing a Business Brain to Biotech

Sean Cassidy, C.P.A., Former Chief Financial Officer

“There was a lot of risk,” says Sean Cassidy while recalling when he first learned of Arvinas 10 years ago. “But there was also a lot of promise. That’s the way small companies are.” 

Sean Cassidy, Chief Financial Officer of Arvinas, initially joined as a consultant for Arvinas back in 2013—well before the clinical trials, the Pfizer partnership, and the initial public offering (IPO). Unlike many of the early employees, who were scientists and researchers, Sean’s background was in finance at biopharmaceutical companies.  

His primary focus when he started was finding creative ways to help the startup operate efficiently. Whether it was buying lab supplies on the secondhand market or finding affordable, turnkey office and lab space for the team, Sean spearheaded all financial decisions on a startup operation, using his expertise to guide Arvinas toward sustainable growth.  

A key component to Arvinas’ early business plan was bringing pharma validation to the new field of protein degradation, and to build critical mass around the organization. By the time of Arvinas’s IPO in September 2018, Arvinas had closed three private rounds of financing and multiple deals signed with Pharma companies, including Merck, Genentech, and Pfizer.  Shortly after the IPO, a fourth deal was signed with Bayer which also created Oerth Bio where Sean currently sits on the board of directors.  Nearly every year in Arvinas’s 10-year history a private or public financing was completed, or business development deal executed. 

Despite being a non-scientist, Sean was deeply committed to the company’s mission and also fascinated by the technology. “Every time we degraded a new protein,” he recalls, “we’d have a little town hall gathering and we’d get a toy dump truck and dump it in the trash to signify the elimination of another target.” It was an amusing demonstration and celebration that was pretty impactful for Sean, who wasn’t in the labs every day. To see the progress the team was making was an inspiring thing to behold. 

After 10 years of working at Arvinas, Sean continues to be most inspired by his co-workers and their shared commitment to improving patient outcomes. “At the end of the day, it matters that you work with a bunch of folks who are equally as driven to bring the company to its next transition point to get closer and closer to patients,” he says. “The fact that we were able to transition into a phase 3 trial—which doesn’t happen very often—is really pretty special.” 


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