With more than three decades in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, Mary Fisher is a force to be reckoned with in aesthetics. Her CV includes leadership positions at Acorda Therapeutics, Cephalon, Immunex, and Boehringer Ingelheim.
Colorescience was formerly a division of SkinMedica, where Mary was CEO (2008-2012) and led SkinMedica's sale to Allergan plc. When Allergan purchased SkinMedica 11 months later, Mary took over management of Colorescience, and is currently Chair and CEO.
She has won Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year for San Diego, and the EY Venture Capital Award of Excellence, and was named a 2018 finalist for Most Admired CEO by San Diego Business Journal. She serves on the board of directors for Sientra and MDRejuvena.
WL: Who were some of your mentors throughout your career?
Mary: I am pleased to say that I have too many mentors to name. I have had the good fortune to have worked with leaders in their fields who were willing to share their wisdom and provide me incredible opportunities. My current key mentor is Adele Oliva, a founding partner of 1315 Capital, whose guidance has been invaluable.
Of course, I acknowledge my mother as having been my most important mentor. She taught me core values and personified thinking big, working hard, and doing good for others. She was a healthcare provider who cared deeply for her patients, inventing better diagnostic imaging techniques and striving for the best outcomes. I still work hard every day to be as much like her as I can be.
WL: How did you get your start in the aesthetics field?
Mary: As with many good things, my entry into aesthetics happened by chance. I was a pharmaceutical executive hired by pharmaceutical executives to grow a pharmaceutical business that had a “cosmetic dermatology” division. SkinMedica was successful in both medical and cosmetic dermatology. Bayer approached us with an attractive offer to acquire the medical assets. After much analysis and deliberation, we concluded that we should accept their offer and scale our investments in the aesthetics business.
We had tested practice development strategies that same year with our top 40 aesthetics partners at nadir of the 2008-09 economic crisis. Our practice partners grew their SkinMedica businesses an average of 65 percent. So, we were successful in proving a business proposition focused on the total patient experience and best outcomes. It was very rewarding both strategically and economically for all involved, especially in a tough economic climate.
WL: What advice do you have for women who are rising stars in this industry?
Mary: I firmly believe the key to success is to focus on the patient, and profits will follow. This is especially true in aesthetic medicine. We reside in a segment of the healthcare system where the conversation takes place between a patient and physician. Together they shape risk/benefit decisions and the patients come to understand costs. Many practices have served as outstanding advocates with insurers for their patients' needs. The total patient experience can still be protected in aesthetic medicine. The ultimate benefit to the patient is a meaningful and measurable improvement in quality of life.
For example, we formed charitable partnerships with the Women's Dermatologic Society, Sun SafeTee, and The Skin Cancer Foundation to promote patient education and the importance of sun protection. At Colorescience, we take the approach that our innovative products are solutions for our physician partners and their patients, and that has really paid off.
WL: How would your colleagues describe your management style?
Mary: I hope our staff would say I'm genuine and empowering. I know they say I'm human. I believe in the power of teams and that great insights can come from all members of the company at every level. I think the Colorescience team would tell you that we have structured our business around open communication. I listen to understand and love to be brought along on the journey as ideas progress into action.
My management style is focused on delighting our customers and patients, internal employees, physician partners, and investors. We measure performance in ways more important than dollars of growth. We talk about the number of lives saved, patients protected, and accounts we've genuinely helped. I believe this mission-based approach has authentically shaped a culture of people who are truly inspired to make a positive impact. With this philosophy, a strong performance has seemed to follow.
WL: Name a quote that best describes your philosophy.
Mary: “Do good. Have fun. Make a difference.” I often quote Yoda, too, but this is our Colorescience group mantra.