Maria E. Pasquale has been a part of a sometimes wild ride of corporate development. When she started with Celgene Corporation in 2001, it was a small biopharmaceutical company with offices in New Jersey and California. Today, Celgene is a multinational corporation with headquarters in New Jersey and Switzerland, with other offices spanning the globe from Paris to Tokyo. Just two years ago, Celgene became an S&P 500 company.
“Early on, I realized that I either needed to play a role in Celgene’s growth or give the opportunity to someone else,” Pasquale explains. Her choice was to contribute as much as possible to creating the company’s expanding worldwide infrastructure. Consequently, Pasquale has become a part of the company’s legal leadership. “For me,” she reflects, “being a leader at Celgene has always been more about getting things done than professional advancement.”
Big pharmaceutical companies are not immune to the vicissitudes of a less-than-robust economy, and Pasquale notes that they have come under a lot of scrutiny as of late. “Especially now, it’s important for us to get out a positive message, to talk about how Celgene develops cancer drugs designed to extend, and hopefully improve, the quality of people’s lives.”
Prior to joining Celgene, Pasquale was a patent attorney at Pennie & Edmonds LLP in New York (now part of Jones Day). It was her first job out of law school, and she stayed on for over ten years. Before that, Pasquale (who holds a biochemistry degree from SUNY Stony Brook) spent five years performing cancer and genetic research at laboratories in and near New York City. In fact, she worked full-time in the lab by day, and attended classes at Brooklyn Law School in the evening. “I was very busy; when I look back on those years, they’re a blur,” she remembers with some amusement. “But I was supporting myself, and that seemed the best way to get it done.”
“It’s important for us to get out a positive message, to talk about how Celgene develops cancer drugs designed to extend, and hopefully improve, the quality of people’s lives.” by Maria E. Pasquale
“To transition from the firm to in-house was a decision I made very abruptly,” admits the Bronx-born attorney. “I was working in New York City on 9/11. That very day, I realized that I had to make a move. For me, the logical choice was to go in-house at a pharmaceutical firm with a great management team, based close to home in New Jersey. Within a matter of weeks, I was part of Celgene Corporation, and I’ve never regretted it.” DB
From the July/August 2009 issue of Diversity & The Bar®