Team Member Profiles

Jacob Harel

Founder/President

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 1-908-586-1250

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Jacob Harel is a seasoned pharmaceutical executive with expertise in all aspects of business development. He helps his clients grow their businesses through licensing, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, distribution, and divestitures.

With more than thirty years of industry experience in different leadership roles, Jacob is regarded as a big picture thinker capable of delivering high value. To this end, Jacob readily translates key challenges into tailored business solutions. From the identification of an opportunity to the completion of a transaction, Jacob provides full service to meet every client’s specific needs. Jacob's trademark ability is to quickly understand his client's key challenges, followed by the development and implementation of the right business development strategy.

To succeed in these assignments, Jacob utilizes his wide network of contacts, which include owners and CEOs of pharmaceutical and medical device companies around the globe and senior leaders at various investment banks, private equity firms and venture capital groups.

Having worked in more than fifty countries and negotiated over one hundred transactions, Jacob is adept at structuring and negotiating a variety of deals across a multitude of cultures.

Prior to launching The Harel Group, Jacob served as Head of Corporate Business Development at Merck & Co., Inc. During his career, Jacob was based in Europe and Asia and had international assignments across the globe.

While leading The Harel Group team, early in 2015, Jacob has become a member of the board of directors for Insuline Medical, a medical device company that develops new technologies for new approaches to insulin therapies. Jacob was also appointed in December 2017 to the position of Chairman of the Board of Polypid LTD, a clinical stage pharmaceutical company with initial focus on the prevention and treatment of post surgical site infections.

Jacob holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and a Master of Business Administration.

Flora Ma

Senior Consultant

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Flora Ma is an accomplished, strategic marketing professional with proven track record in brand management in global, regional and local settings. She is adept at strategy development and execution for all stages of product life cycle across diverse therapeutic areas.

In her most recent role, Flora served as the Director, New Products for the CV Franchise at Merck. In close collaboration with scientific and commercial colleagues, Flora created the value proposition that drove the clinical development strategy for mid to late stage pipeline assets, including a decision to invest in the largest clinical outcomes study ever for one compound. To maximize the atherosclerosis pipeline value, Flora led cross-functional teams that evaluated the commercial potential of licensing candidates and developed a segmentation strategy that guided the strategic R&D direction. 

Through proactive engagement with regional marketing teams, Flora developed and executed effective global marketing and counter-competition strategy for ZOCOR that resulted in the achievement of more than $8 billion annual revenue, Merck’s best-selling brand ever. Based out of Hong Kong with regional Asia Pacific responsibility, Flora led country marketing staff to develop pre-launch marketing strategies and monitored its implementation. 

Flora also initiated regional launch activities for products in multiple therapeutic areas, including HIV, hypertension, respiratory and osteoporosis, throughout the region.

Flora’s twenty six years of experience at Merck is distinguished by her win-win interpersonal skills, cross-cultural experience and effective communication with management and peers. Her “can do” mentality and personal commitment enhance creative problem solving and disciplined decision making. Flora is well equipped with the essential qualities to facilitate successful business development deals.

Flora earned her BSc in Chemistry from the University of Hong Kong, and has an MBA degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Flora resides in New Jersey and in her spare time, she is learning yoga to attain physical and mental stability and flexibility.

Doron Ben Ami

Senior Consultant

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Doron Ben Ami is a seasoned executive with 20 years of management experience holding various leadership roles in the pharmaceutical industry. Doron is a leader that brings extensive experience and proven track record in marketing, sales, strategic planning, business development, market access and external affairs

Doron is the founder of Triticum Medical, a start-up company that is developing a clot retrieval device for the treatment of acute ischemic stroke and occlusions in peripheral vessels.  

Doron is also the CEO of ShizimXL, a medical device Accelerator.

Among his past roles, Doron served as the Associate Vice President and Managing Director of the Eastern Europe and Israel region at Merck & Co Inc. where he initiated major business development projects in several markets of the region. 

Prior to that, as Managing Director of Merck in Israel, Doron led and successfully implemented the merger between Merck and Schering Plough that took place during 2009.  

Early in his career Doron also established the Israeli operation of the Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck and served as the General Manager of the subsidiary. 

Doron holds a Master of Health Systems Administration (M.H.A.) from Tel Aviv University.

Kobi Sharon

Consultant

Kobi Sharon has over 15 years of industry experience in business development, market access and commercial strategy in Healthcare.

Kobi has its own consulting company, Stern Healthcare, providing market access consulting services for healthcare clients and Real World Evidence study management in collaboration with sick-finds and hospitals across Israel.  

Kobi managed Kantar Health business in Israel, working closely with global pharma companies including Teva, BMS, Takeda and Shire, and with Israeli biotech companies in strategic consulting and outcomes research.

Prior to joining Kantar Health, he has founded a consulting firm focused on health outcomes and market access.

Prior to that, he worked for Merck in Israel where he managed their commercial portfolio, market access and business development and established their new oncology business in immunotherapy.

Prior to Merck, Kobi managed Lundbeck’s affiliate in Israel for six years.

Kobi is a graduate of Tel Aviv University in accounting and economics, and has an MA degree in Commercial Law from Bar Ilan University.

Dr. Opher Shapira

Consultant

Dr. Opher Shapira is a seasoned entrepreneur and executive, with more than 20 years of management experience, holding leadership roles in the medical device and diagnostic industry. Opher brings vast experience in building organizations from the idea phase through regulatory approvals and sales and marketing execution worldwide.

Opher’s recent position was the CEO of Nucleix Ltd. Nucleix develops non-invasive cancer diagnostic tests based on proprietary epigenetic markers. Opher helped grow the organization from a handful of people to a stage where it has a selling product on the market and a very strong pipeline. Prior to that, Opher co-founded BioView Ltd., a world leader in image analysis and automation of clinical tests. At BioView, he led the company from inception to become a publicly traded and profitable company leading its field.


During his terms both at BioView and Nucleix, Opher helped the companies raise tens of millions of dollars for their operations from private investors worldwide and the public market. He played key roles in opening the commercial markets for the companies’ products in the US, Europe, Japan and China. Opher contributed to strategic deals for the companies he was involved with – from international distribution agreements to M&A transactions.  

Opher’s tremendous experience in the field gave him a wide perspective of the needs of the medical device and diagnostic markets, regulatory requirements – both in the US and outside of the US that ensures impactful success of medical innovations.


Opher brings a unique combination of a very strong technological and scientific understanding with managerial skills and market need understanding. He earned his PhD in physics from Yale University and holds a BSc degree in physics and computer science.

Steffen Brygger Lund

Senior Consultant

Email : [email protected]                                    Click the icon to view Steffen's Linkedin Profile

Steffen Brygger Lund is a seasoned executive with more than 35 years of extensive experience in the Life Science Industry (Pharmaceuticals & Medical Devices). He brings top executive hands on experience in international markets (Nordics, CEE, Russia, and South Africa). Steffen always delivered excellent business results reflected in solid and continuous growth demonstrating his ability to negotiate successfully across multitude of cultures.

During his many years in the industry, Steffen was involved and negotiated many licensing, distribution, joint ventures, and divestiture transactions. Experiences he utilizes are essential to facilitate successful business development deals for our clients.


Prior to joining The Harel Group, Steffen was Vice President and Head of the Nordic and Baltic region for MSD (Merck & Co. Inc.) for a period of 5 years. Under his leadership, the company grew significantly to become the second largest pharmaceutical company in the Nordics.


Steffen also brings solid experience from the medical device industry. For almost 3 years he was a Senior Vice President at GN Resound - a world leader in audiology. In his role as the Head of Global Marketing, Steffen developed a coherent global marketing strategy that contributed to GN’s proven business turnaround.


Steffen holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from The Open University Business School (OUBS) in the UK.

Dr. Jean-Pierre Gagnon (Ed.D.)

Strategic Advisor

Dr. Jean-Pierre Gagnon has over 30 years of experience in U.S. and international sales, marketing, spanning senior sales, marketing, strategic planning, business, and leadership. Most recently, Dr. Gagnon served as Global Vice President/CLO of Pharma Global Division (Sales & Marketing) for Merck & Co. He chaired the first Merck Learning Governance Council and with his team, won the prestigious 2012 EFMD Excellence in Practice Award (Executive Development).

Previously, he served as the Regional Vice President for South America–Candean Region (excluding Brazil and Argentina) and Central America, held senior management positions as VP - Managing Director in Mexico, VP -Sales and Brand Marketing for the U.S. Merck Human Health Division, and senior positions at Merck Frosst, Canada.

Dr. Gagnon is a recognized and sought-after senior executive due to his passion, transparency, and integrity. His extensive corporate experience and academic expertise enable him to act as a unique and trusted advisor, consultant, and individual and organizational executive coach.

Dr. Gagnon is an astute strategist whose unique skills of analytical and conceptual frameworks enable him to provide clients with a clear understanding of their ecosystems, strategic options, and a holistic individual and organizational operational plan for success. He is a respected leader and team builder, motivating others to better articulate their vision and create a road map to success and growth. Dr. Gagnon is known for his ability to inspire people to work collaboratively and his exemplary strategic business and coaching skills.

Dr. Gagnon’s knowledge is drawn from his deep understanding of business, transformational leadership skills and behaviors and best practices. His global network of thought leaders, business leaders, practitioners, and academicians give him a unique platform to best support his clients. His extensive international assignments, completed current doctoral research, and international coaching experience have taught him the importance of business acumen, leadership, and culture on organizational results.

Jean- Pierre holds a B.S. in Biology/Biochemistry from the Universite de Sherbrooke in Canada, a M.S. in Education (2011) from the University of Pennsylvania and has completed his doctoral degree (Ed.D.) in Global Leadership Effectiveness at the University of Pennsylvania–GSE and Wharton Business School (August 2013). He is fluent in French and English, with basic Spanish skills.

After years in a corporate environment, Dr. Gagnon has decided to significantly expand and apply his experience and knowledge to both non-profit and for-profit organizations. He is currently an independent consultant/lecturer/executive coach and he has had several business leaders, corporate clients, and academic institutions (from several European, Chinese, US multinational organizations in the Food, Packaging, IT, Pharmaceutical sectors) as clients.

George Rizk

Senior Consultant

George Rizk is an independent consultant and an expert in the pharmaceutical industry with extensive and proven strategic and commercial operations capabilities in broad geographic locations. With more than 35 years of experience in leadership roles, George demonstrated consistent results-oriented performances in implementing business and organizational strategies and integrating marketing and sales plans.

As an independent consultant working for a mid-size global based company in Europe, George has supported global operations in designing & developing global business support functions model, assessing available capabilities and recommending organizational structure. He also supported the marketing efficiency programs and developed a new CRM strategy.

In his previous position, George was VP, Strategy & Commercial Innovation at Merck & Co Inc. for the Emerging Markets. His accomplishments in Emerging Markets are his leading of the commercial capabilities work stream for the development of Emerging Markets strategy, he identified and developed plans for the implementation of the three key capabilities and contributed to the achievement of the Emerging Markets objectives.

As Chief Marketing Officer for EMEAC, George was a marketing leadership trainer to the European, Middle-Eastern, African and Canadian region. He established and led the regional Chief Marketing Officers forum, defining its role in executing the Emerging Market strategy in their respective regions. George is a global commercial executive with proven strategic and operational leadership in culturally diverse teams.

Having had global responsibilities in various leadership roles, and lived in seven different countries, George has acquired a proven ability in leading cross-cultural teams towards high performances. George has accomplished this by recognizing and appreciating international cultures, working diligently in creating an inclusive and cohesive environment. George holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy and is fully fluent in English, French and Arabic.

Charlotte Merritt

Senior Regulatory Consultant

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Charlotte Merritt is a global pharmaceutical Regulatory Affairs professional with over 20 years of diverse experience with regulatory strategy development, regulatory agency interface, regulatory business operations and organizational leadership. She has a unique ability to manage the regulatory strategic direction of a development program while simultaneously focusing on the operational requirements, leading to a solution that meets program objectives and optimizes timelines and resource utilization.

Charlotte’s regulatory experience spans many therapeutic areas (Urology, Dermatology, Bone, Gastrointestinal, Obesity, Respiratory, Immunology, and Hematology) and all phases of drug development. She has contributed to the global registration of many important medical therapies.

Most of Charlotte’s regulatory career has been as part of a Liaison Organization charged with leading interactions with regulatory agencies globally on product development and registration. She has held senior leadership roles, overseeing the work of teams of Regulatory Liaisons and ensuring alignment of regulatory strategy with business objectives. Charlotte is a passionate leader who can translate business needs into successful regulatory strategies.  

Charlotte most recently held the role of Executive Director in the Global Regulatory Affairs organization at Merck and Co., Inc. In that capacity she led a Regulatory Business Operations group responsible for strategic development and maintenance of business process, technology and information, portfolio and project management, regulatory intelligence and compliance. Charlotte and her team drove transformational strategic initiatives that resulted in the establishment of a new operational framework within which the regulatory organization would function. This led to better talent and resource utilization, improved efficiency, and increased compliance with regulatory expectations globally.  

Charlotte resides in Westfield, NJ. She holds a B.S. in Biology from Albright College and an M.B.A. from Washington University in St Louis.

Lawrence J. Naldi

Senior Manufacturing Consultant 

With more than 40 years in the pharmaceutical industry at Merck Larry has the experience working across all aspects of pharmaceutical manufacturing and associated support functions. Over the past 15 years Larry assumed the following positions: Site Director of the Merck Manufacturing and Research site located in Rahway, NJ, Vice President of US and European API Manufacturing, Senior Vice President Science and Technology and Senior Vice President Strategy and Integration.

In the latter role Larry was the architect of the manufacturing integration of the Merck/Schering Plough merger, including design of the combined network and implementation of the required rationalization activities.

Larry’s main expertise is related to the development of manufacturing strategy with emphasis on network consolidation, organizational design and merger and acquisition activities.

Larry earned his BSc in Chemical Engineering from New York University and an MS in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University.