My Raili Story
Created by dlowenschuss on 06/24/2013
Raili was an amazing person and colleague and we worked closely together on a number of projects during my short stint with Parke-Davis. When I joined Parke-Davis in 2000 on an interim basis replacing an attorney who was going on maternity leave, I was immediately struck by not only Raili’s incredible grasp of many disparate drug development technologies but also at how well versed on the legal and business aspects of the deals we were negotiating. I believe this story is a testament to the type of tireless and dedicated colleague Raili was. This one story involves a very interesting mouse model that was being developed by an academic institution that was notoriously difficult to deal with. The problem with this deal was that Parke-Davis/Warner Lambert was in the thick of being acquired by Pfizer and the part of the company that Raili was working with and that was interested in developing this model was potentially going to be divested after the acquisition. The legal group was put in a difficult position because we knew about this potential divesture but other colleagues like Raili did not and could not have this information. Because of the potential divesture any large investments such as this one that Raili was working on were to be delayed as much as possible in case a divesture was to occur.
I still remember that first meeting with Raili on this program and I knew it was going to be a problem in delaying this project because I could see the gleam in her eye – she was intrigued by the science – uh oh. She told me, “I know this institution is a pain in the butt but I really think we can get this deal done and get it done quickly.” After this meeting I went to my boss and relayed what was going on and he told me don’t worry we never can get deals done with this institution. He obviously did not realize how excited Raili was about this program because within the week Raili had comments back from the institution on the agreement. Again I went to my boss and he again was not worried he told me to make it low priority bury it under the gazillion other agreements you have and just tell Raili you’re swamped. Okay so obviously that was a bad strategy – over the next two weeks I got many visits and phone calls from Raili asking me about the status of this agreement, always in the most respectful and professional way and of course how could I not respond. So before I knew what had happened the terms of the agreement were being finalized. Again I went back to my boss and he said go back to them and ask for last minute changes in the agreement. Raili was perplexed when I approached her with these last minute changes but again as always respectful and professional she set-up a conference call and again before I knew it not only had we worked out these ridiculous last minute changes that I had come up with but she had made sure during the call that we all agreed that there would be no other last minute changes.
We still had not heard on the divesture plan so we were told to keep delaying this deal. This time I was told to again bury the agreement so that it would not go for signature. Well of course over the next week I would receive a number of visits and calls from Raili asking about signatures and there are only so many times you can say someone is not available to sign the agreement. Finally Raili showed up and said she had spoken with so and so who was available and was happy to sign the agreement.
It was at this point that we had to tell Raili what was going on and she was not mad (which she was certainly more than entitled to and I would have been furious with me if I were her) but she said she understood. Little did I know that Raili was not going to be put off by this road-block. Just a few days later I received a call from Raili saying she had talked another department into funding the project and she was so excited that we were going to be able to see this project to fruition. That was Raili – persistence, pluck, never give up and always find a way.
Now I would have been so mad at me for that incident that I may have not spoken to me or worked with me again if I was in Raili’s position. Again that was not Raili. We worked together on many projects after that and after I went out on my own in my own legal practice I was honored that Raili came looking for me to help her on a few different personal and professional legal matters. Just a few days before she died she contacted me:
“I am still alive and kicking, but had a health scare last week, which has led to being more prepared in my businesses and personal life. In addition, I could use advice on compensation for another executive that we are bringing on board. Would you have time to discuss?”
Again pure Raili. I immediately responded by e-mail letting her know any time that worked for her I would make work. I never heard from her again. Now regretfully I know I should have done what Raili would have done -- immediately go over to the hospital and meet with her.
It was such a pleasure to have known Raili I will miss her dearly.
Dave Lowenschuss – Friend and Colleague