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Five minutes with Joe Sutton, President of DCAT – DCAT Week ‘18

PH: How has the week gone?

Joe Sutton

Joe Sutton

Sutton: It is a great week, I’ve not heard a single complaint. People love this week because it gives them an opportunity to meet with senior level people in the pharmaceutical industry. DCAT has never been about large numbers; we don’t target entry level people. For us, it is about getting the senior leadership and decision-makers here for networking. In my continuing role at Lilly, I had 18 meetings here and in more than half, the CEO of the company we were meeting was present. That’s a good example of why DCAT members come here: they can talk to high level people, it’s more intimate and you can have a conversation in a hotel room rather than a booth with people walking by and no distractions.

PH: What else has been going on this week?

Sutton: We have our Executive Insight programmes, where we bring people in from the industry to talk about the industry in front of people from the industry. We had some good educational sessions too. It’s worth pointing out that, bar Margaret Timony and her staff, everything is organised by volunteers from member companies, so it is a self-sustaining organisation. March is the big event, but we have quite a lot of others through the year, such as our popular sourcing event in the summer and an evening reception at CPhI Worldwide

PH: Were the week’s events well attended?

Sutton: Yes, and that leads on to another point. A lot of people think we left our long-term venue at the Waldorf because it closed. We actually left because we outgrew it. Even if it had stayed open, we would have left. The rooms we were using for our educational sessions in particular were running up against the fire code laws. Now we have spread out to eight official hotels and, for the first time, we bought out the entire space in one, the Intercontinental Barclay, for exclusive use by DCAT members. We have been growing by 20-30 companies per year and that is continuing.

PH: How did the industry receive the move?

Sutton: There was a lot of trepidation about it at first, but last year showed that it could be as good or better elsewhere. People who have been coming for many years often wax nostalgic about it because it had a certain charm about it, with the ‘Meet me by the clock’ tradition. To recreate that, we even installed some fake clocks at the hotels. The hotels we are using now, though, are more modern, they have better facilities and the rooms are better. No-one is talking about the Waldorf now and it is likely we will return to the same hotels next year. The hotels love DCAT Week and this is one of the big industry events for New York.

PH: Might you add more content to your programme?

Sutton: We have this discussion a lot. Are we a year-long organisation or a one-week-in-March event? There are a lot of events and we want to keep ours consistent with the DCAT brand and that bit different to the rest to the mass-attended shows. DCAT is a not-for-profit organisation and our by-laws forbid any political interaction, so we are not like some trade associations; this week has always been core to what we do. In terms of the future, we have wondered if DCAT could get too big, so we re-evaluate every year what kinds of companies we want as members. We see the industry moving in the direction of technology, with the integration of drugs into devices, for example. So maybe the ‘T’ in DCAT – it stands for Drug, Chemical and Associated Technologies – will come to the fore.

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