Nicole Mather: Putting People At The Heart Of The Technology Reinvention In Life Sciences

Having spent over a decade at Deloitte (with some jammy secondments in the middle!), Nicole shares with us her new move to IBM, what's brought her here and what's exciting her for the future.



For me, it’s all about people and patients. Having grown up in a medical family, I find basic bioscience amazing, but even more exciting when a discovery can make a meaningful contribution to improving someone’s health. That’s why many of us choose to work in health and life sciences because we want to contribute to improving the products and care available to society.


That’s my mission in my current role, as I join IBM. I want to play my part in enabling the digital reinvention of the life sciences and healthcare industries and continue to be a catalyst so that people can benefit as quickly from technology developments in health as in other industries.

My career began focused on the impact and opportunities of genomics with a Neuroscience DPhil from Oxford University, researching the consequences of a single gene deletion on development. It is thrilling today to see how that science has moved into the clinic and is changing patient care: Genomics is enabling us to digitise medicine, to understand the building blocks of life and to design targeted treatments. We can now predict the effects of treatments allowing personalised care - from knowing whether a cancer treatment can help to gene therapy to replace a specific gene in a baby.


Consulting proved an effective way to acquire business skills in problem structuring, analysis, project planning and communication. Through my career at AT Kearney and Deloitte, I worked across the life sciences and healthcare industries from strategy to delivery. At this time, we used digital tools such as live analytics and created clinician-led registries to trace medicines use. Now consulting is increasingly focused on leveraging the power of digital to drive organisational transformation, allowing processes to be reimagined, new ways of working to be defined and customer experiences to be personalised. With increasing volumes of data, analytics and cognitive can deliver insights and automation for example allowing patients to be identified for clinical trials or enabling instant pharmacovigilance reporting.


An ability to collaborate and integrate is key to being a successful leader in the complexity of healthcare and technology today, not just in the UK, but globally.

As Director of the Office of Life Sciences, I built a cross- government team including health and business, with the mission to drive economic growth in UK life sciences and to enable the development and uptake of the products NHS patients needs. Bringing together people from across Whitehall and the NHS to create a coherent set of objectives provided a rapid lesson in nuanced communication and leadership; broadening out the alignment to the global leadership of commercial and third sector organisations created more challenging dynamics given NHS affordability constraints. However, the wider group opened up many opportunities for collaboration with a remarkable selection of cutting-edge health technologies.


Together, through the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy and Sector Deal, we created the vision of the UK with world-leading basic science and clinical trials resources, driving leadership in new industries including digital health, genomics, early diagnostics. This integration and collaboration across the commercial and public health sectors creates deep opportunities for skills exchange and enables mutual insights to improve development and delivery.


Strengthening public trust in the use of NHS patient data for research will be important in sustaining UK-led medical research. The Health Research Authority, where I have recently become a Non-Executive Director, aims to protect and promote the role of patients in research, working closely with initiatives such as Understanding Patient Data. Collaboration across the NHS and commercial sector will be important to best integrating, curating and enabling trusted access to NHS data, and cutting-edge analytic and cognitive techniques will help drive patient benefits.


Technology presents a huge opportunity to empower people to change the way care is delivered, by taking ownership of their own health and well-being, creating and accessing health data on their handheld devices - and the opportunity to aggregate and amplify their needs to innovators.

The opportunity to build and lead a life sciences team in IBM brings together all the threads of my career to date. IBM has a deep history of driving innovation in technology and a world-leading depth of research capability including in health sciences. The teams focus on delivering collaboratively with others in the ecosystem to get the right solutions for the people we serve and I am proud to be working for an organisation that has been named as one of the world’s most trusted companies.


Healthcare is so personal to each of us. I'm excited about my move to IBM, as I believe that our heritage of trust and depth of technology expertise can play a part in transforming the life sciences industry, to improve the opportunities in healthcare for all of us in future.


From the One HealthTech community, we wish Nicole the best of luck in her new role :-)




@NicoleMatherOLS


Brief Career History


2019 IBM Global Business Services, London, Partner, Life Sciences Lead

2019 Health Research Authority, Non-Executive Director

2014 Office for Life Sciences, Depts of Health and BEIS, Director

2005 Deloitte Strategy Consulting, Director

2001 AT Kearney, Associate

1997 University of Oxford, MSc, DPhil Neuroscience

1993 University of Oxford, MA Physiological Sciences



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