Case Studies



Optimapharm is a leading, mid-sized, full-service CRO working across Europe and North America to deliver new therapies which improve and save patients’ lives. Optimapharm’s key priorities are their people and consistently exceeding their client’s expectations. With 27 strategically located offices across Europe, Optimapharm operates in 41+ countries, giving unrivalled access to Patients and Investigators in all countries in Europe and North America.

Founded in 2002, The Rohatyn Group are an emerging markets-focused asset management firm. In 2020, The Rohatyn Group completed an investment in Optimapharm and established a partnership with the company’s founders.

How were we engaged?

DRAX were introduced to Optimapharm through the fund The Rohatyn Group to conduct a CEO search. The Rohatyn Group were looking to assess Optimapharm's present SLT and appoint a new CEO who matched the incumbent CEO's expertise, fit, and behaviours. The ideal candidate for both Optimapharm and The Rohatyn Group was someone who could create a roadmap for leadership transformation and put in place the necessary team to manage challenging decisions and maximise business growth.

A data-led approach

PACE (our private equity behavioural evaluation tool for individuals and teams in high-growth businesses) was given to all our shortlisted candidates, allowing The Rohatyn Group and Optimapharm leaders to evaluate potential hires' strengths and weaknesses. PACE enabled our clients to build their ideal leadership team, using behavioural complementarity to maximise value creation. DRAX provided a strong candidate pool for the CEO post, and Ivana Waller was appointed as CEO at Optimapharm.

"I found it really valuable for me personally to receive the PACE profile," Ivana said of her experience with the PACE tool. "I've taken several different sorts of tests in various scenarios and settings, but I found PACE to be much deeper and more extensive in comparison. PACE allowed me to look at myself, reassess my strengths and limitations, and identify possibilities for growth. In addition, PACE enabled our PE investors, who were searching for certain characteristics, to identify a candidate that would fit the company".

Ivana Waller Candidate CEO, Optimapharm


Following Ivana's successful placement, DRAX continued to collaborate with Optimapharm and successfully conducted a search for a Chief Operational Officer (COO), once again utilising PACE and comparing applicant PACE characteristics to those of Ivana.

A view on PACE for the hiring process

"We continued working with DRAX while conducting a COO search and used PACE for all the candidates who were shortlisted. Instead of only examining CVs, screening prospects, and doing various levels of interviews, PACE offers another degree of depth that allows for a better decision-making process."

"I firmly believe in team diversity. We see a lot of women in 'staff level' roles in our business, but when you move into management level positions, you see fewer women, and it is still uncommon to have women on a company's management board. I believe our staff is well-balanced in that regard, as well as in terms of cultural diversity and other diversity factors. PACE is beneficial."

Ivana Waller CEO, Optimapharm

Additional hires

Following the successful placement of the COO, DRAX conducted an impact onboarding report, highlighting key styles, watch-outs, and takeaways, assisting both Ivana and the COO in understanding how their behaviours will complement each other and where there are synergies and differences, as well as how certain behaviours may present themselves in different situations.

“DRAX was able to overlay my PACE profile with the profiles of the prospects, allowing us to evaluate how the candidates' skillsets would complement mine and vice versa. PACE also revealed where we would have similar tendencies in terms of decision-making, strengths and weaknesses, and how they might manifest in a management position. When we decided to recruit our COO, PACE was really useful in understanding his decision-making processes as well as his strengths and shortcomings in comparison to mine. I am striving for diversity and I am genuinely seeking for a variety of viewpoints on the board, not simply everyone who thinks and acts the same" Ivana said, commenting on why PACE has played such a critical role in the search process.

"When our COO and I have similar inclinations, I refer to those PACE profiles to better understand where each of us is coming from and how we might balance each other out. PACE focuses on the attributes that high-growth firms require. In this sense, I've found PACE to be quite valuable, and I'm putting the knowledge we gained from the PACE process to use in our daily collaboration. We often think alike, and we have to push ourselves to make a small difference in opinion or introduce a new way of thinking."

Ivana Waller CEO Optimapharm

Further developments

After the successful placement of the CEO and COO, DRAX has been retained to conduct an additional search for a member of the management board team. PACE will be used by Optimapharm as an indicator of the entire team dynamic and how the team will complement and fit into each other like a puzzle.

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What DRAX gives as a whole product is really powerful compared to other headhunting firms, I have had an extremely excellent experience with the team. Every meeting is well planned, well researched, and well organised, and I learn a lot throughout the presentation. The presentations are logical and systematic, and they effectively drive the choice towards picking the final candidate while also helping to speed up the process. To have the data from PACE and to work with professionals who are really putting 100% into their jobs is very helpful.

- Ivana Waller, CEO at Optimapharm

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