Get to Know Our CFO – Eric T. Schmidt, Ph.D.
August 28, 2019
Eric T. Schmidt, Ph.D.
Chief Financial Officer
What was your first job?
My first job was cutting grass. I was eighteen years old. It was also the hardest job I have ever had. I was hired by a landscaping company, working 9-10 hours a day doing physical labor. I did not know if I could get through the summer. I was making decent money, just above minimum wage, and I got a raise of 20 cents an hour halfway through the season. But I remember thinking, “Am I going to be able to do this for three months?” I think I lost 20 lbs.
My first “real” job was at UBS Securities, starting in 1995. I was a research associate covering the biotechnology industry. It was much easier than cutting grass. My job was to learn everything I could about biotechnology, and try to apply lessons from the past to investment opportunities in the future. It was (and still is) a luxury to be able to sit at a desk and think.
Why did you join Allogene?
To make a difference. To try to change medicine. To try to create therapies that might truly transform the lives of people with cancer. In many ways I hope everyone at Allogene joined for that reason. The thought that there could be people walking on this planet in the future because of the work we’re doing is an amazingly powerful concept. I don’t even know if I can appreciate the meaning of that.
Why Allogene as opposed to other companies working on novel cancer therapeutics? The people. The Allogene team is exceptional. It is the best group of people that I’ve ever come across at a biotechnology company. I think at the end of the day, it’s the people that matter the most. Strong science matters too, but the road to success is never a straight line in biotech, and the best people will be able to navigate the challenges that inevitably will arise.
What is your favorite Allogene moment so far?
The day that we treated our first AlloCAR T patient. That’s when it became real, that we are doing this. When you put something into a patient for the first time, it’s a powerful moment, one filled with great hope yet also some apprehension. That’s when the work that we had been doing started to inflect toward something that really mattered.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Mentoring others to be better than I was at my job. Without a doubt. I was a research analyst for over 20 years, and had the opportunity to hire, train and advise many people who have gone on to accomplish far greater things in the investment world than I ever did. And some of them are now Allogene shareholders.
Who is your greatest inspiration (personally or professionally)?
What is your hope for the future of cancer treatment?
For the first time in the history of cancer therapy, we’re talking about the possibility of a cure, at least for some patients. We need to do better – we need to establish that treatments such as CAR T can be curative and advance them to the point where they are applicable to many more patients. But even during these early days of cell therapy it is tremendous that we are talking about transformative outcomes for more patients. There is no doubt that in the next five years we will see more patients with an otherwise very poor prognosis presented with the opportunity to benefit greatly from novel therapies.