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Roberts Leads Longboard Through Clinical-Stage Growth

PHARMA: Taking Company Public Just Part of Successful CFO Career

Brandi Roberts has been named CFO of the Year for medium-sized public companies by the San Diego Business Journal. Roberts is the Executive Vice President and CFO of Longboard Pharmaceuticals, the San Diego-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that she helped take from pre-IPO to IPO in 2021.


“She is an extremely valuable asset to the company,” said Jennifer Patterson, Longboard’s HR director, who nominated Roberts for the honor. “She works tirelessly, is always available and always promoting self-development and professional growth.”

Brandi Roberts (Longboard Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) Photo courtesy of Bob Hoffman Video & Photography

Longboard’s mission is to develop novel, transformative medicines for neurological diseases. According to Patterson, Roberts played “a major part” in the company’s success in a recent study that will launch the company into Phase 3 clinical trials for individuals with rare epilepsies.

“Brandi is our only female C-Suite executive and represents aggressively for all needs of the company,” Patterson said.

A longtime biotech CFO, the certified public accountant has more than 25 years of public accounting and finance experience at publicly traded pharmaceutical, medical technology, and life science companies.

Long History of Leadership in Life Science

Before joining Longboard, Roberts served as CFO of REVA Medical and Mast Therapeutics, and as executive vice president and CFO for Lineage Cell Therapeutics. Before that, Roberts held senior positions at Alphatec Spine, Artes Medical, Stratagene Corporation and pharma giant Pfizer.

Roberts received her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Arizona and her MBA from the University of San Diego.

While her daughters are both in college now, throughout their childhood, Roberts volunteered her time as a softball coach for multiple teams and spent five years as president of the local recreational softball league.

Roberts was also active with the girls’ travel ball teams and high school softball teams as treasurer and scorekeeper.

Roberts currently chairs the Southern California Chapter of the Association of Bioscience Financial Officers, serves on the board of TFF Pharmaceuticals as Audit Committee chair and is on the finance committee of her neighborhood HOA. In her spare time, Roberts enjoys visiting her daughters, supporting the San Diego Padres and working on her pickleball game with her husband and friends.

The Business Journal recently asked Roberts about her career as a CFO in the life sciences industry.

Jennifer Patterson (left), Alexis Williams, Brandi Roberts, Anjeanette Bowman and Megan Knight at Biocom 2022. Photo courtesy of Longboard Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Q: How did it feel to win the award?

A: I’m honored to win. I’m so proud of the San Diego life sciences community and what our company, Longboard Pharmaceuticals, is trying to do for those with devastating neurological conditions. As CFO, it’s about so much more than just the numbers for me. I love being involved in so many facets of Longboard; a key part of my job is to ensure that we are increasing shareholder value as we progress our portfolio of drug candidates. This means making sure we are being good corporate stewards of the funding that our investors have given us – and that translates into making sure everything we do is being done as efficiently and effectively as possible, from building a world-class neurology organization to advancing our investigational drugs from the preclinical stage all the way through Phase 3 clinical trials that are expected to take place globally, with the goal of eventually getting approved medications to people in need. This award is a nice recognition of my hard work, but I would not be able to do my job well without the amazing support of my teammates and family. I’m so grateful to all of them!

Q: At what stage in your life did you set your sights on the CFO’s office?

A: I was presented with multiple opportunities throughout my career, which enabled me to progress over the last 25-plus years. After I had been a vice president of accounting/finance for a few years, I decided I wanted to work towards becoming a CFO. This was a big undertaking as I was also committed to being a great mom and being active in the San Diego community; both our girls played sports and my husband and I were active in our local recreational softball league. It was important for me to show my daughters that you can have a fulfilling career while also being a very present and engaged parent.

Q: What put you on the path to getting there?

A: As a CFO with an accounting background, it was important for me to have a mentor that helped me evolve in terms of investor relations, cine that’s a key component of the job. You need to be able to speak credibly about your drug candidates, the related development paths and underlying science, to a wide range of investors and analysts. I had a CEO who believed in my abilities and over the course of a couple of years, helped me develop so much in this area.

Q: Think back over your career. Up to this point, what is the accomplishment you are most proud of?

A: I absolutely love working in life sciences as we have the potential to help so many people suffering with devastating conditions. As an example, I was CFO at a company where we made a significant impact by bringing awareness to sickle cell disease by creating an investor conference and encouraging multiple companies, investors and analysts to participate. Most recently, I’m very proud of the results from our Phase 1b/2a study of bexicaserin at Longboard. In this study, bexicaserin showed an almost 60% median reduction in seizures in highly refractory patients with developmental and epileptic encephalopathies.

Q: Of all the economics and business issues in the news right now, what are you following with most interest and why? Which one most directly affects your organization?

A: The status of the economy is of utmost importance to life science companies as it typically takes a long time to develop drugs and requires infusions of cash until commercialization is reached. CFOs want to see healthy economic environments where investors are interested in supporting biotech. There were a few years where this wasn’t the case, and it was very problematic for companies that needed to raise money. CFOs need to be ready for these types of downturns and ensure that they are adequately capitalized for the long run.

Q: How big is your team?

A: I have multiple departments that report to me. They include Accounting, Finance, Investor Relations and Information Technology. We currently have a total of eight on the team, and I am excited for the expected growth this year – our company as a whole is expected to double in size so we will be hiring across most departments in 2024. I also work closely with our Human Resources and Legal teams.

Q: How difficult is it to hire qualified team members in this employment environment?

A: It’s tough. Life sciences is highly specialized, and every company is a little different in terms of needs. Combine this with all of us competing for the best and brightest and it makes it difficult. It’s important to me to have a great working environment for our employees as we spend a lot of time together; I want them to enjoy their work, their colleagues and have room for growth. As a leadership team, we also spend time thinking about how to maintain a great culture as we scale the company. Some fun sprinkled in is important too!

Q: What is the next big step your company hopes to take?

A: We plan to initiate our global Phase 3 program by the end of the year, so we are in the midst of lots of planning activities. This will be the biggest clinical program we’ve ever conducted, and we plan to hire a significant number of additional colleagues this year.

Q: What challenges do you face getting there?

A: Managing growth is always something that management teams focus on. We have built a very special work environment at Longboard, and we want to make sure that our culture remains consistent as we grow. We have a very hands-on mentality that has helped us tremendously as we work with all of our stakeholders, including investors, employees, caregivers, advocacy groups, vendors, investigators and site coordinators. We’re excited about adding new team members to help us enable our vision of a world where devastating neurological conditions are no longer devastating.




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