With career stops that included Russia and the Washington Redskins, it took Marty Zug a while to land at Rockville biotech Sequella.
But he has remained there for more than seven years, his longest stint with one employer by far.
Carol A. Nacy, CEO and chairwoman of Sequella, for one, is happy about that.
Zug, CFO at the biotech that is developing drugs to combat infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori, has become a force in lobbying for industry issues such as more funding for the state’s biotech investment tax credit program. That program has helped infuse Sequella and other biotechs with millions of dollars in much-needed capital.
“He’s been a huge addition to our company,” said Nacy, who co-founded Sequella with Chief Scientific Officer Leo Einck in 1997. “He’s delightful to work with, smart, industrious. I’d like to clone him.”
Many CFOs can almost be exclusively number-crunchers. Not Zug. He makes friends easily and is not the kind of lobbyist who forcefully hammers home points, colleagues say.
“He really enjoys other people,” Nacy said. “He gets along with legislators and other people in the biotech community. ... In Annapolis, he takes the time to explain the problem in clear terms.”
Zug grew up in Bethlehem, Pa., where his grandfather and uncle worked in the steel mills. At Lehigh University, he majored in economics and Russian studies, graduating summa cum laude. He spent his junior year studying in Moscow at the Russian Academy of Economics and became fluent in Russian.
“I took a trip there in 1987 when glasnost was one of the buzzwords,” said Zug, 42. “I became fascinated with the country and the changes going on. I had always been interested in world affairs.”
After graduating in 1992, he moved to Russia without having a firm job offer.
“It wasn’t hard to find a job,” Zug said.
He ended up working as a project manager for Sea-Land CIS Logistics in Moscow and then as an investment officer with International Finance Corp., which has offices in Washington, D.C., and Moscow. With the latter company, Zug said, he structured and closed financing for deals worth more than $39 million in equity and $75 million in debt, and was part of the banking team that closed the first syndicated loan in Russia and the largest private financing of a Russian company in 1995.
He left International Finance in 1996 to earn a master’s of business administration at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., graduating as an Edward Tuck Scholar in the top 15 percent of his class. Then came stints with Arthur Andersen in Washington, Snyder Communications in Bethesda and the Redskins.
As director of financial projects at Snyder Communications, Zug managed Wall Street corporate presentations, among other duties. The marketing firm was run by current Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder of Potomac; it was sold to French advertising group Havas for more than $2 billion in 2000.
As a vice president with the Redskins for two years, Zug supervised a staff of 20 with a budget of more than $3 million, running the ticket office, as well as premium seating and stadium business.
“I learned a lot about the management of a large team and a large budget,” Zug said. “I already was fairly strong in finance but got more exposure in sales and marketing.”
He then took a year off to help raise a newborn, working as an independent consultant on projects that included a $6.5 million sale of a Bahamian hotel. He also managed the Washington area’s bid for the 2008 Super Bowl. The NFL championship game typically is played in a warm-weather city or one with a domed stadium, but the local bid was strong enough to make Washington a finalist, with the game ending up in Arizona.
Russian pays off at Sequella
With Sequella, knowing Russian and having done business in that country paid dividends when Zug last year negotiated an out-license agreement with a Russian venture fund to develop a treatment for tuberculosis in the Russian Federation and neighboring countries. That agreement could be worth as much as $50 million.
Sequella’s lead drug, SQ109, targets tuberculosis and multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. The company also has significant activity working with Helicobacter pylori, which causes gastric ulcers and can help cause gastric cancer. Sequella is starting a phase 2a clinical trial for SQ109 in H. pylori at sites in Texas.
Zug, a member of the Tech Council of Maryland’s Government Relations Committee, has been a leader in growing the state’s biotech investment tax credit program, which has been run by the Department of Business and Economic Development since 2006. The program allows investors in qualifying companies to claim credits against state income taxes, while biotechs try to leverage the capital for more investment.
One of the tech council’s goals is to persuade lawmakers to increase the fund from $8 million annually, Zug said. The credits usually run out within the first hour or so that the program takes effect each July 1.
“We want to make sure this program remains a shining star and an example for other states” Zug said. “It’s a great market-driven program that works.”
Other states, including Virginia, have implemented similar programs, he said. Last year, Rep. Christopher Van Hollen Jr. (D-Dist. 8) of Kensington sponsored the Innovative Technologies Investment Incentive Act, modeled on the Maryland tax credit program that would have allowed an investor in a biotech or high-tech company with fewer than 500 employees to claim a federal tax credit of 25 percent. But the legislation attracted only seven co-sponsors, including only one from Maryland, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Dist. 2) of Cockeysville, and did not pass.
Besides lobbying for more tax credit funds in this year’s legislative session, which started in January and runs through April 9, Zug supports bills filed in both the House and Senate that would require that at least one-third of grants or loans awarded each year by the state’s Stem Cell Research Fund be awarded to for-profit companies with headquarters in Maryland. Most stem cell awards now go to either Johns Hopkins University or the University of Maryland, Baltimore, although in fiscal 2011, about 28 percent of awards went to collaborations with for-profit companies, including some in other states, according to a state legislative report.
Much of the success of the state’s biotech community’s efforts in Annapolis can be attributed to Zug, said Brian Levine, vice president of government relations with the tech council in Rockville, who has worked closely with him.
“He is a good leader, very organized and always provides thoughtful ideas,” Levine said.
As venture capital has dried up, programs such as the tax credit have become that much more important to growing biotechs, Zug said. Biotechs are fortunate to have the support that Maryland and entities such as the National Institutes of Health lend, he said. Sequella usually submits about eight grant applications per year to NIH, which funds two or three, Zug said.
“You will be hard-pressed to find another state doing as much as Maryland,” he said.
Position: CFO, Sequella, Rockville.
Previous position: Vice president, Washington Redskins.
Education: Master’s of business administration, Dartmouth College, Edward Tuck Scholar; bachelor’s in finance and Russian studies, Lehigh University.
Residence: McLean, Va.
Family: Wife, Becky, and three children.
Hobbies: Travel, family activities.