Magazine Article | September 2, 2014

Ask The Board

Source: Life Science Leader

Q: What Is The Best Leadership Advice You Ever Received?

A: When I took my first major leadership position as chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Michigan in 1986, I attended an event featuring the president of the University. During his speech, he indicated that his style of leadership was always to hire the very best individual available for the position, carefully lay out the expectations of the job, provide as much support as was possible, and then get out of that person’s way. I’ve since tried to follow that advice, understanding that the academic industry and the pharma industry have differing goals and targets of performance. In both situations, though, accountability is required, and performance is both measured and appropriately rewarded.

Barry Eisenstein
Barry Eisenstein, MD, is senior VP of scientific affairs at Cubist Pharmaceuticals and editor of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

A: Shortly after taking on a senior role in a former organization, my manager (Dave Williams, former CEO of sanofi pasteur) told me, “If you are doing work, you aren’t doing your job.” As a new leader, I was working many hours to ensure good outcomes, and I wasn’t relying enough on the team who had to deliver the outcomes. Leaders need to create and articulate a clear vision, understand the obstacles to achieve the vision, inspire the team to develop a strategy and plan to execute the vision, and coach them through the process. If you are doing the work yourself, you can only achieve the outcome of one person. Through leadership, you get the potential output of thousands of people and a more capable organization over time. Each day I need to ask myself, “Why am I here?” and reflect on this wonderful advice to keep myself grounded on how I bring value to the organization.

Jim Robinson
Jim Robinson is the VP for vaccine and biologics technical operations for Merck & Co. In this role, he supports the manufacturing strategy, process development, technical transfer, approval, and production of Merck’s vaccines and biologicals at eight internal sites in the U.S. and Europe and several partner sites globally.

Q: What best business practices have you seen utilized in clinical trials outside of the U.S. that you think should be incorporated into U.S. clinical trials? Why aren’t these being used, and what roadblocks need to be removed for this to happen?

A: Today, there really are no significant business practices used in clinical trials outside of the U.S. that are not already incorporated into U.S. clinical trials. Regulations may be different, and that can dictate different practices at times. However, the U.S. remains a leader in piloting innovation in clinical trials. Globally, clinical development is too slow and too expensive. This necessitates new approaches by both biopharma companies and regulators around the globe. Additional requirements and longer protocol review cycles are the roadblocks that need to be removed if we are to get innovative medicines to waiting patients.

Tim Garnett
Dr. Tim Garnett is currently chief medical officer and senior VP of Medicines Development Unit (MDU) for Lilly and holds responsibility for medical, regulatory, global product safety, and global health outcomes.