Magazine Article | May 13, 2012

Ask The Board May 2012

Source: Life Science Leader

Q:  What are the most important skills for leadership development, and how can they be obtained?

My top five list of essential leadership skills starts with the ability to see and share a vision that motivates others to follow you. This is closely followed by superior communication to clearly articulate your vision and why someone should follow you. Build a strong team with a diversity of experience and knowledge, and encourage them to actively contribute their thoughts, not just listen to yours. Provide unwavering support allowing your team to take calculated risks. And when there are missteps, which will happen, treat them as moments for growth, not punishment. Last, and importantly, create a positive environment with mentoring, recognition, and celebrating progress along the way.

Laurie Cooke is the CEO of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), the leading nonprofit professional association in the women’s leadership space in healthcare globally.

Q: How do you prepare for being a speaker or moderator at an industry event?

The first step is to clarify the expectations regarding objectives, scope, format, and target audience. Delivering repurposed content for a new venue will often fall flat if it does not meet the unique needs of the congress and its audience. Once the direction is clear, I determine whether I have most of the materials necessary to draft a presentation or set of speaking points, or whether I need to seek input from various experts across my organization or externally. Invariably, advice from other experts is helpful to ensure that I have a balanced and comprehensive perspective to share. If I am moderating a panel discussion, I typically draft and socialize a set of likely questions for the panelists and convene a conference call ahead of time to align on the approach. This eliminates surprises and helps to ensure a focused and informative session.

John Orloff, M.D. is the chief medical officer and SVP global development at Novartis Pharma AG. He also serves as chair, Pharma Portfolio Stewardship Board (PSB), overseeing safety and risk management plans for pharmaceutical products.

Q: What are the important skills companies are looking for from pharma/biotech employees?

Innovative thinking, nimbleness, and entrepreneurial spirit are the key drivers of success in the new pharma/biotech model. Employees who have varied experience and exposure in a mix of large and small companies add significant value, bring a very different perspective, and have a good balance of risk-taking mindset. It’s also essential to have translational thinking where ideas are operationalized into a product that makes a difference. Necessity is the mother of all inventions — a big reason why a lot of innovation happens in smaller companies. “Zero-gravity” thinking, such as high risk-taking and not being weighed down or biased by negative experiences, is also critical for innovation to thrive. A good mix of these attributes is what makes a successful organization, and more companies are emphasizing this approach.

Dr. Neervannan is VP of pharmaceutical development at Allergan. In his current role, he oversees the CMC (chemistry, manufacturing, and controls) activities related to developing the drug product from discovery to commercialization.


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