Magazine Article | March 3, 2014

Ask The Board: What Is The Best Leadership Advice You Ever Received?

Source: Life Science Leader

(A) Keep focused on the strategy, and keep reminding the team of what the strategy is.
They forget, they get misfocused, they need to be constantly reminded about what we are doing and why. Martin Gerstel, CEO of ALZA, told me in the mid-1970s that after running ALZA for years he realized that keeping the team “on focus” was the most important thing a CEO could do. Also, remember that determining what the strategy is and the tactics to achieve it are critical — and not easy. But once figured out, staying on task is fundamental.

G. Steven Burrill
Burrill founded Burrill & Company as a logical extension of his 40-year involvement in the growth and prosperity of the biotechnology industry. He has been an active adviser and catalyst in some of the industry’s most notable companies and transactions.

(A) Always do the right Thing.
While this Spike Lee movie title seems too simple, it is a reminder that sometimes we overly complicate decisions. I encourage emerging leaders to stop and ask themselves what is the right thing, separating out all of the “noise” of other interests. Much of the time, the right thing to do is actually very clear.

Craig Lipset
Lipset is head of clinical innovation within worldwide R&D at Pfizer. In this role, he works across units and stakeholders to define Pfizer’s vision for the future of clinical trials and enables the initiatives and investments to create that future.

(A) Two pieces of advice stand out to me. The first is to remember you’re dealing with people, not machines.
Everyone has a life outside of work, and if that’s not in balance, then work will suffer. I tell the people in my group two things: First, family comes first, and I expect you to work hard while you’re at work, but not to do that more than 8 or so hours a day except on rare occasions. The second piece of advice is that you need to be a champion for your staff. They need to know that you stand behind them 100 percent of the time. This doesn’t mean you believe they’re always right. It means being willing to hear their side of the story every time and doing your utmost to validate and protect them.

Mark Snyder, Ph.D.
Snyder is manager of the process R&D applications group in the Process Chromatography Division of Bio-Rad Laboratories. He spent five years at Scios (then California Biotechnology) on basic fibroblast growth factor cloning and purification, followed by four years as manager of process development at XOMA.