MVPs - Pharmaceutical Executive


To ramp up their operations around the world, companies need executives who can lead across cultures

Pharmaceutical Executive

Agility Multicultural MVPs can handle multiple obstacles that today's businesses throw at them. "They have enormous business acumen and know the market; they are very resilient with what the market throws at them; and they are able to adjust depending on whatever the needs are in or out of country," says Dick. MVPs have a nimbleness about them that shines in difficult situations. They are able to slow down an accelerating problem to learn its fine points, thereby reducing the related anxiety that often overwhelms others. This allows them to simultaneously manage the immediate situation and to stay on course for their goals. An executive in another industry once compared this capability to that of the performer who can juggle four balls while continuing to ride a unicycle across the stage.

Soothsayers of change "These are individuals that can see the market, not only for what it is today, but reaching far out; they have a sense of what's going to happen to that marketplace and understand the adjustments that must be made," says Dick. MVPs reach for long-term success by meeting short-term goals. This is often thought of as being both strategic and tactical—or keeping their eye on the goal while completing the tasks to reach that goal. This dual perspective includes on-going adjustments to how they do their business. Change is neither good nor bad, and it is neither embraced nor feared. Change is the natural result of knowing what it takes to get the job done.

Leadership MVPs bring active problem solving, advanced social skills, and an inspiring success orientation to their teams. They also behave in ways that are principled and create value. In Western corporate cultures they tend to be extroverted. Colleagues follow MVPs because they want to.

Integrity Research suggests that executives believe ethics and integrity are critical to business leadership, especially internationally. "Multicultural MVPs are individuals who are not just results oriented, but who have a strong value system and who operate with integrity," says Dick. AstraZeneca has a certain value system and legal requirements and it's very important that these individuals be able to understand how to operate with integrity and courage in environments where they might be encouraged to do things in establishing a business that, very frankly, AstraZeneca would never support." MVPs' principled behavior is a direct result of their internal beliefs and values.

Collaboration MVPs are natural collaborators—they have a strong team orientation. This is supported by three behaviors: sociability, communication, and openness. MVPs extend their reach by collaborating with colleagues near and far. It is often this collaborative attribute that separates MVPs from other great performers who can lead others but who have a hard time following when it's necessary.

"We see our ability to collaborate as a major strength as we look to partner with great scientists and business people around the world," says John McDonald, vice president for business development at Millennium Pharmaceuticals.

Cross-culturals Cross-culture collaboration is not just a nice skill to have; it is required for international success.

Karen Koh, deputy chief executive of Singhealth, Singapore's largest public health provider network, and Singapore General Hospital, the country's largest hospital, has worked with US healthcare executives, lived in the United States, and been involved in a successful negotiation with Duke University Medical School to create a new graduate medical school in Singapore. As an Asian, she feels that the greatest indicator for success for Americans in Asia Pacific is their ability to collaborate. Koh says signs of this ability surface when an executive takes his or her time to get to know their counterparts and learns to respect them for their talent and role.

Koh points to those characteristics as important elements of negotiating with win-win thinking. She knows that many Americans are highly competitive and may think mostly about their own win—this does not work in Singapore. Koh's own work with Duke illustrates the point: It was fully collaborative, allowing them to work together to overcome problems, with neither side feeling like they gave up something of importance in the process.

What MVPs Want Like magnetic forces, MVPs attract other MVPs. MVPs are also attracted to companies that are known for developing their very best people. To that end, word travels fast: MVPs in the pharma industry often know one another and tell stories about how they are being managed.


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