MVPs - Pharmaceutical Executive


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

Pharmaceutical Executive

The lesson to be learned from the exploding grapevine theory is: Know your MVPs and manage them better and differently from your other people. Think about them as individuals and work with them to create flexible opportunities. You do not have the time and resources to do this with everyone, but you must do it with your very best—or risk losing them to the competition.

Global Advantage It's one thing to have great ideas and quite another to communicate them across cultures. Companies need multicultural MVPs because they are great communicators and strategic influencers. They adapt their communication styles to their audiences' cultures without compromising their own authenticity and cultural identity.

Multicultural MVPs know that open and understandable communication is the foundation of trust. If a person is unable to make himself understood in his own language and culture, then it is unlikely that he or she will improve in another culture.

Bob Taber, vice chancellor for corporate and venture development at Duke University Medical Center, had just returned from visiting Jordan to talk with the government about cancer treatment opportunities and he was about to finish up his work with Karen Koh in Singapore. Taber believes that, "The world has totally changed; our greatest opportunities and our strongest competition is around the world."

However, he underscores the importance of hiring people that are up to the challenge of working internationally: "There are really no secrets to being successful in other countries," he says. "Learn as much as you can before you go, and then listen and learn more while you are there. A good communicator will learn what is needed quickly. The people I have met are outstanding communicators and they respect those who can communicate as well."

Language differences can be overcome, especially among people who have a genuine interest and commitment to learn the culture, or in places where English is the language of business. But neglecting to listen carefully and relying on assumptions rooted in your own culture can get you quickly sent out on the next plane.

As competition for top talent intensifies around the world, pharmaceutical executives and human resource managers will increasingly need to view multicultural MVPs as a strategic business advantage. The best life science companies are proactively executing policies and practices that successfully identify, develop, and retain this talent. As a key component of those policies, specialized training and support should be offered to the people who directly manage existing and budding MVPs. The best companies are being led by a senior management team that makes this challenge a priority in their work. After all, if they don't do it, their global competitors will.

William Roiter, EdD is a psychologist, consultant, coach, and speaker. He is a founding partner of the MVP Research Group and can be reached at

Daniel Williams is co-founder of Leadership Communications. He specializes in cross-cultural leadership and coaching, speaks Mandarin, and can be reached at


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