Emerging Pharma Leaders 2010 - Pharmaceutical Executive


Emerging Pharma Leaders 2010

Pharmaceutical Executive

Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder, Kythera

After several years at J&J, Astra Merck, and Amgen, I co-founded Kythera Biopharmaceuticals in 2005. Starting a biotechnology company from scratch has been a difficult and deeply rewarding experience, both from a value-creation and a knowledge-expanding point-of-view. I am a high-energy, passionate person. I lead by creating a common purpose, and then give the talented people around me lots of room to get the job done.

I look to surround myself with people who have a global perspective (understanding or having worked in global markets is a good indicator of adaptability), and can change strategies, tactics, and approaches as the business situation dictates. A significant element of this is the ablity to run lean, highly virtual teams. There are far too many fixed costs and legacy "habits" in pharma and biotech today. Pharma has been relatively insulated compared to other businesses that have faced major structural changes including the full effect of globalization and regulatatory changes. There are lessons to be learned from leaders in other industries that have undergone significant structural changes, and have led their companies into a strong long term position.

We need to stop thinking of globalization as something that is happening to us (e.g. the rise of China and India), or something to be addressed. It's the state of the world—if you can't assemble a team that can effectively immerse themselves in a global perspective, even when making domestic decisions, you may have already lost the game.

Senior Vice President & Regional Director of Asia Pacific, GlaxoSmith Kline

Growing up in a small town in the middle of the Alps, I did a lot of mountain climbing (and still do). Mountain climbing is a great discipline for knowing ourselves through self-control and leading a team in challenging situations.

One of my roles as a leader is to encourage entrepreneurship, creativity, and risk-taking in a big corporation; a challenge, given that the corporate environment can sometimes stifle those important traits. A leader must therefore engage people; be authentic and approachable, inspiring and empowering—and honest.

I always look for a very direct and honest relationship with people. The ability to talk about what is working well or not is absolutely vital, especially in times of great change—like the present.

In the past, we thought of our customers as just doctors. But we now need a much broader definition of that term to include other players: government, NGOs, patients, citizens, as well as healthcare practitioners. Demonstrating how beneficial the pharmaceutical industry is to their society is a key challenge.

I've been with GSK for 17 years, and during all that time I've been fortunate to work with great leaders—like current CEO Andrew Witty—in different parts of the world: Europe, the US, and now Asia.

I spend a lot of my time understanding the cultural traits of the countries of the Asia Pacific region. A global leader is, after all, someone who has the ability to understand cultural diversity. This understanding will allow him or her to engage with any group of customers or employees from anywhere in the world.

Vice President, Global Regulatory Policy, Pfizer

Being a leader and "change agent" is essential to doing my job well. The global regulatory environment is growing more complex and challenging, so our policy team must not only be quick to respond to changes, but also anticipate what could happen and prepare the path for favorable future policy development.

True leaders in our industry have the ability to make informed decisions quickly and confidently, and effectively implement those decisions. It sounds simple, but many in authority positions shy away from either or both. They also demonstrate integrated thinking, a critical skill. There are many fantastic functional managers, but leaders must see how the various parts fit together—people, process, technology, customers, global, etc.—the Big Picture. They must be both reactive and proactive, strategic and tactical.

People management is an oft-overlooked aspect of being a successful manager. The "soft stuff" of motivating a high-performance team can be harder than the "hard stuff" of science, finance, and operations. One key skill I've learned is being clear on goals and holding people accountable for achieving those objectives—while being sure to provide the support they need from you. Having a vision for what the team needs to accomplish and clearly defining the individuals' roles results in a better-aligned team.

I believe that "collaboration" and "managing change" are particularly critical for our team. Gone are the days of vertical command and control management. Given the always-evolving worldwide regulatory requirements on the pharma industry, being nimble and flexible to manage the change is also extremely important to success.

Vice President and Head, Oncology Business Unit, Sanofi-Aventis

Good leaders understand their business and are accountable for delivering against their objectives. We [at Sanofi-Aventis] operate in a flatter organizational structure where business leaders are closely involved in their business, and can effectively transfer knowledge and experience to their people. Within the Oncology business unit, we have embraced the power of globalization, cultural diversity, and strategic decentralization to structure and staff the division in support of our strategy.

I am a strong believer in the power of teamwork and diversity to solve complex business challenges and achieve goals. The greatest successes I have experienced in my career came about because of the combined efforts of a great group of people. Leading diverse teams effectively is one of the most critical responsibilities we have as leaders.

I prefer to empower employees, but do so with the recognition that my engagement and oversight needs to adapt based on the skill of the individual and the task at hand. I look for people with diverse opinions, strengths, and experiences who can add dimension to the team, and ultimately improve the outputs. The last thing I want is to lead a group of people too much like me.

We all play a role in identifying opportunities to bring greater solutions to patients—no matter your role in the organization. Leaders who are able to compel teams to pursue and deliver against these opportunities will find themselves and their teams ahead of the competition.


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