Emerging Pharma Leaders 2011 - Pharmaceutical Executive


Emerging Pharma Leaders 2011
Managing in the Era of Lean

Pharmaceutical Executive

Lynn Shatkus
International Marketing Training Director, Abbott Laboratories

Lynn Shatkus is fortunate. Her current role as international marketing training director at Abbott Laboratories seemed predetermined. "I come from a long line of training; my parents were both teachers," Shatkus says. "And so I think it was sort of fate that I'd end up working in a training role."

Shatkus began her career in marketing communications in the energy industry and eventually migrated into training roles with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. After seven years there, the experience carried her to Abbott, where she says the challenges now lie in the globalized economy as well as the new stakeholders continually coming to the table. She perseveres by remaining resilient through whatever comes her way.

"The global economy is definitely challenging everyone to innovate and reinvent executions to meet new needs for the healthcare industry. But training is also going through a metamorphosis as a result of globalization, so as a training professional that means executing faster, in new ways, while still trying to maintain the integrity of learning."

Coming on board at Abbott, Shatkus knew from her previous experience that leaning on your team members, as they would lean on you, is integral. "I have high expectations of my team," she says. "It's my leadership style. I wouldn't ask them to do anything I wouldn't do myself. And coming through the ranks of training, most of these positions I have done myself, so I do have the perspective of having been in their shoes. So I do feel that is helpful for any leader to have that understanding of what [the team members] are going through."

Shatkus has spent over seven years at Abbott, including a stretch in Madrid, Spain, which, she says, presented another opportunity to develop her leadership style. "Culturally, being able to see different perspectives, and being able to immerse myself in that was a fantastic personal experience. ... For me, with this organization ... being flexible and open and figuring out exactly what each person needs in order to be successful in their role—that's where I tie that in with leadership. You can't do a one-size-fits-all."

John Stuart
National Sales Director, Genentech

Heck no," says John Stuart, when asked if he always knew he would work in healthcare or pharma. "I went to school knowing I would be a salesperson, but never really articulated in my own mind what kind of sales I wanted to be involved in. In fact, when I interviewed with Genentech, I had no clue who they were at the time."

Not exactly the path to destiny, true. But once Stuart got his start as a sales rep for Abbot and was promoted to senior sales rep within 18 months, the foundation was in place. Of his time at Abbot, Stuart says, "It gave me the introduction to pharma and the industry, and it gave me a clear perspective of what I did and didn't like." Stuart was then able to take his newfound pharma knowledge into a sales position at Genentech, and has now been with the company 18 years in various positions.

Watching the industry change over that time—becoming more regulated and more cost-conscious day by day—causes Stuart to pause and reflect. "For many years Genentech was immune to some of these things ... for awhile we were insulated, because we were delivering on the innovation, on breakthrough drugs and technology," he recalls. "Many salespeople, myself included, took things for granted—that this was a job that was stable, where I would earn a great living and be able to provide for my family. And then all of a sudden that gets shattered."

But Stuart isn't disheartened by the new, learner industry. "On one hand I think it's a really good thing. I don't think any of us are entitled to anything. Every day we've got to go to work, and we've got to have an impact, and we've got to have value for the customer or patient," he says. "What we've seen by downsizing is that we've actually created more engagement. It really forced us as a management team to ask the critical question: 'What do we want to look like when we grow up?'"

Spurred by downsizing, Stuart and his team at Genentech have had to consciously foster an environment in which his employees can—and want to—succeed. "It's not just empowering employees to own their territory and the decisions they make—they also need to have responsibility," he says. "In 2008 I read an article about jazz musician Dizzy Gillespie. He said that what makes a good jazz musician is that they have one foot in the past and one in the future. I believe the same is true for pharma."


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