Product Training Manager, Diabetes, Boehringer Ingelheim
For Alana Clemens, diabetes is more than just something she focuses on from nine to five. As the woman who trains the sales
team that focuses on Boehringer Ingelheim's diabetes initiatives, she admittedly knows a great deal about the disease. But
she's also a patient. And an advocate. "I have a personal connection and passion for the area of diabetes. I am active in
the diabetes community, and that certainly contributes to how I perform my job functions," she says.
"This year I participated in the American Diabetes Association's 'Step out to Fight Diabetes' walk with my family. This is
a cause I am very passionate about and would pursue even if I didn't work in the diabetes space," she continues. "I believe
I am an example of what can be accomplished when work ethic is coupled with personal passion. "
Clemens aims to bring this passion to her role as a leader within her organization, and to pass it on to her team. "A change
agent is someone who goes beyond embracing change—to someone who is creating and driving change," she says. "Our industry
is appropriately risk-averse. Change agents are not always welcome—often, change increases conflict. But when I am successful,
I feel rewarded by the outcome."
To foster positive change in a challenging industry climate, Clemens is embracing new technology. "The way people exchange
information is rapidly changing. I knew that in order to train people in a way that was effective, we would need to raise
the bar and explore new methods of interacting with technology," she says. Which is why, as Boehringer Ingelheim was preparing
to launch the first in a franchise of diabetes molecules, Clemens created an online repository of information that can be
exchanged and shared among colleagues. "I'm very proud of how our Diabetes Portal has become a cross-functional resource for
our sales organization," she says.
There are some crucial tactics for succeeding in the industry going forward, says Clemens, both for her team and for herself
and other industry leaders. The most important factors, she says, are "clear, concise direction; demonstrating confidence
in your decisions; being an excellent listener; and fostering an environment which encourages creativity and collaboration."
Senior Research Scientist, NovaBay Pharmaceuticals
After pursuing a post-doctorate degree in San Francisco, Dr. Andreas Jekle found the road challenging for a foreign-born scientist
trying to enter the pharmaceutical world. Luckily, a fellow German helped him land his first job at Roche in 2003. Now, as
senior research scientist at NovaBay Pharmaceuticals, Jekle is getting the chance to "combine drug development work with my
passion for basic science."
"For a long time, I thought I would pursue a career in academia. I didn't have any exposure to pharma before I joined Roche.
However, I never regretted the switch to industry. Research and science are as good in industry as they are in academia—just
with different goals." Flexibility is key; being able to adapt quickly to other fields will go a long way toward meeting your
"A good project leader listens to the advice of his team and knows to build consensus," says Jekle. And here's where flexibility
comes in: "Make clear early on what your success criteria are and revisit them regularly. Project teams have a tendency to
drift off target. Don't stick to your initial criteria if the environment changes," he adds.
Three critical assets to getting the most out of a team—especially in this era of "lean" pharma—are being able to listen,
empowering your subordinates, and being realistic. A lean organization "for me specifically means ... having to work with
CROs. That requires working with new people with different backgrounds on a daily basis. If you have to rely more and more
on other service providers, you have to make sure that they live up to your expectations," says Jekle. This speaks to the
era of globalization all industries, not just pharma, are in.
But whether working with your in-house team or with outside partners, it all comes down to setting goals. According to Jekle:
"When you set your goals, have a good mixture of those within reach and others that will be a challenge. Same thing with your
expectations from your group; if you're not realistic and expect unreasonable results, you lose trust and your group will
no longer work for you."
So how does Dr. Jekle handle the challenges that come with the changing times? "Embrace it," he says. "You can't stop it.
But you can learn from it. Experience is invaluable, especially if it is combined with an open mind to new approaches."