Emerging Pharma Leaders 2011 - Pharmaceutical Executive


Emerging Pharma Leaders 2011
Managing in the Era of Lean

Pharmaceutical Executive

Byran Litton
Senior Director of Sales, Oncology Business Unit, Eli Lilly

"Modern leadership is about a couple of things: It's as simple as trust and lending a vision to people; to have that singular vision that can really give people the lens by which they look at everything that comes to them. To me that's a calming force that's absolutely necessary."

In over 11 years, Byran Litton, senior director of sales, oncology business unit at Eli Lilly, has relied on diverse experiences to shape his leadership style. You can only learn so much from books, as he puts it. He calls his current role a "people role. It's an awful lot of fun to make an impact on an individual level," he says.

The backbone of good leadership is that trust. "Previously, we may have been more focused on motivating and inspiring, which is almost episodic. It's delivered as a quick-burning fuel, but then it burns out. But if there's real trust in the organization ... then to me, that's a more long-burning thing."

With all the regulatory and environmental changes affecting the industry, how does Litton manage through the chaos? "Anyone that sits in a position where they're influencing significant parts of an organization has to be a change agent. I think that's a prerequisite."

But one cannot do it all by himself; he must rely on the skill sets and experiences of others. "I think I learned early on that something can be done, and done well, and be nothing like I would have done it. And that, for a lot of folks in leadership positions, can be difficult, but for me it works. I enjoy that work, when you build the right group," he says. To Litton, hiring individuals with varying experiences and skill sets that balance one another is integral.

And so after over a decade at Lilly, predominantly in the oncology space, even if it's been "something closer to a calling," as he puts it, how does Litton keep his own motivation going, let alone his team's? "I have been like a kid in a candy shop with all the things that have been given to me by the oncology business unit at Lilly. It's been incredibly fun. But the piece that I want to have touched in some way is advancing the care of patients, the elimination of disease. That's my anchor. As we say: 'If you're not in oncology you're trying to get in; and if you're already in oncology, you're trying to get bigger.' For me, it's something that's really under my skin and I wouldn't have it any other way."

Lars Merk
Director, CNS Marketing, Johnson & Johnson

According to Lars Merk, director of CNS marketing for Johnson & Johnson, there are two separate effects of the convergence of digital technologies and healthcare. The first is an explosion of newly available interactions that leverage digital technologies. The second is the realization that healthcare delivery is changing and technology is a catalyst for greater efficiency. "What I enjoy most about my current role is that my contributions can make an impact across the organization and in some ways help shape the way our entire industry effectuates meaningful change in healthcare," says Merk. "Our reality in this country, and in fact across the globe, is that there are just not enough resources to deliver the amount of healthcare that the citizens of the world demand." Choices have to be made and that in turn gives the industry an opportunity to move the needle forward in terms of improving health outcomes from pharmaceuticals.

Personal connections are highly valued by Merk, who believes that they are really about shared workplace experiences. In fact, he finds that of the people he connects most often with, one attribute is most evident—they all put their socks on the same way he does: "To be truthful, I have never asked anyone how they put their socks on, but these people who I connect with are, above all else, people—people with ideas, with hopes and dreams, who have interests that are as varied as the inhabitants in this world." Connecting these aspirations and focusing all that energy around a clear business objective is a key characteristic of good leadership. Passion is indeed a vocational asset.

Merk believes that leaders must embrace accountability at every level of their organization. "This accountability is not implemented for liability, but rather to induce pride among teams," he says. "It creates action when things are not right and creates celebration when they are."


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