The Summit Is Here! And It’s Music to Our Ears

Global Alliance Summit ,

Posted By Michael Burke, Monday, March 15, 2021

The 2021 ASAP Global Alliance Summit began virtually this morning US time with opening remarks and introduction by Michael Leonetti, CSAP, president and CEO of ASAP. Leonetti greeted attendees—who covered the globe from California to Massachusetts to the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, and beyond—by citing a Fortune/Deloitte CEO survey indicating that about 78 percent of us are working from home, and that even by the start of 2022 estimates show that 36 percent may still be doing so.

This creates challenges for all of us, and for the alliance profession as a whole. Whether in normal times or pandemic conditions, Leonetti sees those challenges in three categories: internal challenges, changes facing the profession, and the issues involved in working with partners. All of these factors are present in some form all the time, but many have been exacerbated by the pandemic and remote work.

Another perennial challenge is corporate culture—specifically, building and maintaining a culture that is collaborative and supportive of alliances, and also one that allows for and encourages full participation by an increasingly diverse workforce. This was the topic on the mind of the Summit’s first keynote speaker, Bruce Cozadd, cofounder, chairman, and CEO of Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

Harmonic Convergence

Cozadd, whose talk was titled “Fostering a Culture of Collaboration,” spoke of how, after holding various C-suite positions at ALZA Corporation, a pharma company that was acquired by Johnson & Johnson, he started looking for his next opportunity while spending time at home with his three young children. He was searching for a company culture he could get on board with, but never quite found it—so he decided to start one himself.

Thus was born Jazz Pharmaceuticals, which was very intentionally “founded on company culture,” according to Cozadd. Its name derives from jazz musicians’ penchant for soloing, improvising, and playing together, which makes jazz a “group art form” (Cozadd himself is a musician who plays piano and sings). Such improvisational collaboration is also practiced by the best companies, particularly those that depend on alliances.

Collaboration is one of the hallmarks, and core values, of Jazz, along with trust, reputation, and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI. And while those may seem like positive but somewhat fuzzy concepts, Cozadd said they’re actually essential to making alliances work—and critical to helping Jazz maintain speed, agility, and adaptability in the face of the kinds of challenges and rapid changes Leonetti outlined in his opening message.

More People + More Questions = Better Answers

So fostering a collaborative culture can help with the smooth functioning of alliances, but maintaining that culture and its core values means a lot more than that. In particular, Cozadd noted, digging deeper into DEI brings with it “an awareness of unspoken assumptions and unconscious bias.” This led Cozadd and Jazz to “recognize and embrace differences,” as well as to look more closely and honestly at their employees’ experiences within the company—especially their Black employees.

Cozadd acknowledged Jazz’s good intentions in these areas falling somewhat short prior to 2020, but in that year of upheaval the company made a serious commitment to do more, including reaching 50 percent diverse representation on its board and its leadership teams. “If you don’t have the culture you want, you probably don’t have the right executive team,” he explained.

“Diverse thinking often gets us to better answers,” Cozadd continued. So as alliance professionals, and as leaders, the question is: “Are you willing to step up and have that conversation?”

For Cozadd and Jazz, for DEI as for collaboration, it’s a matter of looking at data and asking the right questions—including conducting an annual employee survey anonymously—analyzing the results, acting on them, and then remeasuring. No matter what, leaders must be transparent about what’s happening: what the problems are, what they intend to do about them, and what progress is being made along the way.

“Culture change is hard,” Cozadd admitted. “It can be worth it, but it takes real commitment from the top. If you’re not modeling the behaviors, your words don’t matter.”

Stay abreast of all the Summit keynotes, panels, master classes and more by checking back on this blog, and by going to www.asapsummit.org.