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Mayoly Spindler’s Stéphane Thiroloix: More on What CEOs Expect from Alliance Management

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Friday, September 9, 2016

Yesterday, Mayoly Spindler’s CEO Stéphane Thiroloix kicked off the opening plenary of the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference. His hour-long presentation and Q&A discussion riveted attendees and teed up key themes for the remainder of the three-day event at the Revere Hotel Boston Common, which was attended by more than 150 life sciences and healthcare partnering executives from around the world. A perennial topic of discussion among alliance execs, regardless of industry, has been how to make what alliance executives do top-of-mind in the C-suite—and how to educate and influence senior executives on how better to leverage alliance management to support the company’s strategic goals. Thiroloix’s talk resonated—because he truly “gets” alliance management and how it fits into an organization. 

Thiroloix has pushed to expand the role of alliance management in Mayoly Spindler, which focuses on gastroenterology and dermocosmetics—so he’s a fan of alliance management and argues that it now plays “a central role in what we do in the healthcare industry.” He’s also crystal clear on what he expects from alliance executives—and what he doesn’t want. I talked to several veteran chief alliance officers who described it as perhaps the best presentation they’ve heard at an ASAP conference, and as I’m writing this blog during the closing session of the conference, attendees are still exclaiming the value of this session for them. 

Check out our earlier coverage of his plenary talk as well as my colleague Cynthia B. Hanson’s strikingly thoughtful Q&A blog post with Thiroloix in August. And here are more nuggets of insight Thiroloix offered during his session: 

  • Align with C-suite processes. “Use the C-suite’s governance [process]. If you can fit your into the normal C-suite governance agenda, it’s better. Be part of the monthly meeting, versus scheduling an alliance meeting the C-suite.”
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. “Alliances are complex. The rest of my life is also, so don’t expect me to memorize, remind me again, even if it feels incredibly basic. I will stop you if I don’t need more information.”
  • Be specific and don’t assume knowledge. “Whenever you talk about a partner, be ultra-specific. When [my alliance manger] Fabienne Pioch-Laval talks to me about a partner, I don’t hear the first sentence. I’m thinking about, ‘this is the one with the product coming out 2021.’ You have the full picture, but I don’t. Don’t assume that [senior executives] know the specifics. Keep telling me what, why, what for, and how.” 
  • No surprises. “Your role is to anticipate, to manage changes that come from the outside, and from the partner, which is perceived to be outside the company. But make sure [communicating these changes] doesn’t happen in groups. Make sure executive team members know in advance that this is coming up—working the meeting before it happens. The best way to do that is to get their teams to understand, make their teams look good, make sure they convey to their bosses [the information they need]. Help them help you—the C-suite can create interpersonal goodwill.”
  • Give timely support that builds partner. “There are a couple of companies where I have to make myself visit, but if something goes wrong, I don’t know how much I would want to fix it” because of the poor nature of the relationship. “And there are companies that even if something goes wrong, I still want to work with them. Try to find opportunities for senior executives to be in a positive relationship with each other. Make sure your CEO or head of R&D makes that phone call of congratulations for your partner’s success. Write me that message that I can email onto the partner—so that when there’s a bit of turmoil they’ll do the same,” and have the same goodwill towards your company.
  • Don’t bring the CEO your gripes about BD. “One thing that I really don’t want to do is to sort out issues between business development and alliance management. One of the functions where you can step on toes is business development. But you guys can work it out. I don’t want to be involved—I’m just being honest with you.” 
  • Bring your partnering magic to C-suite executives’ teams. “At the end of the day, it’s a function, it’s a set of technical skills, a 360-degree understanding, but there’s an art, an element of humanity, interpersonal dynamics, an element of human magic. I want to see you spending a lot more time with the teams of the C-suite members, so they are informed by their teams. Collaborating in governance just works better naturally—so this is really the key message.”

Tags:  alliance manager  business development  CEO  chief alliance officers  C-suite  executives  Mayoly Spindler  partner  R&D  Stéphane Thiroloix 

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Lilly and WuXi App Tech: Tips and Insights from a Successful Western and Chinese Pharmaceutical Collaboration

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, September 9, 2016

Only 50 percent of China’s population is urbanized, which means the pace of change over the next decade is likely to be colossal. Its already one of the largest and fastest growing pharmaceutical markets. But it also can be one of the most challenging for alliance managers to negotiate because of the cultural differences. 

Eli Lilly and Company is known for being one of the firstand most persistentpharmaceuticals to make inroads into China. The company began with an R&D partnership with Shanghai-based WuXi App Tech in 2003. Last year, the companies entered into a significant strategic collaboration for a new project as part of a global program. 

For Brent Harvey, CA-AM, director of alliances at Lilly, the test tube is clearly more than half-full when it comes to doing business in China. “How do we leverage the difference between our two companies or cultures for competitive advantage?” he asked during the session “A New Model for Western and Chinese Pharmaceutical Partnering,” at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed” held Sept. 7-9 at the Revere Hotel Boston Common, Boston. 

Assisting with the presentation was Zhihui Qiu, Director of Strategic Transactions, at WuXi App Tech (Shanghai) Co., who shared her company’s perspective. The two company representatives discussed their approach to resolve cultural differences, cut government red tape, and extract long-term value from the partnership. They provided several valuable tips gleaned from the experience: 

IP Security
Harvey: We typically manage the IP at the mother ship. But we also have local counsel. It is so hard to keep track of what’s going on there, so it’s important to have that local presence. 

Qiu: IP is receiving increasing attention in China. Dedicated IP Courts were established in China earlier this year. In the United States, you tend to have very good IP management. In China, it is not a big practice yet. You probably need local help and US counsel to work together to make sure you are protected. 

Contracts

Harvey: We try to de-risk as much as we can in the contract. We tend to view it as definitive, while the Chinese view it as general guideline. When I think about Western trust, it’s someone who honors his or her word. In China, this perspective is about honing change in mutualities. Chinese people want to stay practical. They don’t want to rewrite their contact. 

Qiu:  Contacts tend to be simple and boilerplates are greatly simplified. As the relationship evolves, the contract may be replaced by a new one to better serve the purpose. 

Making the Deal

Harvey: It’s very important to have high-profile executives helping to build trust and social capital. In Western culture, the deal is the deal, and we would probably celebrate it by going to a bar. 

Qiu: We might celebrate the major deals with a ceremony. The government is trying to foster and build innovation in pharma industry, and we would invite multiple government officials and key opinion leaders to the ceremony to raise their awareness. 

Planning and Team Meetings

Harvey: Time zone differences can be challenging; use a lunar calendar because holidays will change. It’s very important to have actions and decisions clearly documented in meeting minutes. The Chinese have a different approach to planning with optimistic and aggressive milestone dates. It has benefitted Lilly to be stretched and pushed by aggressive Chinese firms. Relationships are important, but there is a lot of turnover in Chinese firms, which is something you should be aware of going in. 

Qiu: Chinese company power is more centralized, which allows the Chinese to push. Our teams are Western educated; the English is really good, which helps a lot with communications. You won’t need translators. Face-to-face meetings are important. 

Regulatory pathways

Harvey: China issued a new policy to allow biotech companies to hold product licenses. Manufacturers used to be the only ones who could hold the license. Things change so quickly in China, and you need to think about how you are staffing your alliances to be agile and adaptable in this very, very dynamic environment.

Qiu: New drugs used to be produced by the multinationals, and domestic companies didn’t have the capability for innovation, but that has changed in the last 10 years. A government agency set prices incentives for innovative drugs developed by domestic companies. 

Government Regulation

Harvey: It took a lot of conversation, the documents were in Chinese, and requirements needed transcription. It took a lot to engage the expertise of Lilly’s Shanghai and Beijing offices. It was not easy to figure out what we needed to do to have an acceptable package. 

Qiu: You need local people who truly understand regulatory affairs in China. Your approach depends on what route you are going and the specific goals you are trying to achieve. 

Tags:  ASAP BioPharma Conference  Brent Harvey  contracts  cultural differences  cultures  Eli Lilly and Company  Government Regulation  high-profile executives  IP Security  partnership  pharmaceuticals  Planning and Team Meetings  R&D partnership  Regulatory pathways  strategic transactions  WuXi App Tech  Zhihui Qiu 

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‘Dr. Sam’ Nussbaum: Healing the US Healthcare System One Politician at a Time

Posted By Genevieve Fraser, Thursday, September 8, 2016

As chair of an action network progress tracking group, Dr. Samuel Nussbaum has been busy tracking the progress of alternative payment models for health care payments.  Dr. Sam, as he is known informally, claims we are in the best of times and worst of times, citing unprecedented advantages such as mapping the human genome.  But despite one of the greatest achievements in the history of human exploration and extraordinary medical breakthroughs, despite the thousands and thousands of drugs under development which are the fruits of basic research, many of which were government funded, we have created a healthcare system that scientifically, in terms of delivery and accessibility, has been less than socially responsible.

“People can’t afford the cost of drugs. Over the past decade the average wage has not changed, but look at the cost of healthcare!”

Dr. Sam points to the populist enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. During their primary campaigns, both capitalized on the type of anger that is the natural outgrowth of this dilemma, he said.

Sharing insights gained from 15 years as executive vice president and chief medical officer of Anthem, Dr. Sam ticked off the issues. We’re spending more, and through the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, there’s better access. But spending on other services that also play a vital role in health and wellbeing is down—public health, mental health, dental care, education, housing, and the list goes on.

“We stole from other investments to increase access. We are not using our trillions wisely,” he claims.  “Thirty to 40 percent is wasted on poor services, admin costs, fraud, etc. Obama tried to introduce reforms, to deliver care differently and provide more integration and coordination of care. But pharmaceuticals remain front and center. Chronic illness treatment is all about drugs. Granted, there have been extraordinary strides made toward cures and better management of chronic illnesses, but this comes at a cost. In 2015, health care spending topped $3 trillion.  Twenty-five percent was spent on drugs, particularly specialty drugs,” he said, emphasizing how much more of the healthcare pie is being taken by pharmaceuticals than in the past.

People want price controls, Dr. Sam reminded the audience. Seventy-five percent of the American public believes the drug companies are taking advantage. The USA pays the highest prices for drugs. The pressure is building, and it’s playing out in the 2016 campaign.

Donald Trump claims the drug companies are lobbying the politicians and that’s why costs are exorbitant. Clinton is adjusting her opinion, borrowing from what worked for Sanders during his campaign. With the pressure on and the public outcry growing louder, Nussbaum said Congress can be expected to act, regardless of who wins the presidency. 

Will the ongoing reform of US healthcare now start borrowing from the single payer model? According to Dr. Sam, “Unless we find a way to solve this ourselves, there will be increased regulation. We need to figure out these new models of value. Few want price controls because it hampers innovation. We need financial incentives that provide an engine for innovation. But egregious price increases are driving political blowback.”

Concerning the election, with Clinton, Nussbaum expects there will be a continuation of alternative payment models and cost controls, including less than full access to all drugs. As for Trump, he is quick to condemn Obamacare and threatens to repeal it. But Nussbaum also reminded the audience of Trump’s son-in-law, real estate entrepreneur Jared Kushner, whose brother Josh is co-founder of Oscar Health, a health insurance company that, as a licensed health care provider, sells to individuals and families in the marketplaces created by Obamacare. Perhaps, he suggested, the real differences in healthcare policy between Clinton and Trump might not be so great post-election.

Nussbaum currently serves as a strategic consultant to EGB Advisors, Inc., consulting arm for Epstein, Becker & Green, where he advises life science companies, hospitals and health care systems, and physician and provider organizations. 

**Footnote: Dr. Samuel Nussbaum was the Conference Keynote at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference.

Tags:  Affordable Care Act  Anthem  Clinton  congress  Donald Trump  Dr. Samuel Nussbaum  pharmaceuticals  US Healthcare System 

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What a CEO Wants—and Doesn’t Want—in an Alliance Executive: A Peek inside the Mind of Mayoly Spindler CEO

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Thursday, September 8, 2016

From an alliance management perspective, how you would you describe your perfect CEO? After today, I might start with the handsome, articulate, and drily witty Stéphane Thiroloix, CEO of French pharmaceutical company Mayoly Spindler. Sharing a peek inside his mind as a company leader, today’s opening plenary speaker at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston at one point described himself as “an anxious maniac” who secretly wishes to avoid meetings with some partners and worries over all the details he can’t remember about other partners. 

Thiroloix opened his talk by describing his humiliation at the center of an unmitigated partnering disaster. A far cry from the historic lament of partnering executives—“the C-suite has no idea what we do”—Thiroloix talked in sufficient detail to demonstrate his thorough command of the ins and outs of strategic partnering and the alliance management role. He also described how he has pushed to expand the role of alliance management in his current company, which focuses on gastroenterology and dermocosmetics. Not surprisingly, the audience was hooked from start to finish. 

Thiroloix backed up his talk by a handful of spare, almost minimalist slides (except for one animated slide that, I’m not kidding, showed a fairy flying around an org chart, waving her wand and sprinkling the magic dust of alliance management across the C-suite team). For nearly an hour of presentation and Q&A, Thiroloix riveted his audience of approximately 150 alliance executives by describing the importance of what they do and how they do it—from his perspective as a CEO. 

After reviewing the sweeping shift, during the past 30 years, from a highly vertical and self-contained pharmaceutical industry to the highly interdependent industry of today, he noted the truism that “we cannot get away from partnering. Today, you can’t do that, regardless of who you are—you have to partner in pretty much everything you do.” Moreover, that means CEOs need to care very much about alliance management. “This really has projected your role to a central role in what we do in the healthcare industry.” 

Then Thiroloix pivoted to the heart of his presentation. “Now I’d like to focus on the other aspect—the C-suite interaction with alliance management. There are a number of things that I’ve come to expect.” 

For starters, alliance management should be a “one-stop shop” for anything involving partners. “We expect you to know everything about the partnership—if you don’t, who will?” he asked. “I don’t know everything about our partners and I develop anxiety about that. The only way to relieve that anxiety is to talk to you. It’s technically important [to provide this knowledge] and also an interesting element of career dynamics. This is about reassuring the C-suite.” 

Indeed, he described in detail his expectations of “support for my team. We want to be informed, prompted and supported, and coordinated. I expect you to keep my team on the right page of that book, and help them to contribute to the health of that alliance.” 

One of Thiroloix’s most powerful points then came when he described his perspective on importance of advocating for the partner—demonstrating just how clearly he sees the nuances of alliance management and its pivotal role in partnering success. 

“I expect the alliance manager to put herself at risk at some point for the partner. Any C-suite will paint the picture the color they need it,” he explained. “The role of the alliance manager is to tell us, ‘you can’t do this because our partner is actually expecting the opposite,’ and to overcome the natural bias of executive committees.” As he did throughout his talk, Thiroloix then dug a layer deeper, explaining what he called a “survival skill” for alliance execs when they are advocating for the partner: 

“Make sure you are clear it’s your opinion versus painting the picture for the partner. I expect the alliance manager to tell me, ‘Stéphane, this is how our partner sees it,’ then say, ‘I think they’re wrong and might be open to changing their minds,’ or, ‘I think they’re right and we need to change our approach.’” 

He also emphasized the importance of telling senior leadership what they need to know about partners to do their jobs—but not what you might want them to know about your job and what it takes to do it. 

“Alliance managers are same as everyone else standing in front of senior management,” he admonished. “We all tend to go over the whole story about every one of our partnerships when we get a little bit of ear time—but don’t do that, we know how hard you work. The C-suite doesn’t understand the job, the complexity—but they understand the need for this type of job.”

Tags:  alliance manager  C-suite  leadership  Mayoly Spindler  partner  senior management  Stéphane Thiroloix  strategic partnering 

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New ASAP Workshop Offers Toolbox for Adapting to Industry Change with an Agile, Lean Alliance Management Practice

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, September 8, 2016

“Do the people in your company really understand alliance management?” That was a key question Lynda McDermott, CA-AM, president of EquiPro International, a consulting and coaching company specializing in leadership, team, and business development for Fortune 500 and medium-size companies, posed during the workshop “Lean and Agile: Next Generation Alliance Management” at the 2016 ASAP BioPharma Conference Sept. 7-9: “New Faces, Unexpected Places in Partnering: The Foresight to Lead, the Foundation to Succeed” at the Revere Hotel Boston Common, Boston. 

“No-o-o-o-o!” came the resounding response throughout the room. 

The new instructive workshop is designed to improve the role of alliance managers and familiarize participants with what’s needed today to streamline their alliance management practice. Co-facilitated by Annick De Swaef, CSAP, managing partner of Consensa Consulting, it addresses pressing industry changes, such as the impact of digitalization and cross-industry partnering, through basic questions and key objectives such as: 

  • Identifying that your team’s current alliance best practices and skills are future-
  • Assessing if these practices and skills are lean and agile

 The facilitators focused on the three practices they consider critical to a successful partnership: Framework, team dynamics, staying lean and agile. 

For a successful framework, your team needs to be aware of strategic investment, the alliance lifecycle, value co-creation, and alliance governance, McDermott said.

“So many clients don’t understand alliance governance. It’s about all the people in the room, different experiences, different cultures, and how I can service this team so we can come together in this challenge,” she added. 

Participants at tables were then asked to take part in an interactive game with building blocks, and McDermott linked the unique outcomes of each group to the reality many alliance teams face. “What you think is an alliance may not be what someone else thinks looks like an alliance,” she said. “We are trying to take the burden off of you of being the sole person responsible for the success of the alliance.” 

 “Poor implementation of the governance structure is the No. 1 reason alliances fail, according to the research,” she added. “Never assume that what you know is what everybody else knows. Your team members need to be able to see the big picture and how alliances fit into corporate strategy. It’s important that you provide sufficient learning material and experiences to other members of the team.” 

She then probed another key question: “In general, do you think collaboration is a skill that comes naturally to people?” 

“No-o-o-o!” came the cacophonic response again. 

“Toddlers don’t collaborate. They have sandbox issues,” she responded. “It depends on how you’ve been socialized. And people have their own points of view and agenda. But you can learn how to get better.” 

Fundamental to good team dynamics is the concept of the ladder of trust; sensitivity to cultural differences; a networked organization; and collaborative skills, De Swaef added. Pay attention to spoilers of those healthy team dynamics, such as: 

  • A lack of trust
  • Communication that is not always open, which could be cultural
  • Ill-defined responsibilities
  • Differences in company sizes, power struggles

“An alliance manager is not a therapist. Never assume people will behave collaboratively,” she said. “Make sure you create those skills in a safe setting. Give them training on conflict management from the start. Reward your team. Keep the team dynamics flowing in a positive way. And award problem solving, which is often not done.”

The third critical component is to stay lean and agile, she advised. Lean is about proceeding without wandering around and following up with steps in the shortest possible ways. Agile is as fast as possible, but in an interactive way where you reduce the risk for your organization, she continued. “It’s important to be a shape shifter when you are working with a partner. You need to rejuvenate your alliance practices,” she added, while citing the analogy of the hare and tortoise. 

“There is so much regulation and compliance that the culture creates the tortoise,” said McDermott of the challenges that arise particularly in life sciences and health care. “The question becomes, are you so tied to that that you can’t become agile” she continued. 

“When doing alliances with IT, not many companies are turtles. Those kinds of alliances are coming into the [biopharma] industries,” De Swaef noted. “My way or the highway is over.” 

Empower your teams, map out processes, and figure out where they can be more efficient, innovative, and creative. “You are not a therapist, but you are a change facilitator,” observed McDermott. “Think about the least developed competency or best practice in your organization, and then go to the ASAP sessions and find an answer. ASAP is really in the process of trying to connect with you to develop your teams and provide training so you can make sure your teams can learn and connect with each other with a lean and agile mindset.” 

Tags:  alliance manager  Annick De Swaef  biopharma  communication  Consensa Consulting  EquiPro International  Framework  governance  IT  ladder of trust  life sciences  Lynda McDermott  staying lean and agile  team dynamics 

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