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Your Move: Changing Jobs in Biopharma Alliance Management

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Updated: Friday, September 27, 2019

A perennial topic of interest in the ASAP biopharma community—and alliance management in general—revolves around plotting one’s career path and changing jobs, whether that means moving to a new company or shifting to a new job in one’s current organization. And who better to learn from on this subject than three senior alliance leaders who’ve all made significant job changes?

            Such was the setup for a session at the just-concluded ASAP BioPharma Conference 2019, held Sept. 23–25 in Boston. Titled “Alliance Management: What’s Your Next Move?,” the session was led by Steve Twait, CSAP, vice president of alliance and integration management at AstraZeneca, and copresenters Karen Denton, CA-AM, head of alliance management at Experion, and Nancy Griffin, CA-AM, vice president of alliance management at Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

            Twait spent 26 years at Eli Lilly, then left the Indianapolis pharma company for UK-based AstraZeneca, where he has spent the last five years. Griffin described herself as a “serial alliance manager,” with stints at Bayer and Novartis before taking a new job five months ago at Vertex. Denton’s experience, meanwhile, was primarily in commercialization and marketing. She wanted to get into business development but instead became an alliance manager at Bayer—due to Griffin’s influence at the time—before eventually heading to Experion.

            A large pharma company may offer many opportunities to grow an alliance management career, said Twait. The centralized alliance management function at Lilly meant that Twait was able to move relatively seamlessly into different areas and roles. A smaller company may not provide that chance, but wearing many hats there may present other types of enriching experience.

            Griffin noted that personal and family concerns often weigh as heavily as professional considerations—if not more so—and can affect the timing of any move when children are young and in school, for example. If there’s a merger or acquisition involving your company, she added, it can take some of the control away when you’re trying to forge your own destiny. Determining when you can afford to take the risk and try something new is key.

            Denton agreed with Twait that “boredom is never associated with alliance management,” and that the field creates many opportunities for both professional and personal growth. Twait added that just making the leap from Indianapolis to Cambridge, England, was important for his own growth as an individual. Denton said that in her own career move she essentially decided to “set fire to the cockpit and go.”

            The copresenters presented a structure for thinking about making your next job change that consisted of three categories: “Know Before You Go,” “Early Learnings,” and “Begin the Build.” Among the things to find out when plotting a job move, they said, are:

  • Why did this company go outside the organization to make the hire?
  • What is the prospective company’s business development strategy?
  • How can you add value in that strategy?

      Among the “Early Learnings,” the trio cited these questions to ponder:

  • Who are the key stakeholders and who are your best sources of information?
  • How can you get some quick early wins and what are the pressure points in the new organization?
  • Select the right diagnostic: How will you get the information you need to begin to build?
  • How can you establish your value—and credibility—early on?

      Within the first hundred days at a new company, the three presenters recommended taking the following steps internally:

  • Find out who are the “friends and family” of alliance management
  • Get 20 people and 20 processes described as soon as possible
  • Hold one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders
  • Begin ongoing mentoring efforts
  • Shadow department projects

      Externally, they had additional recommendations:

  • Make contact with your alliance management counterparts at the partner
  • Going through one to two cycles of governance should help with the learning curve
  • Collect performance data on the alliance
  •  Do an informal alliance health check with your alliance management counterpart

      Twait described these steps in total as “like an onboarding tool—it’s your own onboarding plan.” Another big question: Where are the key risks in your new company’s alliances in the next 30 days? They can appear in any number of areas:

  • Communication—especially with “unique personalities” who require special handling
  • Where the money is going, with any attendant budget constraints
  • IP issues
  • Public disclosure issues
  • Presence or lack of processes
  • History of conflict within or around the alliance

       Given that all job changes can be challenging, and that learning a new company from a cross-functional area such as alliance management can be hard, audience members in the session had some other pieces of good advice for those making alliance career moves. These included:

  • Ask good questions and don’t be afraid to sound “dumb”—the new company may use different language from your old one
  • Communication is key—face-to-face conversations and “hallway meetings” can help a lot, especially in a small company
  • Understand the essentials of the alliances you’ve taken on—get a summary of the key aspects of the contract in each alliance you’re responsible for
  • The alliance management role may be poorly understood at your new company and not have a true mandate—so you’ll have to earn your credibility
  • The new company may expect miracles—so manage expectations, then deliver
  • The new company wants to reap the benefits of your expertise and to hear your war stories—but don’t compare the new and old companies

      What’s your next move? Whether it’s to a new company or even a new country, or just into a new role in your current organization, there’s a lot to think about and a lot to do as you bring your own experience and alliance know-how into a new situation with fresh challenges. 

Tags:  alliance management  alliances  AstraZeneca  biopharma community  CA-AM  career path  Communication  conflict  CSAP  Experion  IP  Karen Denton  mentoring  Nancy Griffin  senior alliance leaders  stakeholders  Steve Twait  Vertex Pharmaceuticals 

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor—Effectively Employing the Breadth of People in Your Alliance

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, September 6, 2016

To maximize the value of an alliance, it’s important to effectively employ and appreciate the full mix of participantsfrom your sidekick partner to the trainer and sponsor in the background.  That was the focus of the session “People, Process, Culture: Building a Winning Alliance Program” at the 2016 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Eco­system,” at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland. The discussion was led by three individuals who built highly successful collaborative programs from scratch: Joe Havrilla, senior vice president and global head of business development & licensing, Bayer Pharmaceuticals; Gerry Dehkes, CSAP, global cyber ecosystem lead at Booz Allen Hamilton; David Erienborn, CSAP, director of strategic alliances at KPMG. During the session, they spent a considerable amount of time plying the question of how to create a thriving dynamic between your alliance team, partners, and even ex-partners. 

Joe: At the end of the day, the strategy is about people. Microsoft and KPMG are not going to do anything, since they do not exist other than in our heads they are not going to do anything. You only have the beginning of a strategy until you have taken your strategy from the company down to the people. People come into work not to execute a strategy; they come in with their own strategy. So how do I align their strategy to our best interests? In some cases, you also may need to work with the ex-partner.  If you understand ahead of time where you are in conflict with the other company, you can design a way of working together. 

Gerald: Here’s the approach we took, which is the secret sauce of this particular alliance program. Typically an alliance director will talk with partners and service leaders, and then bring in sales people. We realized the benefit of 10-20 alliance managerswith each trying to get to that sales forceand decided to take that part of the organization and organize it around the industry groups. Really position the alliance enablement person, and they would have only one person to go to. We found that to be very effective, those folks became part of the team. They decided strategies, winning alliance-based offers, they would always be there for that industry. That model helped us become successful. It’s that last piece that’s criticalgetting those alliances out to sales-facing people. 

David: It’s important that training people understand what they are trying to accomplish. If you can translate alliances at a company level down into the mind of the educators, and that this whole alliance is to get them to do something, they become aware of the importance of training to do something. It’s important for them to know this is the strategy. How do you set this up so they get visibility and appreciation? You need to make the training people a winner. 

Joe: You need to know the difference between sales and revenue, understand what margin is, and understand that finance people will be called on for estimates. If I include them from the beginning, I am a lot more likely to get their support when I need it. Another group that is important to your alliance are the sponsors. I’m an advocate and agent, but not the sponsor. They can bring resources to bear and spend time on building relationships. The alliance should be one of their top four priorities for their year. They have to be someone who can really step up. There aren’t any sponsor schools, they’ve never been trained to do it. We need to help sponsors understand what their job is, invest time in it, determine who can be a sponsor, and make sure they have the training to do it. 

Gerald: You need to define the elements of value that all the partners are looking for. It’s not a specific part of the agreement or financial transaction, yet it’s a strongly held expectation of the partner. If you don’t clarify that up front, you wind up being surprised. If there was an expectation that was discussed earlier, but you never codified the agreement or the people responsible for executing the agreement, then you have disconnect and conflict. It’s important that somebody is capturing the expectations. The other tool that is helpful upfront is to do a partner fit as part of due diligence. When you start with a rigorous checklist approach on partner resources, decision process, internal policies and procedures, you can mitigate conflicts down the road. 

David: Trust is predictability. I don’t trust my 15 year old to drive a car because I can’t predict. So we do a lot of trust building. As you get more of your people out there dealing with partners, you have to educate them and give them the boundary conditions, not to restrain them, but you want a consistent approach. You want enough leeway to solve problems. You don’t want to inhibit them from creativity, but you want predictability. 

Tags:  agreement  alignment  alliance team  Bayer Pharmaceuticals  CSAP  David Erienborn  Gerry Dehkes  Joe Havrilla  KPMG  sales  sponsors  strategies  strategy  Trust 

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How Three Pharma Alliance Leaders Manage Shifting Partner Priorities and Other Challenges in Mature Alliances

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

As alliances mature, partner priorities inevitably evolve over time—and partners’ commitment levels can diverge. A new licensing deal can be perceived as competing, and trust can undermine established relationship. Alliance execs can be challenged to restore alignment and avoid or manage challenges. Ron McRae, CSAP, director of alliance management at Janssen—Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, led a panel discussion Wednesday morning, March 4, at the 2015 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Orlando, Fla. USA. The discussion explored several commonplace scenarios that each panelist has grappled with, sharing guidelines and lessons learned in the process. 

One scenario explored the ramifications when “Company E” has a new deal that could be perceived as competitive to an alliance product jointly marketed with “Company F” for the past five years. Company F has expressed concerns about Company E’s commitment to the product and alliance—and fears potential leaks of confidential information to or by Company E’s execs working on the new product. Fundamentally, “it’s an issue of trust,” McRae said in teeing up this scenario for discussion. 

“There’s always a gray area,” responded Richard Wilson, executive director, global strategic alliances, business development and licensing, Novartis Oncology. “There’s obviously competition here—and when you talk to researchers in the organization, they just want to do what’s best. That’s one area where the alliance manager has to be there—and where the head of research couldn’t understand. That’s where firewalls need to be in place and the alliance manager needs to own that.” 

However, he continued, “Turns out, it was not a competing product. So lessons learned—I would have addressed early on that this isn’t a competing product. Don’t blow up things until you know the story. Yes, there are gray areas, but hopefully the contract will make these situations few and far between.” 

Gray Hulick, senior director, global alliance management, at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, focused on managing the new product announcement in a manner that protects the longstanding partnership. 

“As an alliance manager, you should be really connected with your deal team and know this deal is coming. What sort of communications plan can we put in place so our current partner understands what was announced?” she explained. “There’s a need for a pretty specific communications plan. The issue is, you can’t talk to your current partner about deal you’re about to announce. So in our case, the press release goes out in Japan at 2 a.m. Then, at 2:15 a.m., an e-mail communication goes out to the partner. Being transparent with that partner is really important.” 

When there’s a perception of an internally competing program, she added, “The instinct of most folks is to bury their heads in the sand and pretend it doesn’t exist,” she said. Instead, alliance executives should “encourage folks to discuss it outwardly, openly, and be transparent about it.” 

McRae weighed in, noting that “I certainly have dealt with this. We have to be mindful about how this is going to impact the partner. I like this concept: We implement some sort of a hotline [for our established partner], in anticipation of something that might be seen by them as a negative communication.” 

The panelists also discussed the importance of firewalls and guidelines for management of each partner’s proprietary information, as well as being careful with internal employee transfers to competing alliances. “If employees are coming from a competing alliance,” for instance, “they may not be able to share as much as you thought they could share,” McRae said. 

Some guidelines recommended by the panel: 

  • Disseminate cautionary instructions to both parties’ personnel who possess confidential/proprietary information
  • Avoid overlapping personnel
  • Contemporaneously record the independent development of alliances’ own products
  • Limit personnel access to meetings that include relevant presentations/discussions
  • Limit/generalize information that is captured in common databases
  • Closely limit and control electronic access, e.g. to team portal web sites where confidential information may reside
  • Review the firewall requirements annually by team—and as needed for new team members

Tags:  2015 ASAP Global Alliance Summit  alliance manager  competitive  CSAP  global alliance management  Gray Hulick  Janssen—Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & John  Novartis Oncology  Richard Wilson  Ron McRae  Takeda Pharmaceuticals 

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What Leads to Alliance Excellence? A Q&A Session with the 2015 ASAP Alliance Excellence Award Winners

Posted By Cynthia Hanson, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Directly following the ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards ceremony at the 2015 Global Alliance Summit at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida, USA, Jan Twombly, CSAP, president of The Rhythm of Business, held an insightful question and answer session with executives representing each of the award recipients. The session uncovered insights into the hurdles award winners jumped to reach the highest mark.

The Individual Alliance Excellence Award is given to a company that has excelled in planning, implementation, and results for a single alliance. The alliance may be between two companies or multiple organizations in the category of small-to-midsize company alliance and/or emerging alliance. Utilities aren’t known for partnering, but National Grid broke away from the pack, procuring and donating 55 weather stations to schools and first responder sites in a partnership with Earth Network’s weather monitoring equipment distributor WeatherBug. The project provides free, accessible, local weather information to communities while improving storm response and power restoration, which saves local businesses and customers millions of dollars.

“Our alliance delivered twice, first for National Grid to better understand where damage will occur.  Second, with community engagement and stewardship,” Eliza Davis, lead program manager, alliance and vendor strategy at National Grid, pointed out during the Q&A. “We also allowed a new priority to evolve due to customer need and response” with the unique use of weather monitoring equipment in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education programs.

The Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility Award is for partnerships that make a profound, measurable, and positive social impact. The principal objective of the alliance is social impact, not profit—although profit, especially if used to fund program expansion, is not discouraged. The Dow Chemical Company and The Nature Conservancy received the award for a partnership that factors the value of nature into business decisions—a crucial step forward in fostering sustainability. The project “moved us beyond basic philanthropy,” observed Elizabeth Uhlhorn, sustainability program manager at Dow. It created an environmental protection framework with a methodology for identifying and measuring (or valuing) tangible benefits of ecosystem services to integrate into corporate decision-making processes. The unusual alliance resulted in a viable plan for significant change in corporate practice that can be a sustainable model for other corporations.

 

The Innovative Best Alliance Practice Award is presented to a company using new, individual alliance management tools or processes that have an immediate and powerful impact on the organization and/or discipline of alliance management. These tools or processes are not comprehensive alliance programs but additions to existing alliance practice that address specific elements of alliance management such as measurement, training, conflict resolution, general communication across-the-partner ecosystem, or similar facets of the discipline. Philips won the award for its efforts to fine-tune the best structure to “help people get aligned and marching in the same direction,” explained Cees Bijl, vice president at Philips. Philips used an innovative two-step approach to create a joint brand identity for an alliance. It involved designing a framework and methodology that defines the most appropriate co-branding to prevent conflict, enhance effective communication between partners, and support an equal and well-grounded relationship. This is the second ASAP award for Philips, which is “confirmation that the direction we are going in is a good one,” he added.

JanssenPharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson received honorable mention for its globally accessible alliance scorecard and assessment tool, which can be used by one or multiple alliances to capture key strategic, operational, financial, and relationship metrics in a single assessment program, allowing participants to monitor progress individually or across the portfolio.

The Alliance Program Excellence Award is given to organizations that exceed expectations by consistently implementing and managing alliance portfolios and demonstrating consistent success of those alliances over time. Winners build programs on creativity, efficiency, an integrated suite of processes, tools, professional development/alliance professional certification, and other elements. Takeda Pharmaceuticals received the award for the creation of its progressive Center of Excellence (COE) to reach more broadly across functions and geographies, including emerging markets in China, South Korea, and Russia. Members can now extensively share best practices and tools for training, management, research, enhanced communication, and an on-line portal.

“We had a rock star kind of a team. They literally spent 50 percent of their time for many years” working on this project, said Andy Hull, vice president, global alliances, at Takeda. 

Bayer HealthCare received honorable mention for its significant investment into an Alliance Capability Enhancement Project to drive a partnering mindset and alliance best practices deep into the organization. 

Tags:  2015 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards  2015 Global Alliance Summit  Andy Hull  Cees Bijl  CSAP  Earth Networks  Eliza Davis  Elizabeth Uhlhorn  Jan Twombly  Janssen  National Grid  Philips  STEM  Takeda  The Dow Chemical Company  The Nature Conservancy 

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The Accolades Come in Spades for Innovative Business Practices at the ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards Ceremony

Posted By Cynthia Hanson, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

ASAP recognized and honored the winners of the 2015 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards Tuesday, March 3, as part of the 2015 Global Alliance Summit held at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida, USA. The ceremony, presented by ASAP President and CEO Mike Leonetti, CSAP/ASAP, and Annlouise Goodermuth, CSAP and director of alliance management, strategy, science policy, and external innovation at Sanofi, highlighted the accomplishments of four exceptional winners and two honorable mentions for “executing alliances in a new and innovative fashion,” said Leonetti.

 

The awards were presented to: National Grid and Earth Networks for Individual Alliance Excellence, The Dow Chemical Company and The Nature Conservancy for the Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility, Philips for Innovative Best Alliance Practice with honorable mention to JanssenPharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, and Takeda for Alliance Program Excellence with honorable mention to Bayer. “The awards highlight some of the very best achievements in the industry and require hundreds of hours of work to qualify,” says Leonetti. “It’s a great way for businesses to highlight innovative accomplishments.”

 

An insightful question and answer session moderated by Jan Twombly, CSAP, of The Rhythm of Business, (see my next blog post today) followed the ceremony, revealing key information about the winning hands that put these companies at the top of the awards committee’s finalists. “There were more applicants this year than ever before,” observed Goodermuth. “There were more innovative approaches, first-time submissions, and even resubmissions from eight years ago.”

 

Taking home the ASAP Chapter Excellence award was the new ASAP Research Triangle Park (RTP) Chapter leader Path Amin, director of strategic alliances at Omnicell and former chapter vice chair. The RTP Chapter built a strong chapter community through the recruitment of high-quality speakers and consistently high-quality programming under the leadership of Rob von Alten, CSAP, senior director of alliance management at Quintiles. The RTP Chapter also won a chapter award for Chapter Excellence in Overall Operations in 2013 under von Alten’s leadership.

 

The 2015 ASAP Global Alliance Summit runs March 2-5 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. While it’s not quite like being here, you can follow the summit sessions in our blog posts throughout the week and afterwards—and get the knowledge, insights, and success stories to elevate your own alliance excellence.

Tags:  2015 ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards  2015 Global Alliance Summit  Alliance for Corporate Social Responsibility  Annlouise Goodermuth  CSAP  Earth Networks  Individual Alliance Excellence  Innovative Best Alliance Practice  Janssen—Pharma  National Grid  Philips  The Dow Chemical Company  The Nature Conservancy 

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