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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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The Virtuous Cycle in Alliance Management—a Summit Spotlight Exclusive (Part 2)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2019

“The alliance manager’s role is to understand the importance of timing,” advises Christine Carberry, CSAP, in Part One of ASAP Media’s interview with the seasoned alliance manager and former chief operating officer of Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (now a subsidiary of Akebia Therapeutics). Carberry, who also previously served as chair of the ASAP board of directors, will be providing a leadership spotlight plenary session, “Collaborate-Create: The Value of the Virtuous Cycle,” at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Agile Partnering in Today’s Collaborative Ecosystem,” March 10-13 at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. ASAP Media’s conversation with Carberry continues below.

Carberry’s role for six months of her year working for Keryx was as co-leader of integration planning with counterpart Akebia. Early on, she realized that her role wouldn’t continue with the new organization. She is philosophical about it. “You are working on trying to have everybody see the value of the merger—employees in the companies, investors, and shareholders. Yet people know you are not going to be part of it,” she explains of the challenge. “It’s about taking the time, if you can, to explore and not think that you have to jump right back into doing exactly what you were doing. Each experience leads to another.”

Alliance mangers are seekers of “the high road” trying to rise above conflict and egos, and keeping everyone focused on the common goal.  “You’re really a navigator,” she adds. “One of the criticisms that we’ve heard is alliance managers need to think of themselves much more broadly. And think of themselves as the people always looking for a portfolio of alliances and expanding value, not just be within the confines of agreements that you have today. That’s the challenge I want to give to the audience [at the Summit] in thinking about how we can have a greater impact by making better, stronger connections between ideas and resources, creating better conditions for collaboration. Your alliance portfolio is dynamic, and I think that alliance managers can create more value by really understanding that one alliance is one piece of a company portfolio and needs to align with company strategy.”

Before her one-year stint with Keryx, Carberry spent three and a half years with FORUM Pharmaceuticals (formerly EnVivo Pharmaceuticals) and 26 years with Biogen, where she stated out in an entry-level position during a time when genetic engineering was “scary science.” Biogen was a Fortune 500 international company that brought several drugs to patients “that changed their lives,” she adds. 

Despite being in transition between jobs, Carberry has “a very full plate.” In addition to her spotlight plenary session, as chairman emerita of ASAP, she will attend the Summit board and advisory meetings and will lead a roundtable about alliance management in a crisis situation. “It’s similar to what I’ve done in other transitional periods. It allows me to increase involvement in leadership roles,” she says.

Learn about Carberry’s talk and other leadership sessions and register for the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit at http://asapsummit.org. See the ASAP Media team’s comprehensive before, during, and after coverage of the 2019 Summit in Strategic Alliance publications and on the ASAP blog.  

Tags:  Akebia Therapeutics  Alliance Excellence Award  alliance manager  Christine Carberry  conflict  digital  expanding value  Keryx Biopharmaceuticals  partnership  Patheon  strategic partner  technology  Thermo Fisher 

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Dynamic Summit Workshop Promises Practical Tips and Hands-On Exercises To Help Manage and Prevent Alliance Conflict

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, February 20, 2017

Candido Arreche, CA-AM, global director of portfolio & partner management, Xerox worldwide alliances, is known for his captivating, insightful, and fun hands-on workshops at ASAP events. Arreche will be returning to the role with a new six-hour workshop “How to Resolve Conflict in Your Alliance,” from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tues., Feb. 28 at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” Feb. 28-March 2 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, Calif. USA. During a recent interview, Arreche shared his vision for the daily practice of conflict resolution that can keep an alliance relationship moving and growing.

Why a workshop on conflict resolution?

In every partnership, there is always conflict. You have a honeymoon period, but when you roll up sleeves and do the work, there is always conflict. A lot of alliances stagnate because of conflict or misunderstanding. How we work alliances, how we manage that conflict is how we will get that alliance relationship moving again. Conflict resolution is not only the stuff we have to do when we hit the conflict, but what do we do beforehand. Good conflict management works at how to manage negative conflict and how to prevent it.

Do you have any techniques for getting stagnant relationships moving again?

My workshop is mostly exercises to build trust and relationships to understand what the problem or conflict is to be able to work together. The focus is on how to build collaboration when there is an impasse in your alliance relationship. I teach theory, but that is only one-tenth of the workshop. Nine-tenths is everyday collaborative relationship building exercises. I teach them to change behavior patterns. People leave understanding the true problem and take a bag of useful, everyday tools. I also apply some of my Six Sigma exercises.

Can you give an example of one of these exercises?

One of the biggest challenges in problem solving is that people really don’t understand the root cause of the issue. Even management, when it has a problem, wants to solve the problem instead of trying to understand the problem. We are all moving so fast that we want to jump the gun and fix it. But fixing the problem doesn’t always fix the communication problem. I have one Six Sigma exercise called The Five Whys, in which you go through five whys to get to the true root cause before you start fixing it. You can only do that in a collaborative fashion. You need to work together to find common root causes.

Communication seems key to the process. What else is critical?

There are four important C’s in partnerships: communication, culture, continuity, and commitment. A lack of any one of those can contribute to conflict. We’ve talked about communication a bit; so let’s look at the cultural aspect. If you create better communication protocols, clearly understand the commitment of each organization around the alliance, and keep the continuity going, then when you run into the culture piece, you have the building blocks already in place. It’s like a linked chain, and you can’t tackle the cultural component without the others. In terms of continuity, it’s important to keep the alliance moving and fluid. If your alliance stops moving, you will have to overcome the friction again. If a member of the alliance is no longer involved, then it’s going to take an enormous amount of effort to bring someone up to speed. If there is a break in continuity, things stagnate or stop. It’s better to apply these tools daily than at the negotiation table. We want to roll up sleeves and do things that are more applicable to the day-to-day. Finally, people don’t understand how severe the conflict can be when you don’t have committed partners and organizations. One of the best skills of a good leader is good communication and seeking mutual commitment.

When do you know when a partnership is not worth saving?

Nobody likes a sunset in a relationship when you have vested interests. If there is a lack of commitment, delay after delay, and the amount of conflict is escalating, then it’s time to take a hard look at your situation. However, if your partner on the other side of the table is not equally committed, that may lead to bringing in an alternate. It’s also important to keep in mind that not all conflict is bad. It can be turned to your advantage. Conflict can become an ally. 

Tags:  alliance  ally  Candido Arreche  collaboration  communication  Conflict  conflict resolution  continuity  culture  partner  partnership  partnerships  Xerox 

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A Primer from a Pro on How Nonverbal Cues Can Give You an Advantage in Negotiations and Other Business Transactions

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, March 6, 2015

There were no nodding heads, yawns, or coffee breaks at the special 90-minute afternoon session presented March 4 by Dr. Jack Brown of The Body Language Group during the ASAP 2015 Global Alliance Summit held at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida, USA.  An expert in nonverbal communication, Brown spoke to a captivated audience about “Negotiation, Nuance, Conflict & Resolution—The Nonverbal Advantage.” A keen people-watcher for more than 25 years, he has consulted to C-suite executives, law enforcement, government, industries, and at universities, to name just a few clients. The advantages of reading body language in business transactions, partnerships, collaborations, and everyday exchanges can provide you with a big advantage, he says.

 

“Some 55 to 80 percent of communication is nonverbal,” Brown says. “Another 10 to 38 is paralanguage [an in-between category] … and 7 to 10 percent is verbal.” Understanding that breakdown and the associated communication nuances can help us become more powerful during negotiations, mediation, conflict resolution, and in exchanges in general.

 

Understanding body language can save you a lot of trouble down the road in your business transactions. Learning how to read a sociopath is invaluable, he quips. “Trust your gut … and run!” he advises, prompting a ripple of laughter from the audience. “Trust your gut”—the reoccurring mantra of his talk. “Be like a spy satellite or fighter pilot,” he continued, while flipping through slide after slide of facial and body cues –contrasting the cues of U.S. President Barack Obama to Russian President Vladimir Putin and spotlighting Hollywood stars.

 

“There’s a huge amount of information that we as a society ignore. … Younger people have good instincts, but we [adults] are really good at suppressing [them],” he adds.

“Women are better at it … they tend to be better communicators and nonverbal communicators.” Older people and animal lovers also have the touch. Nonverbal communication is innate and cross-cultural, but there are cultural differences for sure. For instance, at least from a western perspective, the Japanese tend to be the hardest to understand—they tend to have more idiosyncrasies, he says. 

 

Always look at multiple cues before assessing someone. One non-verbal cue isn’t enough for a conclusion. For alliance managers who communicate frequently via telephone—a topic that drew rapt attention—close your eyes, he suggests. Blocking out a sense can help you zero in more clearly on vocal cues without ever having to observe the other party. For in-person meetings, get a glass table, he advises.

 

For more information on the art of reading nonverbal communication in alliance management and business transactions, watch for forthcoming content in the ASAP Member e-News and Strategic Alliance Magazine, available as a benefit of membership in ASAP.

Tags:  ASAP 2015 Global Alliance Summit  ASAP Member e-News  collaborations  Conflict  Dr. Jack Brown  Negotiation  nonverbal communication  partnerships  Resolution  Strategic Alliance Magazine  The Body Language Group  vocal cues 

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