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The C-Suite Takes Front Seat in Lively Panel Discussion at ASAP BioPharma Conference (Part 3)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Thursday, November 1, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2018

This is a continuation from the panel discussion “Speak My Language: How to Have a High Impact Conversation with the C-suite,” which took place at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference. See Part 1 of this blog post for background information on the panel, which included:

  • James C. Mullen, chairman of the board of directors at Editas Medicine, Inc., who has grown many organizations dependent on partnerships
  •   Samantha Singer, chief operating officer at the Broad Institute, whose organization partners with multiple industries to achieve the Institute’s mission to impact human health throughout the world
  • Alex Waldron, chief commercial officer at Pear Therapeutics, who is highly skilled at bringing in business development and alliance management expertise to grow a company through partnerships

Christine Carberry, CSAP, chief operating officer at Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, moderated the session. At this point in the discussion, Carberry had just prompted panel members to answer the following: “Let’s dig into where things tend to go awry. How do alliance professionals demonstrate their value to the organization? The second half of my question is, what are some of the pitfalls? Where do alliances get in trouble, and how can an alliance manager avoid those pitfalls?” After listening to the responses (see Part 2 of this blog for panelists’ answers), she added her thoughts.

Carberry: Build C-suite-to-C-suite [connections] early on in the relationship. I use to joke that it’s important to have relationships between companies that play golf so the CEOs can get together. You need to be comfortable getting on the phone with them and having a conversation that can go like this: “This is what we’ve done, tried, and this is why it didn’t work.” This is helpful to an executive. We need to implement what will remove barriers and allow us to go forward. The value proposition may have just changed for the companies: That beautiful future might not get created, because we all know divorce is part of the deal. One of the things you will discover as an alliance manager is  you will get people in the organization grumbling about the partner.

Mullen: How many of you inherited a contact, and you were not at the table? [At this point, nearly everyone raised his or her hand while laughter rippled through the room.] Look for the wishy-washy language. Those are the issues that never got resolved during the contract negotiations.

Singer: No matter how good your business development is, the reality is [your perception of the contract] will not match three months later.

Mullen: If you are talking about “stage gate,” make sure it means the same thing between the partners. It may seem really obvious, but it’s not. Make exactly sure of what they are saying.

Carberry: Have clear definitions. For example, “First Patient In.” You may think things are commonly understood, but lawyers say it’s important to make sure definitions are as clear as they possibly can be.

Carberry then fielded an audience question from Jeremy Ahouse, CSAP, vice president alliances, Merus. “A lot of alliance people complain that when they have to bring bad news, the C-suite thinks they only bring problems. How can you do that so that the messenger doesn’t feel like they will get shot?”

Mullen: You need a fairly straight scorecard for the goals of the partnership, and you need a record against that. That way,  it becomes evident that you are making progress. The fact is, [otherwise], you are just raising problems. Check off the problems, and let them know that they talked to you about it, that work was done, and here’s how it got resolved. Keep a high-level scorecard.

Waldron: I agree on the scorecard. And talk about successes, don’t only talk about problems.

Carberry: Everyone is conditioned to success. So if you are doing your job well, you are having those conversations about problems with us.

Waldron: If your company doesn’t have some kind of periodic review, push for that—even if it’s a 15-minute review. Push for that so you can get in front of them. We had a lot of customers, and both the customers and our company didn’t do everything perfectly. But when I had that review of information first, then when they called me up and let me know, 90 percent of the problem was already solved. I knew about it, cared about it, and it got solved.

See parts one and two of this blog and ASAP Media’s ongoing coverage from the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference on the ASAP Blog at www.strategic-alliances.org. You will find interviews with conference presenters and other coverage of leadership and strategy, biopharma-tech partnerships, and other trending conference topics in recent and forthcoming editions of Strategic Alliance Magazine and eSAM Plus

Tags:  Alex Waldron  alliance managers  Broad Institute  Christine Carberry  collaborations  c-suite  Editas Medicine  James C. Mullen  Keryx Biopharmaceuticals  partnerships  Pear Therapeutics  Samantha Singer  scorecard 

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The C-Suite Takes Front Seat in Lively Panel Discussion at ASAP BioPharma Conference (Part 2)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, October 31, 2018

This article continues ASAP Media’s coverage of the panel discussion “Speak My Language: How to Have a High Impact Conversation with the C-suite,” which took place September 25 at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference in Boston. After introducing the panel members (see Part 1 of this blog post for background information on the panelists), Christine Carberry, CSAP, chief operating officer at Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, prompted the panel members to answer the following: “Let’s dig into where things tend to go awry. How do alliance professionals demonstrate their value to the organization? The second half of my question is, what are some of the pitfalls? Where do alliances get in trouble, and how can an alliance manager avoid those pitfalls?”

Samantha Singer, chief operating officer at the Broad Institute: Alliance managers demonstrate their value in their ability to escalate appropriately and bring issues to senior management. We don’t always understand where relationships are going to stumble when we go around the corner. Where I’ve seen situations fall down is when alliance managers think they need to solve problems first; coming to the senior executive when there’s something wrong without ideas for how to solve it. Also, treat the relationship as a relationship. Make sure the transactional doesn’t get in the way of the relationship for you and the entire team. The last point is: Keep the conversations honest. When people are collaborating together, someone usually wants to impress someone else or know more. But we all know, on projects, that is not how you get things done: Tackle problems, and be creative. And make sure that honest dialog really happens.

James C. Mullen, chairman of the board of directors at Editas Medicine, Inc.: Understand whoever is running around the C-suite, they only know so much. You need to decide what they need to know. The tendency is to over-communicate. I’ve received 40-page project reports that I never read. I only care about the problems. Focus on escalating the exceptions. That’s what I need to know about. The best way to get my attention is: Don’t try to tell me everything as if I am on the same level as you are. If you dump those 40 pages in my in-box, they never get read. Escalate it, and escalate it quickly. If there is an issue, highlight it and tell me what the implication of this issue is. I want to hear ideas on how to solve the problem. Finally, I want to know if you need help from me to work on a problem. Those are my four steps. The last thing is: You need to know the details of the contract. And if the realities of the partnership are drifting to someplace else, you need to address that contractually. If they drift too far, then you are in a no-mans land of who-was-supposed-to-do-what.

Alex Waldron, chief commercial officer at Pear Therapeutics: I am empathetic in one area: You are the people who need to implement the contract that has just been written. You’ve got to translate the three million pages into what it means for the company and get that going forward. The quickest way to do this is to create as much transparency as you possibly can with the partners out there. Alliances are like marriages: When you get married, you are star struck. It’s a wonderful idea that is almost never accurate. As both companies grow, the priorities will change over time: Your job is to remind everyone of that. Don’t use the “E” wordEscalate. Try to understand the alliance manager on the other side of the table, and create as much transparency as you can, even if it means saying “I understand why you are saying ‘no’ to me, but I must insist based on this contract….”  Managing the contract is absolutely critical. To ensure the success of the contract is essential to avoid pitfalls.

See recent and forthcoming editions of eSAM Plus and Strategic Alliance Magazine and revisit the ASAP Blog at www.strategic-alliances.org for continuing, comprehensive ASAP Media team coverage of the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference. 

Tags:  Alex Waldron  alliance managers  Broad Institute  Christine Carberry  collaborations  c-suite  Editas Medicine  James C. Mullen  Keryx Biopharmaceuticals  partnerships  Pear Therapeutics  Samantha Singer 

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‘Swimming in Partner Soup:’ 2018 ASAP BioPharma Keynote Addresses Challenges of Tech Collaboration on Prescription Digital Therapeutics (Part 1)

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Dr. Corey McCann is a man who wears many hats—scrubs, academic cap, campaigner, jester, and even hardhat. As the first of two keynote speakers at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference “Creating Value and Innovative Partnerships by Driving the Alliance Mindset,” Sept. 24-26 in Boston, Massachusetts USA, he provided a lively presentation in which he showed the audience how he switches his hats with aplomb. In his captivating talk, “Lost in Translation: Communication, Confusion, and Consensus in Strategic Alliances,” the physician, scientist, entrepreneur, healthcare investor, and founder/CEO of Boston-based Pear Therapeutics, Inc., delved into the timely but tough topic of the alliance management interface between biopharma and tech.

Colleague Brooke Paige, CSAP and vice president of alliance management at Pear Therapeutics, introduced McCann by lauding his many “heroic” accomplishments as founder of several startups, a trained boxer with endless energy, and highly approachable executive whom colleagues nicknamed “Snacks” because he rarely stops for a full meal.

McCann then delivered a clever, sometimes humorous, talk from the C-suite about the small, innovative company’s partnering with big companies in their quest to pioneer prescription digital therapeutics for the treatment of serious diseases, including addictions.  The cognitive behavioral therapy-based treatment is software that comes with a doctor’s prescription. The software responds and morphs over time, according to the needs of the patient. The downloaded product requires an access code from the physician.

“We are swimming in partner soup,” announced McCann as he talked about the challenges of Pear’s ample pipeline, which involves 10 products that require separate approvals from the FDA because of the unique framework of prescription digital therapeutics. “You will see us aggressively partnering across all of these verticals,” he continued, while flashing a slide of Pear’s pipeline.

Alliance management at Pear must bridge two distinctive worlds. Pear’s team is “half and half,” he explained: pharma is based in the Boston area; tech is based in the San Francisco Bay area. “We brought these two very disparate sets of people together” in one company—but to do that required a lot of effort to enable tech and pharma to understand the lingo of each’s area of work.   

“One of the things I would like to interweave into this talk is this idea of communication between alliance partners, and nonverbal cues, and how we are productive or nonproductive,” he said, while providing the example of etiquette surrounding the exchange of business card. “Even for those of us who think we have a handle on this very basic skill—this handing of paper to another human being—there is ambiguity.”

“How do entirely different disciplines communicate?” he asked the audience.  “There is an interface between tech and biotech. How tech people communicate with one another is very different than how biotech people communicate with each other.”

People in the two industries dress differently, he then explained. A person in the Bay area might “eat avocado toast and ride a scooter to work. … If I’m interacting with the tech team, I make sure to pet their dogs they bring to the office,” he explained in a sea of laughter from the audience. “One of my personal favorite examples is this issue of language. When pulling Pear together, we used the acronym API—which means Application Program Interface in tech, but for biotech, it means something different”—Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient.

It actually took a while for the two teams to figure out this discrepancy, he explained, again as the audience rippled with laughter. But in the end, the two industries found the glue that holds them together: “Impacting the patient. That is the rallying cry for us. That is how we approach partnership—through good and bad.”

Stay tuned for more of ASAP Media’s coverage of Pear CEO Corey McCann’s keynote and other sessions at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference.  

Tags:  2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference  Alliance management  Alliance Mindset  biopharma  Brooke Paige  cognitive behavioral therapy  creating value  C-suite  Dr. Corey McCann  partnering  Pear Therapeutics  prescription digital therapeutics  software  Strategic Alliances  tech 

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The Beatles, Alliances in the C-Suite, and a Company Built on Strategic Partnerships (Part 1): Citrix Chief Marketing Officer Kicks off the ASAP Global Alliance Summit

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Tuesday, March 27, 2018

“Our entire business is predicated on ‘any-ness,’ so we recognize you can’t go it alone,” said Tim Minahan, senior vice president of business strategy and chief marketing officer of Citrix and the keynote speaker at the Tuesday, March 27 opening session of the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit. “Citrix was founded 29 years ago [and] has built its entire business on nurturing and fostering strategic alliances and strategic channel relationships. We have dozens of alliances today and nearly ten thousand channel partners that are building entire businesses atop of Citrix.”

Minahan took the stage after opening comments from ASAP President and CEO Michael Leonetti, CSAP, and an introduction by ASAP Chairman Brooke Paige, CSAP, vice president of alliance management at Pear Therapeutics. Leonetti emphasized to a jam-packed ballroom how, historically, more than half of alliances fail or fail to deliver—but today, “we’ve reversed that trend of alliance failure,”  citing ASAP and other research data indicating “those organizations that have implemented ASAP best practices, and have certified practitioners, are able to achieve up to 80% success rates.” The recent ASAP 6th State of the Alliance research study, he added, “shows that alliances that use best practices make more money. That was something intuitively known for a long time in the ASAP community, but now the data show it as well.”

Leonetti emphasized—and Minahan exemplified—that today, alliance management has a seat at the leadership table and correspondingly, the C-suite itself better understands, is more engaged, and more than ever emphasizes business collaboration and partnering strategy to drive growth, innovate, and deliver better experience and value to customers. Leonetti clicked to a slide citing a slew of business research studies “since 2014 that consistently say CEOs now get it” and rely upon “new strategic alliances for growth, innovation, and go-to-market.” Indeed, “KPMG’s CEO Outlook study in 2016 said 40 percent of CEOs believe we need to move alliances to the C-level.”

For the ASAP community, this advance—of partnering as profession and alliances as core to company strategy—has been a two-decade journey. This year ASAP celebrates the 20th anniversary of its founding. (See the Q2 2018 issue of Strategic Alliance Magazine for a look back at ASAP’s formative years.) Leonetti did a shout out to ASAP’s Founding Chairman Robert Porter Lynch, CSAP, asking him to stand up and be recognized. “Talk about a visionary,” Leonetti exulted as the audience enthusiastically applauded Lynch. “We appreciate everything you’ve done, Robert.”

Leonetti concluded his comments by emphasizing, “We really need a vibrant community. Engagement is the key to our growth. We have the tools, the people, and we have the attention of every CEO. The table is set.”

To introduce the keynoter, Leonetti invited the ASAP chairman to the stage, recalling that he and Paige both “started in ASAP in 2003. Brooke is now VP at Pear Therapeutics. Brooke has worked with companies with 80,000 people and now, I think, with 50.”

Paige took the handoff. “Here at ASAP we love to talk about the ASAP family, a close community of alliance practitioners. But the question is, what kind of family are we?” she asked. “I was talking to my teenage stepson about alliance management, describing what we do. I said sometimes we see things way ahead in the future that others don’t see. Sometimes we’re dealing with a derailment of a partnership and helping to fix it. Sometimes we’re doing things that nobody else sees. My stepson said it sounds like alliance managers are superheroes,” she said, clicking to a slide with images from recent Marvel comics movies, then to the next slide with the headline on the front page of Superman’s Daily Planet: “Alliance Managers Save the World!”

Paige then introduced Minahan, an English and political science major and graduate of the Kellogg School of Management’s Chief Marketing Officer Program, who joined $3.2 billion Citrix about two years ago. Minahan framed his presentation around the theme of “everything I ever needed to know about strategic alliances I learned from the Beatles.”

Read more of Minahan’s comments—and alliance management insights he derived from Beatles songs—in Part 2 of this blog post.

Tags:  alliance managers  Brooke Paige  Citrix  Michael Leonetti  partnership  Pear Therapeutics  Tim Minahan 

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