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Change as a Constant: A Timely Session Planned for the ASAP BioPharma Conference

Posted By Geena B. Richards and Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Managing cycles of change is a session theme certain to unpack a profusion of thought-provoking ideas at the 2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference “Creating Valuable and Innovative Partnerships by Driving the Alliance Mindset,” September 24-26 at the Hyatt Regency Boston in Boston, Massachusetts USA. When change is afoot, alliance managers must learn how to quickly shift, dance, adapt, and evolve to keep pace in today’s meteoric biopharma partnering climate. How do alliance managers maintain an alliance mindset while negotiating fast-paced strategic changes, organizational shifts, and the introduction of new leadership? In a buzz of constant change, how do teams continue to listen to future needs? These are just a few of the challenges that will be addressed in the session “Leading Alliance Management amidst Shifting Corporate Strategy,” moderated by Andy Eibling, CSAP, senior partner at Forty86 Consulting Group. He will bring four panelists together to tackle this topic along with audience participation: Nick Dunscombe, vice president of business & commercial development at Astellas Pharma Europe; Mojgan Hossein-Nia, vice president, head of the R&D partnership office, Takeda; Steve Twait, CSAP, vice president alliance and integration management at AstraZeneca; Lucinda Warren, vice president business development, neuroscience, Johnson & Johnson Innovation/Janssen Business Development. Eibling recently provided a brief preview of some of the focal points the panelists plan to discuss.

What were some of the themes of this session?
Three of the four panelists have undergone significant changes in their careers. The fourth went through big organizational shifts not too long ago and has had multiple jobs within the organization. As the moderator, I will let them paint their own portrait and tell their own story and then go into targeted questions. We will discuss a lot of the problems associated with transitioning and how the panelists have solved them. We plan to stay within the alliance mindset and talk about how to ensure that the right mindset is in place as your alliance goes through strategic changes or as you are introduced into a new organization. Those changes could be an organizational shift from centralized to decentralized or a move to organize by therapeutic area to business unit. Changes to alliances, such as asset divestitures, will be covered. We will talk a little bit about tools and technology and how they are being used to learn and share expertise. As we talk about changes in strategies, we will get into metrics and how you can leverage them to ensure that you stay true to the alliances and their objectives. What metrics are companies incorporating to measure not just alliance health, but collaboration value? Another topic is how to design a Center of Excellence. This group has lots of expertise and different types of experiences.

What are some of the biggest challenges pharma alliance managers face today when dealing with corporate restructuring, both internally and externally?
That’s one of the themes we will address. As your organization shifts, by business unit or a move to a decentralized structure, what impact does that have? How does that change impact how your team performs? Constant change is the norm today as corporations strive to deliver much-needed innovative therapies to patients, increase revenues, and provide shareholder value. All the change we are talking about could be interpreted as ecosystem change for lasting solutions. The answers need to be flexible, not only relating to what you are going through now but predicting the next change as the pendulum swings. When the bowl of asset divestment wanes, what’s next? And do you have the right skills for the coming changes? What are the trends in non-traditional partnerships? Is the alliance language the same in the collaboration lifecycle?

What about adapting to changes in company culture? Will you be discussing these types of changes as well?
We are going to make sure to incorporate questions from the audience, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that comes up as a question. Nick Dunscombe, one of the panelists, just moved from a British to a Japanese company with a strong presence in the United States. He moved from alliance management at AstraZeneca to Astellas. Corporate culture might be something he could address. How do you apply what you know, what you learn, and how you shift? He will discuss best practices and the differences in the companies. Also, how do you adapt and how do you do it differently? What things worked in the past?

For more discussion of critical biopharma partnering topics and conference coverage, check out the Q2 and Q3 2018 issues of Strategic Alliance Magazine and the August 2018 issue of eSAM Plus.

Tags:  2018 ASAP BioPharma Conference  alliance manager  alliance mindset  Andy Eibling  Astellas  AstraZeneca  corporate culture  corporate restructuring  Johnson & Johnson Innovation  Lucinda Warren  Mojgan Hossein-Nia  Nick Dunscombe  non-traditional partnerships  Steve Twait  strategic challenges  Takeda 

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Successful Transitions: ‘How to Optimize Value and Gracefully End Alliance Relationships’

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

You’ve probably got a process for kicking off an alliance. What about when it’s time to end the alliance relationship? On Tuesday, March 27, at the 2018 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, two veteran partnering executives tackled the topic of “How to Optimize Value and Gracefully End Alliance Relationships.” This session combined the insights and perspectives of Ron McRae, CSAP, director of alliance management at Janssen Biotech, and Steve Twait, CSAP, vice president of alliance and integration management at AstraZeneca.

As it so happens, “AstraZeneca and J&J are working through a transition right now,” Twait noted. “While we didn’t turn it into a case study, we were able to pull in some learnings from that. And while the two of us coming together was serendipity for the conference, we actually have some history and current projects that our companies are working on together.”

Prior to the 2018 Summit, I asked the two of them: Why do you feel that the topic of graceful exits and transitions is important to delve into more deeply? What inspired the two of you to invest your time into sharing your case examples and insights?

“Alliance management professionals typically have toolkits with practices and tactics for kicking off an alliance. There is a lot of excitement and commitment to that phase of the alliance lifecycle. However, the same is not generally true when it is time to end the alliance relationship.  Alliances come and go, but successful management of an alliance transition requires both timely and effective planning as well as flexible problem-solving capabilities at all levels. It also may require a fair amount of persuasion to ensure commitment as colleagues want or need to move on to new responsibilities,” McRae noted.

If it’s over, why does the transition matter so much? “It is important to eliminate or minimize any customer disruption to preserve asset value and even reputations of the partners,” McRae responded. “In the biopharma industry, it can even have life or death consequences depending on the indications of the product and/or availability of other medical options.”

In these cases, “the connection to patients is something we need to think about,” Twait noted. “You’ve got patients relying on the product, as you transition it to the other company, so you need to make sure you keep the patient in mind and don’t interrupt what they need.”

Even when lives don’t hang in the balance, “we should also keep in mind that we want to make sure we manage these situations as effectively as possible, as we may have another ongoing or future alliance opportunity with the partner,” McRae added.

Twait and McRae emphasized that the toolkit for graceful exits is not entirely unfamiliar.

Many of the same governance structures and tools utilized during other phases of the alliance lifecycle can be used during transitions or terminations, but the emphasis of some may change and new ones may still be needed—for example, alliance transition agreements and their components,” McRae explained.

More to the point, because of their relationships and skillsets, alliance executives are the right people at the right time during a transition.

“Alliance management is uniquely positioned in most organizations to maintain that value as the asset shifts hands from one partner to the other, because of existing relationships externally and internally, as well as our persuasive mindset and commitment,” McRae said. “Having led several transitions, we have experienced a number of lessons learned that we are sharing with our alliance management colleagues to help them anticipate and navigate similar situations.”

To be clear, this is not about when “alliances go bad.” It’s about timely, well-managed, intentional transitions.

“Transitions are part of any alliance,” Twait said. “Up front, we say this isn’t talking about when an alliance fails for technical reasons, but more about taking a thoughtful approach to how you transition something that’s been unbelievably successful—you’ve had a longstanding partnership but eventually it made sense for one company to manage the asset. Our focus is more on key learnings when, because of any number of reasons, the time is right for you to transition.”

McRae and Twait provided a number of such examples.

“Some of Ron’s examples involve a very mature alliance transitioning into a different phase,” Twait explained. “Some of the examples I provided are transitions, even divestments, where AstraZeneca is transitioning a product to another company because we are, for whatever reason, focusing our efforts in other areas.” Getting the transition right makes a crucial difference because you’re “leveraging years of relationships if it’s happening after a long relationship,” he continued. “You have people who have invested years in a product, business, and patients.”  

Tags:  alliance executives  alliances  AstraZeneca  governance structures  Janssen Biotech  Ron McRae  Steve Twait  transition 

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A Swim in ‘The Aquarium:’ Your Chance to Collectively Shift the Thought Currents of Alliance Management

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, September 7, 2016

ASAP Summit and Conference participants spend a lot of time sitting, listening, and absorbing the most cutting-edge information in the industry. Now it’s your turn to be a speaker, guide, and thought provoker in a new session format at this year’s 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. The Aquarium session encourages attendees to dive in and wrestle with the hot topics of the day in a creative, ASAP-designed version of the “fishbowl” learning activity. Moderated by Jan Twombly, CSAP, president of The Rhythm of Business, the session will start with a lively exchange on key topics from several experts in the field of alliance management as the audience peers into the tank. There will be three 25-minute rounds during the session, each with a separate topic. Participants will be allowed to “tap in” and move the conversation in new directions. When someone comes onto the stage, one person must exit. 

“We’re not sticking to a script; each of these topic discussion could branch off,” explains Ann Johnson, ASAP’s content manager, who has developed the concept as an innovation ASAP programming.  “That’s the beauty of nontraditional session structure like this: It allows for free-space that often results in exploring topics in real and meaningful ways … through many different lenses. It encourages engagement, peer-to-peer sharing, and participation, which is what our members want. There are no right answers to these topics, and in fact we want to hear diverse viewpoints,” Johnson adds. “This is a way to hear from the voices we often don’t hear from.” 

It’s an opportunity to become a member of the “school” in a fast-paced, collective swim that is geared to leave participants with a more creative and innovative perspective on the potential for change in alliance management. The following preselected topics are designed to jumpstart the conversation:

Topic #1: Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

True or False: The alliance management profession in biopharma has the respect, skills, and ability to lead companies into partnering with different types of partners, across industries, and in new models.

Topic #2: Handle with Care: Managing the C-Suite

How do you ensure executive leadership (C-Suite) is appropriately involved in an alliance, without giving them a seat at the table, especially when the alliance is between a small, innovative company and big pharma?

Topic #3: Breadth or Depth – What Does it Take to Succeed?

Which qualities will be more highly valued in alliance managers as the industry adapts to digitization, outcomes based pricing, and an increasing number and variety of partnerships: broad business and technical skills and experience or deep pharmaceutical industry knowledge and experience?

As the conversation evolves, participants will then get a chance to bump the following thought leaders and senior-level partnering executives off the stage: 

  • Jeremy Ahouse, CSAP, PhD, Executive Director Alliance Management, Celgene
  • Harm-Jan Borgeld, CSAP, PhD, Head Alliance Management, Merck Serono 
  • David Burnham, Senior Vice President Strategic Alliance Management, INC Research
  • Mark Coflin, CSAP, Senior Director Alliance Management Global BD&L, Baxalta US Inc.  
  • Cathy Connelly, CA-AM, Head, Alliance Management, Sanofi Genzyme
  • Andy Hull, CA-AM, Vice President, Global Alliances, Takeda Pharmaceuticals
  • Katherine Kendrick, CA-AM; Director of Alliance Management, Elanco, Eli Lilly and Company
  • Brooke A. Paige, CSAP, Staff Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, HealthCore, Inc.
  • Petra Sansom, Sr. Director, Alliance Management, Vertex Pharmaceuticals
  • Mary Jo Struttmann, CA-AM; Executive Director, Global Alliance Management, Astellas Pharma Inc.
  • Michael Sumpter, Head of Alliance Management, Servier Monde
  • David S. Thompson, CA-AM, Chief Alliance Officer, Eli Lilly and Company
  • Steve Twait, CSAP, VP, Alliance and Integration Management, AstraZeneca

 Photo credit:  MB Photo Credit: W. Chappell

Tags:  alliance management  alliance managers  Ann Johnson  Astellas  AstraZeneca  biopharma  c-suite  David Thompson  Eli Lilly and Company  Jan Twombly  Mary Jo Struttmann  Michael Sumpter  partnerships  Petra Sansom  pharma  Servier Monde  Steve Twait  The Rhythm of Business  Vertex Pharmaceuticals 

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