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ASAP New England Chapter Holds Well-Attended, Practical Meeting on Alliance Management Skills and Competencies

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Updated: Monday, February 20, 2017

Neither snowstorm, nor sleet, nor freezing temps can keep Jeffrey Shuman, PhD, CSAP, principal at The Rhythm of Business, from a New England ASAP Chapter meeting. And apparently, it couldn’t keep four other panelists and about 40 attendees from the discussion on “Alliance Management as a ProfessionSkills, Competencies,” at the Charles River Accelerator and Development Lab in Cambridge, Mass., on Jan. 31.  

The panel talked about the basic alliance management foundational skills recognized by recruiters, career paths, adapting to the evolving ecosystem, soft skills that are key to performing the job, and other related topics in a dynamic, one-hour meeting. In addition to Shuman, who moderated the discussion and is also professor of management at Bentley University, the panel members included ASAP’s own President and CEO Michael Leonetti, CSAP; Marc Silber, founder and president of Crossover Consulting Group, a life sciences headhunting and recruiting agency; Mark Coflin, CSAP, head of alliance management, corporate planning & program management, Shire; Michelle Gardner, business development executive, cloud service providers, at IBM, who arranged the practical meeting.

The complexity of multi-industry, multi-partner alliances with a global reach has made alliance management training skills increasingly important. “Not everybody needs to be an alliance manager, but it’s our view that everybody increasingly needs to have some alliance management skills because alliance capability needs to extend to the perimeter, to the edge of the organization,” Shuman says. For example, scientists increasingly are working with other scientists in other organizations on tech solutions or drugs, whereas previously, most of the innovation was done internally. “What we see happening is folks in those areas are coming to their alliance folks and asking for advice,” he explains. “More people are interacting in these collaborations, and they really need some understanding of the skills and toolset.”

“Given that the speed, scale, and scope of partnering has increased, companies can’t afford to build an alliance management group that can manage all of the different parts of their business. When partnering with external entities, many people need a better understanding of the skills and tools.”

Among the topics that surfaced from the discussion were:

  • How to progress to an alliance management role from another area of the company
  •  Areas alliance managers are recruited from
  •  The various career paths and roles alliance managers can move into
  • Ecosystems, multi-party networks, hub-and-spoke models, and two-party relationships
  • The differences between being an alliance manager in biopharma/pharma and high tech

The topics likely will resurface in various sessions at the 2017 ASAP Global Alliance Summit, “Profit, Innovation, and Value for the Part­nering Enterprise,” held Feb. 28-March 2 at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley, San Diego, California. Some of these topics also appear in a newly released ebook “The Power To Partner Everywhere: Why You Need It, What It Is, How To Build It,” by The Rhythm of Business Principals Jan Twombly, CSAP, Shuman, and Lorin Coles, CSAP, co-founder and CEO of Alliancesphere, LLC. Their two companies joined forces to form the SMART Partnering Alliance.  For a copy of the ebook, go to http://rhythmofbusiness.com/.

Tags:  alliance management  alliance manager  biopharma  career path  ecosystem  high tech  Innovation  Jeff Shuman  Marc Silber  Mark Coflin  Michelle Gardner  multi-industry  multi-partner alliances  partnering  Partnering Enterprise  pharma  Profit  SMART Partnering Alliance  The Rhythm of Business  tools  training skills 

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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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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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Minding Your P’s & Cues When Managing an International Alliance: Lessons Learned for Citrix and Fujitsu

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Updated: Saturday, May 21, 2016

Running an alliance is a lot like running a marathon, said John-Marc Clark, managing director of global SI sales at Citrix Systems. “Both cover long distances at a fast pace over a long period of time. Strategy, planning, perseverance, consistent training, and teamwork are critical success factors.  And you can measure the results,” he noted during his talk “Going Global: When the Whole is Greater than the Sum of the Parts,” at the 2016 Global Alliance Summit“Partnering Everywhere: Expert Leadership for the Ecosystem,” held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, National Harbor, Maryland.  

Clark has been “running” in international alliance marathons for years for Florida-based Citrix—with record-breaking companies such as Tokyo-based Fujitsu, an information technology equipment and services company. Fijitsu is Citrix’s No. 1 partner out of the company’s 10,000 partners, said Clark. It is the largest IT company in Japan—providing technology ranging from super computers to smart phones. “Two or three of the largest Citrix-led deals worldwide were with Fijitsu. We share a pipeline, and we have an open kimono in regard to our business together. We have top-down sponsorship at the CEO level for entire regions, which is very important.” 

The metrics show the partnership is “growing like crazy,” he added. The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) has been 15 percent over five years for Citrix-based bookings. “Both companies bring tremendous assets to the equation” and incredible customers, such as the German Federal Employment Agency, which is working on locating jobs for one million refugees streaming in from Syria, he noted.   

This marathon “has really been a fantastic journey,” he continued, while launching into the fascinating cultural aspects of doing business with a Japanese company. In the beginning, the 15-year plus partnership “was not a true global alliance. It was more like an assembly of relationships. I was not an alliance manager—I was asked to go into this role because I am highly international. I speak four languages,” he explained. “I knew no one at Fijitsu, which was a big problem.” In one early meeting, “the Fijitsu participants never said a word,” he recalled. “It was more like a ceremonial meeting.” 

As he studied Japanese culture and the new business dynamics, Citrix’s alliance with Fijitsu blossomed. The following hurdles were critical in developing the international partnership, Clark said: 

  • Be like Tom Sawyer, who convinced 15 people to paint a fence—build virtual teams and communication. Don’t make it your project. Make it our project. Use E-mail distribution lists and Share File on the cloud. Communicate constantly, and do your best to link people together. Go out of your way to take your alliance into company events, and always have a one-line elevator pitch. Global organizations don’t collaborate very well: “Your role is the connective tissue.”
  • Don’t default to travel, but don’t underestimate the power of travel. If you really want to build a relationship, go there to seal the deal: “’When in doubt, go on the road,’ a boss once told me. In the beginning, it was imperative. It legitimized me in the eyes of Fijitsu,” he recalled.
  • Establish trust and integrity: If trust is lost, all future negotiation is lost. In a massive and complex organization, identify the critical people with which to establish relationships: “I first worked on integrity and building solid relationships because it was a way to handle potentially contentious and litigious situations.”
  • Create and review a plan; apply precise metrics. Have a tight explanation on what the value proposition is for your company, your partner, and the client. Act on things that are measurable. Read the book The Four Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Jim Huling, and Sean Covey.
  • Have well-written, organized, and fair contracts. “When I came onboard, there were 70 contracts with Fijitsu. It was like black magic: We had people who only knew what the terms were. There is only one now. I believe in the model that when Dec. 31 comes around, everything should auto-renew and harmonize,” he added.

Tags:  alliance manager  Citrix Systems  communication  Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)  contracts  culture  Fijitsu  global alliance  IT  John-Marc Clark  Metrics  partnership  The Four Disciplines of Execution 

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