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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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Undivided Attention: The BMS-Concerto Story

Posted By Michael J. Burke, Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Nontraditional alliances took center stage (literally) yet again today as the opening session at the ASAP BioPharma Conference 2019 got under way in Boston. Titled “Building Value in Non-Traditional Pharma/Biotech Partnerships: BMS and Concerto Health AI,” the session was moderated by Stu Kliman, Partner at Vantage Partners, and featured David Anstatt, Executive Director of the Center for Observational Research and Data Sciences at Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Jeff Elton, CEO of Concerto Health AI.

            The big pharma company and the oncology data, platform and artificial intelligence start-up have formed a unique partnership—or in Kliman’s words “a super-cool, super-impactful, super-important alliance”—that may well be a harbinger of things to come, not only in terms of linking a large pharma company with drug-related and commercial expertise to a technology company with data-crunching capabilities, but also in terms of the closeness and “intimacy” of the partnership, with its necessary higher-than-average levels of trust and transparency.

            According to Elton, Concerto’s mission is to “think about unsolved problems in oncology” and then to acquire, integrate, and engineer real-world data in order to solve those problems for the benefit of patients. Anstatt described Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) as “a conservative company interested in agility”—characteristics which led it to look for agile partners with unique data and platform capabilities that BMS could leverage to drive analytics and insights across R&D, and eventually Commercial and Manufacturing.

            While it wasn’t clear from the outset where the agreement would eventually land, the two companies ultimately created a tight-knit relationship and working together model built around integrated working teams, “early and often” iteration, and highly collaborative co-development. “We have plenty of relationships where you throw it over the wall and [you get] what you get,” said Anstatt. “This [isn’t] that kind of relationship.”

            Both stressed that each company has its own specific interests and objectives within and outside the partnership—and are also committed to making the partnership work for both companies. In other words, they started with a philosophy and indeed created a contractual structure where there is literally “no out.” Or as Elton said, “I don’t have exit provisions.” The implication is that when problems arise, they will quickly be put on the table for discussion and jointly addressed. This generates unusual frankness and directness in communication, and by extension a “super high degree of alignment,” according to Elton.

            It also means that when, for example, the contractual minimum has been delivered but more is needed to solve the target business objective, team members from both companies remain focused on driving things forward.

            “We want more heads looking at it, more experts,” said Anstatt. “It has challenged our organization to do things differently.”

            So what could have been merely a vendor-customer type of transactional relationship became a means by which both parties have worked to innovate, with BMS getting the “best of” Concerto’s thinking and expertise and working with this rather unique partner to build something and develop things in an exploratory way.

Additionally, as part of their dedication to making this work, both firms are supported by Vantage Partners, which serves in a “Strategic PMO” role—developing and managing a project plan with a laser focus on value, surfacing and proactively addressing key challenges, issues and risks, and enhancing collaboration at all levels.

            As Kliman noted, like all alliances, nontraditional collaborations can fail if they are not launched in the right way—with teams aligned not just on deliverables but also “what’s the business value and what will it entail to actually deliver it?” The two parties must understand each other’s sometimes differing objectives and thus what’s driving their behaviors, and must also institute a leadership model that goes beyond governance, is focused on effective change management, and allows for continual “co-creation in an iterative kind of way.”

            Finally, Elton observed that the business terms of this alliance were rigorously grounded in business objectives; with business unit leaders highly engaged in the process and Business Development, Alliance Management, and key other groups also frequently consulted. This model may quickly become more common in the life sciences space, as he noted—and that should make for more products and solutions that enhance patient health outcomes. 

Tags:  alliances  Bristol-Myers Squibb  Concerto Health AI  David Anstatt  Jeff Elton  nontraditional collaborations  strategic PMO  Stu Kliman  transactional relationship  Vantage Partners  vendor-customer 

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A Lesson From the Whiz Kids: Change and Teams— ‘An Inevitable Combination’

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Monday, July 22, 2019

My father, who recently passed away, worked for Ford Motor Company in its heyday. A 1950  graduate of Harvard Business School and a former Marine in World War II and the Korean War, he started working at  Ford in 1953 and eventually worked under Ford President Robert McNamara, who later became the longest-serving secretary of defense in United States history under Presidents  John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

 

Ford Motor Company was losing millions in the post-  WWII era, but turned a corner through innovative production and management. Seeking new ways to succeed in a time of rapid change (sound familiar?), the company engaged in a unique partnership with a group of United States Air Force officers. Ford would provide the young men just out of the military with jobs and, in turn, the former officers would revamp the company. Disparagingly dubbed the “Quiz Kids” by fellow employees for their youthful questioning, they renamed themselves the “Whiz Kids.” As a manager in finance, production programming, sales, marketing, personnel, and technical and transportation operations, my father worked under their guidance to help reorganize Ford’s financial framework, redefine corporate culture, and contribute to automotive innovation.

 

After my father’s memorial service, I pored over the books in his library. You can tell a lot about a person from the books he or she reads. Based on the collective mix, he pursued self-education to the end, especially in the areas of business, history, leadership—and the art of fly fishing. The mix included tomes such as Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit and Nigel Hamilton’s The Mantle of Command. But what really caught my eye was an unassuming slip of a book: The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High–Performance Organization, by Jon R. Katzenbach and Douglas K. Smith, Harvard Business School Press, 1993. As I paged through, I found only one sentence in the entire book underlined. In the chapter “Teams and Major Change: An Inevitable Combination,” the final sentence on Page 211 was highlighted: “It is no accident, then, that every single major change effort we know about has depended on teams.”

 

Through landmark business reconstruction and major wars my father had significant life experience leading and participating in successful teams. He must have come away from those experiences with an understanding of how major change is conjoined with well-organized teamwork. At age 93, the concept of digital transformation was a mystery to him, but the strategy necessary for such radical transformation was very familiar: Major change requires visionary leadership, well-orchestrated collaboration, and flexible innovation.

 

History can teach us a lot about successful collaboration. That connection came through at a ASAP BioPharma Conference in a session on “Alliance Management  Learnings from Great Leaders,” led by Harm-Jan Borgeld, head of alliance management at Merck KGaA;  David Thompson, CSAP, chief alliance officer at Eli Lilly and Company; Steven Twait, CSAP, vice president, alliance and integration management at AstraZeneca. The three alliance professionals probed questions about the “Big Three” WWII alliance led by Winston Churchill,  Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin—and how history’s lessons learned relate to today’s strategic alliances.

 

When designed and executed well, alliances can resolve conflict, innovate solutions, win wars, and rejuvenate flagging companies. Collaboration can even streamline services in the public sector and define the  workplace cultures of successful 21st century companies like Jazz Pharmaceuticals. For my father’s generation and for ours, it still comes down to inspired leaders and engaged executives who grapple with change by fostering a culture of teamwork and collaboration— and embrace partners along their journey forward. My dad would recognize this approach as “an inevitable combination.” 

Tags:  Alliances  AstraZeneca  Collaboration  David Thompson  Eli Lilly and Company  Harm-Jan Borgeld  Innovation  Jazz Pharmaceuticals  Merck KGaA  Steve Twait 

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Stay Local Partner Global…ASAP New England and Tri-State Chapters Awarded 2019 ASAP Chapter Excellence Awards

Posted By Becky Lockwood, Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Annually, ASAP recognizes some of the best alliances, partnerships, and collaborations orchestrated by member companies during the ASAP Alliance Excellence Awards Ceremony. As part of the program ASAP celebrates the success of the local chapters who bring programs and networking to members while exceeding expectations. As the chapter development committee chair it is always a privilege to acknowledge the chapter leadership teams, some of ASAP’s most involved and committed volunteers. Their passion for the alliance profession is demonstrated by delivering local events and building their communities. This year, two chapters were recognized for their exceptional achievements.

 

The New England Chapter received the Chapter Excellence Award for Best Practices and Tri-State chapter received the Chapter Excellence Award for Programs. Congratulations to the New England and Tri-State volunteers for their hard work to deliver local programs and networking to make the ASAP community strong!

 

For more information about upcoming chapter events visit the calendar and to find a chapter near you visit the chapter page

Tags:  alliances  ASAP Chapter Excellence Awards  building communities  collaboration  networking  New England  partnerships  programs  Tri-State 

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‘Running on Ice’: Creating a Winning Partnering Team When the Odds Are Against You—Part 2

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Wednesday, March 13, 2019

“Just getting on the track was a challenge,” Donna Peek, CSAP, vice president, global alliances at Genpact, said during a creative session “Cool RunningsThe Road to Building New Alliance Capability” co-led by her colleague Scott Valkenburgh, CSAP, vice president, global alliances leader. She was further explaining their analogy of their process of building a winning bobsledding team, much as was done for the 1988 Olympics by a Jamaican team (see Part 1 of this blog for background on the movie used to frame for their session).  The analogy was particularly near and dear to Peek’s heart because her grandmother is Jamaican, she said, while modeling her yellow jacket worn for the event. Peek continued to describe Genpact’s challenging experience transitioning into a partnering mindset where they created teams capable of “running on ice.”

“Our organizations are filled with sellers with no partnering experience. We didn’t know how to think about partnering. So we created a  quick and easy checklist to answer the existential question: To partner or not to partner?” explained Peek to rippling laughter throughout the room. The list highlights the following key questions:

  1. Should we consider partnering?
  2. Will partnering increase the likelihood of winning?
  3. Can we team with this partner?
  4. What are my options other than partnering?

We eventually “had in place the owner, experienced coaches,  growing team, strategy. Now we needed uniforms, equipment, etc.,” she further explained. “And you can’t win races without money. That means getting sponsors and establishing partner programs. … In doing that, we work with all the key stakeholders,” she continued, and then talked about areas in need of alignment with the strategy:

  • Marketing
  • Legal
  • Services lines: “We created our Blueprint 2.0 to … understand their strategies and align with our strategies.”
  • Risk/compliance: “We created a vendor governance office at Genpact—not the most ‘partner friendly’ processes.”
  • Sales and the CRM system: “The very first order of business when contemplating partnering, where we looked at fields to tag partners [in our CRM system to] capture data about partnering.” 

Prepping the training track is another important component, added Van Valkenburgh. “The  challenge is to achieving the “perfect slide”—a bobsledding term. When bringing a bobsled onto the track, and getting people to push it, you need to ask: “How do we know the track is running well and consistent?”

Peek and Van Valkenburgh experienced “the antithesis of what every alliance professional experiences,” he observed. “Senior leadership was behind it, but then you get to the other 89,000 people. So you get the funding, support, and visibility, and then you realize there is  concrete underneath [the snow], and someone melted the ice. ... It’s really apparent on the track that that is concrete, not ice,” he joked. “We are a company of entrepreneurs, but a company of entrepreneurs with 90,000 people is a lot of train wrecks. Systems and processes really matter. So how do you combine that track with the entrepreneurial spirit?” he asked. “The last part was, we don’t have a track. If I don’t produce the results, building out the track doesn’t matter. How do we build this track and get the culture behind it?”

What was one of the best tools Genpact used to reconfigure the organization? An alliance maturity model, said Van Valkenburg.  “Most of us have these complex models, these spider webs. What we created was [a simple] six things.

“If you can get the maturity level to advance, the growth potential is huge,” he noted. “This can be difficult for one-on-one partnerships, but multi-tenancy partnerships are even harder. … You have to spend as much internal time with [your organization’s leaders] building a true connection. Once they believe you are going to build a bobsled team, you are in. Your team skillset matters. The involvement of the leadership matters,” he concluded. “The celebration is with the team, not just the alliance partners.”

Stay tuned for more of ASAP Media’s comprehensive coverage at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit.

Tags:  alliance professionals  alliances  Donna Peek  Genpact  Global Alliance Summit  partner  partnering mindset  partners  Scott Van Valkenburgh  team 

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