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What’s an Alliance Manger To Do When a Blockbuster Biopharmaceutical Product Is Built on a Shaky Alliance Foundation?

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, September 25, 2015

What do you do when you have a blockbuster product, but a few key alliance building blocks are missing and the cornerstones are misaligned? “Blockbuster Product, Fragile Alliance: Leading the Drive for Change” answered this critical question in a dynamic presentation given by Christine Carberry, CSAP, senior vice president of quality, technical operations, program and alliance management at FORUM Pharmaceuticals and chairman of the ASAP Board of Directors, and Jan Twombly, CSAP, president of The Rhythm of Business, Inc., and a member of the ASAP executive and management committee, at the 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference. Twombly agreed to delve more deeply into the topic with a few key questions during an interview after the conference.

 

What are the signs of a fragile alliance?

Your alliance is achieving revenue targets and its clinical milestones. But any bump in the road such as a regulatory hiccup, can cause significant problems. The attorneys are always involved, its tit-for-tat, and people describe being ambushed in governance committee meetings. So you have a fragile situation because you have a relationship between the partners where they don’t trust each other and don’t feel they are working in the best interest of the alliance. Whenever you don’t have that solid underpinning, you might have external success but not the foundation to deal with the inevitable problems.

 

Why should an executive care as long as your blockbuster alliance is achieving its objectives?

The question from most people in the room is, “My executive realizes we have a fragile situation, but how willing are your governance committees to deal with the hard work of establishing or re-establishing that foundation when you are making your numbers?” The implications of not moving the alliance forward because you don’t have the underlying foundation can be significant. I have seen situations where there were delays upwards of a year with things that really didn’t make sense, disagreements where it would always come back to haunt you. A blockbuster product generates over one billion a year, so there is big money at stake, and if left unaddressed, you are likely to be leaving value on the table. Biopharma products have a reasonably definite lifecycle, and every day you don’t move forward, you are losing a day of market exclusivity because your patent has a finite life, and once your patent expires, generic drugs can come into the marketplace. You also might be creating an opening allowing competitors to get ahead, costing market share. You need to convince the people who should be enrolled in improving the collaboration that there is a significant risk being posed to the alliance when you don’t have that foundation to tackle problems in a collaborative way. You need to get at the root cause—because it is really important for the alliance manager to enroll senior level management and the governance committee to address them. If you don’t address them when things are going well, you won’t be prepared when something negative happens. It’s important to have strategies for raising awareness. That is really the key.

 

What strategies can an alliance professional use to improve the situation?

An absolute prerequisite is that leaders from each partner agree that change is necessary and urgent—and that it starts with them.  You then need a champion to use the core alliance skills of influence, getting people on board, bridging differences, convening the right people, facilitating the right kinds of conversations, and leading people to the conclusion that the status quo is not acceptable. Then you have to move quickly. It can be as simple as rechartering your governance committees, getting them to think about how they act and behave, and asking how it makes them feel—that’s all of the soft stuff you know you  need to do, but people resist.

Carberry and Twombly’s presentation also recommended the following practical steps: 

  • Re-examine governance—Structure, membership, performance standards; rethink the decision making process
  • Re-examine work allocation—project team structure, responsibilities, membership; is collaboration being forced where it isn’t necessary?
  • Establish new behavioral standards—recharter revamped teams/committees and hold them to it
  • Have an aligned and current vision and strategic plan (the “North Star”) and use it to build a “one-team mentality”
  • Meet more frequently and have more face-to-face meetings—eliminate updates and focus on, discuss, debate and decide formats
  • Launch a branded “Campaign for Exponential Success”—leadership, communication, awareness and understanding, accountability at all levels

Tags:  alliance manager  biopharma  Blockbuster product  Christine Carberry  collaborative  FORUM Pharmaceuticals  governance  Jan Twombly  market share  marketplace  partners  performance standards  recharter  The Rhythm of Business 

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2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference Focuses on the Importance of Alliance Expertise and Leadership in the Life Sciences and Healthcare Ecosystems

Posted By Cynthia Hanson, Thursday, July 2, 2015

Biopharma is undergoing a sea change, driven both from within and without. Scientific, regulatory and market forces are introducing new alliance partners and partnering models. “Alliance Expertise at the Forefront: Leadership for the Ecosystem,” the theme of the 2015 ASAP Biopharma Conference, Sept. 9-11, in Boston, Mass., addresses this dynamic and the impact it is having on the role of alliance management.  The conference will explore why alliance managers need to get out ahead of this fundamental shift in the increasingly interconnected network of new and existing partners; why ecosystems are beginning to emerge now; how they differ from traditional markets; what new incentives will emerge, and the best ways for individual organizations to respond.

 

The two-day event happening over three days at the Revere Hotel, Boston Common, kicks off late afternoon Wednesday, Sept. 9, with conference keynote Niven R. Narain, co-founder, president, and chief technology officer at Berg Health, a Boston-based biopharma company known for its use of big data and artificial intelligence algorithms to isolate the root causes of disease and develop personalized treatment options for patients. Narain will discuss an innovative partnership Berg has formed with an array of hospitals and research teams to discover the first clinical biomarker for pancreatic research using its technology. The afternoon’s events will conclude with a reception to connect with partners and colleagues, and network among some of the industry’s leading alliance professionals.  

Thursday morning will feature “ASAP Quick Takes,” patterned after the well-known “TED Talks,” delivered by outstanding speakers in a plenary session. Heather Fraser, global life sciences & healthcare lead at IBM’s Institute for Business Values, will present a very timely talk “Partnering in the Healthcare and Life Sciences Ecosystem.” The session offers data and case studies on ways that biopharma companies are partnering within the ecosystem to optimize performance and address the challenges of today’s regulatory and market challenges. According to Fraser, ecosystems are transforming much of the way healthcare and the life sciences industries operate, including why and how they are partnering and with whom.  

“Alliance Leadership for the Healthcare Ecosystem,” by Cindy Warren, vice president of alliance management at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, will address what today’s alliance professional needs to tackle the changing biopharma environment. Partnering models are rapidly changing, and it requires keen skills, adaptability, agility, finesse, and the potential of someone running a business, says Warren. With over 21 years of broad industry experience, Warren will provide the tips and insider insights alliance managers need, what she looks for in her team, and where she sees opportunities for alliance professionals to deliver differentiated value that can set companies apart.  

Following the Quick Takes, “Deeper Dive” sessions feature both more in-depth presentations by the plenary speakers and exchanging ideas with peers in solution-focused roundtable discussions on a range of leadership issues and alliance management challenges. The remainder of the conference features a variety of interactive presentations, mini-workshops and expert panels addressing the skills and expertise alliance professionals need today. A few of the topics covered include negotiation, alliance decision making, managing transitions, and working with CROs to enhance innovation.  

“Alliance Expertise at the Forefront: Leadership for the Ecosystem,” attracts partnering executives, academics, innovators, managers, patient advocates, service organizations, and other life sciences and healthcare representatives from countries around the world. For more information on registration for this not-to-be missed conference in the midst of one of the most vibrant biopharma hubs in the world, visit www.asapweb.org/biopharma. Save on your 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference registration by becoming an ASAP member today! For more information, contact the Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals director of membership services Lori Gold at+1 781-562-1630 ext. 203 or lgold@strategic-alliances.org.

Tags:  alliance management  ASAP BioPharma Conference  Berg Health  Biopharma  Cindy Warren  Ecosystem  Healthcare  Heather Fraser  IBM’s Institute for Business Values  Janssen Pharmaceutical  Life Sciences  Niven R. Narain 

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New England Chapter Event Discusses Alliance Management amidst Disruption: ‘You’ve Got to Be Strategic, You’ve Got to Be Entrepreneurial, You’ve Got to Be Adaptable’

Posted By John W. DeWitt, Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Moderator Jan Twombly, president of The Rhythm of Business, introduced the panelists last Wednesday night, Nov. 5, as ASAP’s New England Chapter convened at the Verizon Innovation Center in Waltham, Mass. USA: Petra Sansom, head of alliance management, Genzyme; Alyssa Rosinski, global business development director, IAPP (International Association of Privacy Professionals); Kathy Faigen, Certified Client Executive, IBM; and Tony DeSpirito, VP, Global Alliances—IT Partners, Schneider Electric.

 

Twombly’s vivid opening slide—two planets in collision—acknowledged the challenging context of the evening’s topic, “Alliance Management in an Age of Disruption: Today’s Critical Partnering Success Factors.” Twombly then flashed four percentages on the screen: 92% … 68% … 42% … and 53%.

 

“Recent studies say 92% of chief marketing officers are looking to partner to get closer to customers and better understand them,” Twombly explained. “68% of chief information officers are partnering to bring additional capability to their organization,” she continued, noting that IBM studies are the source for these two data points. “42% represents CEOs in last year’s PwC survey who said they were going to enter into a significant strategic alliance within the next year.”

 

Finally, 53% represents that very familiar data point for anyone involved in alliance management—the virtually unchanged success rate for strategic alliances despite the proliferation of alliances and alliance management practice across most industries. “It is so clear that alliance management has to step up its game as partnering proliferates,” Twombly said. With her final slide, she asked her panel of expert practitioners, “So what’s changing for alliance managers—do the fundamentals still apply or do they need to change as our businesses change?”

 

Panelists then dived into the discussion—bringing diverse perspectives to an exploration of why alliance management matters more than ever today, yet must adapt if partner success rates are to improve.  Tony DeSpirito discussed how Schneider Electric—confronted with major disruption around the internet of things—moved beyond its stodgy infrastructure company heritage, recognized that it lacked many capabilities, and embraced partnering across both its traditional and emerging business lines. IBM’s Kathy Faigen discussed how her company developed a coherent approach to the disruptive technologies of SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, and cloud) while honing in on the crucial role of engagement, with customers and other constituents, in allowing businesses to successfully embrace unrelenting waves of change. Petra Sansom shared with the audience how Genzyme, a powerhouse biotechnology company now owned by Sanofi, is evolving its partnering strategy as it, and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry overall, grapple with pricing pressure from all around the world.

 

Alyssa Rosinski rounded out the discussion with her organization’s interesting lens on disruption. Privacy challenges are exploding thanks to ubiquitous connection, mobile device proliferation, whistleblower disclosures (think Edward Snowden) and correspondingly magnified risks of exposure that companies of all types now face when handling personally identifiable information, she explained. In the face of this challenge, over just the past few years, IAPP membership has grown from 8,000 to more than 20,000.

 

When partnering amidst disruption, DeSpirito said, it’s vitally important to ensure that your partnering is tied to overall strategy—and to do that requires a strategic review of the portfolio, making sure you’ve got the right partners aligned to your company strategy . Faigen talked about the critical importance of ensuring you’ve got the right value proposition for your customer as well as for the partners. It’s never been more important to rethink, to relook at it, and make sure the value proposition remains relevant, she explained.  

 

Wednesday night’s panelists also talked about importance of governance and metrics.

 

“That can be harder to do amidst disruption, because people are so crazily busy, so it’s hard to make the time to plan, to evaluate, it can be hard to think beyond the current crisis or meeting the current quarter’s numbers,” Twombly noted. “I think some of it is a maturing of the alliance capability, where people are recognizing the importance of having good governance. In biopharma, governance is in the contract but that’s not always the case in other industries.”

 

The final question of the night went to Alyssa Rosinski. Asked what quality or skill she is finding essential, she said that adaptability is at the top of her list.

 

Adaptability is, not surprisingly, crucial for alliance managers, who must “understand your partners’ needs, understand what your organization needs, understand what the customer needs, and be flexible and adaptable about how you’re going to get your result,” Twombly said in summarizing the discussion.

 

“In other words, you’ve got to be strategic, you’ve got to be entrepreneurial, you’ve got to be the expert,” she said. “You’re the one who needs to know everything about your partner, to represent the partner within your company, and everything about your company, to represent it to the partner. You’re the only one who has that big picture view, and that’s part of the expectations of senior management today.”

Tags:  alliance management  Alyssa Rosinski  ASAP’s New England Chapter  biopharma  disruption  Genzyme  governance  IAPP  IBM  Jan Twombly  Kathy Faigen  Petra Sansom  Schneider Electric  SMAC  The Rhythm of Business  Tony DeSpirito  Verizon Innovation Center 

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