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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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The Sound of Success

Posted By Michael Leonetti, CSAP, Wednesday, July 10, 2019

In a past issue of Strategic Alliance Monthly, we asked Bruce Cozadd, cofounder and chief executive of Jazz  Pharmaceuticals, Could Music Be the Secret Sauce of Compelling Collaborative Leaders?

 

“This concept of individual excellence, but it’s all about how you play as a group, really resonates to me as a management philosophy,” explained Cozadd, not merely a scientist, but also a classically trained musician who routinely plays all requests on the company piano while surrounded by  singing employees. “It’s a playful, energetic theme that fits perfectly with alliance management,” chimed Ann Kilrain, Jazz’s head of alliance management. “We recognize that while individuals are able to accomplish much as individuals,

we create something much greater together.”

 

The musician-CEO and his CAO continue their remarkable riff on the topic of collaborative leadership, discussing how leaders model their  organization’s values and specifically about how alliance leaders can impact the culture of an organization—change it, grow it, and help it prosper. Talk about resonance. In my observation, the best partnering companies have leaders who display the qualities Bruce Cozadd projects. And the best alliance executives model transparent leadership with partners and bring that same style to their internal leadership and alliance team culture.

 

Cozadd reminds me of my former CEO and the straightforward model I developed when I was his alliance leader.

I call it The Four Cs of Alliance Leadership:

  • Communication
  • Culture
  • Collaboration
  • Compromise

Communication. And I mean all the time. Overcommunication is the name of the game. But remember, as the late Stephen Covey taught, “Seek first to understand.” Every day you need to ask yourself, in your internal leadership role, are you seeking to understand in the way you would with your partner? Then, given that understanding, are you providing the constant, effective communication required to be understood?

 

Culture. My CEO used to tell me, “Don’t lose your soul.” He wasn’t discussing matters of faith, rather, of culture. He defined culture as what made our company great. Culture eats everything—breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But it has to be good culture—most of us have struggled uphill to partner when we work in the opposite kind of corporate culture. In a good culture, everyone is respected, not just the boss; everyone, including the boss, is accountable, expected to be open, honest, trustworthy.

 

Collaboration. That’s what we do with partners—but are you demonstrating and practicing a partner mindset within your own organization? Again, not easy. You may be criticized, you may be challenged, you may be asked who do you work for—us or them? But when you break through—when collaborative leadership begins to become part of your culture, supported by your CEO— you’re going to be wildly successful with your partners.

 

Compromise. True leaders model, every day, the ability to compromise without abdicating. Never compromise your goal. Instead, seek greatness, but understand the solution you define together will be the solution that will make you successful. You have to define it together, with your colleague or your partner, which means you have to compromise.

 

Notice that “Command” doesn’t appear in my Four C’s of Alliance Leadership. Any enduring leader knows how to command, but great partnering organizations, and great companies, get great results because people truly invest, not because they’re told what to do. Partners work the same way, as Cozadd recognizes.

 

“When we start discussions with a potential partner,” he explains in this issue, “my comment to our team is, ‘If we’re successful, we’re going to end up working with those people on the other side of the table. Let’s start treating them from the first time we meet them with respect, transparency, honesty. No hide-the-ball, no misrepresentation of our interests. They should come out with a high degree of trust in everyone. It has to be the whole team.’”

 

Call it conducting the collaborative symphony—or, simply, the sound of success. 

Tags:  Alliance Leadership  Bruce Cozadd  Collaboration  Communication  Compromise  Culture  Jazz Pharmaceuticals  Music  Resonance  Strategic Alliances  The Four Cs 

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Playing with Blocks—and Teams: How to Build Together for Alliance Success

Posted By John M. DeWitt, Monday, April 1, 2019

Lynda McDermott, CA-AM, president of EquiPro International, kicked off her preconference session at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, by dividing the attendees into teams of two and three per table, instructing them to do something that you usually won’t find people doing in a professional setting: play with blocks. Her instructions were simple: Build the tallest tower, with the smallest number of blocks. With that said, McDermott set them to work.

Given that this occurred at a conference dedicated to business collaboration, one might think that a fair number of the teams would begin to work together to win the challenge at hand. However, nobody decided to collaborate. Several groups did discuss the possibility of collaboration, but all ultimately decided against it, for various reasons. Fifteen minutes later, two teams stood at the top of the leaderboard, tied for first. That is unimportant, though, because the key here is in the lesson learned.

McDermott specifically asked, once the toys were put away, if any groups had elected to collaborate. When everyone answered no, she revealed that she was not surprised in the slightest by that answer. In fact, she explained, she has done this same exercise with the blocks all around the world, and just about every group refused to collaborate. This, she continued, was no fault of ours. “Collaboration,” she said, “is not a natural instinct.” This, then, makes the work of alliance management even more meritorious than one might ordinarily think. The simple fact that forcing people to work together goes against our natural instincts makes the work that alliance managers accomplish all the more noteworthy. And it helps to underscore the non-collaborative behaviors faced by collaboration leaders and teams every day.

McDermott then went on to describe three categories, or “buckets,” as she called them, of alliance performance. These are the framework of the alliance, the team dynamics within the alliance, and how lean and agile the alliance is. She then asked the attendees to fill out a survey, with several questions relating to each of the three buckets. These questions were meant to assess areas such as communication, commitment, conflict resolution, and company culture. The idea behind surveys like this, she explained, is to gauge how an alliance is doing and identify how their performance can be improved. Once everybody had filled out the survey, she asked them to share their answers and wrote them down. While all of the questions yielded more positive answers than negative ones, the lowest numbers of positive answers (it was a simple yes or no survey) were all in the “framework” category.

She closed out the session by stressing that an alliance manager is more than just a mere manager. An alliance manager is “a teacher and a coach.” She explained that it cannot be assumed that everybody engaged in an alliance knows how to live productively in an alliance team. Therefore, one must incorporate training and learning into the alliance lifestyle, and encourage people to learn by doing.

See more of the ASAP Media team’s comprehensive coverage of the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit on the ASAP blog and in Strategic Alliance publications.

Tags:  alliance management  alliance manager  collaboration  communication  company culture  conflict resolution  EquiPro International  framework  Lynda McDermott  team dynamics 

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The ‘Boundary Bridger’: How Leadership Style Drives Alliance Team Performance

Posted By John W. DeWitt , Tuesday, March 12, 2019

“The alignment challenge is not unique to strategic alliances,” commented veteran alliance manager Timothy B. Steele, president of ARM Partners in Leesburg, Virginia, as he kicked off the closed-door, invitation-only ASAP Leadership Forum on Monday, March 11—opening day of the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Indeed, leadership teams typically are aligned only 17 percent on any given topic, according to research by SchellingPoint that builds upon the work of Thomas Schelling, the late behavioral economist who (with Robert J. Aumann) received the 2005 Nobel Prize in economic sciences “for having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.”

SchellingPoint’s “analysis of 230 collaborations uncovered that teams are aligned on only 17 percent of their peer’s views of their collaboration,” according to Michael Taylor, SchellingPoint’s chief executive. Research further indicates that about 60 percent of senior leaders’ time is spent securing alignment across the leadership team.

Steele and his co-facilitator, Loyola University Maryland professor Dave Luvison, CSAP, PhD, described this aspect of leadership as “a boundary-bridging role.” Alternating between presentation and robust discussion with the group of veteran alliance leaders, Steele and Luvison presented leadership models and emerging research identifying the critical role of boundary bridging and other key leadership behaviors.

“When we look at the job of alliance leadership, we talk a lot about focus on the customer, Steele said, “but if you don’t have this boundary-bridging role,” instead of being a chief alliance officer (CAO) with a seat at the CXO table, you might end up on the menu. Your alliance skills might make you able to cope with ambiguity, but “don’t be ambiguous about having clear mission and mandate, because [building alignment] is one area of alliances where you don’t want to deal with ambiguity. Get it crisp and clear—the less ambiguity you have the better off you are.”

Research into leadership styles of product management teams—according to Luvison, an excellent analog for alliance management—supports the notion that you should “push alliance metrics to the CXO suite [so that it is] leveraged across the business,” Steele continued, adding that that boundary bridgers integrate the alliance agenda into annual corporate planning and involve business P&L owners into key partnering dynamics and decisions.

The science indicates that boundary bridger CAOs establish a “North Star” to guide their teams, a concept advanced by The Rhythm of Business and McKinsey, Steele noted. Furthermore, boundary bridgers demonstrate high emotional intelligence and are able to “feel the headwinds and tailwinds happening in your business,” Steele said. “Think about being up on the balcony, watching yourself dance, anticipating what your partner’s next move is.”

Fundamentally, Luvison said, boundary bridgers understand that just doing a good job does not alone drive success. Research exploring how particular leadership styles improve performance of teams has identified three types of leaders. The first type of leadership style describes leaders primarily engaged in task-focused behavior, “managing and driving the team to perform, making sure every executional aspect of the alliance is done properly. The second type are scouts, who see themselves as responsible for bringing resources to the team. The third type are ambassadors focused on dialoguing with superiors and other stakeholders, proactively putting themselves on the agenda of their leaders, and managing behaviors.”

According to preliminary research findings, Luvison said, “ambassador-led teams outperformed [the two others], especially when combined with task behaviors.” Interestingly, he continued, “Frequency of communications was less important than the nature of the boundary-bridging activities. Ambassadors created the opportunity to promote the team, secure resources, and protect it from interference.”

In other words, successful boundary bridgers also demonstrated traits of the other two types of leaders.

The facilitators then asked the two-dozen or so senior alliance execs in the room how they would describe their leadership style and how much time they spend on boundary bridging. General consensus in the room: 50 percent, if not more, of their time is spent on internal alignment across boundaries.

“It’s a full-time challenge to do this. It’s not just something you can do and be done,” commented one pharmaceutical alliance leader.

“I find I have to be task-oriented even when being ambassador,” said another senior pharma business development and alliance leader.

A leader in a large high-tech company with an immature alliance practice commented that, “since it’s a new alliance management function at our company, the ratio is much higher. We have to do the WIFM—‘what’s in it for me?’—lots of meetings, lots of time spent,” the exec explained. Her boss “spends 90 percent of his time as ambassador and is more networked than most senior leaders at company,” she continued, adding, “But we do split duty—you can evangelize, but you can’t deliver the goods if you’re not executing.”

Another leader commented that “it’s a fallacy that software will solve the problem, that [you can]manage by software, manage by milestones, and forget about alignment. Then you are managing instead of leading. And if leaders are not leading, managers default to tactical.”

Stay tuned for more of ASAP Media’s coverage of the Leadership Forum and other seminal leadership discussions at the 2019 ASAP Global Alliance Summit.

Tags:  ARM Partners  boundary bridgers  communication  Dave Luvison  McKinsey  stakeholders  strategic alliances  The Rhythm of Business  Timothy B. Steele 

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‘Like Putting Together a Puzzle’: IBM Execs Tackle Cyber Security Concerns of Multi-Party Alliances in 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum Keynote

Posted By Cynthia B. Hanson, Friday, November 2, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Threat factors are a growing concern for alliance managers coordinating multi-party, multi-industry collaborations. They need to consider the potential new channels created by their complexity, such as shared information and data. That message was woven into the keynote address “Cyber Security Ecosystem Meets the Customer Experience” presented by Mitch Mayne, public information officer at IBM, and Wendi Whitmore, global lead for IBM’s X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Services (IRIS), at the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum, “Reimaging Part­nering in a Disruptive World,” on October 17, at the Four Points by Sheraton, San Jose Airport, San Jose, California.

IBM has streamlined two separate cyber security response teams: one that deals with major security breaches and another that focuses on threat intelligence, detection, and response. The teams are oriented toward both internal and external communications in the event of a major pandemic cyber attack, the speakers explained. IBM is partnering extensively with more than 200 companies on cyber security response “through shared relationships with private and public companies,” explained Mayne. “Cyber security is a lot like putting together a puzzle. No one team has all the pieces. Our system helps us better protect clients and ourselves, and increases the speed of response.”

He then introduced IBM’s Cyber Range, an immersive, lifelike environment, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for simulating a breach. The Cyber Range teaches about appropriate, timely responsiveness by taking attendees through an actual breach that includes answering multiple ringing phone calls from the press and FBI. The program drives home the importance of having an integrated plan and a responsive, educated company culture.

The hand’s on teaching tool includes actual technology that “responders would be using. What the range is really fast at is increasing communications and awareness between groups,” Whitmore said.

Best practices are shared between teams, such as coordinating the split-second communication needs of executives with the slower pace of tech teams, which must compile and analyze large volumes of data. For example, the C-suite needs to understand why it could take four hours or even three days to assess data, she explained further. “It really increases perspective, and we have seen organizations really transformed by the process.”

It’s about building a cyber security culture within the company, Mayne added. Additionally, the Cyber Range instructs on the dos and don’ts of how and what to communicate to the press, clients, and internally: “How do you manage them during a breach?” He then provided some tips:

  • Have a holding statement prepared in advance that could cover a variety of incidents and you can release at a moment’s notice.
  • Let employees know ahead of time what is acceptable to say and do.
  • Do not speculate: Release only factual information and shows you have command of the situation.

In October, IBM plans to unveil the next level of the Cyber Range.  The Mobile Range will visit the National Mall in Washington, D.C., universities on the US east coast, and Europe in January.

During the Q&A session, an attendee described having just signed a multi-party contract with extensive language on cyber security response responsibilities.

“You have to ask your partners, ‘Do you have a plan in place if something like this were to happen?’” Mayne replied.

In another question, someone pointed out that compartmentalization helps with security, but then asked, “How do we partner and make sure these things are worked through?”

“Compartmentalization has created a lot of the problem,” replied Whitmore. “The more you can have increased communication between the stakeholders, the better your chance that you can quickly work through these scenarios.”

See more of the ASAP Media team’s coverage of the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum on the ASAP Blog at www.strategic-alliances.org. Learn more about the 2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum at http://asaptechforum.org

Tags:  2018 ASAP Tech Partner Forum  Channels  communication  Customer Experience Mitch Mayne  Cyber Security  Disruptive World  Ecosystem  IBM  IRIS  Mobile Range  partner  partnering  shared information and data  stakeholders  Wendi Whitmore  X-Force Incident Response and Intelligence Service 

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