For some, the BIO International Convention may be about relationships - reconnecting with old industry colleagues and friends. For others, it has more to do with dealmaking - advancing your company objectives - or it is about education - a chance to learn and absorb years of wisdom from those who have made their mark on the industry. For me, it’s all of the above tied together.
This year, it was my great privilege to return to the in-person education session Advanced Business Development or as I like to refer to it, Lessons in Herding Cats. I have been responsible for this course with a few colleagues for well over a decade and view it as an opportunity to share my experience in the art and science of managing strategic alliances and growth opportunities. As it often goes, my time as a teacher was also a tremendous learning experience. The core foundational pillars of my lesson plan were on display all around us at BIO – especially this year as we are all back together live and fully understanding the power of our human connection in the life sciences industry.
What are those pillars? If you strip away the process, procedure and legalese, business development is about relationships steeped in constant communication, good humor, and true passion for what can be achieved.
Constant Communication: It is critical to listen to the voice of the partner and attempt to see the promise of the opportunity through their eyes. It is equally vital to show them the opportunity as you see it. Illustrate your vision, define your milestones, and agree on what success looks like from both sides – only then can all parties operate without assumptions and misunderstandings but rather in complete concert. Transparency at the outset will inevitably pay strong dividends over the long-term.
Good Humor: Like any relationship, business development collaborations need to be nurtured and never taken for granted. Look for excuses to have meetings onsite and in-person. Get to know your partners as people and allow them to see you the same way. Show them your intellect and business acumen, but also your humor and humanity because these insights build a trust, which cannot be more important in an industry that seeks to break ground and step into the unknown.
True Passion: There are few things in the life sciences more contagious than a true passion for innovation, discovery, and the belief that together we can achieve great things for the lives of people around the world. Never forget to put your excitement and drive front and center for your collaborators because it is that sense of shared purpose for the greater good that can help any partnership weather the setbacks that inevitably will occur throughout the journey together.
I am proud to see these pillars reflected in the work of my colleagues in the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, as well as so many others I connected with at BIO 2022. At J&J, we believe that solving the world’s toughest healthcare challenges and thus promoting a healthier life for all, requires us to understand and harness emerging science wherever it originates. We also believe that accomplishing this requires long-term, trusted partnerships and business development endeavors that stretch from the lab to the last mile. I know we are not alone in these beliefs because they are on display here this week throughout the extraordinary event that is BIO. A true master class.