Future leaders in life sciences

I have been asked to outline a brief script around the leadership in life sciences, being involved into the sector since quite a long time. Lately I came across two important sources of inspiration on the topic.

An article, issued in 2018 by the strategic consultancy McKinsey, stated that successful life-science organizations will look very different in the future. They likely will be smaller; more specialized, automated, digital, and agile in their operations; more sophisticated in their commercial approaches; and more integrated with providers, partners, and consumers.

The leadership skills needed to shape and lead these organizations will also be quite different. Progressive CEOs and chief human-resources officers (CHROs) are investing in leadership development, focusing on the skills they will need to remake the business, but often these investments are based on old models and assumptions.

Distinctive muscles that will define next-generation leaders:

  • An adaptive mind-set;
  • 3-D savviness (data, design, digital);
  • Partnership skills;
  • Agile ways of working;
  • A balanced field of vision.

The other reading is a book by Brian D. Smith “Leadership in Life Sciences” 10 Lessons from the C-Suite of the Pharmaceutical and Medical Technology Companies. Interviewing 22 senior leaders the author describes the evolution of the life sciences industry like a Darwinian evolution. This implies new business models.

The industry has some specific features:

    1. supply and demand are complex
    2. intangible and tangible assets have an high risk profile
    3. workforce is exceptionally expert
    4. contract with society.

Adaptation to complexity, risk , deep expertise , societal context is a core element for leaders.

With the pandemic the mission of pharma leaders (eg vaccines producers) has been, as never before, patient-centric.

Life is the most precious asset but still the value of it is minimal in vast regions of the globe. Life sciences leaders can affect the course of the humankind development turning science into future products (especially for unmet medical needs). Making profit with a social impact.

By Renato Del Grosso

Life Sciences Expert, Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Cube Labs