By Louis Garguilo, Chief Editor, Outsourced Pharma
“We are,” says Bernhard Paul, general manager at Johnson Matthey Pharma Services, standing amidst hundreds of celebrating peers, “an industry looking for a home.”
Certainly that psychology adds to the enthusiasm at this CMO Leadership Awards ceremony in Manhattan on a brisk March evening. The Awards, after all, are recognition of the place the outsourcing community holds within the greater biopharmaceutical industry. It is a public recognition, unfortunately, rarely received.
These Awards are particularly meaningful, according to the attendees I speak with during the evening, because they are determined solely by the biopharmaceutical customers and partners utilizing CMO services.
Biopharmaceutical companies around the world who take the time to participate in the survey these Awards are based on deserve a thank you. They should pay close attention to the results, and the celebration itself. That’s because openly celebrating successes with your providers could help form deeper relationships, provider commitment, and the best productivity and outcomes possible from your outsourcing activities.
The Blue-Collar Pillar Of Pharma
As the evening progresses I can’t help thinking the following. Despite the cutting-edge science; advanced development and manufacturing technologies; industry experience and brainpower of the scientists, engineers, project managers and executives gathered elegantly in this ballroom, this is the blue-collar pillar of the biopharmaceutical industry.
“Blue collar” in every positive connotation of the term. The hard-working men and women, often unbeknownst and unacclaimed, who wake up each day around the globe to keep projects and materials flowing, and provide services and solutions the rest of the industry – and patients ultimately – count on. Along with their counterparts internally at sponsors’ facilities, these are the workers who put the “make” in “making drugs.”
On the one hand, CMOs are under the proverbial microscope of their biotechnology and pharmaceutical customers, who at times measure output and productivity more strictly for the CMOs than for their own internal resources. On the other hand, the vital and growing role CMOs play in the drug supply chain remains mostly behind-the-scenes and shadowed to the public, something I’ve written about in the past.
In an industry where recognition – and celebration – are rare, these Awards provide the outsourcing community a venue for both. This is about a certain industry bonhomie. But it’s also a celebration of the highest degrees of quality, reliability, productivity, regulatory compliance, and innovation, the categories for the Awards.
Leadership Through Celebration
An element of leadership resides in this concept of providing individuals, organizations, or entire industries, a “home.”
Biopharma sponsors, service providers, media, and trade organizations have leadership roles to play here. Life Science Connect for one tries to fulfill a role through reporting and analysis on the greater industry, these Life Science Leader industry Awards, and the Outsourced Pharma West (and soon to be East) conferences. We hope to exercise this brand of leadership by, in effect, providing that home for open discussion, relationship-building, public recognition … and celebration.
“Exemplary leaders know that promoting a culture of celebration fuels the sense of unity and mission essential for retaining and motivating today’s workforce,” says Kouzes & Posner in their seminal book, “The Leadership Challenge.”
Increasingly, the fragmented, far-flung, and fiercely competitive outsourcing providers have started to come together as a more coherent business sector, forming its own industry culture as it does. We see more M&A, IPOs and even sponsor-provider formations. We know each other and stay within the industry: I shook hands with five former colleagues from my days at a service provider, as they came on stage to collect their various Awards; all of them now work at different CMOs. I learned at the Outsourced Pharma West conference last November that referrals between providers have become standard procedure; whatever is best for the customer is best for the entire industry.
Kouzes & Posner would sum up our Awards evening this way: “Celebrations should always serve a dual purpose – one is to honor a principle or an achievement, and the other is to create community.” There were many CEOs and other executives in attendance. They understand that “events offer leaders the perfect opportunity to explicitly communicate and reinforce the actions and behaviors that are important in realizing shared values and shared goals.”
Those values and goals of quality, reliability, productivity, regulatory, and innovation are decided by and thus shared with the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sponsors. They are also traits expected by patients. They should be openly celebrated and publically promulgated, as the traits of the total biopharmaceutical industry.
I’ll end with a personal note of satisfaction, as one involved in international business throughout his career. There was a full acceptance and recognition at the Awards of our global outsourcing community. I was pleased to announce the names of many winners from the U.S. and Europe, but also from countries such as Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea. National cultures and circumstances differ, but this emerging pan-industry culture, based on the highest standards, is coming together. Any home we make will be global in nature.