Posted by: Audrey Erbes | January 6, 2014

Presidential Leadership in Life Science Companies Plus Events and Jobs

What kind of management skills does a U.S. president need—those of a former CEO, a party politician or administration experience? The article entitled “Management Experts Knock Obama,” from Politico dated Dec. 31st by Elizabeth Titus and John F.Harris provides some insights into what kind of management is needed. In the analysis of the Obama leadership they note “The heart of the issue, many of these people say, is that Obama and his inner circle had scant executive experience prior to arriving in the West Wing, and dim appreciation of the myriad ways the federal bureaucracy can frustrate an ambitious president. And above all, they had little apparent interest in the kind of organizational and motivational concepts that typically are the preoccupation of the most celebrated modern managers.”

How does this apply to life science company management? The best investors in life science recognize that the experience of the founding team and subsequent top management is as important as the technology or product developed by the founding scientists. Life Science companies have often experienced poor leadership when one believes, for example, that past sales success means one will be a great president of a company. Scientific entrepreneurs as well as large corporations often think a sales background with management of sales personnel is the ideal background. More recently due to financial problems, a company may turn to the financial expert.

Often the regional sales manager who worked in the Southern region of a company’s coverage was promoted to higher positions of the corporation due to the increase of sales in that region. This market sales increase was often a result of demographic changes rather than the person’s personal expertise and management of district managers. Neither is a degree in business management or accounting alone the “secret sauce” as a strong focus on return on investment alone can drive a company into a “death spiral” because this kind of direction lacks the strategic planning and flexibility necessary to pursue a successful trajectory in a dynamic environment.  It turns out that sales or accounting experience doesn’t have much to do with fund raising, strategic planning and execution, or management of all the stakeholders including VCs, stock holders, employees, federal agencies and payers today.

Being a life science company President takes someone who has excellent insights into selection and management of the best managers to run the various functions of the company—R&D, regulatory, clinical, business development, marketing, and finance—and knowing when to bring on each expertise to the management team. In the life science field a team with prerequisite experience from functions critical to the successful management of a company and a President/leader who can manage their success working together with focus on mission and plan is very important. They need to have a well thought out business plan to present to the outside stakeholders and a version of it in form of strategic plan for inside stakeholders.

Highlights for Upcoming Week’s Events

  • BioCentury This Week, See new program Webcast Starting Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014,, Available anytime starting at 9:00 a.m. EDT; This Week’s Topic: “Therapies for Kids: Pediatric Rare Diseases;” Speakers: Dr. Anne Pariser, Associate Director for Rare Diseases at FDA; Nancy Goodman, Founder and Executive Director of Kids v Cancer; Art Estopinan, Chief of Staff to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Stephanie Bozarth, VP and member of the board of directors of the National MPS Society
  • Bio2Device Group, Tuesday Morning, Jan. 7, 2014; Topic: “Advances in Colorectal Cancer Screening;” Speaker: Ronald Schoengold, Principal, E Gold Solutions Consulting
  • WIB, Tuesday Evening, Jan. 7, 2014; Event: WIB-San Francisco Bay Area Speed Networking in the East Bay
  • SFAWIS, Wednesday Evening, Jan. 8, 2014; Event: “Science and Diagnostics”
  • MedTech Frontiers, Thursday Evening, Jan. 9, 2013; Topic: “What Every Medical Business Needs to Know About Privacy and Data Breach;” Speakers:      James F. Monagle and Simone McCormick
  • CBA, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014; Event: “BayHelix 11th Annual Conference — Leading Changes in Life Sciences Across the Pacific (probably only slightly ahead of the curve)”

Product Management Course in New Professional Program in Life Science Business

We just completed the classroom work for the Life Science Business Development class in Dec. and now students are busily selecting their term projects with access to new resources and the generous offer of access by BioCentury and Thomson Recap to their subscription databases gratis for the balance of the term.

Consider honing your skills in commercialization of life science products through the upcoming Life Science Product Marketing: It’s All in the Plan. See details below. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at This is one of the most popular courses as students select their product and team members to create a preliminary product marketing plan. It’s another great addition to your career portfolio to share with potential hiring managers.

UC Berkeley Extension has now posted the spring courses on their website and you can register for them. See the new tinyurl I posted for each of my spring courses.

UC Berkeley Extension, Thursday Evenings, Feb. 13-27, March 6-13 and 27

Course: “Life Science Product Marketing: It’s All in the Plan”

Applies for credit toward Professional Program in Life Sciences Business (see flyer at

Instructor: Audrey S. Erbes, Ph.D., Principal, Erbes & Associates and

Guest Speakers:

  • Deb Donovan, Director of Marketing at Avantis Medical Systems
  • Stanley Skrzypczak, M.S., M.B.A., Senior Director, Commercial Development, Genomic Health
  • Charles Versaggi, President, Versaggi Biocommunications
  • Steven Wong, Senior Consultant, Plan A

Dates and Time: Thursdays, Feb. 13-27, March 6-13 and 27; 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Location: Downtown University of California, Berkeley Extension, 425 Market St., 8th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105

Cost: (Fee to be announced in December 2013—$695 in 2013) Course identifier is BUS ADM X442.5.

See more details and register at

Find all the details for these upcoming events plus those through June 2014 in Audreys Picks Jan 6. You can also download the pdf ofJobsThatCrossedMyDeskThroughJan6 along with Audrey’s Picks by downloading the attachments. This latter list includes jobs I discovered the past week as well as the previous two weeks. I typically look at job sites and recent jobs in California companies listed in the past 3 weeks but in the case of this report extend back to earlier listings in December prior to the holidays. Note that there are many job sources—my list is not complete.

You can always find my weekly blog and listings on my website  Click Link to Blog to take you to WordPress location of blog.



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