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R&D Leadership Development in Today’s Environment

Understanding the business of science


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R&D leaders need a deep understanding across several specific business areas, including:

  • Business development, which involves building and acquiring new drug pipelines
  • Research and clinical development, including moving drugs through multiple developmental and regulatory processes to receive approval
  • Operations, which involves containing costs by becoming more efficient while improving overall quality

In addition, they must be able to understand market dynamics, make sound portfolio decisions, and invest in areas that will provide a significant return on investment. But R&D leadership today requires something even more important than business skills and competencies. Leaders need to be able to think strategically to understand the  organization's overall strategic direction as well as to help chart it. The goal of balancing science and business is not to simply fit decisions into the larger picture, but to actually help paint that picture.

This is often new terrain for those whose day-to-day activities tend to revolve around science. A human resource executive from a global pharmaceutical company, who was interviewed by Deloitte, reported that scientists who have moved into management positions often struggle with “broader strategic thinking around business opportunities in a disease area, and the market realities of pursuing a particular program.”

But in today's business environment, life sciences organizations cannot hope to prosper unless R&D leaders step up to this larger role. The R&D leaders themselves have as much at stake as their organizations, because their ability to develop new, life-saving drugs will hinge directly on their ability to make such research possible.

Business leadership also requires the ability to show others the larger strategic vision. It is not enough for R&D leaders to understand the business imperatives of what they do. They must be able to convey those imperatives to their R&D staff, and keep them focused and engaged.

To read more, download the PDF attachment below.

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