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Mucking in

Master of Growth winner

Deriving sustainable global growth from humble Kiwi beginnings

Dr John Chang founded life sciences company, Auckland BioSciences, in 2014 after purchasing the assets of a failed serum manufacturing business. With no customers or prior experience processing animal byproducts or manufacturing serum, John’s readiness to ‘have a go’ and take risks has seen Auckland BioSciences expand from a startup operating out of a shipping container office, to an industry-leading exporter of serum products to 17 markets across the globe. It’s this rapid but sustained growth that has taken Auckland BioSciences to unparalleled heights, placing the company at the top of this year’s Master of Growth index.

Auckland BioSciences transform animal waste into high value serum-based products used in the production of vaccines, therapeutics and pharmaceuticals all over the world. While operating in a long-established and mature industry with multibillion dollar competitors, John says that it’s Auckland BioSciences’ “Kiwi-ness” that sets them apart. “This industry is competitive, and you can go around the world using all manner of incentives to close a deal, but when we show up, it’s all based on a handshake.” John ascribes this confidence in their product to New Zealand’s trusted global reputation alongside his team’s commitment to doing the basics well and delivering what they say they will.

John speaks about his team with passion. “Without a second thought, I’d attribute our success as a business to their efforts.” But beyond hiring, developing and nurturing “super smart people,” Auckland BioSciences is fostering a culture of learning and receptiveness. “We debate ideas openly in a safe environment without fear,” says John, underscoring their willingness to continuously challenge the status quo. Business improvement and progress is often gradual and incremental, not always revealed in big, flashy ways. “It’s in the small moments of creativity, that moment when a good idea is sparked. Those ideas are what moves the dial, and they can come from anybody.”

This industry is competitive, and you can go around the world using all manner of incentives to close a deal, but when we show up, it’s all based on a handshake.

– Dr. John Chang, Managing Director, Auckland BioSciences

While Auckland BioSciences has enjoyed fast growth, it hasn’t always been plain sailing. “When scaling up, growing pains abound,” says John, citing the pandemic-interrupted years as a test that saw freight costs soar, wages climb and travel cease. “For a small, isolated producer from New Zealand, it hasn’t been easy but that’s where our relationships have been tested and our worth has been proven,” reflects John.

The other big challenge facing Auckland BioSciences has been talent, and more specifically, finding the right talent has been one of the greatest hurdles to clear. “It’s not just about finding talent; it’s finding the people with the attitude that is befitting to our culture of doing things.” John and wife Suzana, Auckland BioSciences Director, have built a “mucking in” philosophy into the company’s vision and mission. It’s their “secret sauce,” their lightning in a bottle. “My wife and I wanted to test something. What if you bring in a whole bunch of smart people with the right attitude? What can we achieve?” The answer is a highly engaged and driven team, boldly taking on some immense challenges.

Auckland BioSciences’ senior management team wear multiple hats across operations, logistics, general management, and sales. That means Group General Manager, Daniel Maxwell, and General Manager, Joshua Chang, are tasked with travelling to all corners of the globe, meeting with heavyweights like global directors of procurement in large multinational pharmaceutical companies. “It’s a fantastic thing to watch these young leaders hold their ground, going toe to toe with these heavy hitters,” says John with pride. The company is committed to developing the next generation, creating opportunities for them to flourish and make an impact in their own way. It’s yet another enduring strength for Auckland BioSciences who are on a path for further growth.

With a driven team, next generation leaders making their mark, and an industry-leading product, the future is looking bright. “We have audacious dreams. We’ll keep looking for new opportunities. Anything is possible if you dream and work hard enough.”

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