This year, I had the opportunity to fly across the globe from New Zealand to Cambridge, UK to be inspired by amazing biotech leaders, connect with others that have similar passions, engage in thought-provoking discussions and experience the University of Cambridge. This was through the 2018 GapSummit hosted by the Global Biotech Revolution.
GapSummit 2018 is “the first global and intergenerational leadership summit in biotechnology”. With the aim to “Challenge, Grow and Connect”, GBR brings together 100 ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’ from around the world and ‘Leaders of Today’ in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry to tackle the gaps in the industry, focusing on 7 gaps: R&D Productivity, Digital Healthcare & Personalised Medicine, Sustainability, Drug Affordability, Young Entrepreneurs, Road from Academia to Industry, and Funding.
These are three takeaway lessons amongst the many lessons that I learnt in the few days that I was there:
Importance of Networks
Networking with others in the industry, companies and other institutions have helped me gain an awareness and see the bigger picture in the biotechnology industry. It is impossible for us to learn or know everything ourselves, so it is important to have a network of peers and leaders that you can gain advice from and rely on. Having a strong network also improves ability to seek opportunities and resources that can help us. Start building a network now and empower others.
Dr. Paul Stoffels, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson, wowed the audience with his humble leadership advice gathered from years of experiences being in leadership positions. “You take the risk, I take the blame” is the way that Dr. Stoffels encourages his team to take ownership of their tasks and be comfortable in knowing that they are allowed to fail. “We fail all the time- if we don’t let employees fail, then they can never learn from it.”. Often the fastest way we learn is to fail, so be bold in making calculated risks and learn from the mistakes quickly.
Every entrepreneur embarks on a journey that is fraught with risk, doubt and scepticism, and it is a path that requires overcoming fears and challenges and converting self-doubt to self-belief. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon Limited, also listed the ‘World’s 25 Most Influential People in Biopharma’, advices aspiring entrepreneurs on a few lessons. Kiran described entrepreneurship as an endurance test and said firm belief and purpose in your idea is the first step to endure the obstacles and skepticism. Next, to prove you’re able to create value and build scale is critical to ensure business sustainability and business impact. Lastly, it is important to pursue differentiation as an underlying strategy and constantly reassess to stay relevant in the market.
I have gained invaluable insights and networks through this opportunity to attend the GapSummit and hope that some of these learnings will empower you all.
I would also like to thank Chiasma for the financial support.