Thursday, February 15, 2018

Three things I've learned as a new CEO

1. The first month is key
As much as it flew by in real time, when I reflect back on it, January 2017 was a pivotal 31 days in my time as CEO. Luckily for me, January brought with it our annual managers’ Summit and with it an opportunity to address 300 senior leaders in our business, to set out my vision for the future of the company and to listen to their input. This enabled me to begin to reassure and energize the organization after a challenging 2016 and to focus minds on the task at hand.

Of course we are not always fortunate enough to have a captive audience of key stakeholders sat in front of us, but the principle still stands - making a purposeful start is invaluable either as a new manager or when kicking off a new project.

2. Do a few things well

Prioritizing isn't always easy. But it is essential if you want to make an impact that is appreciated by colleagues and the customers who rely on you. For my part, I've had two main focuses. I've called on our organization to refine our R&D strategy and I've called for the sharpening of our commercial execution.

The former means that in the longer-term, we will be aiming to achieve higher levels of scientific innovation in our products - an essential in today's competitive payer environment. We have also broadened our work to encompass diseases beyond our traditional specialism of diabetes – diseases like obesity, NASH, CV and kidney disease.

The latter means articulating the value that our products bring better than ever before. There is a particular need for this for our GLP-1 and next generation insulins - products that we know bring truly meaningful benefits for people living with diabetes but that face multiple barriers to access.

Of course we have broader goals, the development of our digital health offering and the revamping of our biopharm unit to name just two - but I want our research organization and commercial operations to be key components in the sustained future success of the organization. These are our big bets.

3. Get out and meet people

I've spent a lot of time these past 12 months getting out and meeting my colleagues and our customers. Sometimes this simply means taking the time to have lunch down in the canteen, as opposed to the frequent lunch meetings in the life of a CEO. On other occasions it has meant days spent out and about meeting people who use our products or who are in the need of care. Getting out and about has also enabled me to listen to colleagues and to gauge the mood of the organisation. If, like me, you're lucky enough to be invited to present to colleagues now and again, be sure to make time for questions and answers. And don't be afraid to expose yourself to questions from all of your stakeholders. Great solutions so often begin with dialogue so encourage it rather than suppress it.

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