Question: whalen j 2005 oct 17 theory amp practice chance turns...
Whalen, J. (2005, Oct 17). Theory & practice: Chance turns a teacher into a CEO; religion lecturer leaves academic path and learns to run a biotech start-up. Wall Street Journal. After reading this article, prepare a 1-2 page essay that addresses the following questions: What do you think would be the biggest limitations for an academic moving into the CEO position of an entrepreneurial firm? Why did Ms. Drakeman need to learn to delegate if she wanted her company to grow? What were several of the things Ms. Drakeman did right in transition from an academic career to her CEO role? Make sure you cite any referenced resources correctly and appropriately: How to cite using APA Full Text TranslateFull text London --
LISA DRAKEMAN WAS teaching religion at Princeton University in 1990 when her husband asked her to pitch in at a biotechnology company he had recently founded. Fifteen years later, she's running a company of her own, Genmab AS of Denmark, a spinoff of her husband's company. Ms. Drakeman's transition from academic to executive forced her to learn new skills, such as quick decision-making, inspiring colleagues and delegating responsibility, all while immersed in a foreign culture. Along the way, the 51-year-old mother of two also learned something about herself. "I was as surprised as anyone that I liked being CEO," she says. The path from campus to corporation is not unheard of, particularly in the research-intensive drug industry. Swiss drug giant Novartis AG, for example, hired a former Harvard genetics professor to run its research and development labs a few years ago. The upside: Academics bring "intellectual bandwidth and an intellectual approach," says Philippa Shimman, a head-hunter in London for Russell Reynolds Associates. But Ms. Shimman says professors typically lack "practical management skills and the depth of implementation experience" needed in risky, competitive markets. That was all true of Ms. Drakeman when she started her accidental business career. An undergraduate major in history and religion, she later earned a master's degree in American history, and then a doctorate in religion. In 1989, she took a job as a lecturer in Princeton's religion department, hoping to become a professor. Her husband interrupted those plans when he asked for help with his biotech start-up, Medarex Inc., based in Princeton, N.J. Medarex aimed to develop antibody-based medicines for cancer, inflammation and infectious disease. At the time, Medarex had only three other employees, so Ms. Drakeman, nominally working part time, took on all the odd jobs. "I liked the pace, liked that there was always something new to learn," she says. When Medarex needed a new manufacturing facility in New Hampshire, she hired engineers to accompany her on tours of potential factories. At one point, confused by some of their technical jargon, she asked the engineers to draw a typical "clean room," where contaminants such as dust are kept at extremely low levels for ultrapure manufacturing. "I carried those little pictures around for quite a while," Ms. Drakeman says. When it came time to outfit the plant, Ms. Drakeman paged through catalogs with Medarex scientists. "I think the key to surviving this situation was to be willing to ask any question . . . and not to worry about seeming stupid," she says. Within two years, she had quit her Princeton job and started working full time for Medarex, eventually heading business development. When Medarex sought to spin off some of its technology into a separate firm in 1998, it found venture capitalists in Denmark. Ms. Drakeman helped to develop the business plans but figured the venture capitalists would recruit a Danish chief executive. Instead, they asked her to take the job. Genmab also aims to make antibody-based drugs, focusing on treatments for cancer, infectious diseases and rheumatoid arthritis. When she arrived, the company had just 25 employees, but it grew to 200 within a few years. Ms. Drakeman found herself confronting new management challenges. Early on, she had a hard time delegating to others. She attended numerous meetings and interviewed every job candidate herself. "I realized this had to change for me if I wanted the company to grow, but it was hard to step back and stop reading every draft of the clinical-trial designs," she says. Ultimately, she asked the chief operating officer to look after the details of products and clinical trials, and she started skipping some meetings and candidate interviews. She unabashedly copied management techniques from bigger pharmaceutical companies. While negotiating a partnership with Roche Holding AG in 2001, Ms. Drakeman grew to admire Roche's flexible organizational structure, which assembled and reassembled employees for various projects. She adopted a similar approach at Genmab. Genmab, which is still investing heavily in development of new drugs, reported a net loss of 414 million Danish kroner ($67 million) last year, on revenue of just 4.1 million kroner. Nonetheless, Ms. Drakeman led the company through a public offering on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange in 2000. So far this year, the company's shares have risen 14% to 113.5 kroner. Much of Genmab's fate is riding on an experimental drug for a cancer of the immune system. Last month, Ms. Drakeman struck a deal to develop the drug jointly with larger Swiss biotech company, Serono SA. The two companies will work together to finish clinical trials of the drug, giving Genmab and Ms. Drakeman another opportunity to learn from a more experienced rival. Beyond learning management skills, Ms. Drakeman also had to bridge cultural gaps with her Danish employees. In one early incident, she was surprised by executives who sought to fire an employee who didn't get along well with others. She had expected to move more slowly, documenting the employee's shortcomings in written evaluations. But she ultimately bowed to her European colleagues and agreed to fire the person. Ms. Drakeman also noticed that some Europeans typically aren't as willing to speak up in meetings. So she now makes a point of calling on colleagues directly for their opinion. When managers are preparing to speak publicly about the company, Ms. Drakeman stages mock presentations in front of Genmab employees, who are instructed to ask tough questions. But Ms. Drakeman says she's also benefiting from one European trait: patient investing. "They expect that when they make an investment in Denmark you need time to build your business. That's very good for biotech," which can take up to a decade to develop a drug and bring it to market, she says. --- Theory & Practice is a weekly look at people and ideas influencing managers --- Lessons Learned Lisa Drakeman's management tips -- Don't try to master every detail. Learn to delegate. -- Don't be afraid to look stupid by asking basic questions. -- Study other companies you admire for tips on how to structure your business. -- Get employees to speak their minds by directly asking for their opinions. -- Starting in a small company helps you learn many different business disciplines quickly. -- Find a good mentor to emulate.