Transitioning Into the CMO Role: Tips From a Life Sciences Executive Search Consultant
In the life sciences industry, transitioning into the CMO role at a biotech company is an exciting career milestone, and one that is often glamourised (Harrison, 2021). For biopharmaceutical companies, the role is crucial, and may mean the difference between success and failure. In an industry with candidates abound but top talent in short supply, there are a few things to consider that can help transform a good CMO candidate into an exceptional one, paint a clearer picture of what the CMO role really entails, and ultimately bring prosperity to a biotech startup.
Most candidates seeking a CMO role at a biotech company understand they will be in a more dynamic position that will require strategic scientific innovation and agile decision-making when it comes to developing a therapeutic to bring to the clinic. However, many do not anticipate that they will need skills to navigate other challenges that arise in new biotech companies, which may not seem directly attributed to the CMO role.
The candidate should grasp that transitioning into the CMO role – especially if making the move from a big pharmaceutical company where role duties are clearly designated – means that turbulence is to be expected. Reliable standard operating procedures (SOPs) may not exist, which will require resiliency and innovation (Harrison, 2021). Job description and pecking order may be less clearly defined, and the ability to work collaboratively with the entire team will make the experience a more smooth and satisfying one. In the interview process, it’s important to get a feel for other executive leaders’ ability and willingness to work collaboratively as well. There should be a clear feeling of mutual respect, trust, and shared vision and values (Harrison, 2021).
In the CMO role, the somewhat paradoxical nature of business and financial, and moral and ethic obligations collide. Being able to gracefully navigate both is one of the essential, nuanced skills of an exceptional CMO (Harrison, 2021). Medical ethics are of paramount importance when developing a new drug to uphold a standing reputation and successfully run clinical trials. Cultivating open and trusting relationships with investors and the company board is also essential, and should all be worked out during the onboarding process.
Retaining a life sciences recruitment agency will be invaluable. The CMO has the responsibility of envisioning growth and development as the company moves from early stage clinical development to clinical trials and marketing. Anticipating the need for new job roles and departments in the company, and understanding how partnerships and M&A activity will influence the need for added talent is imperative. Time is of the essence and an excellent CMO will be planning for the future from day one.
Lastly, the excitement of moving into the world of biotech from a previously more stable role in a big pharma company or in healthcare means being open to a new career mindset (Harrison, 2021). Embracing the ups and downs of company fate, frequent career changes, and even failure will help the transitioning CMO stay open-minded and excited on their career path.
If you’re interested in learning about how G&E Partners Talent Management Agency can help find your next exceptional CMO, please get in touch with one of our expert life sciences consultants.
Harrison, R. (1 February 2021). Are you ready for the chief medical officer role at a biotech? Life Science Leader. https://www.lifescienceleader.com/doc/are-you-ready-for-the-chief-medical-officer-role-at-a-biotech-0001