A lot of people make news in the biopharma business. Few of them are influential.
Influence, simply put, is the ability to make your mark in such a way as to get other prominent people in this business to rethink the way they do business. Last year, that definition caused us to put GlaxoSmithKline’s ($GSK) Deirdre Connelly on the list for her plan to do away with sales quotas in the U.S. The influential idea then was that ethics had to come before numbers–a big issue at a company that has been challenged time and again by an unethical approach to business that spurred a series of sordid messes and a second take at a painful reorganization.
But influence can have a short shelf life.
Right now, Connelly is no longer employed at GSK, and more than a few analysts say that it’s the new sales plan–followed by some dismal numbers on new products–that prompted her departure. Perhaps she should be back on the list this year, for being influential in demonstrating where the real focus was all along on the sales side of GSK.
The people on this year’s list of influentials are doing everything from helping change the metrics on R&D performance, crusading new technologies and redefining biotech in a boom, to trying to forge a new definition for Big Pharma–still a hot topic after many of the old definitions failed to generate real growth.
Over the years, we’ve seen many high-profile individuals adopt a selfless motivation for what drives them. It’s all about patients, they’ll say. Or honesty. Or putting staffers first. And no doubt sometimes that’s true. The truly influential, though, never lose sight of the fact that in order to make a lasting impact on this business, you have to force it to change in some fundamental way. Or get people to look your way while you give it a try.