2014 Speaker Interview – Patrick Yang

An interview with Patrick Yang, Ph.D., Retired EVP and Global Head, Technical Operations, Genentech; Currently Board of Directors, Tesoro Corporation

1. What does it take to build high performance teams?

A high performance team is a winning team, not a team of winners. To build a high performance team, first you must select the right members, make sure they understand, respect and trust one another. Make sure they have the right leadership skills and experience which complement one another. Together the team must share the same vision and values to focus on right priority and work with one another to execute the shared plan. You share the vision, the work, the learning, the rewards, and then you celebrate together.

2. What defines a great manager and leader in biotechnology?

  •  Great managers in biotech must have the wisdom and knowledge of seeing what’s around the corner and be able to connect the dots and anticipate the changes emerging in the horizon. In addition to this, great managers will:Hire the best and view the success of their direct reports as a top priority.
  •  Set business context, clear expectations and priorities for their direct reports, which enable them to succeed and excel.
  • Continuously provide and seek candid feedback and provide effective coaching and development.

3. What can companies do to drive innovation and keep manufacturing strong?

To drive innovation, you have to lead more than drive, and focus on more than just the innovation itself. The leaders in the company must be inspiring, innovative and collaborative and must operate with absolute integrity and have the conviction that quality must be engrained throughout the organization. They must know how to shape the vision, develop realistic plans and execute them. After all, innovation without the ability to execute will be just a pipe dream.

4. How can we as an industry ensure the next decade of prosperity in biotechnology?

We must have the conviction and the will power that we want and will make a difference for the patients and the world. Vertically we must continue to innovate, develop new technology and launch new medicines. Horizontally, we must continue to expand into regions and areas where patients currently have no or little access to our innovation, so they can can get the benefits from our innovation – not just the wealthy countries.

5. Reviewing your experience with teams, what advice would you give to a younger you?

I’d borrow what Steve Job said to Stanford graduates, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” And I will add to them work hard, be fit and be lucky. The harder you work, the luckier you will be.

6. What can companies do to future proof technologies and maximize value for the future?

It will be the mindset of the company that will matter in this topic. Companies can learn their lessons from Cordoba, Spain and Kaifeng, China. These two cities were the most prosperous capitals of the world about 1,000 years ago. Look what they have become today. If you think you are on the top of the world and you know everything – Think again. Arrogance and lacking open mind will bring you down from the pinnacles. To future proof, keep learning, embrace diversity, stay hungry and remain paranoid.