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Philly Life Sciences Executive Exchange Recap

Our Philly Executive Exchange community recently came together for a great discussion on 2013 life sciences trends.  We were joined by 12 industry executives from a diverse set of life sciences companies – we had leaders representing emerging businesses as well as some of the largest, most well established firms in the industry.  While we covered a great deal of ground around the keys topics facing the industry, the conversation concentrated around three key areas: business strategy, global expansion and its impact on Quality and Supply Chain.

David Maister’s book title “Strategy & the Fat Smoker” summarizes much of our discussion around business strategy – knowing what to do isn’t the problem (e.g. lose weight, stop smoking), it’s the execution where things “break down.”  The group shared that while their firms had well established and thorough strategies for growth, their operations had become much more difficult due to ancillary activities brought on by acquisition of companies or products.  While these acquisitions brought increased sales and entry into a new market, they introduced regulatory complexity, added new suppliers and contractors and challenged the capacity of existing operations.

This of course led to the larger topic of global expansion and entry into emerging markets.  Everyone shared their thoughts and experiences with moving into new markets where their companies had limited experience.  We debated the short-term versus long-term strategies of local partnering versus establishing new operations.  Understanding local regulations, regulatory bodies and governments continue to be a steep learning curve for organizations, and determining the best approach to gain favor with local governments is critical.  Ultimately, the group pointed back to the initial conversation around business strategy, reinforcing that it should be the driver for these key expansion decisions.

We wrapped up with a healthy discussion on supply chain, and specifically on the topic of partnering with contract manufacturing organizations (CMO) and third party logistics providers (3PL).  Beyond just aligning these supply chain decisions with business strategy, many felt that the “true cost of quality” should receive a stronger consideration. Maintaining compliance and oversight can be costly when running an operation; many in the room shared that these costs were often overlooked in supply chain outsourcing decisions.

Clarkston appreciates the opportunity to host a great community of life sciences leaders in Philly for our Executive Exchanges.  If you are interested in joining the discussions, please send an email to