The value of a pharmaceutical physician as a Non-Executive Director 22 Mar 2022
Non-Executive Directors play an integral role for any organisation, not least within the life science space where leadership often needs to draw on a broad range of strategic and tactical expertise to drive the business forward. This importance holds especially true for smaller firms such as biotech start-ups and academic spinouts for whom additional skillsets and knowledge can provide a strategic edge.
In this short Q&A article, we interview PharmaMedic Managing Director Dr Malcolm Barratt-Johnson about the value that a pharmaceutical physician delivers in the role of NED.
What does a Non-Executive Director do?
A Non-Executive Director (NED) acts as an advisor to the company, with some degree of directorial responsibility and legal duties and obligations to the company’s shareholders and the owners of the company. However, NEDs typically aren’t involved with the detail of day-to-day operational decisions such as hiring and firing. Instead, they act as an external sounding board to advise the management team on critical areas. Importantly, there is no set number of NEDs or specific tasks they need to undertake. It will depend very much on the expertise that the individual company wishes to bring in at any given point. NEDs can represent an extremely valuable additional resource for any life science organisation, and especially for smaller biotechs and academic spinouts. Often, NEDs are sought by these organisations at a critical moment or milestone in the company’s journey, such as before an investment round, allowing the board to bring on new ideas or bolster capabilities.
What value does a pharmaceutical physician add to the team?
As pharmaceutical medicine professionals, we can add substantial value in the NED roles, supplementing expertise where there is limited in-house medical capability. For start-ups who haven’t yet embarked on commercialisation, we can support by helping to understand how a medical department might work in practice, before they take the plunge to bring a formal medical group on board. Other scenarios include bringing in expertise in an unfamiliar therapeutic area or perhaps building knowledge about the regulatory and healthcare landscape in a new geographic area. NEDs can also provide an element of perspective and seasoned ‘common sense’ borne of decades within the industry to help start-ups move to the next phase in their development.
How does being an NED benefit a consultant themselves?
Being an NED can form a valuable part of a portfolio career for a consultant, allowing you to apply your experiences and insights to significantly benefit an organisation.
The experience can also open up new networks and perspectives – sometimes working in areas you may not have been directly involved with before. However, it’s not always straightforward to gain your first NED role, and it can sometimes seem like a ‘closed shop’. Improving diversity in access to NED positions could undoubtedly improve the way we work in the future.
To learn more about being a PharmaMedic consultant, or to discuss a project please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org