Tell us briefly about your journey to become the CEO of CSL?
I am surprised as anyone to lead CSL! It was not a journey that I sought out. A series of learning experiences and unexpected opportunities led me to where I am today.
I started in sales but also have experience in operations, marketing, training and finance.
If I had to sum up the moments that catalyzed my career, it was those when I learned from my mistakes and when I said “yes” to taking on additional responsibilities.
Tell me about your company’s culture? Why is it so important to you?
Our 101-year track record would not have been possible without patients at the center of everything we do. Because CSL was created to serve the needs of people and because of the critical nature of our medicines, we right from the start innately understood the importance of serving patients. In fact, one of our core Values is Patient Focus. I like to think of CSL as an organization that does well and does good.
We believe when we focus on patients and meet their needs, business success follows.One exampleof this is when patient input helped us deliver the first concentrated sub-cutaneous immunoglobulin, which revolutionized treatment for people with primary immunodeficiency disease. This allowed patients to not only to self-administer, but to do so according to their schedule at a time that was convenient for them. This new convenience compared to having to travel to an infusion center or scheduling an appointment with a homecare practitioner.
How do you see CSL changing individuals’ lives? Positive stories?
A great example of the patients CSL is helping with the sub-cutaneous immunoglobulin that I described above is a young lady named Yesli from Chile. She spent years traveling to the hospital one to two days each month to be infused with immunoglobulin until the hospital gave her our medicine, which allowed her to administer at home instead. You can read about her here. This is just one example of the stories we hear regularly from people who are benefitting from our biotherapeutics.
Having nearly 20,000 employees in over 30 countriesaround the globe must be a major leadership challenge. What advice do you have for startups that have 10 employees, and how they can one day effectively lead thousands?
Regardless of the size of your organization and what it does, people are your most valuable asset. Your growth and success depends on people whom you can trust to do the right thing and who will constantly innovate. You need leaders who can also manage people. There are great leaders out there who are not very good at managing people. My advice is to identify leaders who know how to both inspire and manage people, and hire people at all levels who are passionate about what you’re there to do.
For all of our startups who are now leading companies, what makes a great CEO?
One of the most important contributions you can make to the company as CEO is focus. For us at CSL, our number one focus is the patient who will benefit from our medicines and everything else follows, including the share price and the financials. Consistently do the right things for your most important customer and people will believe in your strategy, then the scoreboard will show the result.
What recommendations do you have to CEO’s to stay sharp?
You’ve got to show up, be present, ask questions, listen and express appreciation for everyone involved in your business. Be visible and engage with your employees and your customers. I do a lot of management by walking around and talking with people – I don’t know everything and just sitting in my office and thinking would be a mistake. Looking for better ways to do things, and engaging employees at all levels is a constant endeavor.
I spend a significant amount of time on the road. I routinely tour offices to meet new employees, I join sales calls with our reps, and participate in employee volunteer efforts. One of the best parts of my job is meeting our patients in person or receiving letters from them months, even years, later.
How do you define success? Personally and professionally.
For me, success is when your profession fits into your personal life in a way that works for you. This isn’t always easy to achieve. I have a wonderful family, and the time away from them can be challenging. Wherever possible I try to include them in what I do. I’ve enjoyed introducing my wife and kids to the patients whom CSL helps. It doesn’t make up for the lost time, but it does help them see why I’m driven to work the way I do.