When the Alliance Manager Is the CEO
Disparities in Seniority Between Point People in an Alliance Can Create Issues. Here’s How to Resolve Them By John Buckingham, CSAP
In today’s complex matchups of large and small companies, an alliance manager may be called upon to muster every available relationship skill in order to successfully pull off one of the hardest roles of a career: dealing with a partnership in which the alliance manager’s (AM’s) counterpart is a C-level or senior executive (CEO, CFO, or other senior role). A recent thought-provoking panel of senior executives at ASAP’s BioPharma Conference in New Brunswick, N.J., tackled the thorny issues this increasingly commonplace situation involves. We then called upon a thought leader outside of the biopharma realm to shed some light on the IT industry and its perspective on these situations, which are becoming more frequent in tech circles as well.
Are You Prepared? We found that the subject is increasingly relevant to ASAP members in that many of us have landed suddenly in one of the following three categories: 1. Your AM counterpart in a partnership is a C-level executive. 2. You are called on to coach your own company’s C-level executive on how best to manage a relationship for which he/she is the AM. 3. You are the C-level executive who takes on such AM responsibility. In these types of challenging situations, alliance leaders have to find their footing fast. The following insights, gleaned from senior-level veteran biopharma and IT industry alliance management experts, help summarize the main concerns, issues, and potential challenges facing a senior executive who has the AM role for one or more relationships, particularly when the AM for the partner company is at a significantly lower organizational level. When faced with this same situation in the future, will you be prepared? Quarter 3, 2011
Grinding Gears: Switching Between Strategic and Tactical The appropriate role and behaviors of a senior executive who works with an alliance manager in his/her own company to manage the partner relationship and achieve alliance goals are probably very familiar to most alliance managers. However, when a senior executive also serves in the role of the direct alliance manager, he/ she also acts as the day-to-day alliance manager. And when his/ her counterpart is at a significantly lower organizational level, the senior executive can find some interesting challenges ahead.
You need to work with whoever is assigned to be the point person, but you should also have multiple points of contact between companies. The panel was asked about this gear-switching challenge, as all of them had been senior executives acting as the alliance manager, or primary liaison, for their company with another organization in some form of collaboration. Asked how they found a relationship works if there is a significant disparity between the level of executive in their organization and that of the point person assigned 31
Non ASAP Member Limited Edition, Q3, 2011