Naji: Hello, leaders of the world. Welcome to spread love in organizations, the podcast for purpose-driven healthcare leaders, striving to make life better around the world by leading their teams with genuine care, servant leadership, and love.
I’m Naji and in this episode, get ready to have your mind challenged with what social impact really means. We’ll dive in a leader’s passion that became now his company’s purpose to build a better word. Angel Perez is founder and managing partner at transcendent, a business impact consulting firm. He has an extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry, leading commercial organizations as a general manager and marketing leader before founding his company. He served as the senior director marketing capabilities, commercial operations and AI, heading different transformations, including marketing automation and creating closer collaborations with startups and public bodies. Angel was named one of the 2015 internationalists of the year by the internationalists. He lives now in Spain. And I’m just super excited to have you Angel with me today and so much looking forward for our conversation.
Angel Perez: My pleasure, Nancy. Thanks for having me here.
Naji: So I help between all these, you know, lines of your career, the great success that you had, both in pharma and now actually starting a business and growing business.
Can you tell us a little bit about your story? What, what got you into healthcare and now even a broader impact, uh, in the world?
Angel Perez: Sure. Thanks a lot. Um, well I guess that my, my journey within business, I. Had degree economics. I had an MBA at Chester business school and straight from that, I joined MI Eli Lilly, uh, fantastic company to grow, uh, as an individual.
And luckily in my case, as a leader, uh, having marketing a sales experience in Spain, I very quickly been promoted into opportunity and challenges. Uh, I think that I’ve been extremely blessed by the people, uh, leading or having ahead of me. Um, My career with inform and Lilly went quickly, uh, being a managing director in Denmark.
Uh, well, we might talk about this later, but most probably not being ready, uh, to perform at the age of 34 leading a country. Uh, but with plenty of people around who wanted to help and, and we were lucky in some cases and also through hard. To, to manage, to, to achieve the performance that was respected and then getting into regional positions, uh, with the need of leveraging different skills to lead or to make things happen.
And we can double click into that later as well. Um, I was having a fantastic, um, multinational C career path. And, and quickly while something happened in, in 2014. And for me, that was my aha moment. Um, we were with a group of marketers, uh, of, uh, between Australia, Canada, and Europe, uh, spending a few days in London, uh, visiting companies, trying to open our minds on the commercial side.
And how could things be done differently within, in pharma, uh, with the program organized by wavelength and well, the last visit, uh, on that trip. Was, uh, to a creative agency called Liberty based in Briston, in, in London. Um, and that company was the first time I, I came across a social enterprise. Very, um, well profitable company, but at the same time, with a huge effort on helping kids and adolescents within the neighborhood to go back to the proper path on education and going to school or university and using their insights even to, to have to win context and doing basically pitches on their, on their business.
And, and despite being in pharma and knowing that within pharma already, we were making an impact for me, that was the big aha moment, what I consider, uh, doing something else and, and not only pharma, um, coming back to Spain, uh, I, I, I very often say that that trigger curiosity, uh, for the first time, So when I came back to Spain, um, I started to know to try to know more about the, the social enterprise ecosystem in Spain.
Um, luckily thanks to the leadership in the Spanish affiliate and in the region we managed to put together the first program in Spain to support social entrepreneurs in health, uh, called them branding health, which is up. And, and this is this fifth year running in Spain. Um, well, and, and that was not enough.
And then, well, the, the big moment in my career was in 2017 when the, the decision, uh, thanks to the support of my wife was to leave almost 20 years successful career in Lilly and, and put together transcendent, which as you said, is a, is a consulting film, helping companies to leverage impact the, uh, as a, as, as a, as a platform to improve performance.
Um, Four years ago, uh, corporate social responsibility was. Somehow, um, knowledge, uh, but nothing about impact, not even ESG. Um, well, those topics that today, uh, we can, uh, know and, and, and are wider know than, than before, uh, were not concepts. Um, so, so much used in, in, in management as such. Uh, but the reality is that.
But maybe, uh, unfortunately due to COVID, but the reality is that today we are, um, growing, as you said, a company, a small service firm, helping businesses to do better and to improve their top line through impact. Uh, and that is what is driving basically when, what, what I found as my, why, uh, after being, uh, many years in pharma.
And now, now here,
Naji: Wow. Yeah. That that’s amazing. You know, how, how you’re defining your why and how you’re helping. Obviously companies get into performance through impact be before. And I want us to discuss about, you know, you talked about CSR impact. You’re seeing this trend of companies changing now finally, into getting into social impact rather than, uh, just respond to.
As we had it. Um, but before that you talked about being very early on 34 years, I think you said taking a leadership position, uh, having to drive as a general manager in Denmark, I think at that time, you know, your teams, your business, uh, tell us a little bit more about this as we were seeing more and more leaders getting into leadership position early in their career, even earlier, uh, sometimes.
And what, what are your learnings or. Words that you would tell them, uh, from what you got.
Angel Perez: I, I, I usually get the feeling that I, I had some experiences too early in my life and I didn’t make the most out of them. And this is probably one, but at the same time, something that is, I, I, another topic that I always consider, or I I’m usually quite optimistic.
And I see the, the, the last half a full always, I was. Clearly not at my best to deal, uh, with the situation in Denmark, but I was blessed and lucky with the people I had around. Uh, there was a, a leadership team in Denmark already up and running, and that helped a lot. And I was, and, and this is just not by chance, probably the, among the very good leaders I had within my career in Lilly.
If, if I come pick just one, I would pick Patrick Johnson. Um, who was the, the leader of the Scandinavian cluster on those days and was my boss. And he’s for me, the, the clear role model on how to balance, uh, being strong with operations and management and smart and soft and close to people, uh, on the, on the people’s side.
Uh, and I learned a hell of a lot looking at team, um, competencies when you are a young leader. Well, I think that the ones I’m going to name are. Maybe especially important when you are young, but probably are the ones that I try to still use these days when I’m not that young. Um, I, I think that trying to be humble when you don’t know things, um, has been useful and powerful in my case, um, I think that cultivating empathy, eh, when you’re talking with people is key, especially when you don’t know about your business yet.
Um, I was lucky or, or blessed us again, uh, to attend plenty of training courses, but there is one that I, I use and I still use very often, uh, related with a book, the mood and with a, a single line that I keep very close. In fact, I have it in my, in my, in my office. Um, be here now, uh, when you are talking with someone you have to be, or that person has to be the most.
Important personally in the world when you’re talking with him or her. Um, and, and then the other two, that again is not only when you’re young, I guess that probably they are forever is if you are able to lead by example, most probably people will be following you. Um, clearly when I was 34 or 35, I was not able to articulate this the way I have said it now, but probably those were the things that at that point with a mix of intuition and, and knowledge were the ones that allowed me together with many people around to be somehow successful.
Naji: Yeah. This is so powerful, really. So, so powerful. Insights. And you know, many times I say you set it combining two things that for me are, are really crucial for, for leaders. I, I usually say love and discipline, right? Like this is, this is what makes leaders successful and, and you shared it. So you, you then led throughout different countries.
You led globally Canada, Europe in moment of transformations, as you said, in marketing and. Anything from a leadership learning, you know, as you went there and didn’t, cross-function cross operationally cross-functionally and cross country also culturally mm-hmm and anything that, that stood out for you as a leadership, did anything change from those early learnings about, you know, genuine care and, and making sure operationally things are done.
Do you think it’s the same recipes, but that you just need to adopt them?
Angel Perez: Probably it is the same base. I mean, it’s like, uh, olive oil for any dish you cook in Spain, you start with olive oil and garlic, maybe. So the, the, the main, the main ingredients are the same, but then you need to use some other, uh, tactics to, to put it that way.
Um, when I move into a regional role, and again, what I’m going to say in the now sounds very natural to every one of us now with COVID, but again, back in 2009, uh, excelling your skills. And how to lead, uh, from the distance that was not so common. Uh, at a point, I mean, I was based in Spain only with one diary report next to me, Madrid and the group of 15 people reporting and then longer groups, uh, were spread all over the place.
Uh, so for instance, I might only go three times a year to Canada, uh, because of the functional structure. I was not the owner of their budget. So how on earth can you be leading a group from the distance, not controlling the OPEX, but making things happen. And, and I think that the, the, the key recommendation or advice on that situation is you, you need to make sure that you try to lead by influencing and the, the time you spend with people face to face that you try to, to deliver, or to provide some kind of lasting, um, trusting experience.
And then you keep building on that while you are not there anymore. So going back to this, be here now, and that you can do it virtually as well. And that the last year we are excelling on that because there is no choice, but if you could only talk over the phone with someone in Australia every month, how do you make sure that that half an hour, that you are linking previous conversation, that you are keeping an eye on the loft side, as you said to then get deeper into the discipline piece and to try to keep some.
Cannons or momentum despite being far away geographically. And, and during the time as well, on, on during the, the daily work, I, I think that the, by cultivating this trust in the distance and this sense of, eh, feeling that the one who’s talking with you is really important for, for you really was a relevant bond that made.
The ongoing, uh, managing and, and business discussions successful.
Naji: Great. Uh, and, and I want to switch now into, you know, you, you shared about CSR social impact. Uh, and I, I wanna double click on this. And you said in the beginning in healthcare, it’s sometimes so obvious, but we don’t look at it that way.
Right? Like our social responsibility, the impact that we bring with medicines with, with care devices, whatever. And out here we are is so massive. But then there’s always, you know, the CSR that feels a little bit disconnected, right? Like this corporate social responsibility, you took it to a different level, right?
With, with you being curious in the beginning and now actually helping companies to, to have a social impact. Uh, tell us a little bit about your journey here. How would you separate CSR from social impact? Uh, I, I, I saw you, you shared this and, and I agree with you, you say like only companies that include social impact in their core business would exist to more.
It’s a very provocative way to saying it. So, so help us understand and how we as leaders can, can bring this social impact to our, our
Angel Perez: companies. Very good. So first of all, disclaimer, I’m clearly positively biased to pharma industry because that is home. So, uh and, and, and I guess that despite these bias, I think it’s fair to say that the healthcare sector and the pharma industry does deliver a strong, positive impact in social society full stop.
Now, whether that is being properly perceived, whether that is considered as it should. Whether the companies that are perceived to be changing the world are pharma companies or others. And it should be the other way that is another debate. I guess that’s another podcast, um, going to your question and, and trying to not to get very techy or, or sophisticated on the wording, the, the, we talk very often not transcendent on the business impact journey.
And this is agnostic of sectors, basically saying companies. From the very beginning, imagine that a company has different boats or ships, right. And there is one sip, which is the, the business, the core business ship with the best, um, boat, the best, um, uh, crew. With plenty of OPEX and resources and they need to do better on the business side.
They go that way. Then there is smaller boats that are the ones with corporate resource and responsibility that are trying to get some impact in society, but it’s far away from the core of the business. Okay. So when talking about CSR, this is like the, what do you do that is far away from your business?
That is good for society. And that, that was like the bread and butter until. I’m making, I mean, nobody statement five years ago now, as you move into the next territory or island, many times companies realize that, wait a minute, we might be doing better business by monitoring what our people in corporate social responsibility or in sustainability as such too, and suddenly they start getting together.
And that is the next step. And that is what is starting to happen this day. So saying. If we are a smarter with our, these, these letters that are like best letters lately, this if for environment is for social and G for governance, this ESG, and you realize if we as a company, not only report because it’s mandatory to do this, non-financial reporting, but we manage our ES the output properly.
This is good for business. And that is the point when I go back to pharma and say, come on. I mean, the essence of pharma is the good. Um, and it’s not only to do better on the environment. It’s the impact you have on society by having better molecules, better products, I’m providing better lives for the people who benefit from us.
And that is what I, we want to believe that we help companies together at that point to understand putting the core of your business. Close to the effect you have on the environment on the society and how you do governance is good for your business in terms of output as such. And that is the next step.
The, the, the, the, the promise land, I mean, the, the purpose island, and that is next is when you realize that is not only about the output about the outcome, where is the effect of your action on the people and on the planet out there? And that is one instead of measuring output, you measure the outcome of what are you doing there.
So it’s not only how many, um, pills, how many treatments you have, what is the impact on the patients on their lives? What is the impact you start building process to put into well, to value all the effect that you’re doing in the case of pharma. I, and it’s the same across sectors. So. From CSR out of business to ESG where suddenly business look at these outputs as an opportunity to perform better.
And to finally think about what is the impact I want to proactive. I want ask, I want to make proactively in. So with society and, and, and basically the planet, if you look about, uh, environmental topics, those are the three stages of this business impact journey that we see, um, in a very quickly. And I don’t know if an organized way.
Um, happening with companies and that’s what we are trying to do. We try to accelerate their journey to understand that the farther or the closer they get to their purpose, to this territory of purpose, the better it will be not only for society, but clearly for their own business.
Naji: Yeah, that’s that that’s powerful.
And I’m gonna do the link. You talked about social entrepreneurship and health that, that you, you built. And, and I know you’ve been always very active with, you know, startups and building things differently and really an adapt of like small experiments and then you can grow it. So how, how do you see this?
Because the transformation you are helping companies to get to is obviously really, as you said, this, this promised
Angel Perez: island, right?
Naji: And. I’m not gonna go into politics, what we’re seeing globally, but obviously a lot of movements are not going there. So how, how are you helping people get there? Are you really looking at small things as you’ve done that have a big impact, right?
Like with small entrepreneurship, within a company and then building on this for people to get there, or, or do you think at some point policies will change for us to get there? Like, like how, how are you naing this down for you to be able to work with companies? Very good.
Angel Perez: Great question. Not, not easy to answer, because if I, I, I will try to, it is, it should be different company by company, but I guess that there are at least four, um, driving forces out there suggesting, or even obliging companies to move.
As you said, one is clearly regulation. I mean, I mean, in the case of Europe, we were farther ahead now in the us, it’s moving, moving forward quickly. Um, companies do see now their obligation to report properly on this. And this is great because even the, the laggards are feeling that they need to raise the bar.
That is one thing. Uh, peer pressure. Luckily we start to have champions almost in every sector of companies leading the way. And you don’t want to be a Lagar, as I said, so you want to do that as well. Mm. Society, customers, clients, I mean, very clear, even, even if we don’t do what we say in surveys, that we will always go for the super environmental, uh, opportunity and product.
But the reality is that that rent is irreversible and, and not last clearly not least, um, money itself. So today we see that investors are looking for opportunities to invest on ESG related, uh, companies or opportunities or even opportunities where you can measure the impact. So those external forces, we want to believe that I are making the positive, perfect storm for companies for the smart business leaders to realize, wait a minute.
This is not lateral. This is not CSR. This is not a cost center. This this could be profit center. And, and that is a time when you can engage on a pure management business conversation with the C-suite, uh, not talking about funding, which is fantastic and NGO it on improving your performance based on impact now.
How do you make that happen? How do you get the spark in different companies? Well, depending on their reality, their sensitivities, the challenge from the competitors and going to your, to your first point, in some cases that you might, uh, align the fire with the opportunity to put together companies with social entrepreneurs.
And that’s what we did at really starting in 2016 with this program where basically. Lilly together with unlimited Spain, an NGO, uh, that is, uh, which expert has the expertise to accelerate social entrepreneurs. Um, healthcare, uh, social entrepreneurs were incubated by Lilly and unlimited Spain for six or eight months.
So that. These, uh, guys with fantastic concepts, uh, at the very early states, got all the knowledge from Lilly employees in Spain to know about the sector. And, and that was a great time when you realize, you know, a lot about the sector, how many people don’t and then Lilly was able, I always put the, the analogy of like opening the windows to get a there, um, no fear to failure, uh, being far more curious, And looking at opportunities within pharma that potentially were unknown or non explored by traditional pharma companies, so that you could truly get into some kind of cell value concept, uh, on, on leverage team from social entrepreneurs in big pharma and help, and truly helping these guys to move up next, accelerate their businesses.
Naji: that’s a that’s that’s powerful, uh, example. Thanks. Uh, and for sharing this, uh, I want us to jump into, uh, kind of a different section, a game. If you wanna call it, uh, I’m gonna give you one word, uh, and you will give me top of mind idea that you, uh, that you will have sounds good. Yes. So, so the first one is startup.
the, the second one, uh, is, um, transformation,
Angel Perez: mandatory to survive.
Naji: You you’ve led many of those, tell us a little bit more. It’s mandatory to survive, but it’s usually tough to, to, to implement, right?
Angel Perez: I mean, these, these days, um, no one on earth is going to have a successful business without two levers. In my view, one is, uh, technology and the, the other one is impact.
Uh, and, and not many companies are there yet. Unless you truly transform and understand that those are the new peak levers, uh, of success in the future. You will not, will not even be successful. You will not survive as a business. I’m convinced.
Naji: Yeah. The, the third one is responsible business.
Angel Perez: Uh, I mean, in one word, I would say mandatory.
We have a couple of analogies we use quite often here at transcendent. Um, one is some, I mean, I’m older than you Naji. Uh, not many years ago. People could smoke in the airplanes and not many years ago. I mean, our parents put at, at the back of the car without a safe belt. Um, and they were not doing it because they didn’t want us.
It was because that was not the time for it. Um, we are very close to go back and look in five, six years ago, look back to 2021 and say, wait a minute, this, these guys allow business to run, not having their business with a minimum check of being responsible. I mean, well, that is, that is my big bet on, on, on what we are doing these days, but that will come.
Um, and, and luckily due to. Technology that is allowing us to have businesses being extremely more transparent than ever. You. We will be able to see who, which businesses are being responsible, which ones are not. And the ones that are not, they will need to evolve or transform, or they will not have a chance.
Uh, because, because this will be a mass, I mean, going back to labor conditions, going back to those topics that are already luckily, already a part of our. Routinely way of doing business very soon. We’ll have a minimum check to be responsible business, or you are out of here.
Naji: Yeah. Yeah. So try I’m so needed, right?
It’s we, we can’t, we won’t be able to survive as a humanity if we, if we don’t deal with this. Immediately, you know, there there’s some I’ve read something like it’s even already too late. I’m not gonna give I’m, I’m an optimistic like you, but it’s, it means that really we need to, we need to ramp up our capabilities on, on social impact for sure.
The, the last one is spread love and organizations.
Angel Perez: Yeah. I mean, I was expecting this one, not the other ones. It’s, it’s funny. Because very early in my career, I met someone who was joining my team and, and she was asking me, so what, what do you want to, to do, I mean, with your business career? And I was very naive, but I said, well, I want people to, to, to be enjoying what they are doing.
I want them to enjoy being at work. And I probably, that was a very naive statement. Or at least I was not able to support it as properly as I think I can do to today. Um, at this stage of my career. I struggle to see successful companies, not spreading somehow love in their organizations or to put it in another way.
Successful companies that do not spread love are missing great opportunities or being of being even better by taking care of this as, uh, very true, um, business and managing tool. Um, I’ve seen, um, very successful business, very successful teams and very, uh, productive teams, uh, working with and without love and care, uh, the ones where you can install and cultivate and work, because this is something that you can make happen.
Uh, this, this handle and love and care between each other. They perform better. I think that the, the, there is evidence and empirical evidence that that is, that should be there now far is easier to say than to do. Unfortunately, the current circumstances with COVID, uh, I was talking this morning with a big multinational saying, we, we need to go back to finance more than we used to be a year and two months ago.
Of course. I mean, again, dealing with a big company is not easy, but, um, not forgetting this. As a, as a nice managing management level. I think that, um, I, I, I think that spreading love in organizations, uh, is a, is an opportunity and a key success factor. If you can do it properly. Yeah. And again, I mean, sorry, and I can be biased because I was blessed by, by having my development as a, as in my professional career in Lilly.
And, and it is a culture where I would say spread a love is part of the culture. So I’m, I’m again, positively maybe biased on that, but I strongly feel it.
Naji: Yeah. And, and as you said, I think, you know, during those times it’s, uh, you link it to performance, right? And there are bunch of things out there that show perfor high winning, performing teams have the genuine care.
Right. And. And I love that you’re sharing. You’ve experienced that you’ve done it with, with your teams very early on, uh, as a GM and then growing into organization, you kept on doing it. And, and I imagine now with, with your company, you kind of do it daily and you help others kind of build it.
Angel Perez: And, and if, if I may, and then, I mean, and suddenly you, you see that spreading love somehow can link fully with any company’s purpose.
I mean, why are you as a company? Why do you exist? And this is not, and it cannot be making money because you want to do something better, uh, than, than, and, and if you are not here, what the world or society miss, there is an element of care, uh, within any company. Um, and, and even the ones that are there just for the money, well, they will not last for long and, and looking into the future, they will last even less because all of them, at some point, whether it is genuinely or because they are forced again, going back to peer pressure, this is an element that needs to be embraced as a core competency in any business.
Naji: That’s strong core compet competency. I, this is strong. I like that. Uh, tell you, you shared about, I know you’re a big fan of, uh, reading things. You’re so curious. I, I follow your curiosity and the things you look and as you’re courageous to change things, Anything you’re reading these days or anything that you would advise us to have a look at or to follow for us to get into this transformational leadership and, and the social impact that that you’re at?
Angel Perez: Yes. If, if one book, uh, by Sarah Ronald coin impact, um, I’m not going to spoil the outstanding story of, of Ronald going, uh, a book that is. Easy to read outstanding, at least for me, effects on how do you look at business? Um, another author, he has three books that for me has also been very influential Mohammed jus uh, the father of micro loans, um, uh, Nobel this no prize, outstanding, uh, writer.
The last book is like the three, uh, zero sum effect, something like that. Um, those two books for me are key. Another one that I enjoyed reading last year is reimagining capitalism, uh, by a professor at Harvard business school called Rebecca Henderson.
Angel Perez: and, and then, I don’t know. I mean, I already mentioned it, another one.
Um, I mean, I we’ve been talking a lot about, um, aspiration and, and wishes and the like, but at the end we are here to perform and we need to deliver right. And, and a book. And, uh, that has been, and I, you still have a very, and I use very often is called the four disciplines of execution, uh, because at the end, This is about executing
Uh, so I mean, don’t get me wrong. Uh, I’m not becoming more naive as I get older. Um, after we talk about all the things we’ve been talking, this is about making a business successful and for disciplines of execution is something that I’ve been, uh, using for more than eight years. And at least for me, it, it works,
Naji: but yeah.
Great, great, great books. Uh, and yeah, you said it many times is how you combine both, right. Little care, love and discipline about the, how, uh, well, any final word of wisdom and how for all those leaders and executive around the word, and maybe on the social impact that you need to have. Any, any advice, any word of wisdom
Angel Perez: is been a, it’s been a pleasure talking with you Naji. First of all, the, the not, not only about impact or, or business impact. Um, probably the biggest learning for me and that I’m trying still to keep it as alive as, as possible is you can foster and cultivate and everything in my career over the last seven years or so has been based on building my career city.
Of reading different books of following different people. Um, whether it’s tweeted, whether it’s LinkedIn, whether it’s, uh, looking at the book reviews. Um, my, my, my stay curious is the, the name of the game. Um, and as a business leader, I, I think that you cannot afford not being curious. Unless you have a team of curious people around you, which is a good plan B, but it’s less fun.
So, um, find something that is not your core. Again, it can be impact. It can be technology. It can be both, but keep your brain, uh, fresh by cultivating your C that be my well advice. My suggestion.
Naji: Well, uh, thanks again for this great conversation. I’m sure you use part of this curiosity for all of us to go and look more into what social impact means, uh, for us to, um, really make the word a better place for, for ourselves today and for the future generations.
Naji: Thank you so much Angel for your insights and, and this great conversation.
Angel Perez: My pleasure. Thanks a lot for inviting me to talking with you Naji.
Naji: Thank you all for listening to spread love and organization’s podcast. Drop us a review on your preferred podcast platform
Follow us on LinkedIn and connect with us on spreadloveio.com. We’re eager to hear your thoughts and feedback. Most importantly, spread love in your organizations and spread the word around you to inspire others and amplify this movement, our world so desperately needs.