EPISODE TRANSCRIPT: Marc De Garidel

Naji Gehchan: Hello, leaders of the world. Welcome to “Spread Love in Organizations”, a 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.

This episode is very special. In partnership with ESCP Business School, I’ll be giving the mic to students, our leaders of tomorrow, to discuss with incredible healthcare executives about their journeys and leadership beliefs.

ESCP Students: Hello, we are Sarah Boutros and Bouchra Taha, Specialized Master’s students at ESCP Business School in Paris, and we are thrilled to be joined by an outstanding, innovative leader, Marc de Garidel, CEO of Syncor Pharma, a biopharmaceutical company that develops therapies for patients with cardiovascular diseases, and recently acquired by AstraZeneca.

Marc is a graduate of a cusp. It sounded probably a leading French civil engineering school and holds a master’s degree from Thunderbird School of Global Management and an executive MBA from Harvard Business School. Mark began his career with Eli Lilly. Then in 2000, he was appointed. He was appointed general manager of Amgen’s French affiliate and progressively oversaw an increasing number of countries before heading the southern region of Amgen International.

The group’s most important vision in terms of sales in 2000 and then Mark left Amgen to become the CEO of Ipsen, where he helped transform the company by focusing on research and development and expanding Ipsen’s international presence. Under his leadership, since market value increased significantly prior to joining Syncor, Mark served as CEO of Corvidia Therapeutics, a private Boston based biotech company that was acquired by Novo Nordisk in August 2020.

In addition to that, Mark has had an extensive nonprofit responsibility as VP of Europe Pharma Association for three years, as well as chairing the French Pharma Association G5 for six years. Mark is also a recipient of the French Legion of Honor. Thank you so much for joining us today, Mark. To start, we would like to know more about you.

So can you share with us the story or the events in your past that influenced your decision to pursue your current

Marc De Garidel: career path? Well, thank you. I’m glad to be here with all of you today. Well, you know, it’s, uh, it’s hard to say what, uh, you know, when you start your career, you don’t really, uh, exactly know where you’re going to end.

And if you had told me 40 years ago that I would be a CEO of biotech companies, I would have said you’re dreaming. But I think fundamentally what, uh, you know, what drives, uh, an individual and, and, and me in particular around the, uh, pharma industry is the fact that, um, it has some characteristics, which I think are, are, uh, are wonderful.

One is, uh, you know, you develop drugs for patients and, uh, knowing, uh, what you do can make a difference in the, you know, the life of, uh, of patients, of your family members or, or people you know, is, uh, And absolutely, you know, incredible, uh, you know, luck, uh, you know, to, to, to do something, uh, you know, for, for, for these people.

So that’s one, I think two, what’s also fascinating about this industry. It’s in the middle of the, you know, of a big evolution in science where, uh, you know, innovation is coming from, from, you know, obviously a greater knowledge about how the human body functions. And it’s a fantastic adventure. To be part of projects where you are in touch with some of the, you know, the, uh, leading doctors of the world in their specialty and where again, you’re trying to, to, to develop a new therapies for, uh, you know, for, for the benefit of, of patients.

That’s, I think, you know, extremely unique, uh, intellectually. Uh, to be part of that, uh, of that adventure. And I think the third dimension to me, which has, uh, also been, uh, uh, very rewarding is this is an industry which is really global. So you have to, to work, uh, you know, in different countries. You have to, you know, uh, you know, diseases are not, uh, you know, they are, they are spread.

They are widespread. They happen in no way. In, in, in every country. So adding as a taste for, uh, no, uh, understanding, um, different geographies. And certainly now see more and more, uh, the development of the pharmaceutical industry has been in the U S with, uh, it’s innovation engine, uh, is something that I always have been attracted.

And that’s why I did my MBA in the U S and why I, you know, I enjoy, you know, being, uh, you know, in different places of the world.

ESCP Students: That’s actually very inspiring. So let’s tackle the second question. Do you believe that everyone is suited to be a CEO? Is it true that the skills and traits necessary to be successful? A successful executive can be learned, or are they something that a person is born with?

Marc De Garidel: Well, I think it’s both. You know, you have some characteristic, uh, you know, from, uh, from a C e O.

You need a lot of energy. You need, uh, you need to withstand the storm, uh, because, you know, it’s not easy to, uh, to, uh, to deal with, uh, you know, a lot of issues, uh, as you, as you progress. So you need to be very, uh, resilient. Um, so there are, I think, you know, you’re going to be very, uh, very, uh, you know, dynamic and, and, uh, because it’s just, you know, the workload of, of doing things is, is, is pretty high.

So I think these, these are things that some people do have, they have good health and unfortunately don’t have good health. Uh, you know, uh, I think you also need to have the, um, appetite, certainly if it’s in the biotech industry. Uh, to, uh, you know, to, to, to withstand the risk and to, uh, appreciate risk to leave it under a lot of uncertainty because you never know exactly what’s going to happen to, to you, to the company.

If, uh, you know, the drug fails, you know, everything can, uh, can, uh, become very difficult. So, um, So I think that, that’s the part where I would say, you know, the innate, uh, you know, part of you and how you are born, uh, plays a role. But this being said, uh, you know, it’s not, obviously, uh, it’s not enough. It’s probably a necessary condition, but it’s not enough.

And I, I think part of the, um, uh, you know, becoming a CEO is the learning as you go through. I think having a great mentor, you know, I’ve been lucky, uh, in my career. I had, uh, always great bosses and I would say that actually when, when you look for a job, that’s probably, I think to me, one of the most important thing is make sure you respect the person that is going to hire you.

And this person, you know, will help you, uh, you know, grow and, and, and, and get better. So I would say, you know, the, the environment under which you operate. Uh, I think you need to have something in the pharmaceutical industry, a constant appetite of learning because science, technology are evolving very fast and you need to be curious to, uh, you know, try to understand what’s going on.

And certainly for me, probably even more because I was not, you know, medically trained. So you have to learn, uh, you know, on the go to be credible, you know, in the field. Um, so I think, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s, uh, You know, working in a, in a big organization first, at least in my case, has been, um, certainly helpful because I have learned, you know, how to operate, I’ve seen mistakes being made, I’ve seen, you know, good things being made, um, but having a big boss, also, uh, someone who can help you grow is, uh, is essential.

And then, uh, you know, what’s actually kind of, uh, I think, uh, you know, sort of, uh. I am sort of not a very traditional person because, you know, I started in order to work in big companies and the more I progressed in my career, the smaller it has become. But, but, you know, the more I have actually enjoyed the, you know, uh, um, you know, doing this, um, and, and, and, and fundamentally, you know, you need to, to, to like.

Having an impact on things. I think you, you, you have to, to, um, you know, there are some people who like to, to, to follow. There are some people who, who, uh, who like to, to, to, you know, to try to, yeah. To, to not change the world is a big, is a big, uh, is a big, uh, big, uh, probably to too, uh, to ambitious, but at is, you know, trying to impact, you know, the few things you can do.

So, um, so that’s, these are I think important for, for A C E O.

ESCP Students: That’s really impressive. And your answer actually makes the perfect transition to our next question. So as a leader, you’ve been confronted with several challenges. Can you tell us about the time where you had to make a difficult decision? And how did you ensure that you made the right choice?

Marc De Garidel: Uh, it’s, uh, Yeah, I mean, certainly when you are in, uh, in, uh, you know, in a more executive positions, you know, there are times where, uh, you have to decide, uh, you know, which path to take. And you have also to try to convince others that, uh, you know, this is the right path to go. Um, so. You know, part of that process is, is to, uh, again, to try to, uh, to figure out, you know, I’m talking obviously about big decisions, decisions that can impact.

You know, tremendously, uh, you know, the company and the people, uh, you are, uh, you, you have, uh, with you. Um, so I, you know, I use the example often about the Ibsen decision to go to the U. S. You know, when, when I was, you know, if Center was, uh, you know, a midsize company, uh, doing, uh, doing well internationally, but in the US that, you know, unfortunately failed to, uh, to, to do well with a couple of acquisitions that didn’t go too well.

So when I was confronted, you know, in the mid 2010, so it was around 2013, 14, I believe, uh, with the idea that we could launch our own drug. You know, in the U. S., the big question was, you know, Mark, is this, uh, is this realistic? We have failed until now. Uh, this could be a disaster if we fail again. And, uh, you know, and what, uh, you know, what are the consequences of that?

And I have to say, I was confronted with a lot of skeptical people in the company, including in my management team. I would say probably more than half of my management team thought I was crazy. It was a completely, uh, uh, completely crazy. But what I did is. Because first, obviously, I knew the U. S. market because I had worked in the U.

S. for a number of years. But, you know, what I did is I went with some of my, uh, with my medical director to, uh, to the number of centers in the U. S. to figure out, you know, what, what are the, the, uh, the, um, opportunities for a drug, uh, like ours. And even though we are, again, a tiny little company and we’re Novartis, which was obviously the big oncology, the sort of a big player, you know, I tried to figure out that we have a chance to succeed.

And, uh, you know, To cut a long story short, I convinced the board, I convinced, you know, my management team, this was the right thing to do, but there were a lot of risks. And, uh, I knew that, uh, if I had not been successful, it would be, you know, bad, obviously for, for, for the employees would be, but for me, because I would be fired.

But, you know, at the end of the day, we did it and, uh, you know, we became the market leader, uh, you know, we beat no artists, uh, in the U S. And, uh, that transformed ultimately Ibsen from becoming truly a global company. So these are, you know, these are decisions that, uh, the big decision, as I say, you need to take time.

Uh, you know, you need to, uh, to mull over them. You need to speak to a lot of people. You don’t have always, you know, uh, you know, the truth in yourself. So you need to consult a lot, but at the end of the day, as a leader, you have to, you know, you have to go and, uh, you know, and you have to live with the consequences of what you do.

And sometimes it’s good. Sometimes you make some mistakes. I mean, you know, a number of mistakes in my career, uh, in general, I try not to make once, but, you know, it’s part of, uh, it’s part of the adventure. You know, you can’t, you can’t succeed in doing, uh, you know, again, having an impact, a real impact on certain things.

If you don’t take some risk at some point, and that’s, I think, you know, for all of you, you know, while young and talented, you know, you have to go, you have to try and, uh, and then what I find is obviously in the US market, uh, yes, people tend to be much more forgiving, except that, uh, you know, when, when, when you try things, if you fail.

You know, you, you learn from your failure. It’s, it’s not, nothing is bad. You know, you learn, obviously you don’t want to repeat them, but you learn. And that’s part of, uh, you know, the journey to becoming a leader. So that’s the path.

ESCP Students: So, Mark, you mentioned previously having a mentor that provided guidance and support in your path to success within the pharmaceutical industry.

Could you share a story about their impact on your journey?

Marc De Garidel: Well, you know, I can give you the first example. Well, I mean, the first example was actually with Lily. I was a young, uh, young guy. I was, you know, sort of the pharmaceutical controller of the French subsidiary. And, uh, the head of Europe of India came to, uh, to do a business review.

And my boss said, you know, Mark, you’re going to present the whole of the budget presentation. And, uh, and, um, I say, well, I was a bit obviously stressed, so I prepared myself know a lot for that. And then when I did a presentation to this, uh, head of Europe, uh, you know, I think I was able to answer all the questions and I knew I was going on.

And then the person, you know, was Terrell, who became actually ultimately the c e O of, uh, of, uh, of Lilly. So, You know, he helped me, uh, you know, go relatively fast then in, uh, at leading to, to, to my start, which was obviously a great foundation for ultimately my success later on attention and so on. So these are, you know, this is just one example of, uh, of someone who, uh, you know, have me navigate, uh, in my early career in terms of, uh, you know, building the right, uh, foundation for, uh, you know, ultimately success, because, you know, if you go too fast.

So danger, you know, obviously when you are young, you want to do, you know, a lot of things. Uh, but, you know, in the pharmaceutical industry, it’s still very complex. So you want to make sure you, you, you learn, you know, the fundamentals gradually. So that again, when you are in the position of a real responsibility, you don’t make too many mistakes.

ESCP Students: We still have one more question before we jump to the next section. So what misconceptions do you think people have about the role of a CEO or executive? And how does your current job differ from your initial

Marc De Garidel: expectations? Well, probably, you know, the things that, that, uh, uh, I think the biggest change when you get to a CEO job, Compared to where you were before, before you were, you know, running a division or you were running something, uh, you know, but you were reporting to, to, to the c e o.

And when, when you become the c e o, you know, you, you, you’re the c e o. So you’re as a, you know, Ronald Reagan said the, you know, the buck stop here. So that’s, you know, ultimately you, you’re responsible. But what I think I, I fully, you know, underestimated is the fact that even if you’re c e o, you’re not the boss because you have always the boss and the boss is actually your board of director.

And, and what you have to do is to work actually extensively with a, with a board to make sure that, you know, the things that you are doing, uh, you know, the success, the failures, the things you, you know, you, you, you, you are with your board, you, you, you exchange, you learn from them, but you are very aligned with them in terms of the direction of the company.

And that’s, you know, I think that’s some, some, you know, that’s, that was to me a big, big surprise. Because I, I thought I spent a lot of time with the board, much more than I would have anticipated just running the operation.

ESCP Students: So now I would like to jump to another section. I would give you one word and want to get your reaction. The first one is innovation.

Marc De Garidel: Well, that’s a wonderful part of what we do in the, uh, the human body is extremely complex. There are unfortunately still a lot of diseases that need to be treated and, uh, Innovation is a way to, uh, to, uh, you know, to find, to try to find solutions for, for, for the patient.

So. Um, you know, innovation is accelerating, uh, you know, at a tremendous pace and being part of, uh, the process is again, is wonderful, but you can, you need to have, uh, you need to be ready to accept the failures that are associated, uh, since, uh, especially in the industry, as you know, in among 10, 000 drugs that are discovered in early stage and you want to make it, make it to the market.

So it’s a very, it’s also a very difficult, uh, you know, selective process innovation.

ESCP Students: All right. The second word is leadership.

Marc De Garidel: I think, you know, leadership, there are different ways to, to, uh, to be a leader. And, uh, I think there are different distinctions. I think, especially when you grow in your career, uh, you know, you are, you’re, you’re taught to be, to be, to, to, to be, uh, especially in the early days. You know, to be very strong technically and to be a great technician, but I think as you grow, so you’re essentially a manager.

And I think the difference between a leader and a manager is that over time, you know, you, you’re not going to do so many things yourself. You, uh, you, uh, you, you have to, to, the work needs to be done through, through your team. And, uh, you know, I do so often the analogy of the conductor of an, of a, you know, an orchestra to me, a leader is more, you know, you don’t play the music, it’s your people who play the music, but what you do is you, you know, when the music is, is kind of going wrong and you know, how to, uh, to orchestrate, so, you know, the different, uh, you know, different, uh, players, musicians, so that it rings, uh, you know, it sounds, uh, it sounds great and it’s very difficult, uh, It’s a very difficult, uh, uh, job to do.

And, uh, you know, again, multiple mistakes, but I think that’s one. And two, I think, you know, the team is so important, you know, you, you have to. You know, you have to create a team that, uh, uh, is, is, is together, is aligned so that you know, you can conquer together and you fail together. But it’s not, you know, just one person who, who can, uh, who does, uh, thing.

And, uh, you know, finding the right people, creating that environment for, uh, for, for, you know, for innovation, for success and sometimes for failure is, is one of the key attributes of, uh, of a, of a leader.

ESCP Students: So let’s move to the third word, which is biotech.

Marc De Garidel: Well, biotech is, you know, it’s a broad, uh, it’s a broad, uh, term, you know, which essentially is the, uh, industry that has been created at least initially, you know, back in, uh, by, I would say Genentech in the early, uh, you know, in the early nineties.

But it’s become symbolic of, of, of trying to exploit, you know, again, the understanding of how the human body functions to try to target, you know, more specifically some diseases or some, some things. certain things that happen in, in, uh, in diseases and to try to figure out how to circumvent that, that, uh, that, uh, that process.

And obviously it has exploded in different technologies. Obviously you have from gene therapy, cell therapy, uh, large molecules, small molecules. There are plenty of different modalities that are now, uh, being, uh, uh, exploited to, to try to, to combat, uh, you know, uh, um, you know, multiple diseases. And

ESCP Students: finally, the last one is spread love and organizations.

Marc De Garidel: Well, I think, you know, it’s part of the things that, uh, is challenging. But, you know, I, uh, you know, there is one person I really, um, admire when I was actually in the U. S. Uh, he was the, uh, coach of, uh, of, uh, a football team. His name was Lou Holtz. And he’s, uh, you know, he was with Notre Dame and he made Notre Dame the football team, one of the most successful ever in college football in the U.

S. And when, uh, you know, he’s talking, when he was talking, you can watch on YouTube actually, you know, he said, There are really three things that count if you want to be successful. One is, is, uh, you to trust the people. Two, you need to do the commitment of your people. But three, you need to care about them.

And I think the, the, um, you know, I, I think the leaders need to care about, about their, uh, you know, their, their employees. Sometimes, you know, caring doesn’t necessarily mean always, uh, You know, obviously you want to motivate them. You want to, to, uh, you know, to, to, to, to, to, to carry the company with them, but at certain times, unfortunately, caring about them is letting them know they are not in the right spot.

Maybe they’re not, you know, productive in, in, in the, uh, in where they are and they could do much better in, in a different position or, or potentially in a different company. So I think caring is absolutely critical, and that’s, I think, one of the role of the c any, uh, you know, leader manager to, to, to truly, uh, help.

Uh, you know, the employee on the person, uh, you know, as part of the organization to grow and to give them feedback and to have them grow.

So

ESCP Students: before we wrap up, do you have any final words or advice for aspiring leaders and the pharmaceutical industry or for anyone looking to excel in their role as leader? And their own organizations.

Marc De Garidel: I think, you know, one of the key things is do what you like, right? Do, do, do things you, you, you, you, you enjoy.

Because at the end of the day. That’s going to be critical, uh, for, for, for your success. It’s, it’s, you know, and don’t be worried. Don’t, don’t get worried about what people say about you and like that, not try to be meaningful to, to, to, to, uh, To, uh, to your passion. Uh, you know, do it. Learn from it. You’re going to do mistakes.

Uh, that’s okay. But, you know, do do really what you what you like to do and and don’t care too much about what the others think about you because, you know, they you’ll shine by yourself and you’ll, you know, you’ll succeed. So whatever you do.

ESCP Students: Thank you so much, Mark again for your time for this inspiring discussion.

It was really a pleasure, a pleasure to us.

Marc De Garidel: You’re welcome. Thank you so much.

Naji Gehchan: Thank you all for listening to Spread Love and Organizations podcast. We have such an important responsibility as leaders of today to plant the seeds for the leaders of tomorrow. Thank you all for listening to SpreadLove in Organizations podcast. Drop us a review on your preferred podcast platform

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