Humble, Transparent, and Patient-Focused: Tips for Being a Great Biotech Leader 

SPOTLIGHT ON

Angelika Fretzen, PhD MBA

01

Don’t be afraid to know what you don’t know

02

Transparency is powerful 

03

Remember there is a patient at the end of your product

04

Recognize the four different types of innovation

Who is Angelika?

Angelika Fretzen has been able to apply her experience as a chemist in both academia then biotech and now at the translationally-focused Wyss Institute at Harvard University. One of the first groups of scientists to believe they didn’t have to go to big pharma first, Angelika attributes her decision to take the less chartered path to a little bit of stubbornness, but she knew she wanted to make a difference solving problems. Her experience in these various organizations has taught her valuable perspective about confidence, decision making, the four types of innovation, and above all else, a constant reminder that there’s a patient at the end of your product. 

 
Here are her tips on being a great biotech leader: 

I joined Microbia (Ironwood Pharmaceuticals) because even though all four founders had no experience building a company, each exhibited a humble confidence that they COULD do it while knowing they would need a lot of help along the way. It was this mix of humility that they didn’t know everything, combined with a healthy confidence that they would be successful through a willingness to get help, talk to people, and let others kick the tires and offer insight that has stuck with me. You don't need to know everything to start a company, and don’t be afraid to know what you don't know.

01

Don’t be afraid to know what you don’t know

You don't need to know everything to start a company, and don’t be afraid to know what you don't know.

02

Transparency is powerful

Create the mechanisms of good decision making by being as transparent as possible. Great transparency is more powerful than keeping information close to your chest because it creates loyalty and helps your team understand how all strategic plans are being developed, and why. This approach makes everybody feel like they are part of the team and owners of the project. 

Teams that keep their focus on the patient...make better decisions and design better clinical trials.

When running a company, there is so much more at stake than just the science, and the smaller the company, the more overwhelming financial decisions become. Often scientists and business leaders come from different perspectives, so it’s critical to create common goals for everyone to work toward. In biotech you must always remember there is a patient and their family at the end of your product. Teams that keep their focus on the patient and plan data readouts based on when it's right for the disease progression — as opposed to prioritizing investors or fundraising cycles — are going to make better decisions and design better clinical trials.

03

Remember there is a patient at the end of your product

04

Recognize the four different types of innovation