Bahija admits she never had a development plan for her career, but knew if she did things she really loved she’d succeed. The former President of MedImmune and current CEO of Immunocore, Bahija is one of only a handful of women to lead a company to IPO, but she cites her first biotech job as the best thing to happen to her because it was all about the science. And while she strongly believes to be an effective CEO you need to stay close to the science, she says science by itself is not enough, and you need to couple it with both strategy and vision.
Here she shares more on why failure is great, what you must ask yourself before every decision, why diversity is an intricate part of innovation, and the most crucial tool for talking with investors.
Drug development and science is not for the faint of heart and you have to be resilient. When you are pioneering targeted therapy, you take significant risks going into a whole new area, and failure is inevitable. It only stays a failure if you don’t learn from it. Never waste a setback.
If you look at failure as a step on the way to success you won’t be afraid to take risks. Being too cautious and afraid of failing will prevent you from doing something extraordinary. Right now is an amazing time for science, and we shouldn’t let this crisis go to waste. We all need to use this moment to fail and learn — it’s truly the era of healthcare.
With every decision ask yourself if innovation can thrive with it. The heart of what we do is science, and even as CEO you need to always be informed in that. As a leader it’s your job to provide the people around you with an environment where innovation can thrive. The minute you start working with people, you are dependent on your team to get things done, and you have to evaluate what your role is. You are only as good as the team you have, so give people room to stumble and fail, and then ask them what they learned.
Diversity of all kinds is an intricate part of innovation. If you surround yourself with people who look and think like you, you might as well just talk to yourself! We need to bring the case of why diversity is important to business, not because it’s fair or nice, but because it’s essential for innovation. Purposefully believe that diversity is important and be aware of what you are looking for when you build your team.
The most important thing when talking with investors or doing an IPO is credibility. Have a compelling story, but execute and keep your promises