While it may seem unusual for a college student to hold degrees in both science and business, it is exactly what Michael Van Eaton had planned for in his professional career. He holds a Bachelor’s in Material Science Engineering, a Bachelor’s in Chemistry, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration.
In both his education and his experience in business and science, Michael Van Eaton has discovered that science-based companies demand a very different kind of leadership. While commercial success is the goal of any venture, he knows that many biotech companies typically only turn a profit for a few years.
Leadership in science-based business is not only about supporting research, teaching, and publishing journal papers. It is also about inspiring and influencing good business decisions that are logical and supported by market data.
Science-based business leadership skills
Teamwork and science must work hand-in-hand.
In a scientific society, the technical staff often takes the lead, Michael Van Eaton notes. But, this is different in other businesses. It is just as important for management in a science-based business to lead with authority while supporting scientific staff’s concerns.
This type of collaboration between scientists and executive management is necessary for a science-based company to be proactive and not reactive.
Leadership that drives projects to completion
Michael Van Eaton realizes that without the skills and knowledge of the scientific workforce, biotech, life sciences, and pharmaceutical companies would certainly fail. Each project is the foundation that is built, which will eventually drive the company’s ability to generate revenue.
Therefore, meeting research and development milestones and completing projects becomes the bread and butter of a science-based business. And, here is where good executive leadership works best – by doing everything in their power to help staff bring about the desired results in their scientific mission.
Building business strategies that fit the company’s mission
Michael Van Eaton says that unlike most companies whose business plan is configured and met by the skills of management to build a productive workforce and a business that generates revenue – science-based companies rely on scientific and technical staff to develop and complete the company’s mission.
Only by using business strategies that fit the company’s mission can a science-based corporation hope to succeed. Leadership must offer supportive energy to empower a diverse group to contribute their best.
Key skills for corporate leaders in scientific environments include the ability to draw out personal capability, a clear focus on results, and keeping the entire organization on a set path, Michael Van Eaton explains. Additionally, first-line supervisors must be trained to identify work strain and social conflict among teams that may have to stay productive long term with no clear results in sight.
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