REACHING THE PERFORMANCE PEAK
Business Brief asks Presidents, CEOs, Owners and Leaders of companies located at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (VTCRC) one question…
“What key lesson have you learned in business that would help others?”
Please enjoy Dr. Bassaganya-Riera’s perspective on the question…
When Winston Churchill returned to his primary school to deliver one of his most-memorable speeches, he inspired countless people with the following words: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
For me as Founder, President and CEO of BioTherapeutics, a biotech company in Southwest Virginia, I often revisit these words and their meaning. Throughout his short missive, Mr. Churchill essentially pays homage to one of the chief characteristics that I try to achieve on a daily basis in my own character and a quality that I need in teammates and business partners—resolve.
For instance, because we are a biotech company not located in either Boston, MA or the San Francisco Bay Area, two key biotech hubs, there are many geographical challenges. Some of these challenges are access to capital investment, talent acquisition, and next-generation technical resources. It is particularly challenging when someone from these two pharma-meccas wants to invest, as these investors often ask portfolio companies to relocate. We have seen this happen in our area before; outside capital investing in local pharma, and then that company packs up and leaves.
My resolve—among many other things—is to build a company relying on innovative technologies and accelerated product development while committing to Virginia’s “Top 3 by 2023” biotech goal and to the Biotech Capital Region branding efforts. My family and I have lived here for many years, and we are quite attached to the solid and ancient beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, as well as the robust community located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.
But resolve extends far beyond never giving in. True resolve shows itself over time. It is the cumulative effect of the decisions we make, day in and day out, to bring our company goals to fruition. With each decision, we resolve to err on the side of ethic, of truth, of good will and of respect. To resolve to use our energy, our time and our talents to make the groundbreaking contributions to health that we are charged by our conviction—by our resolve—to make.
Honesty and integrity are also paramount in a fast moving start up as they are paramount in the most complex of scientific experiments. In science, as in business, there can be no lies either large or small; truth is imperative. Fast-moving companies need honesty and integrity in every team conversation and throughout every project.
But not only is it vital that the actual facts of a situation be known, teammate’s vulnerabilities and strengths have to be flushed out as quickly as possible so that we can make sure everyone is as efficient and productive as possible. This latter takes a tremendous amount of honesty and trust. How many of us want to willingly expose our weaknesses and flaws for the betterment of the team? Being transparent, trustworthy and honest has been key in order to rise in the challenging start-up biotech space.
Adaptability is another crucial aspect in BTI’s corporate culture. Members of our team must be versatile enough to adapt to many situations as he or she might be called to in a single day, such as: pitching to a visiting U.S. Senator, after taking out the trash, after shoring up a used desk, before negotiating a confidentiality agreement with Harvard, and after submitting a multi-million-dollar proposal.
. If I can find these unique gifts in a teammate, then the rest—such as how to pronounce immunology or Lanthionine Synthetase C-like 2—can be learned with ease, and the team can grow and move forward to that ultimate performance peak.
And what will we see at that peak? Let’s quote Mr. Churchill one last time.
For me as a CEO, the ultimate path to prosperity and victory is an initial public offering (IPO) and ultimately developing products that help people. This is why we have built a strong, adaptable, trustworthy team with impeccable work ethics and robust integrity that is aggressively pushing value-driving milestones: from securing GRAS status for our upcoming Pervida™ brand of health waters—to advancing our small-molecule therapeutic asset for fighting inflammatory bowel disease towards investigational new drug (IND) approval and human clinical trials.
“You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs—Victory in spite of all terror—Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.”
It takes character, as a CEO, to be able to carry a team to the performance peak, and then decide what challenge is next. It takes character, as a teammate, to not only enjoy the ride, but to flourish in such an environment.