Editor’s note: This story is part of our 2022 PharmaVoice 100 feature.
Jim Anthony is a yes man — in the best way possible.
As the executive vice president and global head of Parexel Biotech, Anthony leads by example, showing a willingness to tackle any challenge, big or small, for the clinical research organization’s numerous biotech clients.
“When he sees a need — whether on the commercial or operations side — he solves it and goes the extra mile for clients, which never goes unnoticed,” one of Anthony’s nominators says.
Parexel helps emerging biotechs with everything from clinical trial design to regulatory and commercial strategy to post-approval solutions. But Anthony’s insights go far beyond those areas. Even when it may not be profitable, he’s willing to step in to help get needed medications to patients.
For instance, when one client received a compassionate use request from a family in South Korea for one of its medications to help their sick child, Anthony took charge. The client didn’t operate in the country and the regulatory hurdles to allow compassionate use were especially large, but, with his signature “can-do” attitude, Anthony successfully got the medication to the patient.
“Mind you, this was not a small or easy ask, nor was it the most profitable project to accept,” the client says of Anthony’s work. However, because of his ability to build relationships and meet challenges head-on, Anthony’s nominators say “more of those victories” for patients have become possible.
Anthony’s leadership has also helped Parexel grow. Since he helped to establish the company in 2019, “revenue has more than doubled and new business awards are at a three-year CAGR of 22%,” according to one of his nominators.
“The area that is the largest challenge for our industry right now is retaining talent on all our teams. We have tremendous people working for our organization, and we need them to feel connected and supported by the company.”
Executive vice president, global head, Parexel Biotech
Anthony is equally as concerned with employee satisfaction as he is with the company’s bottom line. He’s a strong advocate for diversity initiatives and is particularly active in advocating for gender diversity and pay equity as part of the Parexel’s Women in Leadership (WIL) and Men Advocating Real Change (MARC) programs.
Here, he discusses where he sees the future of the biotech industry heading and his keys to leadership success.
What is your blue ocean?
I believe a real blue ocean for the biotech development industry would be to drive significant efficiencies and less burden on patients through the collective use of nonrandomized evidence in trials through synthetic and external arms.
If you were a brand, what would your brand be?
If I were a brand, one that really embodies my personality is IMAX, with the slogan, “Think Big.” I am always challenging myself to do more, not settle and try to find new opportunities that are over the next horizon. I work hard to maintain an aspiring and optimistic outlook, and I believe those people who know me would say I embody this brand tagline.
What is your key piece of leadership advice?
My key piece of advice for leaders is sometimes one of the harder activities to focus on, and that is to remove obstacles for your direct reports. Removing obstacles does not mean completing tasks for them; rather, it provides them a greater opportunity to succeed in their own actions. Many leaders don't immediately understand the relationship between doing something for someone else and how that can then benefit you as a leader. Removing obstacles is one of those activities with a specific return on investment for the leader.
What’s the most meaningful item on your desk/in your office, and why?
I keep a list of quotes by the former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden on my desk and look at them almost every day. “Be quick, but don't hurry.” “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” “If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, and your reputation is merely what other people think you are.” It helps guide and inspire me whenever I need a fresh perspective to tackle an issue. I always find wisdom in these quotes.