With Moderator Gerrie Dresser, CEO, Unique Impact,
Executive / Personal Brand Coach




Senior Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Operations, Bristol-Myers Squibb



Senior Vice President, Global Commercial Operations, Shire Pharmaceuticals and Board Chair, Greater Delaware Valley Chapter, National MS Society



Executive Director, Head of Market Access, Relypsa Inc.



Public Affairs Consultant, President, The Nicoli Consulting Group, LLC We think about innovation from a company perspective, a product perspective, or a technology perspective, but what about a “me” perspective?


What does it mean to be innovative in your career?

We hear one key theme from top sales and marketing executives that drove their careers and was a critical part of their success. This theme was based on identifying key people as their mentors and continually building and nurturing their power base. “It is no longer who you know; it’s who knows you and what you do well,” says Gerrie Dresser, CEO/ Founder of Unique Impact, and the moderator of this roundtable discussion.


The early part of your career is all about doing great work and differentiating yourself based on your work product. If you’re paying attention, you will at some point have that Aha! Moment. You realize that moving up requires a lot more savvy beyond your tangible contribution.

These four executives were selected for the roundtable because of their exceptional contribution in developing talent and achieving excellence in their own careers.

Some of the key concepts that Gerrie Dresser probed the panel about were strategies that they’ve used to build a solid power base. These four concepts include:

Key questions that leaders need to ask themselves relative to each concept include:

Concentric Circles: How do your critical career influencers line up in concentric circles? Who are they? How do they relate to one another and to you? What do you want from each person and how do you partner with them in your growth?

Surround Sound: What is the soundtrack that the key leaders in your organization hear about you? How do you influence that conversation? What do people outside your organization know about you?

Strategic Contribution: At a certain point it is about being known. How do you create meaningful interactions so key leaders outside your area get to know you and will influence your career?

Portfolio Strategy: What is the portfolio of skills needed to achieve your end game? How do you make others aware of those skills, so they assist you in your goals?

Jeff Conklin: You Aren’t Even in the Room

One of the underlying factors to remember is that when the discussion is held to discuss your next promotion, it is rare that you are part of the conversation. There is usually a handful of people who each bring to the table their own recommendation. The questions you need to ask to position yourself for success include:

• Where are you with them- positive, negative or neutral?

• Do they know you?

• How do they feel about you?

• Are they going to be vocal about you?

• And how do you influence these impressions?

Gerrie Dresser: Each one of you strategically moved the needle on your career. Would you describe your most effective strategies and insights on how to implement them?

Marianne Jackson: Build & Nurture Your Concentric Circles

Manage your influencers. I do this each year with a concentric circle exercise.

• Draw three concentric circles with your name in the middle circle.

• In the circle right around that, list the four or five people who are going to have the opportunity to influence what your next job is going to be.

• Then, list in the outer circle, the people who influence them.

Next, analyze: How much time am I spending with those people?

• On that inner circle right around you, how much time are you spending with the people who are going to influence where you go?

• Do you walk them through the projects that you’re delivering on and the value that you’re bringing to the organization?

You should have a strategic plan around that. Your plan might include meeting with them four times a year and sharing what you’re doing and what you’re delivering.

Gerrie Dresser: You start to create a sphere of influence. David has invented his own process for broadening your power base that he’s titled the surround sound strategy.

David Nicoli: Surround Sound Strategy

Make sure you are managing the story your key influencers tell about you. The strategy I developed was designed to help create visibility from a panoramic perspective. Once you identify the people who are in the meeting when your next promotion is decided, make sure they know you.

There will most likely be people you know only casually. These are the people whom you want to know better.

• Can you schedule lunch with them or ask for a meeting?

• What do you want each one to know about you?

If you implement a surround sound strategy, key executives put a name with your face and your responsibilities. Now all of a sudden, they know you. You’ve been in front of them. People horizontally and vertically have been engaged in a conversation with you. They know you’re perceptive and a high performer, and you consistently deliver results.

Surround sound is creating the company-wide awareness of who you are, what you’re doing, and what your value is.

Jeff Conklin: Strategic Contribution

Visibility can be greatly enhanced through strategic contribution. It’s the next level of what David described. You look at your career and identify:

• Where are you taking it?

• Where are your gaps?

• Who are your advocates and where do you stand with them?

• What is your plan to show them your distinctive value?

My approach each year has always been to pick two leaders and get to know them better on a very impactful basis.

Everyone has a “night job,” a project they’re asked to do above and beyond their job. The more senior you are, the more “night jobs” you have.

If you get involved in some of those over-and-above assignments, you create a stronger bond with the people who will be influential to your career.

Abigail Jenkins: Enhance Your Portfolio

Begin with the end in mind and take a hard look at where you want to go.

• What’s your endgame?

• What type of company do you want to work in . . . a small, big, publicly-traded or private company?

• How many employees do you want to manage?

• What experiences do you need?

The skills that you need as CEO of a big pharma corporation and the skills you need to be CEO of a small biotech are very different.

Take a step back and ask: What experiences do I need to have?

Years ago when I did that, I realized that I wanted to run a company and I had only managed ten people. To run a company, I needed to manage a larger organization. Also, I’ve worked primarily in commercial, sales and marketing. If I wanted to run a biotech company, I needed to diversify my industry experience.

I had that as a framework, which helped me to analyze new opportunities. As a result, the next decisions that I made helped me to enhance my portfolio.

Gerrie Dresser: Have a Plan and Position Your Strengths

In preparing to implement these strategies, there are two important considerations – strategically planning your career and positioning your strengths. How would you describe these important steps?

Jeff Conklin: Manage Your Movie

You also need to know the steps to your future.

• What am I going toward?

• Where should I be in three to five years?

• What are the skill gaps?

• What makes me different?

Another perspective to consider is, “What is the movie of you every time that your senior management gets a snapshot?”

They put all those snapshots together and that’s your movie.

• Are you directing that movie, so that it’s consistent with what you say you want to be?

• Are you making it very consistent or are you a very detail-oriented person who always gets things done ahead of time, but you want a strategic job? You can’t do both. You’ve got to line your movie up with how you want to be seen.


Using this point of view changed how I managed my career and the trajectory of my career.

David Nicoli: Capitalize on Your Strengths

Know your strengths and weaknesses. Defining yourself by your strengths is a really good foundation to build from.

Weaknesses need to be improved if they’re below competency levels for the job, but if you have four or five outstanding strengths, put 90 percent of your energy into developing those strengths.

As you start to showcase them and ask for opportunities where you can play to those strengths, you start to get known for your distinctive personal brand.

Gerrie Dresser: Leading Through Change

All along this path, as we know, the one constant is going to be change. What strategies or mindset have been effective in your leadership during change?

Marianne Jackson: Change is an Opportunity for Growth

Most people typically think change is a bad thing. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity in change, more than when things are stagnant and stable.

• Think through what your opportunity is going to be in times of change

• Put a plan together on how you’re going to leverage your future focus.

Change is an opportunity to stretch and grow.

Abigail Jenkins: Be a Catalyst

Be positive and see the opportunities to help others. Think about all the reasons why there are good things or opportunities to act upon. Then help other people.

If you help your direct reports, your peer team, and other people in the organization, you will be known for that. People will notice. You will differentiate yourself because you’re leading the change.

Jeff Conklin: You’re Building a Career in an industry

You’re not building a career in a company; you’re building a career in an industry. Make sure that you have a network outside of the company.

If you’re heavily networked and deliver presentations in your area of expertise within the industry, it’s very noticeable within your company. The person who is invited to deliver outside engagements and is heavily networked outside of the organization becomes more desirable.

Gerrie Dresser: Self-Innovation Ignites Success

Thank you to our panelists for sharing their insights and strategies that clarified how they’ve achieved the success they have and how others can do the same.

When you create the right relationships, strategically drive your career, and courageously lead positive change, you attract opportunities and doors open.

Become self-innovative to engage and develop your people and drive business forward!

13th Annual eyeforpharma Philadelphia 2015

Test Your Mobile Maturity