Have you ever been appointed as a leader? Maybe in school or in football practice? Being a leader is hard but imagine being a global leader – leader who has to communicate and interact with other countries around the world. That is twice as difficult. Learn all the intricacies of becoming such a leader with Ken Miller. Ken is the President and CEO of Nasco Healthcare. He has been developing global teams and leaders for almost 30 years. He also helped several world-class organizations grow into profitable businesses. Join your host, Dr. Diane Hamilton as she has a lovely conversation with Ken Miller. Listen in the conversation as Ken talks about the requirements for being a global leader. He talks about diversity, inclusion, building trust, and much more. Learn how to lead the world as a future leader today.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have Ken Miller here. Ken is the President and CEO of Nasco Healthcare. He develops high-performance teams to drive commercial and operational excellence in the healthcare field. I’m so excited to have him here.
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What It Takes To Be A Global Leader With Ken Miller
I am here with Ken Miller, who is the CEO of Nasco Healthcare. He is focused on developing global high-performance teams to drive commercial and operational success. He’s got more than 30 years of experience. He’s a shapeshifter for high-potential companies for launching, transforming, and evolving world-class organizations into profitable and growing businesses. He’s worked in all kinds of industries. It’s going to be fascinating to get a little background on you. It’s so nice to have you here, Ken.
Thank you so much, Diane. I am excited to be part of the show.
I was looking forward to this. As you know, I worked for AstraZeneca for 20 years and 15 of it was in healthcare and as a pharmaceutical rep. Your background is you’ve worked with a lot of companies like Pfizer, Glaxo, and Roche. I was looking at the list. There are quite a bit of different groups. That’ll be fun to find out a little bit more about that, but can I get a backstory on you for people who aren’t aware of how you reached this level of success?
Thank you once again and I’m glad to be speaking with someone who’s in the healthcare industry and has been focused on making a difference around the world. A little bit of background on me. I’ve been in the healthcare industry for 32 plus years. I’ve had the great fortune of working for some of the world-leading pharmaceutical companies, med-tech companies, and have been part of some incredible startups and turnarounds. I’ve had the pleasure of working in almost every role in the healthcare sector.
I started off in pharmaceutical sales. I worked my way up through sales management. Ultimately, I transitioned into marketing and general manager leadership roles, which prepared me for the president, CEO role in which I assume now. My passion has always been to be part of something where we could do good for the world while impacting my family in a positive way. Working in healthcare has been incredibly rewarding for me throughout my 32 plus year career.
I loved working for AstraZeneca. I wasn’t crazy about being a pharmaceutical rep. I started at ICI Ag-Chem. I was there for four years and the rest was in pharmaceuticals. The company was great and even now, I do some work with Novartis and some others. I like working in the big companies that have done these amazing things. I guess it was ICI when I started in the pharmaceuticals and it changed to Zeneca and then eventually merged with AstraZeneca, which was interesting going through a merger. What surprised me was how similar their cultures were. Do you find that each of these companies has very different cultures or are they similar?
I do believe that the cultures are different, but at the same time, the purpose is similar. I believe that all of those companies in which you mentioned have a common purpose to ultimately impact the lives of the communities in which they serve and to do no harm. Maybe a little different from some other industries like the finance industry, oil industry, or the tech industry for that matter. All healthcare companies, whether they be pharmaceuticals or med-tech truly are purpose-driven trying to find a way to create a solution that truly transforms the lives and makes the lives of the people they serve better. From that perspective, I believe that they are all similar. From a culture perspective, I believe culture is what you see and what the associates do every day in the organization. How they went about achieving that purpose was different in all of the companies in which I’d worked, for the most part.
With my research in curiosity, I often share some stories. My research determines the factors that inhibit curiosity. I looked back at some of the things that I’d gone through that I thought had maybe limited my curiosity and one of them in the healthcare training I had was they trained us so well. It was unbelievable the amount of training I got. It was two years of constant in-depth training. One of the problems was they would tell you that you’ve got to do these three details. You’ve got three products to get in and you’ve got two minutes, maybe. The guy’s going to be running down the hall, so you’ve got this idea of what you want to say.Being open, honest, and transparent helps build trust. You create a much more valuable relationship in the long run. Click To Tweet
I often tell a story of how I detailed, which is the words for selling doctors, I got all three products in and it was like one of my first details. I was so excited. I was so proud of myself. I walked to the elevator to get my samples. I was thrilled, I got in and a guy got in right as the door was closing. Since I’m an extrovert, I couldn’t help but talk to him because I can’t go two floors without talking. I said, “Do you work in the building?” He looks at me and was mortified because he was the doctor I detailed and I didn’t even look at him. Do you know what I mean? I said what I had to say. Do you think that some of these sales teams need to learn a little more question asking and curiosity development?
Absolutely. My experience was very similar to yours, Diane. Very intensive and comprehensive training from all of the companies in which I worked for, which truly did set a very strong foundation to engage the healthcare professional that you are selling to or detailing to. As a young new sales consultant, you feel compelled to get your message out as you were trained to deliver it. To the point that you’ve made, I do believe that exercising a higher level of curiosity and being more inquisitive to understand the unmet needs of the customer, and then tailoring your communication to satisfy and meet that unmet need is, is an art. The one thing that I would emphasize is that it’s not about the transaction, it’s about the relationship so that doctor that you saw and you detailed to and saw on the elevator, I’m sure you probably saw them twelve more times over the next two years.
It’s not about that individual transaction, that one sale call. It’s about establishing that relationship and rapport so that the customer sees value in you when you walk through the door and that is the passion. The passion is not to sell the antibiotic, the nonsteroidal, the antiviral, or whatever drug that is that you’re selling. It’s about understanding what that customer is facing and tailoring your solution to satisfy and meet that need. Where you build a relationship is when you’re able to say to the customer, “You know what? I don’t have a solution for that.” Being open, honest, and transparent helps to build trust and I think you create a much more valuable relationship in the long run.
I think it’s interesting to see the development of question-asking and developing curiosity to get out of status quo thinking. I have a lot of leaders who see it. “We want to get out of the status quo. We don’t want to be Blockbuster. We don’t want to be Kodak. We want to have this innovative thinking.” I think in healthcare, I saw it a lot for R&D. They knew that for R&D, “What’s the biggest thing? You’ve got a great pipeline.” We want that, but I also think as my example goes, we need to work with these salespeople in all these organizations as well because it goes beyond R&D. Many people sit and don’t get heard a lot of it comes from CEOs not building a culture of expecting or wanting questions. I see a lot with Novartis doing such great things with having curiosity month and it built into their culture. Are you seeing a lot of other pharmaceutical companies building cultures that are focused on not R&D, having that getting out of the status quo, but everybody else within the company?
I can’t speak for all companies across the sector, but what I would say is that, at the companies that I’ve had the pleasure of working for, we do want to get input from the associates at all levels. Here at Nasco Healthcare, we have created an organization and culture built on inclusion and diversity. To build on your great point in terms of soliciting input, ideas, concepts from all levels of the organization, over the past two years, we’ve run an initiative called Be Innovative. It’s where we’ve encouraged associates throughout the organization regardless of function and geography to provide ideas and concepts that will help catapult and accelerate our growth. We run a Be Innovative quarterly contest where we solicit submissions of great new ideas on how we can be innovative. It’s not only in new product development, it could be in manufacturing, in sales, or in customer service.
It could even be in back-office areas like HR and finance. What we’ve found is that we’ve been able to capture the voice of the organization across boundaries, which have enabled us to one, accelerate our growth by executing on some of those fantastic ideas, but at the same time, acknowledging the voice of the entire organization. Communicating back to the organization at my quarterly town halls. We got 55 great ideas and they fell in these areas. These are a few of the outstanding ideas that we are evaluating and investigating and this is the one idea that we’ve decided to fund and implement in the business. That encourages the culture of sharing your voice and ideas and I truly believe it creates a more inclusive environment.
That’s so important and you’ve worked in a lot of different environments. I noticed that you helped the startup to build the Mucinex brand that was later acquired. I was thinking back to when I first started the training. It was Stuart before it was ICI, I believe and we would train to learn about Mylanta. It’s funny when you think back at all these things. I was wondering if you think back on your career, what were some pivotal moments that you think shaped you into the leader you are now?
I think there are a couple and there is one that I would like to highlight that happened way before I moved into a professional career. In fact, when I was in third grade, my third-grade school teacher tapped me on the shoulder and wanted to put me in a remedial reading group. I was a little disappointed and upset. I went home and I told my mom about it. My mom immediately turned around and marched us right back up to the school to speak with the teacher and the principal. My mom communicated to the teacher that, “There’s nothing wrong with my son. You need to challenge him and hold him accountable.” That was a pivotal moment for me because it indicated to me that if in fact, I did not give my best all the time, someone could misinterpret my capabilities and the impact in which I could have.
As a result of that, I committed myself to do the best that I could do in my educational and athletic career. It helped to shape the man that I am right now. As well, it indicated to me that I had great support. It encouraged me to be able to speak about the things that were concerning to me and solicit support and help from others. My mom’s action showed me that others can help you along the way. Probably one of the first most pivotal moments in my professional career is at that transition moment that you were speaking about. I was a sales consultant when I first jumped into the industry. In fact, I started working for companies that went through multiple mergers similar to yourself. If you can imagine, I started working for a company called Rorer Pharmaceuticals, Rhône-Poulenc Rorer that ultimately now is Sanofi-Aventis.
I started working for a company named SmithKline Beecham that is now Glaxo Wellcome. I also worked for a company that was Pharmacia that is now Pfizer. After having success as a sales rep and a sales manager, I recall this moment. It’s me sitting in one of the national sales meetings and if you could take yourself back to the ‘90s, you can remember those national sales meetings being huge meetings with 3,000, 4,000 associates in the audience. There would be one individual that would come up on the stage. He would carry the title of vice president of marketing and sales, and he would be communicating and the strategy, the objectives, and the goals for the year. Me sitting in that audience, I said to myself, “I want that job.” I think that I’ve done a good job of being the back wheel of the bicycle powering the bicycle, but I wanted to put my hands on the steering wheel and direct where the organization was going.
Encouraging the sales organization to be more inquisitive and establish those relationships versus being transactional, so from that moment on, I committed myself to move from an enabler to a leader. Shortly thereafter, I moved into marketing. I became an associate product manager and from there, my career truly took off. Where I started to have an impact in more strategic leadership roles going forward, I saw that as a critical pivotal moment. Another that I would highlight Diane was that while working at Roche Laboratories, I had the good fortune of accepting an expatriate assignment where I lived in Basel, Switzerland for a little less than three years and this was truly transformative for me as a leader. We were working on a blockbuster development product in the anti-psychotic area and we were experiencing significant challenges as part of our clinical development program.
I was charged with working with the team to redesign the clinical plan as well as prepare the product for a commercial launch. As soon as I arrived in Basel, I started to exercise some bad behaviors that I had learned in North America. I was calling meetings at 8:00 AM. I was having working meetings through lunch. I was asking folks to work a little past 5:00. I was sending emails on Saturdays. I was oblivious to the culture in which I was working. I’m not sure if you spend time in the ‘90s or the early turn of the century in Europe, but most folks don’t come to the office until 9:00. They tend to take a coffee break from 10:00 to 10 30, take a 90-minute lunch, and then take another coffee break in the afternoon. They’re all out of the door by 5:00 PM and unplug over the weekend. I was oblivious to that.
In fact, one of my colleagues tapped me on the shoulder after being there for about 3 or 4 months and said, “Ken, listen, we’re doing great work. I think that we’re making great progress but you’re losing the team.” My message is that you need to truly embrace diversity and gain a great appreciation for the different cultures around the world. I truly believe that prepared me to be a global leader. Therefore, when I step into China, I come into it with a mindset of being very open and understanding of the cultural differences in Asia. If I go down to Latin America, it’s very different. Even if I go North of the border to Canada, the way in which they operate, the go-to-market model, and how they get things done are different. Now you hear many companies talking about inclusion and diversity. I believe that I embraced that cultural diversity and understanding that it was going to be the catalyst to our success many years ago. I pinpoint that expatriate assignment as that time then it transformed my leadership.
I imagine that would be a huge impact to help you understand different perceptions in the world, too.
I think back to your point earlier in terms of sales representatives being more inquisitive and asking more questions, I think that it encouraged me to do that. Where we have language differences, whether it be in Europe or in Asia, or in Latin America to gain a deep understanding of the situation and to collaborate with the team to come up with strategies that drive the performance, you need to be more inquisitive. Don’t come with your own US-based assumptions. That the way that it works in the US should work in Japan or the way that it works in the UK should work in Germany. Being more inquisitive, asking the team more questions, and collaborating with them to come up with solutions can truly lead to better results.
I agree with that and you said so many great things. It made me reflect back a little bit on some of the meetings I attended when we were talking about the big groups and different things that you’ve been in. I can remember Larry Miller was one of the best MCs we had. He came one time and he was hysterical. We used to get like Jerry Rice, Bob Newhart, Jay Leno, Bill Cosby, and Ray Charles. You name them, they were there. It’s going to be interesting to see. Do you think that’s going to go back to that? After this COVID-19 and how everything’s changed. We were always a virtual job as pharmaceutical reps, but not all the rest of the companies, parts of the company, and healthcare were. What are you seeing as far as that?Being an authentic leader is critical to having an impact in a global organization. Click To Tweet
I do think that the pandemic has taught us that Zoom, Google Meet, does enable us to have engagement and interaction. I think that we can keep the business moving forward leveraging those types of platforms, but I do not believe that it is a substitute for face-to-face interaction. I truly believe that truly sitting across the table from your counterparts, making that eye to eye contact, and being shoulder to shoulder in terms of partnering to come up with the strategy and the solutions are truly going to always be the best way, as well as engaging with the customers back to building that relationship.
I believe that Zoom and virtual interactions will push us back to being very transactional as opposed to fostering that relationship, that opportunity for you in the elevator represented a chance for you to say, “Are you going out to lunch? What are you thinking about right now? Are you thinking about pizza or a sandwich? I liked this Italian restaurant down the block. They make great flatbread pizzas. Would you like to join me?” You follow the fact that having that opportunity to engage with someone is very different from hitting the leave the meeting button after it’s all over.
You mentioned you worked for Rorer. I’m so curious because I grew up in the ‘60s. What was the actual indication, what was Quaaludes supposed to be used for?
To be honest, I don’t know. I don’t go back that far. I joined Rorer in 1990. We were in asthma and allergies like Azmacort, Slo-Bid, theophylline products at that time.
I sell Pulmicort. I sold some of this stuff from the Astra side when I was in AstraZeneca, but mostly Tenormins and a lot of the beta-blocker type of heart meds is what I was selling back at the time. It’s fun to take a look back at some of these industries and that’s one good thing about getting older is I feel like I’ve done so many things in different industries. It’s fun to talk about so much stuff and I know you’re working on a book for 2022. What are you incorporating from your past and what kind of book are you writing?
I’m trying to write a book that prepares upcoming leaders, our next generation leaders to be successful in global leadership roles primarily in the corporate environment. Don’t get me wrong, I believe some of the lessons that I hope to share will help entrepreneurs, but I truly believe that it will help leaders in the corporate environment. I would like to share some of my experiences and lessons learned so that their pathway to impact is easier. Let me give you an example, another pivotal moment that I had in my career. I think that being an authentic leader is critical to having an impact in a global organization. You need to be true to who you are.
One of the pivotal moments, for me, was I elevated to a leadership role where I have the opportunity to present to the analyst community, to the board of directors, to leaders of other companies. As I was coming up into the role that I’m in now, I can recall leaders telling me, “Ken, you might be a little too inspirational. You might be a little too dynamic. You sometimes remind me of a Baptist preacher.” Initially, I took that as a backhanded compliment but there was a day when I looked at myself in the mirror and I said to myself, “I’m going to be me and I’m going to be the best Ken that I can be.”
I believe as a result of that, I have become a leader that is differentiated from my peers. I am committed to inspiring and motivating the organization to deliver extraordinary results by leveraging all of my time. One of my talents is being dynamic and being charismatic. Being able to foster that one-to-one relationship even when I’m speaking to an audience of 1,000. As a result of that, I think that I’ve become a far more comfortable leader that has been open and receptive to hearing the ideas and thoughts of members of the organization at all levels. One of the messages that I hope to get out in my book is that leaders should be comfortable being themselves.
There is a reason Zig Ziglar was so popular. It was effective for him. It was his style. We can’t all be Zig Ziglar and for people who have that natural charisma and that dynamic presentation, it works for him, but for those who don’t have that, you can’t force that. That’s something that doesn’t come naturally. When you have it, it’s a great thing to rely on the things that propel you. You also have said, “Be comfortable being uncomfortable.” What do you mean by that?
A business has ups and downs and you need to learn to treat triumph and disaster as the true imposter which they really are. Don’t get too high when things are going great and don’t get too low when things are going poorly. Therefore, I believe it’s critical that leaders be comfortable being uncomfortable. At this level, there’s going to be stressed and there’s going to be pressure. You need to be calm and clear in all circumstances. The organization responds to your energy and your actions as the leader. What I would encourage all leaders to understand is that there is a solution to every problem. The reason why you are in the role is to enable the organization to truly diagnose, dissect and evaluate the problem and then mobilize, enable the organization to collaborate and align on the solution.
I think if you operate in that way in a calm, cool, and collective manner, you will give the organization the ability to become a learning organization. Always having the ability to face challenges, come up with solutions and deliver extraordinary results. Don’t be over-reactive in the uncomfortable. I’ve seen organizations make huge mistakes because they overreacted to a specific instance or situation. I would encourage future leaders to be comfortable being uncomfortable regardless every day, when you walk into the board room, when you walk out on the manufacturing sites, on a manufacturing floor when you go out to meet customers, there are going to be moments of uncomfort, of stress. You need to remain comfortable, calm, cool, and collected.
As you’re talking about some of this it brought to mind how some of the leaders I dealt with in the pharmaceutical realm dealt with really tough situations. I was in Dallas when 9/11 happened at a pharmaceutical meeting. I can remember the night before Ray Charles was singing America the Beautiful on 9/10 then that became the big song that 9/11 had embraced. It was interesting because I had gone upstairs to check my kids. It was between the two planes hitting the towers and I came down and I told my best friend who worked with me and I said, “This has happened.” He said, “No, there’s no way that happened.” I said, “I’m telling you, I saw it on the TV.”
I remembered the leaders got up on stage right then. Everybody was ending the meeting. The way they handled it, it was so it was very calming and caring. They went to great lengths to make sure we felt comfortable and that we had to stay there for like three days until they let us out on the first flight that opened up. I was very impressed with their handling the situation under stress. I know you give advice to leaders on how they can become extraordinary. Do you have any words of wisdom other than what we’ve already talked about of what you would suggest for them to be great leaders?
That is such a great example, Diane. First and foremost, we are all people, human beings, and we have emotions. We get happy, sad, and scared. As a leader, I think that you need to exercise compassion. You need to put yourself in the shoes of the organization in which you’re leading at all levels across all geographies. The second is to live your life with integrity. Be committed to always doing what is right even when it’s uncomfortable. Even when it’s not the easy thing to do, always do what is right. Be committed to going up and beyond for the organization. Be fair, plus. I truly believe that in that horrific moment of 9/11, your leadership exercise and ability to calm the organization, to encourage them that things will be okay in the future and that we will get through this too.
A great example of this, while not as horrific as 9/11, but making our way through the COVID-19 pandemic was another opportunity for us to exercise compassion. There was tremendous fear around the entire globe. No country, no geography, no individual was immune from being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As an organization, we needed to communicate to our associates that listen, “We will get through this as well.” In some areas of the world as well as the business, whether it be a function or a department we’re more greatly impacted, so therefore, you need to be compassionate. As a result, you need to always be there to do what’s right. To support the organization through times of trial and challenge. I would encourage all future leaders to truly be compassionate, to live their life with integrity, and always do what is right, even when it is uncomfortable.
You bring up things that I think are bringing back so many memories because of what I’ve seen in pharmaceuticals specifically. I saw a lot of being ahead of the curve in things that were not even known to me. I ended up writing my doctoral dissertation on emotional intelligence it made me think back. One of the things they rated us on in pharmaceutical sales was our concern for impact or how we came across to other people, which is your interpersonal skills and your self-awareness and all that type of thing. In the early ‘80s, you didn’t hear about it so much until Goleman‘s book became so popular in ’95. Even though he wasn’t the first to write about it, he made it so popular and he’s been on the show and it was amazing to talk to him about that.
There are other things they did. I remember taking a personality test to get the job. The first job I went because it was in different divisions. That was in 1980. They were giving personality tests that were not like a Myers-Briggs, but more of a reliable, “How can we work with your kind of a situation?” I remember thinking this is so unique. I had never seen that. I was very young at the time, but I think that these large healthcare organizations have been ahead of the curve in so many different ways that it’s fun to work with them again. I imagine you get to see all kinds of inspiring training. I can’t even imagine what the training’s like now because back then, we had notebooks. You accomplished so much. As I said, 30 plus years of experience, what’s next for you?
I have had a very rewarding professional career. I have had the opportunity of working for some great companies and even greater leaders, which have truly helped to shape and mold me into the man which I am now, Diane. What I’d like to do in the future is to continue to have an impact on the communities in which I served. I want to try to help the world be a better place after I’m gone. If there are things in which I can share or support that truly helps to elevate or move us forward as a society, I want to be a part of that. Whether that is addressing homelessness, an attack on illiteracy, or breaking down the racial divides and racism, I want to help him play a role in that.
Back to what you were bringing up about how healthcare companies, many years ago were truly helping us to become more self-aware of ourselves, but also at the same time helping us understand the unique differences of others and how we could connect with them on our style versus their style. I think that training has prepared me to help in all of those different areas. One is to be compassionate and understanding of someone that might be going through a hard patch and might find themselves homeless and might need a helping hand to get back on their feet. Whether it is a community or a population of children that are struggling with illiteracy. How can I lean in and help them elevate their ability in academia and education? These issues are related to race and racism, whether it’s Asian hate, Black Lives Matter, or whatever.
I think that we have so much more in common than we have as a difference. If I can help to serve as the bridge to highlight those commonalities and help us to work together to have a greater impact on the world, that’s what I would like to do. Diane, in summary, there’s nothing professionally that’s on my radar screen. I think that I have exceeded my wildest expectations from my professional aspirations. I’m very content with where I am. Now is all about trying to make an impact in the communities in which we serve.
A lot of these companies for which you’ve worked and for which I’ve worked have done a lot to give back. I know at AstraZeneca they gave away free Nolvadex to cancer patients. It was anti-estrogen that they made. A lot of these companies do a certain amount of things and I know a lot of them are working on more inclusion. When I went through my initial training in pharmaceuticals, the very first day I got there, there were nine of us in my training class. One of them was an African-American man and the other eight were long-haired blonde women. We all look the same. I think that has changed quite a bit since that time. Are you seeing that they’re putting much more focus on those types of issues of not having a certain type that they hire?
I truly believe that many of those barriers are starting to be broken down. When I started in pharmaceuticals, there was no minority, whether it be by race or by gender. CEOs in the healthcare sector, but that’s not the case now. There are several females and African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians that have risen to the highest level in healthcare, which is a testament to that sector’s commitment to diversity in the workforce. I believe at all levels of the organization, the healthcare companies have embraced the fact that we need to embrace diversity because diversity is going to help us be more successful in the marketplace. We need to hear the voices, ideas, and strategies from those who live and serve those communities because they know it better than anyone else.Leaders should be comfortable being uncomfortable. Click To Tweet
For us in North America, to believe that we understand the unique dynamics in China because we visit there 3 or 4 times a year or participate in 4 or 5 strategy meetings a year that we can direct the strategy that impacts China from New York or New Jersey, we would be fooling ourselves. Therefore, we need to have that leader represented at the table. They need to be invited into the room and we need to be receptive to hearing their voice, their ideas so that we can not only make a greater strategy that impacts China but also embrace some of those ideas in other markets.
I think that it’s a global time and I think there’s so much focus on how these companies are performing right now, but COVID-19 shined a light on what companies stepped up to try in and help with the situation. Do you think there’s some double-edged sword at all that if you’re making a product to help with this and you’re making money off of it, how are they dealing with that? The Pfizers of the world?
Again, it goes back to the leader leading the organization with integrity. The commitment was to come up with a solution to this pandemic. If in fact, Pfizer, Moderna, J&J, AstraZeneca, or whoever has some of the solutions in the marketplace, if their passionate commitment was truly to come up with a remedy to the play that was impacting the world, they should be able to sleep and rest easily at night, Diane. Regardless of whether or not they are making a profit off of it. Are you solving a global problem with the solution in which you’ve brought to the marketplace? Did you develop it with care and concern for the communities in which you serve to ensure that it makes things better, not worse? If in fact, you did that, you should be able to sleep well at night.
At the same time, we need to be sensitive that not all communities have the ability to afford or support some of the remedies that we come up with, therefore we need to be compassionate. With any of the profits that we’ve made or earned from the solution, we should be committed to reinvesting some of those dollars to close the gap for those communities that may not be able to afford it. These solutions should not be for the developed world, but we need to make sure that these solutions find their way to the developing world as well, even if it comes at a loss. In my company, we have several COVID-19 solutions and in light of the fact that not all communities can afford some of these remote, digital, AI-enabled solutions, we donate them for free to ensure that those communities can also have the proper training so that they can be ready to ultimately save a life in the future.
I imagine most of these companies have learned to be a lot more proactive from this whole situation and thinking about potentials. We always thought of pipelines and R&Ds in that industry, but I don’t remember thinking a lot like what-if scenarios. That’s probably changing things a lot. Do you want to add to that?
I think about it this way. We, as CEOs, leaders of companies think about it like this, “You do not want to wake up tomorrow morning and see your name in the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times associated with something that was inappropriate.” Therefore, you need to create a culture in your organization where everyone is always committed to doing what is right. If you need to motivate the organization to double-check and reevaluate all of the data to ensure that all of the products and solutions that we are bringing to the marketplace are efficacious but also very safe, you need to do that. It’s not about profiting from the suffering of others. It’s about bringing solutions to the world that make the world a better place.
I was looking at your companies. You’ve served leadership roles at Pfizer, Glaxo, Roche, and all those. I’m thinking about what I’ve seen change in the time that I’ve left AstraZeneca was back in the day and in ELA Industries, not healthcare when you left a company, you left, there was no like open door to come back kind of thing. I noticed a lot of Millennials say, “You can’t get experience at our company if you go back. Go somewhere else. You’re welcome to come back.” Do you see much more open doors, “You can come back,” kind of thing now or was it like that when you were with those companies?You need to create a culture in your organization where everyone is always committed to doing what is right. Click To Tweet
My experience was very similar to yours years ago, but I do believe that it is changing. As organizations, we want the best of the best. We want the best talent that can help us achieve our goals and objectives. One thing that I would say and hope to communicate in my book as well is that experience is the most valuable opportunity for a future leader. Don’t miss the opportunity to gain the experience. To your point that if an associate leaves an organization to get different or different experiences and they are able to secure those experiences and those experiences have value, I would welcome them back to our organization. Share with us what you’ve learned, help take us to the next level.
Things have changed since I was there. I left Ag-Chem at ICI to come back to AstraZeneca later. They had moved the office, so I had to leave because I didn’t want to move to California, but I wanted to get back into the company because I loved working there so much. They used to have like a pre-opening for, “The next time somebody quits, the job is yours,” kind of thing. They interviewed me that for the pharmaceutical job and they go, “We don’t expect an opening for maybe nine months or something.” I said, “Fine.” As long as I’m on the list, I’ll get on the list.
I found out I was pregnant and I was on their list. I remember thinking, “Do I tell them?” I’m like, “Why tell them?” Back then you didn’t want anybody worrying or they didn’t have the same thinking. I didn’t say anything. My future boss would call me every few weeks, every month or so, “How are things going fine?” We chat on the phone. I had the baby. I’m still in the hospital. I get a call and he says, “There’s an opening. Can we get together and talk about it?” I said, “Sure.” I remember Tony was born on a Wednesday and he called me Thursday. I said, “How about the end of next week? Next Friday, how’s that work for you?” I was trying to get as much time as I could. He said, “That’ll be fine.” I remember going to the meeting in a business suit, but I had to put a rubber band holding my button on through the hole and come back.
I remember not saying a word and he didn’t know. After I got on board and everything, he then goes, “I never asked you. Do you have a family?” I said, “Yes, I have two daughters and I’m married.” He goes, “How old are they?” I said, “One is open and the other one is about three weeks or whatever it was.” His face was so great and I said, “I didn’t want you to worry I wasn’t going to take the job.” He goes, “It’s probably a good idea you didn’t tell me.” I go, “Isn’t that funny?”
That is so funny. What a story.
It worked out well. That was a great position and I loved working there. This was so much fun having you on the show. I think a lot of people are going to want to know more about Nasco Healthcare, you, and follow you. How can they find out more?
I would encourage all to come to our corporate website, www.NascoHealthcare.com. On there you will learn all about our vision and our mission to help improve patient outcomes and ensure that all healthcare professionals be ready when the time calls to save a life. As well as you can peruse our leadership page. We give you an update on our fantastic leadership team, as well as give you a view of some of the solutions that we bring to the marketplace to hopefully make the world a better place.
This was so interesting and so much fun. Thank you for being my guest, Ken.
Thank you, Diane. This was awesome.
I like to thank Ken for being my guest in this episode. We get so many great guests on the show. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can go to DrDianeHamilton.com. I enjoyed this episode and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead radio.
About Ken Miller
As President & CEO of Nasco Healthcare, Ken Miller is focused on developing global high- performance teams to drive commercial and operational excellence. Ken is a global healthcare executive and cross-industry board member with 30+ years of experience. Ken is known as a shapeshifter for high-potential companies for launching, transforming and evolving world-class companies into profitable & growing businesses.
Prior to Nasco Healthcare, he served as Worldwide President Diabetes Care, BD where he revitalized the group into a world-leading organization. Prior to that, Ken transformed a start-up into a global leader by helping to build the Mucinex brand, ultimately acquired by Reckitt Benckiser. Ken has held leadership roles at blue chip companies such as Pfizer (Pharmacia), GlaxoSmithKline (SKB), Roche Labs and Novo Nordisk.
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