Oct. 15, 2022

Owen Swift - Sales and Research support for Life Science Companies

This week on the Life Science Success podcast my guest is Owen Swift.  His organization was founded to represent manufacturers and CROs who are selling into the life science market across the US. Additionally, he uses the balance of his time to...


This week on the Life Science Success podcast my guest is Owen Swift.  His organization was founded to represent manufacturers and CROs who are selling into the life science market across the US. Additionally, he uses the balance of his time to work directly with customers in solving their research challenges.

 

 

Please check out our Life Science Success Resources.  You will find tools that will support growing companies and books for authors I have interviewed.  

Transcript

Owen Swift

[00:00:00] 

[00:00:28] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Welcome to Life Science Success Podcast. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Don. I'm a consultant in life sciences. I help companies reduce complexity and increase performance. I also wanted to quickly mention before we get started with the interview today that I have a free course on developing OKRs.

For those of you who are developing OKRs in your organization, I would encourage you to go take a look. So today I'd like to welcome our guest, who is Owen Swift. His organization was founded to [00:01:00] represent manufacturers and CROs who are selling into life science market across the us. Welcome Owen. Thanks, Don.

Good to be here. Yeah, thanks so much. So can you tell listeners just a little bit about your. 

[00:01:14] Owen Swift: Sure. So I've spent 17 years in life science sales, and I would say my experience there has been unusually broad. I've done everything from basic biology to discovery and screening, work, process development, manufacturing, some clinical diagnostic sales.

So I've seen all ends of the spectrum. And now I run my own independent sales agency. We're four people and we essentially our main service is outsourced sales represe. Okay, 

[00:01:44] Don Davis PhD, MBA: so you're primarily working with small to mid-size companies, or is it just anything in the gammut, in, in life sciences, anything specific?

[00:01:53] Owen Swift: So I, I tend to drift towards small. Entrepreneurial companies, companies that have something [00:02:00] that's could potentially be disruptive or game changing in the space. You never know these things until they actually do start to disrupt. So I really the small entrepreneurial companies, but one of my clients right now is Summa Tomo Corporation, which is a very large corporation and I, but I work with a very small division within that that's focused on the life sciences.

I like the entrepreneurial side quite a. 

[00:02:25] Don Davis PhD, MBA: And so are most of the people in your organization, do they have different skills than you or do they more or less do the same exact thing for other clients? Or how does that work? 

[00:02:39] Owen Swift: So you mean within my own agency or within the clients that I work for?

Within your own agency? . Yeah. Within my own agency. So I have two sales consultants that work for me. And so we, they have individual responsibilities and we have some team responsibilities. And then I have one coordinator who helps with all of our data management and billing and admin stuff. So we tend to work as a team.

[00:03:00] Responsibilities are split a little bit, half and half. We tend to focus on. Oncology and neuroscience. So I have one person that focuses on oncology, the other person focuses on neuroscience. I help try to tie it together and pick up, the other things in like immunology and other areas.

But yeah, more than anything else, I think we try to work as a team on that. Yeah, I was 

[00:03:19] Don Davis PhD, MBA: gonna say I mean I, my consulting agency is really small as well. We only have three people as well, but we all have different skill sets that more or less com complement to the end product. . Yeah. It's one of those things where I need my teammates too in, in most engagement.

So 

[00:03:39] Owen Swift: yeah it's great to have people. Like it's very different being solo by yourself and then having team members that, one you have to manage and coordinate and look out for, but also to have sort of a group dynamic where ideas can evolve and you can feed off of each other's energy.

Yeah. 

[00:03:58] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. I completely agree. [00:04:00] So tell me a little bit about your experience in terms of commercializing life sciences product. 

[00:04:07] Owen Swift: Yeah, so I think, this is part of what led me to being an independent rep. So I, I, number of the companies that I've worked for have all, I guess in some sense all been entrepreneurial or trying to disrupt the space in their own way.

Some of them, like working at Ventana, Ventana was clinical diagnostics company and they were. Really trying to displace, the market leader at the time and ultimately succeeded. So getting to be a part of those kinds of journeys, I think helped inform where I am with commercialization today.

And then, having been a independent agent for five years now, I've worked with probably about 20 clients overall. And you really get into an organization when you're brought in as, as often the only salesperson. And you're brought issues that revolve [00:05:00] around marketing, around new product development, around the logistics and delivery of these things.

And so I think, my experience is probably like everybody in this space that has had to learn it. Has been on the ground through trial and error us preferably by watching other people's mistakes, but also by making your own mistakes. And I'd say the past five years have in a lot of ways been a crash course for me on this because you have to do this serially several times in a row and there's really not a ton of margin for error.

If you. Make a wrong call or, if you choose a wrong group of customers to go after, that rolls up to my bottom line. So I have to own that. And so does the client to some degree. Experience is the best teacher there. 

[00:05:48] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. And I would imagine those experiences, all those experiences also are compounding.

They probably, definitely, benefit each other, from client to client [00:06:00] as. 

[00:06:01] Owen Swift: Yeah, so I think one of the advantages that I have, which I'm fortunate to have, is I get to see the market from different angles simultaneously. And if I have a brand or a product line that's slowing down in sales, we'll have the conversation with their managers and they'll say, Oh, and is this something that's happening everywhere or is this just happening to us?

And I can answer that question cuz I have, dozen other product lines that may or may not be having that issue. Maybe it's a service that's declining and I have other services that I can look at and I can say actually we're up over there. So it's probably something unique to your situation.

So yeah, the breadth of experience is really what I'm able to bring to the table. 

[00:06:44] Don Davis PhD, MBA: And do you primarily just focus on the US or are you global as well? 

[00:06:50] Owen Swift: I started out, I was just focused on the Northeast US and I would say we're cautiously expanding for the rest of the us. Part of that was driven by Covid when [00:07:00] everything really shifted to virtual and many of the clients I represent don't have other sales people in the rest of the US and so they were happy for us to start to work on that.

And so I think for new product lines now we kinda look at how. Business there is nationally, and if it's something we can handle, then we're happy to cover the whole country. Okay. 

[00:07:23] Don Davis PhD, MBA: And then where did you learn, how to commercialize life sciences products? 

Again, it was probably trial and error.

[00:07:32] Owen Swift: I worked for a number of small entrepreneurial companies and, you get to see them go through some of their learnings and mistakes. And I'd say I learned as much about what not to do is about what to do. Or maybe I that's perhaps not even fair cuz there's never black and white true and false answers here is there's really just what's the strategy that you want to pursue and let's crowd out [00:08:00] everything else.

There's not okay, this is the one true strategy that just doesn't exist even for one company. For example, when I was at Tomo and we were launching the cell therapy bioreactor, that was a really new space. And that, we got into the space from me, al stem cells and then, about a year and a half into it, Novartis announced that they were gonna co-develop CAR T off of, pins technology.

And so I got to see that evolve like rapidly overnight. And for us in the. By reactor side it was like, okay, here's this new application that's showing up. Who are gonna be the customers for it. We don't even, we don't even know who the customers are gonna be. We don't understand the value proposition that's gonna be different from these other types of stem cells that we're working with.

A lot of it was through trial and error. And so for me personally, how do you take your experience and turn it into, are you any good at commercialization? I would say, [00:09:00] I do that by trying to think actively about what's going on what are the strategies that are being employed by the people I work for and what are the strategies being employed by the competitor, and can we draw lines around those that make sense?

And then once you start to, have a framework to understand these things and it becomes more portable. And when I onboard a new client, now the first things we go right to are ideal customer profile and value proposition. And oftentimes those aren't really well defined. I don't have time to write like a 10 page report on that.

But what we can do is we can start to sketch things out and then immediately test them in the market. That's really. My go-to method is, try to develop the minimum necessary framework to get you to some customers, and then take what you learn from those customers and further develop your framework.

At that point, you can adjust your pricing, you can adjust, the way that [00:10:00] you present, data in slides that's gonna resonate better with customers. Maybe you understand the value in a different way. Maybe it's something you thought, Okay, this was gonna save. Customer's time.

Everybody likes to save time, but if that time is saved on a task that's part of the critical path in a drug program, that means something differently entirely. And so we would then retool a message to be able to sell that probably to a different group of stakeholders at the customer. Yeah. 

[00:10:29] Don Davis PhD, MBA: One of the things that that, that is also in your bio I know, is that you.

Solve research challenges as well. Can you just tell us a little bit more about that, about how you work with your clients in terms of solving research challenges? 

[00:10:44] Owen Swift: So on the on the research side, So I'm trying to recall what my profile actually says. Maybe I need to edit that . But I, so there's a couple of things.

We do a little bit of market research for our clients, so the brands we represent, but for, [00:11:00] research challenges, it tends to be more on the customer side. And again I drift. I have this like tendency, this magnetism for smaller entrepreneurial companies and I think that carries over to the drug discovery companies as well.

And I have one customer right now that, with them last week, they have therapy in the clinic actually. And now they're trying to figure out, okay, let's go back and open up the field of indications in a really broad way. And throw our therapy at this wall of indications and see what sticks.

And you can picture the challenges that come with that. It's not as simple as just doing that. You then have to figure out, okay we've got different models that we need and so you know, what are the available models? And for some indications there's gonna. Models that are much more robust that you can go to and implement more quickly.

There's others that you're gonna need a, a specialist CRO to really run So, When I get to have a [00:12:00] conversation with a customer about those kinds of challenges, I get really excited because then I can really draw on my breadth of experience and I can say, Okay, if you're targeting, if you're targeting, if you think neuroscience sounds great, because there's a lot of unmet need okay, there's certain indications that.

Are gonna be a lot easier to test your drug against than others. And we can talk about what models are there for that. And if you wanna start spinning up fancy, complex, and vitro models, I have a lot of warnings for you about how that can go wrong because you don't have experience in that space yet. So those are the kinds of research challenges I deal with.

[00:12:35] Don Davis PhD, MBA: And it definitely, again, it builds off of your experience Makes a lot of sense. To me as well that, you might go that direction. I guess the other sort of question I have in terms of your career history is you went from this corporate sales rep to an independent.

What was that journey like for. 

[00:12:57] Owen Swift: It was bouncy. It was definitely [00:13:00] bouncy. And so I started out pretty abrupt cuz I was removed from a corporate job involuntarily. And then, I had been thinking about going independent for, probably a couple years prior, just kicking around the ideas saying, Hey, this would be nice.

Okay now, Actually have the chance to try it. And so in the space of about three months, I think it was three months to get my first couple clients on board and couple first couple product lines on board. Over the subsequent years I've tried to think more about, okay, how can I take.

What I do as sales and turn it into a process that's repeatable for me and for my clients, and that, that's probably the hardest thing of taking our experience and really profiting from it, is figuring out, how can you, Put it into a framework and how can sell that framework to customers and then make that framework execute for you?

I think there's, I talked with a lot of independent consultants, not necessarily independent sales [00:14:00] reps, but consultants. And I think there's really two challenges to the business. One is the framework aspect where it's like, Hey, I'm really smart and I know how to do all these things, if we put it into a framework, we're gonna get jobs and projects done a lot faster.

The second piece of being independent is always where are you gonna get your clients from? Where are you gonna get the people that are gonna pay you? And I think a lot of independent consultants spend, maybe a third of their time, quarter to a third of their time just trying to get new business.

Sure. That hasn't been too much of a problem for me as I've gone on. Because I might be a little bit of a unicorn in this space. I'm not a unicorn cuz I know other independent reps, but there's relatively few of us I think compared to the demand, especially by small entrepreneurial companies or foreign companies.

That are looking for some presence in the us. And I, if you hang a shingle and you have some street credibility, I think it, you don't have to [00:15:00] spend a lot of time on the attracting of clients. But yeah the bumpy parts have mostly been around product lines and okay, you think you have a good framework and then you onboard this product line and you find out, okay, what was generating leads for you for the previous, Six product lines or previous 15 years of your life is no longer effective for this particular product line.

And so now you need to come up with a new angle or, discontinue the contract and walk away. So those are the challenges that, kept me up at night for several years. I think I've gotten much more comfortable with that level of uncertainty. And again, just relying on the trial and error framework and the getting to customers quickly really helps to smooth things over.

[00:15:46] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, I think the I mean I smiled whenever you mentioned the framework cuz we've had somebody on to talk about omnichannel, in terms of, one particular framework and then I, long time [00:16:00] ago, but I was trained in Miller Hyman and I remember, as well as similar sort of, conversations about, how does this approach work and how.

Fit inside of the organization and things like that. And, obviously for larger organizations, things like Miller Hyman might work, but it's not necessarily your go to market strategy or your, the base commercialization strategy either. So it's, some of these companies don't even have the initial parts of the framework to be able to work with.

Yeah. 

[00:16:31] Owen Swift: Yeah. That was my immediate observation on Miller Hyman, which of course I've taken several times. It was really designed for larger corporations, cuz those are the people that pay Miller Hammond consulting fees. . I think the principles are still good for smaller organizations, but we don't have the time of day to do like blue sheets and then have to explain to a client why this is important.

I think we still employ the same kind of strategic approach and we, employ some of the same principles when we're [00:17:00] dealing with multiple buying influences. But framework for me, A lot of times revolves around the funnel itself and that, that's probably my biggest takeaway from the Miller Haven framework.

So I'll tell you a little bit about how we use that. One of the metrics that I keep my eyes closest on is how you know if you have four stages in your funnel, how does the aggregate value of the deals in each stage change over? . So are we getting deals that are stuck at the qualification stage? Are people not being open with us about their money?

Are they not allocating money to solve the problem? Are we stuck in the, in the end stage where it's, we're trying to get a master service agreement signed and those take forever to get done, and that's killing our deal because the customer wants it done yesterday. And so when you start to monitor those things, you can really tease out the differences.

And that's, one of the things I've tried to do is have that kind of common [00:18:00] analysis framework that I can apply across all different product lines so that I can say, Okay, we have a huge qualification. B, client A, but client B, we know we clearly don't have enough coming into the top. And we can, that helps us prioritize our time and where we spend it on different clients.

[00:18:18] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. Yeah. It's the same way with scaling an organization. And primarily where I focus, it's the same exact thing. You've gotta take existing tools and things that people use in the marketplace, but also adapt them for, these small to mid-size kind of companies. Because if you tried sticking in something that, big infrastructure like Six Sigma into a small organization, one just the.

Overall infrastructure will kill the organization and won't get anything done. But at the same time, there are, strict benefits that can come from doing it as well. So it makes a lot of sense to adapt things, that you see that are successful in the marketplace. 

[00:18:56] Owen Swift: If you have somebody that's experienced in Six [00:19:00] Sigma and that.

Has also experienced working with small companies, then I think that's a really good combination because then you have somebody that has the vision for what the company could ultimately be and where, what things do you wanna start to get in place now to facilitate that later. Those make the best consultants and in some ways, the best founders if founders have certain skills and they can say, Okay, this is the vision for what I want.

My company to be. That's really good. And it's best when they know their own gaps. And if they know what Six Sigma is and they know that nothing about it. They're like, Okay. If I have a consultant with that skillset, it makes a lot of sense to bring someone like that in. 

[00:19:40] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. Yeah.

Thanks for that. Yeah. That, I completely agree with you, but I'm a little biased , so Yeah. Yeah. At the same time. So back to you again. So what made you wanna, I know that you said that more or less your career directed you this way, but what made you wanna be an independent?

I'm [00:20:00] sure you could have picked up in, said, Hey look, I want to go back and get another corporate. 

[00:20:05] Owen Swift: So I think the thing that attracted me most was the freedom to operate the way I wanted to. And I've been fortunate to have mostly hands off bosses in the past where they were like, As long as you keep the number up on, we're not gonna ride you too hard about the travel expenses or the crm or stuff like that.

But you still encounter so sometimes like a misalignment of things that are being measured and incentives. And so just as a couple examples, one time I had a bonus plan that was partially based on the accuracy of the forecast and nobody earned that portion of the bonus that year.

Probably because we were mostly good at sales and selling and we wanted to sell. And if somebody had come in and said, Hey, this is what you're doing wrong in the forecast, change it. We would've done it, but. To [00:21:00] have that tossed in. It's just emblematic of some of the things that you get working for a company where sales isn't your only focus.

So I, I have the total freedom to work as I choose and be rewarded or punished by the results that I do or don't get. That's mostly it for me. Why? I think a benefit that I hadn't really realized with that was that you end up getting treated very differently by both the clients that you represent as well as the customers.

So customers now are much more interested in talking to me because they're, I'll sell them one product line and when they know I, I do more. . They're like, Tell me about your other product line. What else is in your bag? Yes, , what else can help me? And even beyond that, who do you know that you don't represent that you could refer us to?

I do a lot of referrals too. . So that's been game changing for my relationship with customers. I think it's made them generally deeper and [00:22:00] longer lasting because I'm able to sustain the changes in their. Product site their project cycles and objectives on the client side.

It's been interesting to note how my clients treat me differently from how my managers and bosses treated me in the past. I think it, it's a little bit more of a even playing field where the exchange of value is more explicit and we acknowledge that and discuss it and we say, Owen, you're working really.

And I say we're actually not generating a lot of commission yet. And that's a discussion we can have that, they wanna retain my services, they think it's gonna lead to long-term results. How can we change the relationship to, make that work? Same thing with like product and customer feedback.

Maybe it's a result of working with entrepreneurial companies where they don't have, they don't have a market research person. But when I am able to bring customer insights to them and I say, I've talked with three or four customers that have all said [00:23:00] this. They say, That's great. And then they say what do you think we should do about that?

What are some ideas? How can we really change things? The regret is that they don't always have the money to do those things themselves. But if I say, if I wanna, throw different slides into a deck and try a different message, I can do that. And corporate marketing isn't gonna punish me for it.

It's all governed by the results. And that's what led me to it cuz I've always been results driven and now we're in the ultimate results driven environment. Yeah. 

[00:23:30] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. I mean it's one of those things where you. Watch people's overall path and the path that they wind up on.

And it's funny cuz I, I've heard these discussions with people before about, find something that's your passion. When you're younger, your passion may be somewhere that, honestly is just gonna frustrate you. And I know they've had those conversations, even with my kids about, look I know [00:24:00] you a little bit better than maybe most people that, that are trying to guide your future.

And Yeah. Let's just have a conversation about who you really are and Right. Fundamentally what direction you wanna go and to your point, I feel like there's a part. Our careers that we choose and there's part of our careers that choose us. And yeah. So it seems like you've found a path as an independent Definitely.

Where you can contribute, all around. 

[00:24:28] Owen Swift: Yeah it's been rewarding in that sense. I wouldn't hold it up and say, in every way, it's better than being a corporate rep. There's every time I have to pay my own travel expenses, I'm like, Yeah, I wish I could just charge this and have somebody else cover it.

But and it's probably also beyond that too, I miss having the resources of a larger team and having a marketing team that's really, good at marketing and I can do my sales thing and they can do their market. Thing and we can synergize together. But [00:25:00] in, in a way like this trip down the independent road has really accelerated in my learning, I think in so many ways.

It's really put a lot of my ideas to the test, things that I've always wanted to do differently and now can do differently. I get to, Own those changes and see how they work. So 

[00:25:20] Don Davis PhD, MBA: yeah. Whenever you come in to work with a new client, where do you generally start?

[00:25:27] Owen Swift: I have a questionnaire that's part of my process. , it's cuz I, there's certain things that we need to know to get synced up operationally. I think, we try to get out to customers as fast as possible, is the governing principle. And so how much we try to, Get some learning around the products themselves.

But you're never gonna become an expert in a product right away. So we try to get enough that we can start to take it to the market and we start to understand the value proposition as it's currently conceived. And very early [00:26:00] on, when we're working with the first dozen customers, 20 customers, 50 prospects, whatever it ends up being, we try to look for situations that we can rinse and repeat quickly.

So if we can develop a profile, Let's say a phenotype of what customer is responding to our message and generating a little bit of revenue or, whatever stage we're able to get to. If we can replicate that is usually what sort of bootstraps the whole first part of a client relationship. Clients a lot of times come to me cuz they, they've had a startups, the entrepreneurial ones, they have a few incumbent customers, but they really haven't.

Done much to take it to the rest of the market. And my approach is, and my team's approach is very direct. We do a lot of cold solicitation, we do a lot of selling within existing relationships. And so we can get to at least some groups of customers relatively quickly. And from there, we'll take it back and [00:27:00] early customer conversations are always collaborative with the client.

That's probably a difference between working with an agent like myself and a man and a distributor, is if you're the company that's making the products and hiring the agent or the distributor. If you're working with me, we're side by side with the customer. You, the manufacturer, get to have that relationship directly with the customer.

You're gonna do a lot of the presentations initially, and I'm gonna see how those things go and gradually take on that role. As I learn more with a distributor, a lot of times you're just handing that off and the distributor's You stay on your side of the wall manufacturing, I will deal with the customer over here and I will let you know when we need something.

So it's a little bit I think a little bit more difficult for some of those entrepreneurial companies where they're separated from the customer, but yeah, the strategy. Early on is really get to customers quickly, get feedback, try to develop a [00:28:00] profile for those customers that we can then solicit to.

And that's really the first phase of revenue that might last nine months to a year or so. And at that point, once we're at least six months in, but up to 12 months, we're thinking about, okay, what are some secondary groups for this particular product line? What adjustments do we wanna make in terms of how it's delivered?

So for example, if we're selling, 3D tissue model products, is there an opportunity there for services? Are a lot of these customers coming back and saying, Hey, this is a great model, but we'd rather. You, the manufacturer, run it for us. We can help parameterize that in a way that lets you offer that to the customer.

Does that, did that answer your question? Yeah, that's very good. 

[00:28:46] Don Davis PhD, MBA: It's good that you're, so you don't just come into it and, stick in your. Area, if you will, you also are thinking, as a future component, what other [00:29:00] services could potentially be offered as well to grow space too.

[00:29:04] Owen Swift: Yeah, I, it's, I really feel for some of these smaller entrepreneurial companies, cuz you have the bandwidth and the funding to really get going with only maybe one or two products that you. Have ideas for, and operationally the complexities that come when, hey, you start to get four or five products that are pulling, different raw materials and have different lead times maybe manufactured, You get components from different places that have to come in, that complexities just pile up.

So I feel for companies that, they've got one or two products that they feel like are their best foot forward and it's really game time for them. To prove that they can generate revenue off of this. They have investors of their own. The capital raises are one or two digits smaller than you would get at a drug discovery company cuz we're in the research tool space.

We might be funded by like a million, 10 [00:30:00] million would be. And what the investors wanna see is they wanna see some returns. And if you can, show those customer wins, that goes a long way towards raising your next round of capital. 

[00:30:14] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, absolutely. Owen, there are three questions that I like to ask every guest.

What inspires you? I, 

[00:30:21] Owen Swift: yeah I thought about this. So I would have to say it's the younger generation. I'm not that old myself, but, I've had the benefit of working with a number of younger people at my agency. So I, one of the profiles I like to hire is recent college grads, because I think, There's a lot of people in that group that have tremendous drive and are looking to really apply themselves to the world and execute and, produce things.

And with if you're willing to invest [00:31:00] the training and coaching. Those kinds of employees are super valuable. And I think they also tend to be really under utilized by other companies in the research tool space. If you look at who's, who gets recruited and filled for sales and commercial positions it's all on pedigree, and if you don't have a pedigree or if your pedigrees from another B2B space, like it's a tougher fit, but there's a lot of talent there and there's a lot of ideas, and I maybe it comes from, if you were younger or earlier in your career, you're not as jaded or you're not as influenced by other other people that you've been exposed to and what comes from.

Your own ideas tends to be more organic and I really like that energy. So yeah, younger generation is what inspires me. Customers too. I love working with younger scientists. A lot of the younger scientists I work with are, again, people like you've just come out of your PhD and you've spent, however many years [00:32:00] studying this one gene and that working for a pharma company and the pharma company is like, Hey, develop this assay.

And that is like your world. And it's interesting to see those kinds of customers. Expand their context and general knowledge acro more across the drug discovery spectrum and understand, okay, where does this assay fit into the spectrum of technologies that are out there? So it that's fun.

[00:32:29] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, absolutely. I it, One of the things that I've written just briefly about in on LinkedIn, what recently would had to do with quiet quitting just to frame this up for anybody that doesn't know the definition, at least the definition that I've gotten from researching a few articles on it, essentially, is that, As you work during a day, whenever you come to the end of your day, do you continue to work for the company that you are working [00:33:00] for, meaning that you work more than 40 hours a week, every week, maybe nights, weekends, et cetera.

, and if you do something else, you start an Etsy store, you record YouTube videos. I don't know what other things that you might do. One of the things that I just recently did was I released a book, so I wrote a book and so I used my quote unquote extra time to go write a book and But that's called quiet quitting.

And to me those things are the things that also bring additional energy and additional ideas back to the company. And one of the things I know I've had, inner circle conversations about with the people on my team is, look, I have no problem with anybody that wants to use their time after hours and go do whatever.

I want you to, take a break and, but I also want you to have fun and, do the things that you wanna do in [00:34:00] life. And it's it is interesting to me to watch the younger generation come along and say this works for me, but this thing doesn't, and, kinda establish their own boundaries.

So 

[00:34:15] Owen Swift: yeah it's tremendous. The I think a lot of. Companies, don't really the idea when you're working for a corporation, the idea of career development is, What are your pathways within this corporation? But the reality is, especially in sales, you're not gonna be with that corporation for very long.

And so with my own people that I hire, we have very open discussions about, okay, what is, What does your exit look like and what do you want that exit to be too? Because there's probably companies out there that will pay you more once you're skilled up. I might not be able to afford you if you end up being good.

And I. You to have those opportunities. Like I can get, I can help you get there. And if I know that like I can [00:35:00] manage my recruiting and like employment cycle such that, it's not a burden to me to do that, but I think it's hugely motivating for people to have an, open door to be able to develop their career.

Yeah, absolutely. 

[00:35:16] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Second question is what concerns. 

[00:35:18] Owen Swift: I, for me, more than anything else is the cost of healthcare, right? Who's not concerned about the cost of healthcare these days? You can't go like 10 headlines into the New York Times before you. Something about that. And so personally, obviously, hey, I'm self-employed.

My health insurance is gonna go up by 10, 20% next year. Nothing I can do about that. I think where it becomes more interesting is when you think about it professionally. We work in the biotech space. We're part of the cost that contribute to the cost of care and. Where do we have opportunity to impact that, if at all?

And I say if at all, because I am coming up short on ideas where I personally can impact [00:36:00] that. But I think it's really, when you start thinking about that, And you look at the incentives that are in place for the pharmaceutical industry, just as an example, to reduce cost. The incentives aren't aligned very well at all,

And that concerns me because the industry can't change its own incentives. So that has to come externally from government or uprising or whatever it is. And I, yeah, I don't see a lot of, I don't see a lot of opportunities to change that. And so that's concern. Yeah, 

[00:36:34] Don Davis PhD, MBA: definitely. I've seen some great minds try and apply different strategies in terms of thinking about it.

And it would be something that, obviously would be, would be great to have. But at the same time, I think the one place where I really apply this level of thinking is, So you think about [00:37:00] the health inequalities going from the United States, say to Africa or India or, a lower economic area, right?

In the world, the United States has lower economic areas and, but yet the cost, disparity is still there, right? I look at my own healthcare and I'm thankful that I'm able to afford it and, at the same time, contribute in my own way, back to life sciences, but, what I think about in the back of my mind is all of these people that can't afford basic medication to live.

Whether it's cancer medication or diabetes medication, those sort of things. I'm just surprised that we haven't figured out a bigger, better. Sort of way to solve for these things, especially in the United States out of anywhere. 

[00:37:51] Owen Swift: Yeah. I, that's the curse of being on the commercial side, is you go to conferences and somebody gets up on the podium and they're like, Yeah, we can cure, ll [00:38:00] now, leukemia and I'm thinking that's really good.

How are we gonna pay for that ? Who's gonna be able to afford it? Not people in third world countries at the moment, unfortunately. Yeah. And that. If you go beyond just the profit motive, and I think there, fortunately, we do have a lot of people in the industry that are motivated altruistically beyond just dollars in the bank account.

And unfortunately we don't really have, they don't often adopt like a commercial mindset to solving those kinds of problems, and I don't think they really think about it too much either. And if we could, apply some of that brain power on the commercial side, I, maybe more solutions would become apparent.

Very good. 

[00:38:47] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Last question, what excites you? 

[00:38:49] Owen Swift: I get excited when I see people standing up and, making changes in their own communities. So like going back to the last example, like if I saw a [00:39:00] top r and d person at a major pharma company, Stand up and make a proposal about the cost of healthcare.

I would be pretty excited to see that. I don't even know what the contents of such a proposal would be, but when people are willing to push against the current of ideas. Then that excites me. So one I just saw today, there's this guy follow on Twitter, Dan Goodman, neuroscientist.

And one of the topics in academia these days is publishing and what publications are charging authors to publish in their. Journals and open access and things like that. And Dan Goodman is standing up and he's saying, Okay, we've got a new outlet that's formulated differently with different incentives for people to be able to get their workout in a certain way.

And I don't know if that's gonna work, but I, as a starting point for discussion [00:40:00] and development of that idea, I am a hundred percent support. Very good. 

[00:40:05] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Owen Swift, thank you so much for being on the Life Science Success podcast. I greatly appreciate you being here and spending time with me. 

[00:40:13] Owen Swift: It's been my pleasure.

Thanks 

[00:40:15] Intro: so much.

 

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Owen Swift

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Owen has spent for 17 years working in sales in the life science industry, spanning areas from drug discovery to manufacturing to clinical diagnostics. He currently runs his own independent sales agency representing 13 product lines in the drug discovery space.