“In protecting our business, we are not talking about protecting AB’s business, but everybody in the chain that was relying on AB to maintain their business continuity. And that came from the farmers to the people in our breweries, to the wholesalers that we service to the retailers that they service and for the consumers, that they would need to have some sense of normalcy.”
An event like a pandemic can make one reexamine personal and professional priorities. For Brazilian-born Michel Doukeris, it was a chance to bolster his 165-year-old company’s commitment to its customers. When hand sanitizer was in short supply, the CEO of Anheuser-Busch quickly shifted brewery production to fill that need. When the American Red Cross saw blood donations decline, the venerable company used its partnerships with major sports franchises to allow their arenas to be used for that vital purpose. That kind of altruism also extends to the company’s supply chain – and to its competitors.
“We want to be the company that contributes the most for our retailers and wholesalers for their business growth,” he tells Mike. “It’s about working with our employees and our communities to be strong. … And it's about having a leadership position in the overall industry, making the industry better, making the industry healthier and making sure that we are contributing through innovation to make this industry a vibrant one for the next 100 years.”
“We all have learned the things that a few months ago we thought were not possible were really possible. … As I think about manufacturing, I think about two big changes. First is the creation of more decentralized manufacturing networks, where companies will be able to produce closer … to where their customers will be. The second big change will be driven by personalization.”
After launching his 30-year career at HP with an internship, Enrique Lores was named CEO in November 2019. In between, he learned virtually every facet of the iconic company, helping it achieve its current status as a leader in the technology sector. For HP’s future, the Madrid-born Lores sees increasing market share in the biomedical sector, as personalized medicine drives demand for 3D printing.
“We are building microprocessors for fluids,” he tells Mike, “and with them we will be able to do diagnostics and measure and identify potential diseases. We will also be able to create personalized medicine. So if you are going through a difficult treatment, we will be able to create a specific medicine designed only for you, and that medicine will be built in your home, at your home. That ability and option to drive the democratization of the healthcare space is one of the most inspiring efforts that we have in the company. Not only because of the business it will create, but also because of the impact it will have in the world.”
This Podcast Features:
Founder and Chairman, Focused Ultrasound Foundation
“Once I realized the potential of this non-invasive surgical procedure to save countless lives and improve the healthcare of millions of people, I realized how important this work can be and is.” —John Grisham
Friends and neighbors for 25 years, author John Grisham and neurologist Neal Kassell are on a mission. Together, they are raising awareness – and funds – for a promising, non-invasive procedure known as focused ultrasound. While the FDA has approved the therapy for seven specific treatments, Kassell (who successfully treated both of President-elect Biden’s aneurisms) believe that millions could benefit from broader applications of the technology:
“Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, OCD, depression, a lot of work now on epilepsy, stroke,” he tells Mike. “The other major area that has us really excited is cancer and cancer immunotherapy, particularly glioblastoma and pancreatic cancer, as well as metastatic melanoma. [What] we need in addition to financial capital is human or intellectual capital. … The ultimate force multiplier for human capital is collaboration. So, we spend a lot of time fostering collaboration.”
“The crisis happened at a time of exponential change in technology that was already transforming the way we work, how we engage with clients, how we make decisions. … And then you instantly had behavioral change at a scale that we've never seen in the past.”
Julie Sweet believes large companies should be flexible and light on their feet. Case in point: her own Accenture. When she became CEO of the multinational professional services company in 2019, she instituted sweeping changes to its operating model and invested billions in a new cloud system, which left their half million employees in 120 countries in a much better position to withstand the pandemic. It is this kind of foresight that led the New York Times to call her “one of the most powerful women in corporate America” and Fortune to rank her number one on its “Most Powerful Women in Business” list.
“I am talking to many companies now who say we want to move as fast as we did, “she tells Mike. “And my simple question is, ‘What have you changed?’ Because large organizations in particular can’t operate in crisis mode forever. What do they need to change to compete and to be successful in what I call the new reality?”
“Diagnosis goes hand in hand with vaccination, and of course with therapies as well. What CRISPR is doing is providing for rapid turnaround testing at a lower cost and higher throughput than we've had with other technologies. We'll see that happening in various testing labs, certainly around the U.S. And the nice thing about that is it really does go hand in hand with these vaccines that are coming forward.”
When Jennifer Doudna first spoke with Mike on the podcast four months ago, she was looking forward to her revolutionary CRISPR technology being applied to COVID diagnosis. Today, the Innovative Genomics Institute, which she founded, has tested more than 100,000 virus samples, including many in the underserved communities around UC Berkeley, her academic home. Another development since August: Dr. Doudna received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her game-changing co-discovery of CRISPR, which may one day help facilitate the elimination of genetic diseases.
“We have the sequence of the entire human genome now,” she reminds Mike. “That's been available for the last two decades. And what hasn't been possible up until now is an easy way to manipulate the code. Allow scientists to make a change to an individual gene or to a set of genes to understand first of all, how they work, but also, really importantly, make changes that correct disease-causing mutations. And that's what CRISPR now enables.”
“The process of digitization – whether that was e-commerce in retail, or online gaming for media, online streaming in the media business, digital platforms for the public sector – was already underway. But it enormously accelerated with the pandemic.”
In his two years as CEO of Google Cloud, Thomas Kurian has seen revenues for his company’s services soar more than 40 percent. The Indian-born former president of Oracle believes that the “new normal” of telecommuting will continue to help drive future growth – as long as Google Cloud remembers its core values and who it serves.
“Leadership during this time of transition,” he tells Mike, “a time of difficulty in many cases, has been not just about the tactics and the strategy, but also the purpose and the mission. And that has helped us unify our entire organization around this notion of supporting customers during this period of change for them. And we call that the notion of customer empathy.”
“The bigger part of our response over the next year, and then really over the next five years, is how do you really help countries get bigger private sectors, more jobs, including jobs for women and education for girls.”
When David Malpass began his five-year term as president of the World Bank Group in 2019, he could not foresee that months later his institution would face its greatest test since the post-World War II era. Since its founding in 1947, the World Bank has had one mission: to end extreme poverty and promote shared, sustainable prosperity among its 189 member countries. But as the pandemic ground on throughout 2020, the fallout created extreme challenges to those goals, beginning with our youngest and most vulnerable.
“With COVID hitting, as many as a billion children are still out of school in the developing world alone,” he tells Mike. “And the data shows pretty clearly that when children are out of school, they move backwards. So one of our priorities is to get kids back in school … in a safe way. The food programs and nutrition programs, the vaccination programs – those are all driven at the school level. And so that becomes a high priority for what we're trying to do.”
“When we get out of this pandemic, I suspect people are going to want to flock to the movie theaters. But they're also going to say, I still want my content delivered. So, the movie industry is going to face a decision. Do they offer it both ways – on your iPad the same day as the release in the theater? What's the model? They're determining that as we speak. And I think COVID has upended the movie business even more than usual.”
Most actresses who come to Hollywood don’t end up running a major motion picture studio. But in 1980, Sherry Lansing became the first woman to do so, first leading 20th Century Fox, then Paramount Pictures for more than 12 years. She had a hand in over 200 films including “Forrest Gump,” “Braveheart,” and “Titanic.” Since her retirement, she has embarked on what she calls an “encore” career of philanthropy. The Sherry Lansing Foundation is dedicated to cancer research, health, public education, and encouraging seniors to pursue their own encore careers.
“Every project I've ever worked on was hard and took a long time,” she tells Mike. “And one of the traits you have to have in any job is resiliency. And you also have to believe in something outside of yourself, that what you're fighting for is worth fighting for. It's worth the time, it's worth the effort. If you don't have that belief, you will give up.”
“It has been a year of terrible tragedy. … And yet, it's also been a year of heroism: the first responders, the healthcare providers, putting themselves at risk to try to help those who are suffering. But I also think there are heroes that have risen to this challenge in the research community, in the business community.”
When NIH Director Francis Collins first spoke with Mike in April of 2020, he was marshalling an army of researchers among his 6,000 research scientists to tackle the coronavirus. He had already successfully directed the Human Genome Project from 1993 to 2008, during which much of the genetic groundwork was laid that would later contribute to the development of Pfizer and Moderna’s mRNA-based vaccines. With light now appearing at the end of the tunnel, Mike checked back in with Dr. Collins for further insight and perspective.
“We are going to get past this,” Collins affirms. “And then I pray, let us not forget the lessons we've learned. Let us not slip back into complacency. Let's keep in mind that we are a vulnerable blue planet and that it's up to all of us to anticipate the things that we might need that science could bring to bear on the next problem, and not wait until it's a crisis.”
Sir Andrew Witty
President, UnitedHealth Group; CEO, Optum; Co-Leader, COVID-19 Vaccine Development, World Health Organization
President and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron
Executive Director, FasterCures
“Are we willing to do for life sciences and global defense what we were willing to do for the financial environment in the 2008 financial crisis? Because if you compare the trillions of dollars committed to stabilize the financial systems to the billions of dollars which are being committed to stabilize the health system, they don't compare. They really don't.” – Sir Andrew Witty
In a special episode, three of biotech’s most valuable players convene for a wide-ranging conversation about the pandemic. The consensus among Sir Andrew Witty (UnitedHealth, Optum and WHO), Esther Krofah (FasterCures) George Yancopoulos (Regeneron) is that getting future pandemics under control will require cross-sector collaboration and investment to build on current successful strategies.
“It's not what we did in the last six months, or the last nine months that will have led to saving us from the pandemic,” George Yancopoulos tells Mike. “If we can successfully complete these efforts that we've undertaken, it will have been the decades of investments in science, technology and platforms that put us in a position to respond, and we can certainly do better as a society being better prepared.”
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