Active Advising

Morunda is not only a recruitment firm, but also a source of information for candidates in the pharmaceutical industry who care about their careers. We strive to develop our best advise along all stages of the career development stages.
Written By: morunda | Posted in: Active Advising, Interviewing

The bilingual candidate with an MBA from a top American university prepared for his final meeting with one of the world’s most prestigious consulting firms. This was the last of seven interviews, as well as a video conference with the global headquarters, that the candidate had part taken in. With his glowing resume, good looks, and athletic build, he looked like he had come straight from the cover of Fortune magazine. After several weeks of meetings, at the final meeting, he gave a 20-minute presentation on how to use advanced strategic marketing techniques to launch a cardiovascular product in Japan. Read More The candidate gave his presentation — then he froze, stumbled, shook, and was unable to speak about his 20 perfect PowerPoint slides that he had prepared. He was unable to articulate his thoughts, not at all logical, and was unable to answer questions coherently. Our client finally put him out of his misery and thanked him for his interest in the firm, but thought he was not a “cultural fit”! What had happened to our rock star? He choked! He is not alone. Who hasn’t finished a business presentation or interview, and thought, ‘ My mind went blank — what happened?’ We have all choked. When I spoke to the candidate, he was unable to explain what had happened; he mentioned that he had been working long hours and put it all down to nerves. University of Chicago psychologist Sian Beilock explains in her book Choke (2010) that these situations are the preventable results of information logjams in the brain. “Choking is suboptimal performance, not just poor performance. It’s a performance that is inferior to what you can do and have done in the past and occurs when you feel pressure to get everything right,” said Beilock, associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. [embed width="640" height="360"] https://youtu.be/nuH6X0Tx--I [/embed] The brain can work to sabotage performance in ways other than paralysis by analysis. For instance, pressure-filled situations can deplete a part of the brain’s processing power, known as working memory, which is critical to many everyday activities. Studies have shown that meditation can help the anxiety wheels in our brain slow down and reduce the likelihood of choking. Perhaps the age-old advice of imagining the audience naked (perhaps more frightening then relaxing at a meeting of Pharma Delegates) is sound. In his book, Bounce (2010) Matthew Syed gives examples of Olympic athletes focusing on the more important things in their lives before the big race. Focusing on family, health, or being grateful also puts life into perspective and the chances of choking are reduced. Stress can undermine performance in the world of business, where competition for sales, giving high-stakes presentations, or even meeting your boss in the elevator are occasions when choking can squander opportunities. In summary, prepare to the best of your ability — then forget it. The sun will rise the next morning.

Written By: morunda | Posted in: Active Advising, Your career

WARREN BUFFETT, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, is famous for calling his conglomerate his “canvas.” Perhaps we can’t all have a company of Berkshire’s stature, but we do have our cubicles, teams, departments, business units, or subsidiaries to run that we can call our canvases. What will they look like when we are finished painting them?   Read More >>

Written By: morunda | Posted in: Active Advising, Hiring Authorities, Interviewing, We care

I often ask directors what percentage of their challenges are technical compared with people-oriented. In most cases the breakdown is 60% people and 40% technical. Yet anecdotal evidence suggests that most employment interviews focus on technical considerations rather than examining a candidate’s character, personality, background, and attitude. Read More I remember asking a pharmaceutical executive if he had an MBA. “No,” he replied with a grin. “The MBAs work for me.” Not to downplay technical skills, knowledge, and achievements, but the most accomplished leaders have one thing in common: they are great with people. One client recently remarked, “Intelligence and academic smarts is one thing, but I now focus on character and attitude. I put the emphasis on attitude, passion, maturity, and independence.” Those comments are supported by Kailash Sharma, President and Representative Director of Zydus Pharma Japan. “Whenever I am asked, What do you see in a candidate while hiring him or her?, most of the time I answer ‘potential,’ rather than experience or degrees. Potential not just to achieve for what he or she is being hired for currently, but also potential to think and act broadly and think big.” (Sharma was referring to Dr. David Schwartz’s book The Magic of Thinking Big). Adam Bryant’s book, The Corner Office, has a terrific chapter on smart interviewing. Michael Mathieu, CEO of YuMe, takes a leaf out of Steven Covey’s (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) philosophy and asks candidates how they would like to be remembered when they’re gone. If you were to die, who would speak at your funeral and what would they say about you? [embed width="640" height="360"] https://youtu.be/SfddDuM97a8 [/embed] One Japanese executive told me he likes to ask job candidates about their families. He asks where they’re from and also inquires about their family dynamics. Dr. Sylvia Lafair’s book, Don’t Bring It to Work, explains that the first organization we experience is our family, and it is within our families that we learn how to behave. Behaviors learned from the family often find a home in the office and can quickly materialize in times of stress. The importance of learning about a candidate’s background is supported by Tachi Yamada of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “I try to understand how they deal with difficult interpersonal issues,” Yamada explains. “Intelligence is often displayed in what I would call complex abstract thinking, and there is nothing more complex than human relationships.” A shared meal is an ideal time to ask personal questions. “Don’t decide on a candidate just based on one interview,” suggests Hermann Strenger, General Manager and Head of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Japan. “Meet the final candidates also over dinner. You get a much better feeling of the person spending two hours in a relaxed atmosphere.” Hiring in Japan offers its own challenges. Two of the qualities most often requested by hiring managers are youth and the ability to speak English well. Strenger warns, “Putting the age limit too low can be costly. Most companies are looking for the energetic guy, younger than 45, with plenty of experience, proven success records, and fluent in English, of course. As you well know, many talented persons in Japan started in sales and ‘lost’ 10 years while climbing the ladder from MR to area manager before getting discovered for a headquarters position. Don’t get influenced by the candidates’ English ability. Focus on what you are expecting the candidate to accomplish.” In his book, Hire with Your Head, Lou Adler suggests that we fast-forward 12 months. Imagine that a new employee has been with your company for a year. What have they achieved? What are their accomplishments? Have they increased sales? Cut costs? Shortened a timeline for development? Looking at achievable, measurable, quantifiable, and time-bound objectives will help screen candidates and allow you to select the best person to do the job. Hire the right character and attitude with a track record of success and watch your eagle soar.

Written By: morunda | Posted in: Active Advising, Your career

The Sales Director of Biogen-Idec, Micharu Kono’s airplane was about to hit the tarmac of Narita, Tokyo at 2:50 pm on March 11th 2011, and the plane suddenly regained altitude and circled the city for two hours to finally land at Handed at 6 pm. Kono-san had no idea what had happened. He then had to wait for seven hours at the taxi stand without food or water and finally a two hour taxi ride to his colleagues’ apartment in central Tokyo and finally got home at 4 am. His first action of duty on March 4th was to drive to 12 hours to Tohoku to rescue the one medical representative and his family from the disaster zone. On arriving in Sendai he found that all gas stations were closed and they were unable to find petrol for the trip back. Kono-san left his car in Yamagata and they then caught a series of local busses to Tokyo one day later.   Read More >>

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