Amid a fast-evolving landscape swirling with digital advances and global challenges, strong leadership is critical to emerging not only unscathed but thriving, according to Sherry Shao, CEO of global biotechnology group GenScript Biotech.
That means achieving the company’s underlying purpose, which has been at GenScript Biotech’s core from the moment it was founded in 2002 in the United States.
“GenScript’s corporate mission is to make people and nature healthier through biotechnology,” Shao tells The CEO Magazine. “We are firmly committed to this mission.”
It’s a commitment that has grown to encompass its four key offerings: its life science service and product platform; the biologics contract development and manufacturing organization platform; its industrial synthetic products platform; and the integrated global cell therapy platform.
Over time, its reach has expanded, too. The company now has a presence across Greater China, North America, Europe and the Asia–Pacific. Indeed, over the past two decades, the company has evolved from a team of three co-founders to its current tally of more than 6,400 employees worldwide.
Although Shao only assumed the company’s helm this year, she has already made her mark, well-equipped as she is with a profound understanding of GenScript Biotech. After all, it’s the only company she has ever worked with during her 18-year professional career, having started as a scientist before shifting into management.
“Looking back on the journey, I’m very grateful that GenScript has provided me with plenty of opportunities to make decisions, empowering me to be brave enough to make mistakes and gain valuable opportunities to grow and improve,” she reflects.
“Many key leaders and myself have experienced the ups and downs along the way with the company, so we have the positive attitude required to face the challenges that come our way.”
Spreading this culture of positivity throughout its burgeoning team is therefore priority number one for Shao.
With so many people now on board, she says it’s crucial to not only boost morale but to also improve core competencies among the GenScript Biotech team. This includes commercial and R&D capabilities as well as production efficiency, delivery and quality to the highest standard.
“With sufficient core competencies, we can lead. We can occupy the leading position in the market and support the customer’s success. Then we can succeed,” Shao says.
Team execution naturally follows as a crucial area of focus. “To be the market leader, we must define a clear strategy according to market insights, and then execution capability is very important to really realize that strategy,” she explains.
“With our team size expanding, we still need to apply good mechanisms across our teams to make sure the strategy is executed to support the achievement of our goals.”
Though determined to achieve its ambitious goals, GenScript Biotech won’t stoop to underhanded tactics, Shao insists, instead evolving in the face of challenges.
Even when fierce competition rocked the world’s biotechnology sector, the company chose not to respond by sparking a price war. “We instead focused on how to deliver total cost-effectiveness to our customers based on internal efficiency improvements and platform enhancements,” she says.
The company has adopted a similar approach to enhancing its customer experience. While GenScript Biotech has traditionally ‘led the industry’ with an on-time item delivery rate of 95 percent, its on-time order delivery rates were lagging behind, according to Shao.
“The order-based delivery rate was only about 77 percent because when each customer places an order, it has multiple items,” she says.
Rather than delay the downstream experiments of its customers, GenScript Biotech decided to raise its order-based on-time delivery to over 95 percent.
At first, she explains, the plan was met with incredulity from team members who saw it as an impossible task. “But finally we received their support, motivated by our corporate spirit and culture to demonstrate GenScript’s relentless pursuit of excellence,” she says.
“When we finally achieved the goal and really improved the satisfaction from the customer end, it was very encouraging. So now we always inspire our colleagues to never use past achievements to determine future goals. Otherwise, it’s impossible to achieve excellence in leadership.”
Now, GenScript Biotech is once again adopting this approach to take on the supply chain challenges stirred by the pandemic. By understanding customer demands and focusing its resources through a process of R&D, the company can create win–win situations for customers, the company and its employees.
This collective growth is fundamental for Shao and her vision for GenScript Biotech. “As the CEO of the company, I attach great importance to leading the team to achieve common growth,” she says.