FOCM & GLSA Virtual Networking Meeting

One of the things I thoroughly enjoy about networking is meeting such interesting people with different perspectives. This helps us understand and appreciate those differences and helps us re-consider our approach to certain things.

On October 20, the Global Life Sciences Alliance along with FOCM Networking held its monthly pharmaceutical/biotech/clinical research/medical device/drug development industry online networking event (that’s a sentence-full). I know I wrote that in last month’s minutes too, so I promise to acronymize/shorten/bitly it next month, maybe to Pharma/Bio/CRO/Med & DrugDev or PBCMD? Is there a broader term one of you readers can suggest?

While people were arriving into the Zoom room, the first arrivers greeted each other and got their headsets, earphones, etc ready and connected. We started with the acknowledgement that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The advances in cancer therapies over the past dozen years or so is truly remarkable. With genotyping advances, new drugs are designed/created that work very well.  This allows testing to be done prior to drug administration and know ahead of time that certain patients will respond well.  So instead of having to enroll 300 cancer patients in a study to get enough with the defect in order to show statistical significance, the study can be done with fewer patients and to show significance and speed up the time to FDA approval.

We then moved to our featured speaker, Heather Hollick, a friend of mine for several years and the author of “Helpful, A Guide to Life, Careers and the Art of Networking”. Heather focused the discussion on best practices for using LinkedIn. It is an invaluable tool for networking. There are 8 ways that LinkedIn is beneficial.

  1. LinkedIn is how you present yourself to the industry. At a minimum it is your online resume.
  2. Enhances introductions – you know so much more about who you’re being introduced to.
  3. Refreshes your memory on who a person is, where you know them from and how long you’ve been connected.
  4. It helps you prepare for meetings – review who will be in the meeting and find items of commonality.
  5. Find companies that are hiring
  6. Provides links to other websites aiding in your research
  7. Keep track of who is in your network.
  8. Engage in groups and discussions with others that you share interest with.

I like to include how I met people, as a demonstration of the power and benefits of networking. I was connected to Heather via Tanyss Mason. I admit I’m having a difficult time remembering how Tanyss and I first became connections. Heather was in the midst of writing the book when we first met over the phone. When the book was released and Heather was in the RTP, NC area at a book premier and signing event we got to meet in person. Heather co-presented at the 2021 DIA Annual meeting (virtual) with me on a Networking workshop. We’ll collaborate again on this session for the DIA 2022 meeting being held in Chicago.

We typically go into several breakout sessions of 3-4 attendees for about 12 minutes each but this time, there was so much good discussion about LinkedIn and maintaining, nurturing and freshening one’s network that we showed our flexibility and kept rolling with the topic of interest.

Please join us next month on November 17.

ATTENDEES (bolded names were first time attendees, I think):

Heather Hollick, Rizers, LLC; Author of “Helpful, A guide to life, careers and the art of networking”
Mike Burrows, Burrows Life Science Associates, LLC
Lacey Clements, IMA Clinical Research
Nadia Bracken, Medidata
Christine Narro, Medical Device Co.
Lewis Kelly, Gunvatta
Chris Bergey, Humphries Insurance Agency
Michael O’Gorman, Life Science Marketplace
Patrick McCarthy, ValidCare
Joe Dustin, Transcelerate Biopharma
Janie St. Pierre, Accellacare
Ellen Bedenko, IQVia
Patrick Champoux, SkillPad
Andrew Mulchinski, Symbio Research
Chris Matheus, Global Life Sciences Alliance & FOCM
Denise McNerney, Global Life Sciences Alliance
Joe Buser, Global Life Sciences Alliance
Daryl Oberg, Global Life Sciences Alliance
Brandon Huffman, Global Life Sciences Alliance
Holly Cliffe, Global Life Sciences Alliance
Zulma Varela, Global Life Sciences Alliance
Sally Haller, Global Life Sciences Alliance

Screen shot of virtual networking event

Support FOCM Entrepreneur

I am excited to announce that, Alicia Kelley Schifano, the first graduate of the FOCM College of Entrepreneurism is hitting the big time!!  Alicia will be a contestant on a new TV show airing Thursday, October 14th on the USA Network.  The show is America’s Big Deal.  It was created by Joy Mangano (from the movie Joy) and it will be hosted by Scott Evans from Access Hollywood!  It will be a bit like Shark Tank but live and “shoppable” so people can buy the products in real time while watching the show.  Alicia will be on the first episode, competing for a retail deal for the Mr. Big Curling Irons!  Here is a link to the video promo: https://youtu.be/t3xJYFU8ugc

Here’s a link to the contestant page:

Please tune in at 9pm, October 14th and watch Alicia shine! And check out the product being offered at a $20 discount at the above link. For any of the FOCM members with long hair, this curling iron is a must in your beauty supplies inventory.  https://www.mrbigcurlingirons.com/

I have known Alicia for more than 10 years, having been introduced to her via TommiLynn Baker.  At our first meeting we talked for hours.  Alicia is energizing to be around; so much energy, passion and enthusiasm.

Meeting Summary of FOCM & GLSA Event

So, it finally happened, on that glorious day which shall long be remembered, these minutes will be heretofore submitted to the USA Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institute and for reasons unknown, to the Sydney Opera House on the northside bulletin board for public postings.

On May the 20, in the year 2021 of the Gregorian calendar, it was noted that the GLSA (Global Life Sciences Alliance) and FOCM (Friends of Chris Matheus) Networking organization did hold an online (virtual) networking event. The meticulously planned event went terribly awry when but half of the positive RSVPs failed to show up.  That said, it was a resounding success for the initial such event.  A total of 22 attended.

The meeting started off with an acknowledgement that it was Global Clinical Trials Day and a toast was given to the clinical research industry for saving the world from Covid-19 and to James Lind, the Scottish doctor who initiated the first controlled randomized clinical trial on May 20, 1747 aboard a sailing ship. Dr. Lind divided twelve sailors sick with scurvy into six groups of two. They all received the same diet but, in addition, each group was given a different treatment. Only the two sailors who received citrus fruits improved and returned to work.

Chris then introduced the GLSA members to the FOCM community.  After a bit of general discussion, several polls were taken. About half of the group is reluctant to resume conference travel immediately, preferring to wait a few more months. Slightly more than half have been vaccinated or acquired immunity through catching the virus. An interesting opinion was voiced that perhaps as members of the clinical research industry, we should set the example by all being vaccinated.  I, for one and I believe I speak for many of the others have the utmost confidence that not a step was missed, not a shortcut taken in the development of the available vaccines.  Given the prioritization and urgency of vaccine development, we were able to speed up the data review process. The one thing that the sped up development lacked is longer term safety and side effect data.  However, vaccine side effects rarely (I can’t think of any) change the longer from the time of injection.

Then it was time for speed networking!  The assertion has been made by Chris that each of us in the clinical research industry are within 2 degrees of separation from each other. We had 4 different sessions.  Attendees were randomly put into different “rooms” with the assignment to each introduce themselves to the group, sharing where they’d worked the previous 10-20 years and what they’re doing now to see if they could identify who they knew in common.  Good information was exchanged and several new connections were made which can improve the management of clinical trials.

Join us next month – June 16.

Attendees:
David Holland, Cmed Research
Jon Matheus, Pancrazi Real Estate
Sheila Mahoney-Jewels, Life Science Hub
Eric Nier, Block Clinical
Lynne Becker, Power of Patients
Nadia Bracken, Medidata
Christine Ver Straate, GLSA
Mitchell Efros, Verified Clinical Trials
Cassandra Hui, HealMary
Denise McNerney, GLSA
Joe Buser, GLSA
Tom Ryan, GLSA
Kalyan Ghosh, Inference Inc
Marty Frazier, GLSA
Tanusree Bhattacharyya, Inference Inc
Zulma Varela, GLSA
Mike O’gorman, Life Science Marketplace
David Gibboni, DJGibboni Consulting
Eric Mayer, EDP Biotech
Craig Fernandes, EDP Biotech
Maria Frane, C3 Research

Office Dress Code Rules – A Look Back

So way back in 2006 working with a great group of folks in starting a Raleigh area office for a global organization, we were a somewhat rebellious and humorous group. When HR in Headquarters would send out policies, we’d create our own version for our office, as shown in the example below: (last names have been left out to protect people’s identities)

DRESS CODE

An employee’s professional appearance is very important.  It reflects a respect for ourselves as well as for the people we are serving.  Your appearance says a lot about you and is an important part of your performance appraisal.  Therefore, all employees of the Company are expected to dress appropriately in a professional, clean, businesslike, well-groomed manner.  The Company has adopted certain days as “Business Casual” and “Dress down Days.”  Employees are permitted to dress accordingly within the defined guidelines.  Styles that are currently fashionable may not be appropriate for work.  Accessories, hosiery, jewelry and perfume or scented cosmetic use should be conservative.  Noncompliance with the standards of dress as stated in this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

Business Dress:  To be worn at sites and as required by management in the office.  Conservative suits, ties, dresses and professional coordinated pantsuits.

Business Casual:  Usually acceptable Monday – Thursday.  Clothing that is neat and professional, such as slacks, sport shirts, casual dresses, and shirts, cream or white pants with shades of pastel blue blouses (which can be worn daily), split skirts or skorts of an appropriate length.  No jeans (except for Chris M), chacos, flipflops (faux rainbows are okay for Chris L), lounge/pajama pants (except for Kourtney when she uses the barely believable skin rash excuse), basketball shoes, kickball shoes, pants that unzip to become shorts (except for Lori), baseball caps (unless worn backwards) or leggings. 

Dress Down Day:  Usually each Friday, except for NC office where it appears that everyday is Dress Down Day.  Acceptable: Neat “dress jeans” with no holes, rips or tears (Heather), neat clean sneakers or casual shoes.  During warmer weather, conservative sandals, walking length shorts (Bermuda length shorts, and Capri pants are permitted. Maternity umbro shorts with expandable waistband are okay for Lori.

Not appropriate:  Baseball caps, motorcycle helmets (Mike), tee shirts, tank tops, gym clothes, Umbro-type shorts (Lori), cutoff shorts or shirts, tank tops, flip-flops, chacos (Heather), water shoes, Chewbacca costume (except for Greg), thongs (flip-flops), beach slides, swimsuits, bandannas, bathrobes, lingerie, hockey jerseys (except for Kristy) cowboy boots while wearing shorts, black mid-calf socks with plaid Bermuda shorts or with any shorts for that matter, dress shoes with jeans, belt with your name on it, shirts with sayings or slogans that others, not Mike, may find offensive.  An exception is Mike’s Pink Salmon slogan shirt, because that’s just too damn funny, while being totally inappropriate.

Joke: Duck walks into a bar

A duck walks into a pub and orders a pint of beer and a ham sandwich.

The barman looks at him and says, “Hang on! You’re a duck.”

“I see your eyes are working,” replies the duck.

“And you can talk!” Exclaims the barman.

“I see your ears are working, too,” Says the duck. “Now if you don’t mind, can I have my beer and my sandwich please?”

“Certainly, sorry about that,” says the barman as he pulls the duck’s pint.

“It’s just we don’t get many ducks in this pub.. What are you doing round this way?”

“I’m working on the building site across the road,” Explains the duck.  “I’m a plasterer.”

The flabbergasted barman cannot believe the duck and wants to learn more, but takes the hint when the duck pulls out a newspaper from his bag and proceeds to read it.

So, the duck reads his paper, drinks his beer, eats his sandwich, bids the barman good day and leaves.

The same thing happens for two weeks.

Then one day the circus comes to town.

The ringmaster comes into the pub for a pint and the barman says to him, “You’re with the circus, aren’t you? Well, I know this duck that could be just brilliant in your circus. He talks, drinks beer, eats sandwiches, reads the newspaper and everything!”

“Sounds marvelous,”says the ringmaster, handing over his business card.

“Get him to give me a call.”

So the next day when the duck comes into the pub the barman says, “Hey Mr. Duck, I reckon I can line you up with a top job, paying really good money.”

“I’m always looking for the next job,” Says the duck.

“Where is it?”

“At the circus,” says the barman.

“The circus?” Repeats the duck.

“That’s right,” replies the barman.

“The circus?” The duck asks again, “with the big tent?”

“Yeah,” the barman replies.

“With all the animals who live in cages, and performers who live in caravans?” says the duck.

“Of course,” the barman replies.

“And the tent has canvas sides and a big canvas roof with a hole in the middle?” persists the duck.

“That’s right!” says the barman.

The duck shakes his head in amazement, and says .. ………
.

.

.

.

.

.

“Why the hell would they need a plasterer??!”

FOCM Networking Person of the Year for 2020

Without a doubt the work done by the pharmaceutical, biotech, clinical research, drug development industry and the Food and Drug Administration is worthy of this distinction for 2020. What was accomplished is just short of miraculous.

The federal government (FDA) and the corporations cut no corners. I have no doubt that everything was done according to established good clinical principles. What was done was the speeding up of the regulatory processes; decreasing the workflow processing time. Turn around time on data review and decision making was the focus. The researchers and the reviewers of the data had Covid-19 treatments and vaccines at the forefront of their priorities.

The typical time for vaccine development to get approved is 4 years. The first two approved were done within 12 months!! There are several more in development.

We are now beginning to see the impact the vaccine is having in the decline of daily new cases. Many people have now received their second dose.

The United Kingdom began vaccinating their population one week earlier than the US and you can see the impact to their daily new cases as well. This has me very encouraged. I’m hopeful that by Memorial Day, we’ll be back to dining out and meeting in person, traveling to conferences, vacations, etc.

FOCM Chapter 2012 Summer Chapter Meetings

Once upon a time in a faraway place a long, long time ago, my brother and I volunteered to drive my eldest daughter’s car from Raleigh, NC to AZ. She and her husband would be moving to Tucson and rather than paying to ship it, we thought it would be a fun trip for Jon and I. We took the opportunity to visit friends along the way. Our second night stop was in Houston, TX and a visit with FOCM member and friend from high school, Kristen Meaders. Here are her notes from the Houston FOCM chapter meeting that night:

An impromptu FOCM meeting was held in Houston in July 2012. For security reasons, it was touted as the Annual Genu Varum Society Conference (AGVSC) to avoid the paparazzi, INS, and undesirable party crashers.  Large amounts of Mexican food were consumed due to Our Leader’s unwillingness to stray from a mandatory Mexican food theme. No arrests were made but Jon is now on a de-tox program.  Stock prices for Patron dropped precipitously since Chris’s discovery that he has “the sugar.”  Mimi was crowned Ms Genu Varum Houston 2012. Something happened to the photographic evidence such that I cannot include it.

Chris, Kris, Jon

The following evening we were in Tucson, AZ and had dinner with FOCM member and friend from college, Art Coppola. Art’s notes were in reply to those of Kristen’s.

That must have been a ‘home-cooked’ Mexican meal judging from the surroundings.  Here is a shot of the twins at the subsequent FOCM meeting held in Tucson and as you can see, it was held in a dark back room location at a participating Chicken and Waffle house where our leader had his with Jalapeños to continue his insistence on getting back to his roots. For this there was proof of the event:

Summer of 2012 Jon (l) and Chris (r)

FOCM Networking Meeting Minutes

Can you believe it? These are the meeting minutes from the November 5, 2018 event in Boston. Many of the attendees were in town for the Outsourcing in Clinical Trials New England meeting. My sparse notes indicate that this was held at the lobby bar in the Westin Boston Waterfront.

We had great attendance with my hastily written down names on a piece of paper indicating the following individuals were in attendance:

Roy Ovel (we worked at ICON Clinical and have known each other 13 years)
Scott Keddy (known each other for 6 years)
Mike (last name not written down, so its clearly a good friend who I should remember or predict)
Matt (going to guess this is Matt Comstock – known each other 5 years and attended the same high school in Yuma, AZ)
Vicky Martin (known each other 16 years; also worked together at ICON)
Kate Mullis (known each other for 4 years)
Bonnie Phillips (known each other for 3 years, met via networking in NC)
Daniel Frederick (known each other for 3 years, met via networking in NC)
Bryan Clayton (known each other for 7 years, worked at YPrime together)
Katherine Cloninger (known each other 20+ years, worked at Quintiles together)
Ted Gastineau (known each other 20+ years, worked at Quintiles together)
Bill Taaffe (known each other 18 years, worked at ICON together)
Brian Langin (known each other 20+ years, worked at Quintiles together)
Chris Utterback (known each other 4 years and we the same birthday)
Susan Cook (known each other 2 years, I think we met that night, Brian Langin invited her, I believe)
Adam Blackburn (known each other 7 years, worked at YPrime together)
Cory Winters (known each other for 3 years, Vicky Martin brought him into FOCM)
Dave Rosa (known each other 11 years)
Paul Eisenmann (known each other 20+ years, worked at Quintiles together)
Jennifer Carpe (looks like an n, then….; could be Carpenter from BioTel; colleague of Cory?)
Lianne Kloppenburg (known each other 9 years)
Kristina Wolfe (although my notes indicate Figueroa was the last name at the time; known each other 3 years, we both live in Wilmington, NC)
Nicole Powell (known each other 5 years)

For those of you in this industry, this list reads like a list of all-stars, right? Unfortunately, photographic evidence of the gathering was not collected that evening.

FOCM Friendsgiving Wine Tasting Event

FOCM is all about connecting with each other for fun, mutual benefit and to be helpful to others.  On December 9, 2020 we held a virtual fundraiser, wine tasting and networking event.

FOCM values connections be they new or old. This event certainly crossed that spectrum. The idea for the event – wine, charity and networking – came about from a LinkedIn post that I saw from Amy Berwick. I first met Amy in 1998 when we both worked at Quintiles (nka IQVIA). Amy’s post had to do with the role she had taken on with OneHope Wines and I wanted to find out more and catch up with her. I knew I wanted to do a year end virtual FOCM networking event and thought this might be a fun option.

I met (virtually, of course) with Amy and her OneHope colleague, Shelby Wildgust and learned that in addition to 10% of the wine purchased supports the charity of my choosing, each individual bottle purchased supports a non-profit cause (e.g.; pet adoption, military veterans, reforestation…). I decided this is the event I wanted to have.

When they asked me what charity I’d like to support, I said the Jeffrey Coombs Memorial Foundation. http://www.jeffcoombsfund.org/blog/ This foundation was started by Christie Schmitt Coombs in memory of her husband who died in the 9/11 terrorist attack on America. The Jeff Coombs Foundation was formed to assist Massachusetts families who are in financial need because of a death, illness or other situation that challenges the family budget. I’ve known Christie for 45 years. We both grew up in Yuma, AZ, went to Kofa High School and the University of Arizona.

A screen shot from early in the event. Photography credit to Amy Matheus.

Attendees and in parentheses, how long I’ve known them were:
Deb Jendrasek (15 years), Shelby Wildgust (1 month), Jeff Gould (4 months), Michael D’Amico (3 months), Jon Matheus (his whole life), Zulma Varela (2 months) Christie Schmitt (45 years), Denise McNerney (6 months), Mike Strand (~15 years), Jenny Neurath (my whole life), Greg Cohee (~15 years), Susan Cook (2 years), Amy Berwick (22 years), Wayne and Kay (1 hour), Lauren Sherwood (3 years), Sean (1 hour) and Robin Whitsell (3 years), Amy Matheus (her whole life), Jamison Lloyd (2 years), Lindsay Goldman (her whole life), Nathan Goldman (9 years), Thomas Goldman (3 years), James Goldman (48 hours less than his whole life).

Amy and Shelby made it easy to manage. They drafted the email and messaging content for me to review, they set up the OneHope website specifically to track our fundraising progress and we used their zoom account. We tasted 3 different wines:
1. The Vintner Collection Sauvignon Blanc – this bottle helps reforestation, so far, ONEHOPE has been able to plant over 100,000 trees through the sale of this wine.   
2. The Vintner Collection Red Blend – this is a 96 point Award Winning wine that funds Team Rubicon, an organization aimed to reunite Veterans with a sense of purpose in civilian life.   
3. The Vintner Collection Pinot Noir – this is a 90 point Award Winning wine that has funded over 96,000 pet adoptions! 
Purchases made up until January 8 contribute toward the fundraising goal we’d set. Here is the event link to make purchases:   https://www.onehopewine.com/event/a366bd14-e43d-446e-94d9-6c44efeae9d9

Help Each Other

This year has found all of us adjusting to differences in the way we go about our daily lives. One business industry that I’ve come to realize must be really struggling is the dry cleaning industry.

When was the last time you wore an item of clothing that you typically take to the dry cleaner?  So I had this idea of how we can help them hold on during this time of remote work and virtual conferences. 

For all of us employed and working from home – let’s pick a day to wear an item of clothing that you take to the dry cleaner to wash.  How about Wednesdays?

Shirt for the dry cleaner

#supportyourlocaldrycleaner #FOCM #powerofnetworking #Helpful #helpeachotherb