2011 has been and gone. It was – without any doubt – a year like no other.
On January 1 last year there was well over 2000 employees in R&D in Sandwich with the majority directly working on, or supporting, research projects. On January 1 this year there will be more like a third of that number, with relatively few directly working on research projects.
I started the year responsible for hundreds of colleagues across R&D impacting on projects from idea through to Proof of Concept and beyond. I end the year responsible for myself.
In 2011 I had personal goals and development goals. I was involved in succession planning and talent management. My calendar was full, opportunity was immense and challenge was plentiful. In 2012 there is significant ambiguity…but breathtaking opportunity.
The turn of a year always seems to be a time to take stock, to look back and to contemplate. I believe in looking back, but primarily in order to guide the future. There is nothing I can do about what happened in 2011. There is everything to do to influence what will happen in 2012.
But what have I learned from 2011? What can I take forward? What can I apply? Well the one fact about 2011 is that I am now a year older. Everything else is opinion, assessment or judgement. That having been said, I learned a great deal in 2011 about myself, about the importance of resilience, about the benefit of family and friends and about the significance of my work.
There are many things I regret about 2011 but there is nothing I resent. Regrets are all personal – moments I would handle differently if I had chance again; decisions I would adjust in light of what transpired. Resentments have no place and no validity. None of the decisions or actions from 2011 were personal. Many impacted me but none were about me or because of me. I leave 2011 as a better leader, a better person and a better friend, a better father and a better husband than I was at the start of the year.
I am unsure what 2012 will hold for me. There is fluidity and ambiguity. But I feel excitement and anticipation. I have my moments of doubt of course – like we all do – but they are only fleeting.
I know I will stay in pharmaceutical R&D – I have worked in pharmaceutical R&D for 26 years…that’s not an accident. I know that whatever I do it will involve other people – I get so much energy, stimulation and satisfaction from the people I work with. I know that whatever I do it will absolutely be consistent with my family and my family life – they are everything to me. I know that whatever I do I will feel like I am growing and learning as well as adding value and impact – I refuse to allow events of 2011 to in anyway lead me to tread water.
So I know a lot already about what I will do in 2012…I don’t know specifics just yet…but I feel good and positive. Ours is an industry of incredible importance full of significant challenge and amazing opportunity. Pharmaceutical R&D is unrecognisable today from even 5 years ago but the key to success is unchanged. A great idea with a great team. Projects that deliver new drugs are – by definition – a great idea, but they also always have a great team. Projects that fail are either a great idea with the wrong team or the wrong idea with a great team.
In 2012 I will find great projects to work on and great teams to work with….