Small World

A friend at work told me last week he was about to go on a short vacation with his family to Disneyland. And the first thought that came into my head? It’s a Small World. Not the expression (although that is quite apt as well) but rather the musical boat ride. Even now I can hear the music floating though my mind. I can’t imagine there’s anyone who has ever taken small children to a Disney Resort who doesn’t know that tune.

Of course when Disney first introduced the ride and the song back in the 1960s they had no idea what they had created. There’s a widely held belief that It’s a Small World is the most performed and most widely translated song ever…and who would disagree. I am sure the song choice was because the ride was designed to bring the ‘world’ together. The concept of ‘a small world’ works well since it the expression indicates how easy and frequent it is for us to encounter the same people, events or situations in unexpected (or not so unexpected) places.

This concept of the ‘small world’ does seem very appropriate at the moment. The pharmaceutical industry has changed dramatically over the last few years…and who knows what it will look like in one or two years time. We now have less pharmaceutical companies – both big and small – more Biotechs and more Start Ups.  The relationships between these companies, and all of our relationships with CROs, have changed dramatically.

As I have begun to focus more of my time and energy on my network I have been amazed (and delighted) to see how many friends and colleagues are now in great roles across all components of the broader pharmaceutical/healthcare industry. And many of these colleagues used to work for Pfizer – or one of the component parts that constitute Pfizer. It most surely is a small world.

I then found myself thinking in more detail about those colleagues – colleagues I may have worked with extensively over a long period of time, or occasionally over a short period of time. How would I describe that relationship? Under what terms did we part company? Did either of us burn any bridges?

It is very easy for the process of leaving a company to be fraught with challenge and emotion. But it has always struck me how important it is to not burn any bridges. We have all heard the stories (some true and some apocryphal) about colleagues who leave one company – based at least in part on relationships with their manager – only to discover that same manager has also moved to the new company!

No matter how tempting (rightly or wrongly) it may feel to tell a company who is letting you go what you think of them…it is never a good idea. It has to be better – and more enjoyable – to depart on good terms, or even on great terms. This may not always be that easy but it is always the right thing to do. Ours is a ‘small’ industry. The likelihood that we will all meet again, if not work together again, is high and only getting higher.

And it also struck me that on most bridges traffic flows both ways. Even in the last few weeks I have heard stories about colleagues who have previously left one company only to be re-recruited back into that same company.  Both parties have potential to burn bridges, but both parties have much future benefit to gain from ensuring any departure is as positive and memorable as possible for all concerned.




About Steve Street

I have worked in R&D within the Pharmaceutical industry for over 30 years. Up until April 2012 all of my career had been with one company, but that has now changed. I left that company and took up a new role on May 1, 2012 - still very much within the Pharmaceutical industry and again based in the UK. I have been blogging every week now for over 10 years but only on an external site since January 2012. Email updates of the blogs can be requested using the ‘follow’ option within Wordpress. The blogs are only ever my personal view of what I see, think and feel. I am delighted if you agree and find value; happy if you disagree with my views and overjoyed if you feel motivated to comment. Most of all I am simply grateful that you read. Cheers Steve
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2 Responses to Small World

  1. Interesting post as always.

    Yes it’s a small world, and the best we can do is to always show good character. If we behave in an untrustworthy way, people will expect us to be untrustworthy. If we don’t follow through on our promises, people will expect us to be unreliable.

    I think the key to “leaving a company on the best terms” is similar to the process of giving someone a poor performance review. Sticking to the facts and keeping it as unemotional as possible are very important. Letting someone go for cause is likewise an exercise of documentation of poor performance over a period of time and explaining why the action was necessary. The employee may completely disagree with the facts, their interpretation or the severity of the infractions, but this is the best way to handle it. Compassionately, but based on facts.

    Leaving a company on one’s own terms, I believe, is seldom due to a single act, but an accumulation of events. Like firing someone for cause, choosing to leave a company is due to an employer’s prolonged pattern of poor performance. There are facts to back it up and it’s necessary to make the change, but should be done compassionately. No bridge burning required.


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