Competitive Nature…

I am not really competitive…I just don’t like losing. Actually I don’t even like coming second. But I am not competitive. Honest.

For example, although I don’t mind not being first off a plane…I do like getting to passport control first. OK I accept that may sound a little competitive…but in truth it is more about just wanting to exit the airport and get on with my life as quickly as possible.

The only real worry I have about flying is that moment I walk into the immigration hall…its nothing to do with any questions I may get asked by the immigration officers (in UK or US)…its more just not knowing until I get there whether there will be two people in front of me, twenty or two hundred.

Last week I arrived at San Francisco airport and made it to passport control – let’s just say – rapidly…to find virtually no-one in the hall (good news)…but only one officer on duty (bad news). Worse still; there were three passengers who had somehow made it to the immigration line ahead of me (no idea).

The first one clearly hadn’t filled in his form correctly…his entry took what seemed like ages but was probably only five minutes. And the third must have done something wrong. He was walked off by the only duty officer to secondary inspection…leaving us standing. Next flight I will take my time…honest.

I was in California meeting partner companies – it was a great week. Very tiring…but engaging and exciting. The eight hour time zone difference always means I feel like I do a day’s work each morning from my hotel room…and then go out for another day’s work.

I did breakfast meetings, morning meetings, lunch meetings, afternoon meetings and dinner meetings. I was in the fitness centre for an hour on Monday. Forty minutes Tuesday. Thirty minutes Wednesday and barely twenty minutes Thursday. It wasn’t enough. But as the week progressed, the nights got later…and so did the waking up.

All the meetings were inspiring – as were all the people I was with – but one lunch in particular left me thinking…about competitiveness. In the oil and gas industry. And about a lack of competitiveness in truth.

I am often asked about similarities and differences between components of our industry. There are many (similarities and differences). Some big and some small. Some of great significance and some minor. Over lunch we had started to discuss competitiveness, and we all agreed that our history in pharmaceutical R&D was a history of extreme competitiveness. No sharing at all of collective knowledge or experience…good or bad. Every company to themselves.

Oil and gas has always struck me as being similarly competitive – but I learned at lunch that I am wrong. Back in the 1990s, oil and gas companies started sharing exploration data across the industry. The (amazing but simple) goal was to share both costs and benefits of exploration and production data collaboratively. Or put another way – the industry realised that individual companies had to work together…not just to survive and to become more successful…but also to deliver better value to us the customers.

Sound a familiar challenge? But a comparable strategy for us would be the pharmaceutical companies (big and small) sharing data, information and knowledge on good or bad targets for treatment of disease. Hard to imagine I know. But still? Imagine the benefits.

And what of the CRO industry? What would be our equivalent? What data could we share that would revolutionize our world? A world where we may not all always win, but where there would be less opportunity for us to lose…




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 Competitive Nature…

  1. Sean Nugent says:

    My old friend! I still look forward to reading your weekly blog to see how you are doing, what you are up to, how work is and whats on your mind. Many of these I share with students and other company leaders I work with but most I reserve for myself. The end of this blog struck a note as I have been working with the economic development community around their opportunities & business strategy in attracting, retaining and growing life science companies in their respective states and/or communities. While sharing is a common theme so is decentralization meaning large corporations becoming too large – for their own good but mainly business efficiencies – and the whole process becoming fragmented into smaller, more responsive & flexible components creating a new supply chain structure for this industry. Reading your piece on the oil & gas industry made me wonder whether you might have heard similar thoughts or stories regarding decentralization. I know weve seen it in other industries (auto for example) and it appears to be the natural evolution.

    Oh and by the way, I worked with you for years and you are competitive! LOL



    “Today is life, the only life we’re sure of….make the most of it!”

    • Steve Street says:


      Great to hear from you and you made me laugh for sure…the risk of – in effect – seeking feedback from friends who have known me for years!

      On your question, not really is the answer – the oil and gas analogy was particularly impressive for me as it refers to an industry that has some parallels to Pharma R&D…at least in terms of the length of time it takes from starting a project (surverying for fields) to a product (something that you or i could purchase).



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