Bianca Coulter, Coulter Partners, Chief Executive

How have you made a significant contribution to leadership consulting in life sciences since founding Coulter Partners in 2003?

Our team advises global leaders and helps find the talent to deliver advances in health. We contribute deep expertise to business leaders and investors so they can plan and reach for excellence. Over 17 years, we’ve built leadership teams to deliver the vision of pioneering companies, from start-ups to global MNCs. We are proud of this truly worthwhile endeavour – to positively impact the patient and human health by bringing the very best leadership to the sector.

What have you been personally most proud of during your career and why?

I am most proud to have built a company in such a fascinating industry. Before 2003, I worked for two of the largest global corporations, Citicorp and Korn Ferry, was a classic employee, well-trained and ambitious, but felt I lacked purpose. I woke one day and thought ‘I can’t keep doing this!’ I knew we could be way better if we aimed way higher, specialised deeply, worked more as a team and embraced diversity. I took a risk and I am proud to say that it’s been a joy and privilege. Today we employ a team of 90+, globally, and are sustaining our mission in these turbulent times.

What importance do you place on diversity and inclusion for the life sciences industry?

We’ve seen that diverse businesses are better businesses. Diversity enables better understanding of markets and customers. A more inclusive and ‘listening’ culture generates innovation – it’s a key business tool. Our team is trained to help clients follow best practice to benefit their organisations, employees and customers. By understanding for example, how unconscious bias influences our own decision-making and practices, we can educate clients and help them recognise and limit this. It’s not easy to implement change overnight, but we’ve seen in action how D&I pays dividends!

What are the biggest challenges you are currently facing in your business?

Right now, COVID-19 looms for us, as for any business. However quality leadership is essential in any crisis. We are genuine partners to our clients. They lean on us, because they still need to make changes, add a mix of skill sets and evolve. We’ve successfully adopted remote working technologies to collaborate and maintain morale. But with a corporate culture that’s about teamwork and mutual support, we miss the shared learning of open- plan collocation.

How well do you see industry leaders responding to challenges created by the pandemic?

We have seen impressive efforts from industry leaders to step up and create an atmosphere of optimism, in the face of tough decisions, under huge pressure. Leaders are creating new ways to communicate and demonstrate the values of their organisations. We’ve seen a very human face of the sector and a different approach from the classic ‘it’s all about shareholder value’. There has been focus on the individual, on enabling them to be as good as they can be and supporting them in new ways. There are many challenges, but we are all working together!