Exploring Leadership and Innovation in Health and Life Sciences with Lindsay Mateo, MBA: A LifeSci Search Executive Insight

We're proud to present an exclusive Q&A with Lindsay Mateo, MBA, a visionary leader in the pharmaceutical and healthcare services sector. In this deep-dive interview, Lindsay shares her insights on navigating challenges in the healthcare industry, fostering a positive work culture, and the lessons learned from a career influenced by exemplary leadership. Explore how her experiences and strategies are driving change and innovation in an evolving landscape.

, | April 22, 2024


Q: What was the most significant influence in your life that contributed to your current position?

A: My father. My father has embodied hard work and outstanding leadership throughout my childhood and even today in his retirement. He was always a student of business – his own and that of others. He never had to be the most intelligent guy in the room, but he sought out those people to learn from them. Then he paid that forward to his employees – teaching them, working with them, taking care of them, and retaining many of them for their entire careers, from day one to retirement. He taught me without even realizing it because my eyes and ears were open. As a result, I absorbed and evolved into the professional I am today.

Q: What is the #1 piece of advice you would have given yourself five years ago?

A: Remember, employment at any level is a 2-way street. It’s easy to work for a company without checking in with yourself to ensure the company is working for you – especially when you’re the achiever type that is hard-wired to “do the work.” Be honest with yourself and your leaders when it comes to where you are and where you want to be:

  • Are you inspired by the mission and vision?
  • Are you motivated by the work you are doing?
  • Are you challenged in the right way?
  • Are you growing daily – more knowledge, stronger skills, greater impact?

Q: What is the greatest challenge you see pharma and healthcare services facing in the next three years?

A: A continued increase in demand for accessible, affordable healthcare combined with warp-speed advancements in technology – AI, ML, and data management.

Access to Healthcare and Affordability: We live in a world with an increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, an aging population, and the need to provide healthcare to remote and underserved communities. In parallel, the cost of healthcare treatments and services continues to rise. This conflict creates a significant, ongoing challenge.

Advancements in Technology and Data Management: Rapid advancements in technology like AI, ML and big data solutions are transforming the industry. This offers us incredible opportunities to accelerate time to market for therapies, improve patient care, deliver personalized medicine, and drive operational efficiency. It also presents challenges related to data privacy, security, and the integration of new technologies into our existing healthcare systems. Technology is here and evolving rapidly, but not without flaws. So, how do we adapt quickly but cautiously to ensure we have mitigated risks?

While this combination is the challenge at the top of my mind, I also think about…

  • The geopolitical climate and how that can disrupt supply chains; we felt this pain during the pandemic.
  • Healthcare inequality and how education, income, location, race, ethnicity, etc. can reduce access to care; diversity in clinical trial participants matters, and improved patient outcomes should be the goal for all.
  • Regulatory and compliance issues, which feel like moving targets; keeping up with the changes is complex and at times, the barriers to entry are set too high for innovative companies.

To address the challenges, we will have to work together across the various sectors (pharma, diagnostics, technology, etc.) and find innovative ways to collaborate, leverage technology, and align strategies across the ecosystem so we can improve outcomes, reduce costs and drive efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery around the world.

Q: What is the most important thing in creating a positive work culture?

A: Clear vision, values, and authenticity – when you show up as your true self, you are more likely to:

  • Communicate openly
  • Challenge without fear
  • Accept feedback without defensiveness
  • Foster collaboration and shared accountability
  • Recognize others

People, such as bosses, peers, employees, and customers, are typically more open when they know you, like you, and trust you. Authenticity shortens the trust-building process.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Businesses are constantly evolving, and any business has tough days. But it’s easier to navigate them when you have a team to work with and a clear vision to work towards.

Q: How do you think about retaining employees?

A: I’ll relate this one to my advice to myself five years ago, which may be controversial. But retention is also a two way street.

If employees have the ‘will,’ a high level of commitment to the mission/vision and the work, and a desire to grow and develop, we can sharpen their skills. And as leaders, we are obligated to do so. Sourcing, interviewing, hiring, and training are all massive investments, so it is painful to get it wrong or to have people with great skills but no will. Finally, turnover, even when necessary, works against the brand (company and leader).

On the flip side, when you have the right employees with the commitment and a growth mindset, you must continue investing in them. Recognize, reward, engage, and talk about development and career aspirations; understand what matters to people and make that part of their path. Sadly, most leaders and organizations can do this but fail to prioritize the people.

Q: How do you celebrate wins on your team and at your company?

A: For me, it’s less about the how and more about the when. And the answer is every step of the way. We must celebrate the small wins to build momentum for the big ones!

Peer recognition, leadership recognition, features in content (webinars, newsletters, etc.), spot bonuses, hackathons, opportunities for visibility with the Board, Executive Team, at All Hands, or during industry events). Loyalty develops when people feel valued.

Q: Are you bullish or bearish about the next six months?

A: Bullish, of course – but I think there is a climb, and we are just at the start. Some struggling companies will still fold up or become asset sales. Consolidation will continue. However, investments will be made where value creation and revenue generation are measurable and results are reliable.

There is a great quote from Benjamin Franklin that applies to us as individuals, teams, companies and industries at large as we continue to navigate challenges and change: “When you are finished changing, you’re finished.”

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