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A Year of New

Reflections on Transition

7.24.2018
Margaret Anderson, having successfully served as executive director for many years of FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, was recruited to Deloitte Consulting last year. In her new role, Margaret works across the federal health, nonprofit and the health care and life science sectors to help advance improved outcomes for patients. Changing positions after a long tenure with one organization offers many lessons, challenges and opportunities. Here, Margaret shares what she has learned in her first year at Deloitte.

A Year of New: Reflections on Transition

Excited to report I’m coming up on my one year at Deloitte having joined last July as a Managing Director. Why did I make the move? Because I wanted endless runway to learn new content and ideas to apply pressure on the biomedical research system. I wanted to step outside my comfort zone and be stretched, and be surrounded by smart people at all stages of their career who could teach me new things about strategy. Simply put, I joined Deloitte to learn and implement new approaches to tackling tough challenges that will affect the pathways to faster cures for patients. A few observations and learnings to share about creating change in career and biomedical research.

Learning the ropes is hard work and requires vulnerability: New roles require that you ask for help and quickly assess what you know and don’t know. Joining new teams is an opportunity to reset—become better at areas you need to work on. Listen and ask questions instead of immediately throwing out your two cents. Deloitte has collegiality in its DNA, so judgement wasn’t an issue about asking questions. Once you make a change, commit to paying it forward to those newcomers behind you. Let no one feel alone in the journey of new, reach out.

Vulnerability and learning takes energy: A year of everything new is tiring. You build new neural pathways each day-from coffee mechanics to timesheets to travel policies. Align with people who can help train you quickly, level set expectations, and explain the approach to teams, as well as new programmatic methods to put in your toolkit. While it took energy, I have learned a ton about new ways to approach strategic and business planning and I've applied them to work with the nonprofits we serve. When hiring new staff, be mindful of how to package the structural info and assign coaches to transmit it—don’t wait for them to ask, because they may be hesitant to do so.

Learning is exciting and daunting: I’ve enjoyed getting my arms around the work we do at Deloitte to make biomedical research more efficient—via our Federal work, our engagements with nonprofits, and in life sciences. I’ve loved learning from our younger staff who will inherit these challenges to solve and who have much to offer right now. Don’t be elitist about where learning comes from. Figure out how you are going to add learning into your weeks and months ahead. Put a metric on this—same goes for reaching out and meeting new thinkers in your field internally and externally. Stay current and agile and share those perspectives you gain with everyone you encounter. Challenge yourself to use new social media tools, listen to podcasts, read a new publication, attend a conference outside your usual zone, 'interview' someone who knows things you do not. How we all curate this knowledge and apply it is key to our collective future and also how we'll break down barriers to progress in biomedical research.

Daunting is good for you and for others: When we are faced with things that are daunting it helps us evolve and not be cemented in place on mindset and method. We often look down and not up and fail to see the external trends encroaching that could upend our traditional view and existence (think dinosaurs). I now have even more respect for nonprofit executives for example, as I have come to understand the breadth of change ahead via trends e.g., artificial intelligence, big data, the future of work, and generational shifts in how philanthropy is viewed. Are you taking risks and asking and answering the tough questions in the work you lead? If not, why not.

I see a future where leaders win and lose based on how they accommodate transitions, learning, packaging that knowledge, and preparing for external trends. We got this!



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