“What kind of CEO do you want to be?” That question still rings in my head.
It came after a meeting with a CEO that I’d attended with my dad, one in a string of meetings to match small biotech and health tech companies with potential investors.
My dad, an investor, was letting me flex some muscle. I had hopped straight from earning a PhD in biomedical engineering to consulting at McKinsey – and now, I knew just the questions to ask: if it was a cell therapy or biologic, I’d hammer them on manufacturing or the regulatory process. If it were a device, I’d ask about IP or competition.
Over time, I noticed a pattern in the answers. If the CEO were, say, an MD, he or she would demonstrate less fluency with the financials. And if it were a lawyer at the helm, I’d note the micro-stuttering of a person for whom technology was a “second language” – in other words, someone who’d been taught (rather than having developed) the technology’s mechanism of action.