A Revolutionary Approach for Evolutionary Development – A Conversation with James Brook
Jul 07, 2021
As the birthplace of the first-ever controlled clinical trial in 1747, Europe is always a land full of wonder and courage, an ideal place for life science innovation.
James Brook, a UK-based senior leader with 25+ years of experience in healthcare and clinical research, joined Tigermed in June 2021 as Regional Head of Western Europe, Africa and Pakistan to lead and build capabilities in these areas.
James has a proven track records of leadership in major pharma/CRO companies across multiple functions, delivered 20% of the UK commercial clinical research in 2020.
We recently caught up with James, a Black Belt Jujitsu instructor and a passionate motorcyclist, to talk about his attraction to clinical research, and his plan about this new role.
James: It’s a big decision, also an exciting opportunity for me to work in a new organization with 7,000+ employees at this special stage its history. My interview process went over many months and hours with all levels of individuals, there are challenges and culture differentiations, but we all tried to keep learning and understanding from each other and being humble to do that, I can feel that my opinions count in fact I believe everyone’s opinions count at Tigermed! The more we speak and share, the more we get convinced that we are the right fit for each other. So humble to learn and willing to listen, this is the most impressive feeling I have about Tigermed so far. I think it is incredible and reflects our values, and is very much what attracted me to this position.
James: Yes it does. As soon as I accepted the position, I subscribe an App and pushed myself to progressively learn 10-15 minutes every day. It’s fascinating to see that the structure of language reflects the structure of culture, which helped me to better study the way we do business in China. My ambition is to be at least able to introduce myself in Chinese one day soon.
James: Taking a break for exercise allows me to move from mental activity to physical activity, which is important to me. I believe in balance, exercise helps me to keep creative and open up different neural pathways in my brain and therefore different solutions for Tigermed.
James during a motorbike racing in UK
James: First I think my professional career and multiple role changes, from head of Therapeutic Science to management, across multiple functions and countries, gives me a strong adaptability in work. Whenever a new opportunity comes up, I move to that role rapidly and deliver it to the best of my ability.
Another important lesson-learnt from previous experience is to deliver what you promised to the clients, especially for contract research. One thing we know in this industry is that if you fail to deliver, you are never going to work with this client again. Don’t over promise just to win the customer, be their trusted partner, and always aim to delight them.
Coming from a diversity of backgrounds, I always look at things from different perspectives. It’s almost like putting a light into a prism and getting multiple rays of light coming out of it. Most people just see one light, I see many different rays, many different solutions. That means I can connect the SMO we have in China and immediately see how that could transform to Europe and beyond. I see the opportunity and I have the ambition to build on this opportunity, that’s what really excites me about this role and Tigermed.
James: I think in Europe, COVID becomes a mirror on each country, their individuality and their beliefs. Countries like UK and Germany shut down their economy at great cost because they could afford it, but the southern half who deeply rely on tourism remained open as long as possible. It’s partly similar to clinical research here, the UK researchers flipped totally over to dealing with the pandemic and nearly shut down all non-essential research, consequently their recovering of non-COVID activity would be slower than rest of EU.
Moving forward, COVID is being transformative in the way we deliver clinical research, we might see a significantly greater willingness of the regulatory authorities to license drugs at risk and ask for more studies to back that up after early approval, it will accelerate drug development. Companies can move that risk earlier, virtual trial and decentralized monitoring will be normalized into every type of research, data collection will be closer to patients and therefore real lives which will mean those drugs being developed might be more effective.
James: Clinical CRO is really a traditional industry, it’s about science but also about the human. Major CROs in EU or US, they have global reach and employees around the world, and have built up consistent connections with MNCs to make them feel confident and familiar, a bit like a marriage. It’s difficult to break those bonds as they have been built over many years.
For Tigermed to enter the world stage, I think we need to create differentiated service offerings to customers and progressively build the confidence that we can deliver it, which means whenever they are evolutionary in their development, we can be revolutionary in our approach. We need to show them a different way or tailored solution, not drastic but just a little bit revolutionary. We have now a brilliant opportunity at an incredibly exciting time, but every step of the way we have to look at being the ‘trusted partner’, and that will differentiate us.
James: As contract research organization, the first questions we used to ask is, what is the client’s top priority? Timing, quality, cost, often times all of them. The tailored solution is listening to our client and ascertaining exactly what they need, advise the client and provide solutions that fits their needs, even if that means more work for us. We should aim to satisfy the client all the time, both with our expertise and knowledge, as well as our willingness to meet and go beyond their expectations.
James: I’d like to start thinking globally rather than regions, because research is global, research delivery throughout the world is based on ICH-GCP and Declaration of Helsinki and should be the same standards to protect patients the world over. I see Tigermed in the future as the global ‘trusted partner’. At the end of the day when the meetings are over, the customers know that we are a trusted advisor and a global expert willing to deliver the promise.
For me, I want to build a delivery mechanism to support that vision globally, and to be seamlessly integrated into the rest of the world. I hope to be able to deliver research in Europe, and hope very much to make Chinese companies see Europe as their next destination of choice, not as Europe but as an extension of what Tigermed can do for them. One global Tigermed, one global standard of delivery.
James: I feel excited too, and I look forward to working with you all to make a positive difference! If you make a positive contribution, if you make a difference that is tangible and positive, you will be successful.
Click HERE to have PDF version of this interview.