Janneke Meulenberg

Janneke Meulenberg

Programme/year: OneMBA12
Nationality: Dutch
Job Title: CEO
Company: ORCA Therapeutics
Age: 46

 

 

 

"As the CEO of a company, one is responsible for the overall business strategy, so I felt I it to be important to obtain more background education in finance, marketing, and business administration in general. I think that the OneMBA not only contributes to my personal growth and development, but also to the growth of the company and by taking the OneMBA, I will be better equipped to lead the company to success."

What will the One MBA do for you?
Everyone has a different approach and different motives for wanting to study for the OneMBA; the admissions process acknowledges this, and especially understands the demands of keeping all the balls in the air, with a family workload and study workload. 

The firm, ORCA, started its operations in 2008 and is based on a virtual model. It’s not a huge multinational company with 100s or 1,000s of workers. We outsource various activities, including production, for cost reasons – it’s very expensive to start up a production facility. Biotechnology is really an entrepreneurial business, and a lot of biotech companies are founded by researchers. These founders cannot rely on their scientific experience, no matter how expert they are. They need to have other perspectives, and to be able to combine them to define the product development strategy, and to go through the different stages in the most cost-efficient manner. 

Such companies reach a certain stage in their growth and development but find it difficult to move forward; it’s a different ball game to take your company into product development and commercialisation if you’re not sure what your target product profile is. The early phase of pre-clinical development is a familiar one to a researcher, but it is still a very long way to marketing approval – around 10-15 years. So in a manner of speaking you have to work backwards; firstly identifying your end goal and creating the correct product development strategy very early on. There are an enormous number of choices to be made and it’s a major managerial challenge. The OneMBA provides me new tools and insights to lead the company successfully to growth and commercialisation of its products.

Is the MBA a well-known degree in your industry or organisation?
Yes it is. Many people who are working in the Biotech industry have a technical background. To become successful in business development and commercialisation of products and technologies, they complement their technical knowledge with an MBA. 

How is the OneMBA impacting your current work?
The Personal Leadership Development (PLD) course is very important and valuable for me. Leadership development is a lifetime activity that never ends. Being the CEO of the company can sometimes feel like a lonely position and it’s helpful to have some reflection in a different setting with different people; to be able to step back and analyse. The peer group that the OneMBA provides is very useful for me.

As the CEO of a company, one is responsible for the overall business strategy, so I felt I it to be important to obtain more background education in finance, marketing, and business administration in general. I think that the OneMBA not only contributes to my personal growth and development, but also to the growth of the company and by taking the OneMBA, I will be better equipped to lead the company to success.

Biotech is an interesting industry. Technology is dominant, so a scientific background is important. Some CEOs in this industry have a background in economics, but more often, and especially in an early phase of the company it’s good to have someone that knows the details of the product and the technical side. I hope the OneMBA will help me to leverage my technical background and benefit the business.

As a self-funding programme participant, what is the Return on Investment (ROI) you expect from OneMBA?
I think the theories I’m learning in the OneMBA will give me more opportunity to do the right analyses and come to the right decisions rather than relying on making business decisions intuitively.

How has the OneMBA impacted your professional life so far? Is it true that you get immediately applicable knowledge?
Thanks to the accounting and finance classes, it’s easier for me to understand and interpret the company’s financial statements and to challenge our financial controller with the right questions. Also, the marketing classes provided some important theories on branding and promotion, which are helpful in positioning ORCA as a company as well as its products for specific niche indications in the oncology market.

Do you notice different cultural approaches to working within global teams?
The biotech industry is a very internationally-oriented industry. Therefore it is important to be aware of cultural differences in ways of working. Just as in the OneMBA programme, the company finds itself in collaboration with companies from different countries all the time; I’m therefore increasing my experience of this.

With your very busy schedule, how do you manage the cross-continental projects that you are doing with an international team?
It is strenuous to combine the OneMBA with work and family life. I have to maintain high levels of self-discipline, and prefer to study in the evenings when the children are in bed so I can keep other times and weekends free for them as much as possible. You get used to it fairly easily. There are short periods of time, such as lately in March, when the programme was slightly less hectic for about three weeks, until the workload increased again. 

What I like about the OneMBA programme is the assignments. They force you to work with theory and apply it to practice. It gives you a valuable learning experience. It’s through these assignments that we are forced to go deeper into the subject and experience in-depth learning. That really works for me, and allows me a better and deeper understanding. 

How have you enjoyed the Global Residencies so far? 
 I very much enjoyed the lectures of different professors and business leaders, providing in-depth information on the specifics of the economies in each region. It’s very rewarding to work within the international groups; to meet the people and interact with them. It creates an extra dimension to the programme. 

What has been the best part of OneMBA for you so far?  
What I enjoy very much is that people from my class are all very motivated and I’m continually surprised at how they live up to their promises. I’m joining in with the group’s enthusiasm to create good assignments and reports, and I’m determined to continue to produce high quality work.

And after OneMBA, what does the future hold?
For me the challenge is to make the company grow and successful in improving the lives of cancer patients with new and innovative products. I’m in the middle of that process, and the OneMBA is an important part of the journey.