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Skeptical Biotech CEO Finds Outplacement ‘Incredibly Valuable’

Navigate Forward Client Finds Next CEO Position and Structures Engagement With Room for Complementary Board of Director Work

Quick Look:

  • Client: CEO in the biotechnology sector
  • Services: Executive Transition Services and Board Readiness
  • Consultant: Patti O’Leary
  • Value: Identifying career opportunities beyond the next executive position. Negotiating board seats into the new CEO contract.

Like many successful executives, a CEO in the biotechnology sector moved easily from one senior leadership position to the next. This time, however, he teamed up with Navigate Forward.

Our one-on-one guidance and collaboration helped him reflect on the full arc of his career and identify goals beyond his next executive role. As a result, he not only realized the perfect CEO position, but also structured the engagement with room for complementary board of director work. It makes his new employer more attractive, fuels his personal passions and creates a runway to additional opportunities when he eventually retires.

“My career had been a real whirlwind for 25 years. One big thing, onto the next,” the biotech CEO explained. “I had never taken any meaningful time out to think strategically about where I am, and more importantly, where I wanted to go. Navigate Forward helped me do that.”

He added, “I found the whole journey incredibly valuable, which I can’t emphasize enough.”

From Skeptic to Advocate

Initially, however, the CEO was skeptical about outplacement services—especially for highly motivated individuals like himself.

“I was open-minded going into it, but I didn’t fully get it. I didn’t know if it would be of any value for someone at my level,” he admitted. “I actually considered not doing it.”

“Navigate Forward helped me put strategy behind my decisions in ways that weren’t initially obvious to me.”

The CEO teamed up with executive consultant and Board Readiness practice lead Patti O’Leary. Together, they leveraged Navigate Forward’s proven processes for Executive Transition Services and Board Readiness.

In both cases, work begins with in-depth, personal discovery that identifies meaningful activities in work and life.

“Navigate Forward helped me put strategy behind my decisions in ways that weren’t initially obvious to me,” he said. “They helped me do that in a methodical way, really forcing reflection on what I wanted to do with my career.”

Moving at the Right Pace

A key insight for the CEO was thinking beyond the job opportunities at hand and the next company he would run. Contributing in corporate board service was also an important consideration.

“Navigate Forward helped me slow down and have patience through the process,” he said.

“Time is an incredibly precious commodity. A misstep can easily cost you five years.”

A more measured pace gave him a new lens to review potential offers, rather than accepting the first opportunity. This focus is especially critical for senior leaders in the latter half of their careers.

“Time is an incredibly precious commodity,” he observed. “When you’re 25 years into your career, the steps you make feel more important than in the past, because there aren’t that many left to make. A misstep can easily cost you five years. Making sure that the next thing you do is as good as it can be is really an essential investment.”

Negotiating with Purpose

When the right offer finally came, the preparatory work with Navigate Forward paid off. O’Leary helped him negotiate a contract provision that allows him to sit on multiple for-profit boards of directors outside of his regular role as CEO.

“I can’t tell you how valuable that contract provision is to me,” he said.

“I found the whole journey with Navigate Forward incredibly valuable.”

The contract allows him to combine his strengths as an executive with his entrepreneurial flair and passion for learning.

“It’s transformational when thinking about accepting a job,” the CEO noted. “That 100 percent of your joy, your value, even your economic future is tied to one place—versus having that place and board opportunities that allow you to be exposed to other things, creatively and financially. It significantly increased the value of the opportunity for me and was essentially a ‘free give’ for my new company.”

Praise for Navigate Forward

Now, as he launches into his new roles as biotech CEO and director at for-profit boards, he’s a ready advocate for outplacement services and Navigate Forward. His advice to others is to embrace the outside objectivity and methodical nature of executive transition services.

“Treat yourself to some helpful, insightful self-reflection and perspective on what you have done with your career. It will help you chart a more fruitful path forward, which is invaluable,” he said.

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