I had the great pleasure to talk to Jordi Sabe who currently heads the Corporate Development – Licensing and M&A unit at Almirall, the leading Spanish pharmaceutical company. A job, I think, many of us would aspire for.
Jordi started his career at KPMG before he did his MBA at IE Business School more than a decade ago. After collecting several years of experience in a company specialized in Investment Banking and M&A, he finally developed his career internally at Almirall. As many senior professionals, he felt he wanted to take over responsibility to shape a company in the long-term as opposed to being an advisor with no actual decision authority.
Leading people and managing his own career, three of Jordi’s key beliefs stood out for me.
– The importance of networking: The way he got considered at Almirall at the first place, was because he was recommended by somebody from within who already knew him. When asked what he would advise anybody looking for a career change, the catch phrase is “go and have lunch with people!” – spreading the word and getting insights into different roles and opportunities will almost always lead to something.
– The obligation to constantly learn and develop: exchange with others is of high importance also in his job. He can benefit from the lessons other organizations have learnt. But he also always went back to academic settings to learn new concepts from professors and peers. And he urges everybody to do so, too.
– The value of diverse teams: The pharma industry has historically been relatively hermetic, not very open to profiles from other sectors. Jordi, however, has always believed in the advantage of bringing in new ideas from other industries and has fostered diversity of backgrounds in his own teams. He believes that companies are increasingly learning to value the benefits of this approach.
In his department about 50% have some pharma-related experience, 40% come from Investment Banking or Audit functions and around 10% have a background in the legal function. Everybody needs to learn from everybody else and everybody has the opportunity to grow beyond his or her specialty.
Needless to say that Jordi has an agenda that is always full. Nevertheless, he is more than happy and highly motivated to share his insights into the pharma industry or the world of M&A, Licensing and Corporate Development. He is willing to support interested students as much as his time allows. It is great to have alumni like him out there!