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Biogen Idec exec and Jenkins MBA alumnus: Exciting times for biological sciences, supply chain

Since graduating from the NC State Jenkins MBA program in 2006, Joydeep Ganguly has risen through the ranks at Biogen Idec – the world’s oldest independent biotechnology company and the largest biotech employer in North Carolina.

Today, Ganguly, vice president of manufacturing and general manager of the company’s Research Triangle Park operations, says the Jenkins MBA program prepared him for the challenges he faces from day to day.

“The Jenkins MBA prioritizes innovation management, high-technology industry imperatives and entrepreneurship,” Ganguly said. “All of those equipped me to make critical transitions in my career at Biogen.”

Addressing a class of current Jenkins MBA candidates at a February 11, 2015 session of the Supply Management course taught by Dr. Robert Handfield, Ganguly said these are exciting times in the biological sciences.

“Innovation is at an all-time high, the need to bring convenient therapies to patients has never been greater, and new disciplines like big data and analytics are shaping the landscape of digital medicine,” he said.

And NC State is leading the way in research and in partnerships, Ganguly said. “This is where the innovations come from,” he said.

“I can vividly remember the exciting project meetings we had as a student team,” Ganguly said, “where we imagined and created new ideas, rationalized new business processes and learned how to work as an integrated unit.”

Those skills have helped him grow in his role at Biogen Idec.

Ganguly’s recent presentation on campus included a case study based on his experiences at Biogen Idec, which has seen prolific growth in recent years with the introduction of new therapies for multiple sclerosis and other disorders. He engaged the MBA candidates in a discussion of how they might respond to the same challenges and encouraged them to share their perspectives.

He also told the students that he’s excited to see the work the Jenkins MBA program is doing to prepare the next generation of leaders for the challenges and opportunities they will face in growing industries, including providing opportunities for mentoring.

“Being able to mentor, to influence and guide the next generation of leaders is a privilege, and one that I find very rewarding,” Ganguly said. “As a product of all the investments that my mentors made in me, I find it exciting to give what I can to future industry champions in this space.”

Following his classroom presentation, Ganguly participated in a Q/A session with Jenkins MBA candidate Hugh Fisher. His responses follow.

Q: Tell us about your role and responsibilities at Biogen Idec.

A: As vice president of manufacturing and general manager of Biogen Idec’s North Carolina operations, I oversee the company’s largest and most advanced manufacturing facilities and lead general operations of the company’s Research Triangle Park site. The RTP site has approximately 1,300 total employees who produce therapies and provide service for patients with multiple sclerosis and hemophilia.

In this role, I am accountable for manufacturing operations, talent management and employee engagement for the RTP manufacturing functions. I am also responsible for leading the site’s senior leadership team.

The position I occupy is responsible for identifying and implementing policies, procedures and business strategies to facilitate optimal production and performance while at the same time leveraging best practices to advance operational excellence to optimize operations.

As general manager, I serve as head of the site. Most importantly, my function involves setting strategic direction for the site, in alignment with corporate and divisional strategic goals and objectives. I am expected to set a culture of collaboration and alignment between manufacturing, facilities, engineering, technical development and other site service functions, to ensure that our major strategic objectives are met.

In my position I am heavily involved in external government affairs and political governance forums to help promote and advance the life sciences industry in North Carolina.

Q: What are you working on at Biogen Idec – what excites you about the research that’s being done here at RTP?

A: There are projects we are working on that excite me – from finding new ways to make it more convenient for our patients to get the therapies they need, to advancing new innovations that enable higher throughputs from the facility, to developing real-time data analytics tools in manufacturing that provide unique insights into our processes.

At Biogen Idec, we are constantly innovating to ensure we are setting new standards in biologics manufacturing. We place a huge emphasis on our people and culture, and developing our leadership/talent and culture are efforts that continue to excite me as much as our technology and facility innovations.

In addition, we feel we have a responsibility to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education in our community. I want to ensure that the next generation of innovators are well-prepared by our schools in North Carolina.

Q: How did the Jenkins MBA program prepare you for the challenges you face in your career?

A: The Jenkins MBA program was a critical part of my personal development. I earned my MBA at a time when I was ready to move from the technical side of the business to a management role. The program provided me with a well-rounded playbook for how to approach managing people and technology in high-tech environments.

Q: Tell us about that “playbook” – are there particular experiences that stand out as exemplary?

A: I benefitted from practically every class I took. From the finance, marketing and supply chain fundamentals, to the more nuanced statistics, market intelligence and digital management courses, every professor that I interacted with, every project I undertook, contributed to my development.

Q: Your profile video on the Biogen Idec website tells about your family's tradition of medical treatment and discovery. Why is it important to you that you're carrying on that tradition?

A: I come from a family of doctors. My parents tremendously influenced my choice of career in that I knew I wanted to be in an area that was at the intersection of technology and humanity. It is humbling that I was able to find a career at Biogen, which blends my love of science, technology, and people. That provides tremendous meaning to my work.

Q: How does it feel to have a hand in mentoring and guiding the next generation of professionals? What excites you about the work you see NC State students doing?

A: The Supply Chain Resource Cooperative (SCRC) is a unique concept that I’ve been associated with for a long time. My role as part of the SCRC advisory board is to contribute to the relevancy of the current research, as well as to get students working on projects that allow them to apply cutting-edge theoretical work to practical problems.

What excites me most about the work I see NC State students doing is their ability to apply very esoteric, theoretical concepts to practical issues. I’ve been very impressed with the teams that have worked on complex problems – from developing higher order analytics tools that capture supplier risk, to applying supply chain fundamentals to design optimal decision support constructs.

We’ve hired some great talent that has contributed to the overall success of our efforts on site, and it’s just a great source of innovation for us.

Q: What advice would you give to current or prospective Jenkins MBA students, especially those considering careers in supply chain and/or biopharma?

A: This is a very exciting time for the industry and the supply chain field in general – the job descriptions of tomorrow are being written today.

New areas like digital medicine are creating opportunities to blend skill sets in analytics, biotechnology, and big data into exciting avenues to add value. Seek out uncharted territories, imagine the impossible and be curious about the unknown.

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For more about Biogen Iden's supply chain, read a post on Dr. Robert Handfield's blog, Supply Chain View from the Field.