Interview: Matching skills to requirements

Having the opportunity to find out what you are good at and matching those skills to the right job is the key to a happy and successful career. Nick Hyde, UK Managing Director of Results Healthcare, tells Hilary Ayshford how he has applied his Big Pharma experience to his current roles

Nick Hyde

There was a time, several decades ago, when joining a big company generally meant a job for life. It also provided practical training, management progression and the ability to move across a variety of departments and disciplines and the opportunity to build up a comprehensive set of skills.

This was certainly the case when Nick Hyde joined ICI after graduating with a degree in engineering from Cambridge. ‘In the late 70s and early 80s, if you joined the ICIs of this world it was more or less a job for life. It had a great training programme: I went to one of the world’s leading graduate business schools, INSEAD, in France twice on marketing and business strategy events; I had internal ICI training of all kinds; I worked in the north-east, the north-west, Scotland and the US.’

The move from engineering into pharmaceuticals began in the early 1980s when the recession drove ICI to start combining production and engineering roles. As ICI became AstraZeneca (AZ) he moved more into fine chemicals and from fine chemicals into pharmaceutical intermediates and from there into pharmaceuticals: ‘At various times we made small molecules, we made peptides, we had the largest oligo unit in the world, and I was responsible for some biologics manufacturing too.’

As part of the mobility inherent in large companies in those days, Hyde moved into a business management role at ICI’s US headquarters in Wilmington, where he was responsible for a speciality chemicals business at a plant in Tennessee that ICI had acquired from Staufer, which he says enabled him to learn something about being a ‘commercial animal’.

The people who will be the most successful and get the greatest satisfaction will be those who find a good match between what they’re good at or enjoy doing and the needs of the job

In a big company you could move around and find your areas of strength, but young people going into the industry today are having to find their own path and think more consciously about their skills and where the opportunities to employ those are. ‘I’ve winged it over a lot of years as a generalist,’ Hyde admits. ‘I think the people who will be the most successful and get the greatest satisfaction will be those who find a good match between what they’re good at or enjoy doing and the needs of the job.

‘The choice for people today is huge, but finding the right path isn’t easy or straightforward.’

When ICI demerged in the 1990s Hyde was working on the fine chemicals side, mainly pharmaceuticals. He went back to the US to run Avecia Pharmaceuticals, the small molecules contract manufacturing business of Avecia, and was there when Avecia was spun out of AstraZeneca.

When private equity comes in, you lose the mobility

When private equity steps in, it can release a lot of potential among the management, Hyde suggests, but it also locks a lot of people into their place in the management structure. ‘The thing about ICI and AZ was that it was fairly fluid. When private equity comes in, you lose the mobility and depending on where you are at the time of the lock-in it becomes more rigid and less interesting.’

It was at this point that Hyde joined Dow Chemical to run what became the Dow Pharma business. As a world-leading chemical company Dow had a lot of activities that touched on pharma in all kinds of different ways but was looking to increase its business in that area, involving the expansion of some operations and rationalisation and divestment of others.

‘That was a really fascinating period for me; I spent six years gradually pulling these things together and trying to make sense of them and getting a better whole for the company. And at the end of that I divested the UK part, the old Chirotech part, which we sold to Dr Reddy’s.’

Having settled his family back in the UK during his time at Dow, remaining with the company following the UK divestment would have meant moving abroad again. That would have been a move too far, Hyde felt, so after 30 years he decided to make the break from big companies and get into something new.

‘One of the reasons I stopped working for big companies was that I had had almost 20 years jetting about. My family was convinced I was permanently jet-lagged.’

Using his experience in rationalisation and divestments at Dow, Hyde set up his own company, Greenville Management, that enabled him to work in the mergers and acquisitions field as well as working with and advising start-up companies as an angel investor in the Cambridge area.

For new companies resources are very thin on the ground, so they benefit from people who have experiences of different kinds just to help them through the development process

‘Having spent a lot of time in big companies, you find that you have learned to do all kinds of things. For new companies resources are very thin on the ground, so they benefit from people who have experiences of different kinds just to help them through the development process,’ says Hyde. ‘It’s great fun and I’m really enjoying it. It’s a chance to put something back.’

For example, when a start-up company is looking to raise £150,000–£250,000 first time around, it can’t afford to pay £20,000–£40,000 for professional due diligence, so the angels will do it themselves, relying on their own knowledge. ‘That is why most angels will invest in an area they know and why as an investor I get involved in medical technology,’ he says.

As a member of an angel investment group, Hyde spends about half his time involved in new and start-up companies. One such is the Diabetic Boot Company, of which Hyde is Chairman, which is developing a device for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers by combining the relief of pressure and abrasion with a battery-powered pump system to stimulate blood flow to promote healing.

‘We have just completed our second fund raising,’ he says. ‘We raised about £250,000 15 months ago to do the initial product design and development work, and we have just raised about £800,000 to take the boot to the next phase and into clinical trials. Our CE Mark came through in December, production is underway and we go into clinical trials on patients fairly soon.

If I were starting out again I would probably get involved in start-ups earlier because that is where the more interesting stuff is

‘If I were starting out again I would probably get involved in start-ups earlier because that is where the more interesting stuff is; the older, established companies are not doing as much in the way of innovation as they used to do.’

He hopes to get to the point where he can be even more selective about what he does. ‘Working with start-ups quite a lot of the time you don’t get paid very much. You might have a stake in the business and the potential for greater rewards, but it doesn’t pay the bills,’ he points out.

The other half of Hyde’s working time is spent with Results Healthcare, the healthcare business of specialist transactions house Results International. This work – mainly site divestment projects – also draws heavily on his experience with big companies.

During a transaction you are taking a group of people and trying first of all to get them through the painful period of realising that they are not core

‘During a transaction you are taking a group of people who have been typically a functional group within a large company and trying first of all to get them through the painful period of realising that they are not core and their current parent wants to find another solution for them,’ he explains. ‘That is a very uncomfortable position to be in. It really is no reflection on the individual people – it’s just a strategic decision.

‘What we usually find is that once people have got through that initial period of shock they can start to see that there are major opportunities for them as individuals. They go from being a non-core part of a business to being acquired by another company – and an acquirer never buys a facility to close it down, but because they think they can grow it.’

The rationalisation taking place in the pharma manufacturing sector is a reflection of trends in the healthcare sector as a whole, Hyde believes. ‘We have this big dynamic at the top whereby healthcare can provide lots of different solutions, but that ability probably exceeds our ability as taxpayers to pay for it. So I think we are going to be in a permanent rationing mode, whether this is imposed by insurance companies or by the government.’

People will always want to get as much as they can out of the money, so the industry below that has to be as efficient as it can

Because the demand for healthcare is virtually infinite, somebody has to decide what is and is not affordable. ‘People will always want to get as much as they can out of the money, so the industry below that has to be as efficient as it can. If everyone is fat and happy and making profits, what that actually means is that the amount of healthcare that is being delivered is less than it could have been,’ he says.

One area in which there are great gains in productivity to be made is in ensuring that the right drug is given only to patients who will benefit from it. Hyde believes that this should be the primary target of the growing trend towards personalised medicines.

‘The ability either to predict or measure which patients are getting benefits and to respond appropriately has to increase. Giving drugs inappropriately is just waste,’ he says. ‘Some companies have been quite smart in pricing their new drugs based on results. It is difficult to argue philosophically with that approach: we accept that if it doesn’t work we won’t take the same reward, but if it does work we want the benefit from it. ‘Personalisation is about value for money, productivity: getting more out for what you put in.’

The cost of healthcare provision is likely to be a big driver here, although it is important to remember that the cost of drugs is only a small percentage of overall spending in a national system such as the NHS.

The UK government is relatively good at providing at least some support to new companies through bodies such as the Technology Strategy Board and various grants. However, the biggest local customer for these companies is the NHS, and at the moment the NHS has very little freedom to adopt any new technology, Hyde points out. ‘So we have a situation where 99% of the money is going into new companies but virtually nothing is going into their potential customer to encourage it to adopt the technology. There is no point in supporting lots of great start-ups if their customer isn’t going to be able to take the products on board.

‘If I could change one thing about the industry, I would want the productivity of the whole system to be improved so that we could get significantly more total health outcome for what goes in as inputs. We have got to be able to get more out in terms of benefit to patients from what we are putting in. It is just so frustrating to see bits of the system that could be done so much better.’

Curriculum Vitae
2012 to presentUK Managing Director, Results Healthcare
2011 to presentChairman, The Diabetic Boot Company Ltd
2010 to presentDirector, Inotec AMD Ltd
2009 to 2011Non Executive Director 2011, Archimica
2008 to 2012Associate Principal, Pharma Ventures Ltd
2002 to 2008Global Business Director, Dowpharma, The Dow Chemical Co
1999 to 2002VP Avecia Pharmaceuticals, Ops Director, Avecia Life Science Molecules
1995 to 1999International Business Manager, Specialty Chemicals, ICI then Zeneca
1981 to 1995Fine Chemicals Manufacturing roles, ICI
Education
BA, Engineering, Cambridge University

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