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Welcome to the corner office! Each month, we’ll turn to a new panel of biopharma executives for insights about leadership and management — and tips for thriving in a roller-coaster industry. To share your views in future columns, please fill out this short form. To suggest questions for our panelists, email STAT Plus Editor Liz Cooney. This month, we asked:

How do you coach your team to respond to setbacks?

Emily Leproust, CEO of Twist Bioscience, San Francisco, Calif.: At Twist Bioscience, one of our guiding principles is grit, which we define as passionate drive and fierce determination. By demonstrating grit, we have built a culture of innovation and excellence, which, by necessity requires experimentation. Experimentation results in success but also in setbacks, which we must allow for in a way that is safe and encourages risk-taking.


I work hard to be approachable for any type of conversation, remaining positive and focused on our corporate goals while addressing the challenge at hand. During post-mortem meetings, I communicate the positive aspects of the process and drive discussion around learning from every experience, as it is often the most painful lessons that spark future breakthroughs. Finally, by trusting my team to iterate in a positive and beneficial manner, I truly believe we will be able to accomplish our aggressive goals together.

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  • Nice words, but 1) your coaching will have to distract your team from fear based furiously updating their resumes and 2) everyone will be searching for scapegoats when, on their upcoming interviews they are asked why your company’s drug failed. Since I was in clinical development it was NEVER the fault of my excellent protocol designs; better to crucify the nameless, faceless statisticians who blew the sample size calculations, or the bozos in regulatory affairs who gave you bad advice.

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