Interview with Angie Aldinger

Frank Dolan:

Well, good morning everybody! Happy Wednesday, April fool’s day. There is no fooling when it comes to the topic here in Life Science Leader Lab that we’re going to talk about today, and that’s people. And there’s a lot going on in this unique environment, so people is going to be our topic today. We’re going to talk about a lot of fun stuff and what have you. So I’m your host, Frank Dolan. I appreciate you being here. It’s great to get our community of Life Science leaders together each day and have this conversation. So whether you’re watching this live or on the replay, I appreciate you coming together to kind of like share ideas that way we can accelerate innovation. So without further ado I want to make sure that we give here a warm welcome to Angie Aldinger. I’ve known Angie for for quite some time and I’m guessing that a majority of you know her as well.

Frank Dolan:

So she leads part of the Life Science practice at Taylor Strategy Partners. She may be one of the most connected people in the whole biopharma, MedTech space for sure. And her energy and insights are both just addicting. She’s an amazing person. So Angie, it is just an honor to spend some time with you here this morning and your passion for people and what you see across the industry is just amazing. So let me give you an opportunity to introduce yourself to everybody and then we’re going to have some fun talking about people and talent and connection and culture. So welcome!

Angie Aldinger:

I love it. Wow. That is like big shoes to fill. I’m a little nervous about that, Frank. I would echo those sentiments to you as well my friends. So know I’m absolutely thrilled to be here. A little bit about my background, gosh, I am like 23 years in life sciences and so for those of you who know me and my standard joke is I was 12 when I started, not the case. But gosh, I feel like I’ve done a little bit of everything at this point. I started carrying the bag, I did that for about five years. And then I had an opportunity to move into recruiting. Not something that I ever thought I would do. Held multiple positions throughout recruiting from project management to director level positions to having a core group of about 90 recruiters under me. And then moved into business development, selling full blown of source solutions. I’m in this amazing industry along with direct hire opportunities as well. So I have the fortune of being a part of Taylor Strategy Partners and really supporting the growth of our business, but more importantly, really understanding what things look like today and, and how we can really help companies move forward. Many of whom are my friends. So excited to be here with you today.

Frank Dolan:

Well, I’m glad you are, I really am. And so, you know, when we think about this unique environment that we’re in right now, you know, our business in life sciences is all about people. I think many of us have had the conversation with professional and personal acquaintances, you know, about the purpose behind what we do, which is we’re, you know, we’re going ahead and trying to serve others, ultimately serve a patient, you know, that’s the easy example. With what’s happening now with so much of the work from home dynamic, it’s certainly caused a lot of change, adaptation, consternation with how we interact with one another. And I think this people topic really spans many bounds. You know, the business goes on, some of us are hiring people and now we’re in a unique format where we have to take many components of the hiring process and perhaps, you know, reconfigure them a bit since we need social distancing and Zoom meetings to get things done in the world right now. Some of us are trying to be hired and thinking about, well, is my network and my campaign effective enough to be able to stand out from the crowd?

Frank Dolan:

Cause sometimes, you know, sometimes not so great candidates, you know, mask themselves like good candidates. But more than anything else, no matter what you do, whether you’re hiring, trying to be hired or beyond, you know, you’re a professional and you’re a peer. And how we deal with each other in these unique environments where not everybody’s set up to have these types of video meetings. Not everyone’s super effective in communicating more virtually or more via email or chat with tone. And things that are missed for those that are incredible closers like right in front of the person face to face. So we’re adapting and we’re changing and it’s just incredible what that does to like the human condition. And Angie, you are an absolute expert when it comes to creating experiences that deliver and delight to other folks when you’re connecting with executives, executive search, running, hiring campaigns, all that sort of stuff. So I wanted to ask you, you know, what are some guideposts for how we really treat each other magically during these challenging times?

Angie Aldinger:

Yeah. great summary. So to, you know, best practices that I’m certainly practicing and the organization as well that I work with is practice grace and give grace, right? These are undoubtedly changing times. You know, my sort of business word of the of the month is pivot, right? The last couple of weeks I’ve pivoted more than I ever knew that I could, even though I’m a tennis player and pivoted a lot on the court. So, you know, I think we’re dealing with many different types of ideas and concepts and personalities and many people aren’t comfortable with virtual interactions. Right? It’s beyond just working from home. That’s for many a huge struggle. And you know, I think that we have these great expectations of, you know, going to a face to face interview and what that should look like. And we’ve all had to shift and pivot.

Angie Aldinger:

And more importantly, when you are that hiring leader to really make sure that you’re understanding and that you’re being realistic, that you might be interviewing someone who has tried to get away in their house and they might have three little ones running around and they’ve tried to best they can put them in their playroom, right?, with their iPads. But one might get loose and might just want to sit on mom or dad’s lap. And so that’s the reality. And I really want to extend to the group and I hope people share that compassion and practice grace and really give grace as we go through this different time. Right? It’s a becoming a new normal, whatever that’s going to look like.

Frank Dolan:

Yeah. We’re definitely shifting and I’ve said it before, you know, these five weeks, six weeks, whatever it is that we’ve, we’re really pivoting to your very point. It could help us actually advance things, you know, five, six years when it comes to how long it would have taken us to be comfortable conducting more interactions, whether they’re interviews or beyond, virtually, you know, finding ways to manage our home environments and work, we’re doing that. So you know, Angie, you know, tell me a little bit about what you’re seeing when it comes to organizations that are working hard right now to bring in new talent how they are pivoting. And maybe a best practice or two, all tips and tricks are always welcome on how, if you’re a hiring manager right now, how do you get your mind straight to effectively get what you need out of the interview process but through this medium?

Angie Aldinger:

Yeah. So, you know, I think a couple of things. One I think to understand that you have to be very flexible. We’re seeing many organizations today really embrace different types of video technology, right? Beyond just a Facebook or, excuse me, FaceTime, different types of a modern hire or technology Zoom, right? Where you can bring people together and have a district manager, a regional sales manager, and maybe a VP of sales come into that experience and be able to have interactions and engagements with that candidate. Just like if they were sitting in more of a panel interview, right in a hotel room in Dallas. And also, you know, as we’re working with organizations who are hiring larger sales teams, right? Mass amounts of people really being able to think through setting up kind of virtual interview events.

Angie Aldinger:

So where you still have those traditional war rooms, you still have that leadership engagement to debrief on candidates, are still getting sort of that camaraderie, right? I think that’s what we’re all really missing today. Being confined in our homes is it’s one thing to work from home, but gosh, now we can’t leave and go have dinner with our friends, right? Everything is virtual. So how do you bring those people together? Not just having a one on one interaction, but really bringing groups of people together. So I think that’s key. You know, I also think that again let’s just call the spade the spade when we’re interviewing people, right? If you’ve not comfortable with it, if you, gosh, you think, does my background look good? We test things, but just say, gosh, I’m a little uncomfortable with this. Right. That’s okay. And again, if we’re the candidate or vice versa, we’re the hiring manager being really open to that, practice that grace and give the grace.

Frank Dolan:

That’s a great advice. You know, being that, everything about how people are living, you know, at current, you know, we’re all feeling the distancing and I know that in the media they’re using the term social distancing quite a bit. I like the physical distancing a bit better. And I think especially as, you know, we interact with coworkers or if we are in that unique spot where we’re trying to, you know, attract, you know, a talent or be talent that stands out that’s brought into an organization. How are ways that we can perhaps be more personalized? I mean, we crush things with text messages and emails, is there an opportunity in this process perhaps to maybe pick up the phone more? Like, how do we, you know, bring more kindness and grace to you know, these overall trying times, which put extra stress on this pressure point of hiring.

Angie Aldinger:

Yeah. Because again, in that pivoting, it create us some fires. And what happens when there’s fires is we all react, right? And sometimes we don’t react in the kindest, nicest ways, even if that wasn’t our intention. And so yes, more than ever pick up the phone, do a FaceTime if it’s a one-on-one, just because you want to see someone. Right. Or, you know, I think that it’s really important we all take that deep breath, reread our emails, reread the text, listen, I’m not a huge fan of texting conversations, I don’t think that’s a great best practice for anyone. You know, and again even in emails, what is your tone? What are you trying to get at? How might something you’re saying be perceived by someone else, right. Because perception is reality at the end of the day. So absolutely. I think pick up the phone, do those types of things.

Angie Aldinger:

But you know, I think as an organization, really look within your people because there’s really smart and valuable people who during this time really may rise up and have different ideas and different solutions or best practices. And I think, you know, again, what is that culture? Go back to your core values, really assess them and then, and bring your people together by asking for those things. How are they communicating? What have they seen work? Right? What have they seen, fail and, gosh, I wish I wouldn’t have done that. You know, I think sometimes as, especially as leaders in an organization, we put everything on our shoulders and we forget to sort of sit back and remember we built a terrific team of smart people, frankly, in my case to make me look better, that’s how I hire. So, you know, I’m very blessed to have such a terrific team around me and so my advice is hop in to that team and get best practices from them and then take that externally as you’re sharing your culture, etc. It means a lot on external candidates.

Frank Dolan:

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. You know, thinking about this, you know, from your leadership perspective, and I invite you to think about whether we’re talking about you know, the war on talent or, or really the war on retaining talent you know, with coworkers. I think that there’s a very big difference, at least if you’ve worked, this is my opinion, if you’ve worked for great leaders and perhaps you’ve observed or worked for not so great leaders. When I look at those great leaders, I think they do an incredible job of enabling people to raise their hand, to ask for help, to ask for feedback, to be able to check in. The poor leaders are really, you know, focused on asking, you know, for people that say, Do you need help? Do you want to give feedback? Well, I asked him and he didn’t say anything. How do you enable people to be able to have that level of engagement that you shared?

Angie Aldinger:

Yeah. So you know, I think that if, and you know this because I’ve probably said it to you, I often end conversations with what can I do to help you. As, you know, the leader that I currently work for today, that’s a constant ask that he will say to anyone organizationally. And I’ve had the privilege of working for several other leaders, so I’ve had great mentors. But “What can I do for you?” I’m feeling this, I’m thinking this, here’s what, you know, others are thinking and feeling too, you know, not just “What do you need?” Right. Like, Ooh! It’s just yucky. So let’s not do that. But, you know, I think when you think about the retaining of really good talent today it goes back to that, you know, really having a good understanding of what people are facing.

Angie Aldinger:

Right, you know, and in my case, I don’t have a young child at home but I do worry right about him on his own and, and what he’s up to. But I don’t have someone hugging at me just as an example. So again, I go back to, I think retaining talent is give your team flexibility if they need to block time off of their calendar in core segments to manage children while somebody else is doing work or, you know, give them that openness and flexibility right now. I think when we’re thinking about hiring, no one understand that as much as you might think you have this amazing opportunity and I’m sure it is and a month ago it probably was gold. People are scared today, you know, and they’re, they’re concerned and they’re worried and rightfully so. So it, you might have to have some extra conversations.

Angie Aldinger:

As a hiring manager, you may need to go up kind of people above you and, and have them engage with that talent. Make sure you’re really telling the story of your organization and your culture and that they understand it, right? It’s one thing to talk, but do they hear and listen and understand you may need to have more engagement as you’re hiring external talent right? It may not be Hey! Let’s have three traditional interviews and boom, we’ve got a hire. You know, so I think, again, open yourself up except that we have to come up with new ways and new solutions and it probably looks different every time, by the way, three weeks from now, this is going to look different.

Frank Dolan:

I love it. I love it. You know it’s interesting to see folks lead right now virtually, you know, that’s for sure. Because you know, I would give, you know, some humble advice to, you know, our peer leaders that are out there. You know, sometimes when we’re in the office, it feels like we’re going 10,000 miles an hour and, you know, we’ll make our to do lists and, and we’ll have our one-on-one meetings and check-ins. And if we’ve ever felt like perhaps the feedback, the voluntary check-ins that we’re getting from our teams is a bit low this is a really important environment to say, well, Hey, I’ve got a five X that. And especially for those of us that have some sort of, perhaps a background in sales with our career,

Frank Dolan:

it’s kind of ironic. There are some folks that feel like, well, I’ll, you know, I’ll, I asked for feedback and I didn’t get it, or I checked in, but I didn’t really hear much back. I just, you know, a one and done type of thing. Yet your sales training says for others to take action, they need to hear a message seven, eight, nine, 10 times. Who knows? But I don’t know that it’s that I don’t even know what’s in between. But if you’re not getting a lot of feedback, what can you do to make sure that you’re soliciting that to bring that out for people? Because I can see right now a vision of people where if you have a couple people, you know, adults working from home and, or you’ve got kids that are doing remote learning right now and everybody’s trying to manage the bandwidth and the noise, all that other sort of jazz, they may want to get off that Zoom call as fast as possible. So, you know, if you didn’t get the answer to your ask for feedback or connection what are you doing to three exit five exit? Because these, if you’re not adapting, I don’t think that in office formula works when we’re in a virtual world.

Angie Aldinger:

Yeah. Yeah. So, so true, so poignant right now. One, I would just say, don’t be so hard on yourself, period. Whether you’re the, you know, the leader or the roles are reversed. I think we all, you know, again, let’s not beat ourselves up.

Angie Aldinger:

But have candid conversations and if your, I believe in a gut feel, right? So if you’re feeling someone’s disconnected or someone’s really struggling and they’re zipping off of that zoom call or they’re not you know, attending a virtual happy hour and you just know like, Hey, this is somebody who would’ve done that. And I think it’s important to connect with those people. And say, you were missed. How are you doing? And then maybe stop talking.

Frank Dolan:

I like it.

Angie Aldinger:

They’ll normally respond and be, you know, I think then the other piece to Frank is be ready to hear what they’re going to say. And it might be something you’ve never gone through, you don’t even understand. Right. but I bet if you then seek to understand because you’ve listened, you might be able to connect them with somebody who’s going through the same thing. You know, and I think right now having an understanding and compassion, again, critical. But also then helping people get help, right? They’re not alone. That there’s other people going through this. Your, you know, everybody’s homeschooling their children. Now. This isn’t new. Everybody’s going through it. Hey, they have a 13 year old too. Why don’t you guys connect? Spend a half hour, what are your strategies? What are you doing to survive? Right? those types of things. So, I think that’s critical. And I’ll go back to the feedback. As leaders, it’s critical to give constant and immediate feedback if you want your team to grow and have success. And if you out of the gate deliver that feedback, both positive and opportunity, you will grow a team who ultimately will give you feedback too, right? Because that’s the stage. That’s the table that you’ve set.

Frank Dolan:

I love it. When you think about when you get feedback from candidates, when they’re in the, you know, they’re in there, they’re in the midst of the interview process, they just interviewed with so-and-so and they’re debriefing with, with you or members of your team. When you think about all of those conversations and knowing what a great hiring experience looks like from the candidate point of view I think it’s important to think about the hiring manager’s point of view as well. But for this second, the candidates point of view what type of feedback would you say that you want your hiring managers you know, to be in a position where the candidates going to give you that sort of feedback? Like they did something and when we get this sort of feedback, this is really what you want to hear, you know, because when you said active listening before, that’s what I thought about. Like if a candidate said to you, Hey! I interviewed with Frank and you know, he’s really actively listening to things that it really made the experience great now I want the job more. What are other examples of like incredible feedback that you should hope that you get if you’re creating an amazing hiring experience for your candidates?

Angie Aldinger:

Yeah, I think that the hiring manager actually cared about me. They, you know, if this is us that Frank actually took the first five minutes and ask how I was doing and genuinely cared and, you know, everything, especially today you’re going through are you, what challenges are you facing? Like I think, again, creating that personal connection. Right? And not just bombarding into, you know, what’s the latest and greatest, best thing that you’ve done and let’s talk about it, right, and give me three examples. So I think from a candidate point of view, that’s something we hear most of the time. And I think too when there’s, you know, sort of camaraderie back and forth, right, that there is sort of equal opportunity to share and talk and I think especially when you are, when you’re not physically sitting in front of someone and we’re, we’re doing this video interaction, it is important that both people, yeah.

Frank Dolan:

I love it. A piece of advice that we were given. So I’m dating myself, but I was one of the original hires at a company called Takeda, which is now incredible, you know, huge organization in the US but at that time Takeda of Japan was just coming to the US they had relationship with tap, but now they’re going to do their own thing. Great. Okay. But the feedback that we got from our president of Takeda at that time, who I just truly admire is he really wanted us to take responsibility at that moment because we were hiring our first sales force, our first marketing team, our first everything. But he said, don’t forget it in, in future years, which is this hiring process is our company communicating a message to the marketplace? You can’t take that lightly. I think that means a lot at many levels. What, how should others think about the responsibility of creating an experience when your company is talking to the marketplace of talent and how you communicate, how you engage how you follow up.

Angie Aldinger:

Yeah. It’s, I, first of all, I love that especially I’m, I’ll date myself because I know that timing. I love that that was the thought process, pretty progressive, honestly, at that point in the industry and in the environment of the industry. So today it is critical that companies not just build their story, right? It’s one thing to build it. But do you know it, understand it. And then do you live it right? Not every person is right for every single company. And so I think that, you know, I love and, and I’ll be selfish here for a second, I love nothing more than helping a client bring a voice to what that story is, how it’s going to be told, and then how you really assess talent against that. And you know, that takes, it doesn’t take a lot of people, but it does take an organization understanding truly what their values are and how they deliver that when they’re talking to candidates. It’s absolutely critical and as critical as it is to understand who the right talent is for you, it’s equally as critical to understand who isn’t the right talent. Right? And that really begins and ends with your culture, with your story.

Frank Dolan:

That’s true. It’s, when I think about our time in marketing, one of the most important things that we went through getting oriented to our new marketing job was to make sure that we completely understood the brand book. That these are the fonts, you know, this is the sizing, you know, these are the colors, these are the hallmark images of the brand. So whether we’re hiring people or we’re trying to get hired or we’re just leaders, like, do you have your leadership brand book just airtight where it’s repeatable to repeatable process? It looks and feels a certain way. And if it is hiring, well, yes, some candidates aren’t going to be right and they move out. But if they, if folks are you know, in competition for the role, one of them will be the pick. Are you giving them that kind of leadership brand experience and culture throughout the process? I think it’s really important to do. And I know that you’re really good at helping, you know, these leaders as well as candidates. Be reminded and how to manage that and do it elegantly without any extra pressure or work but just with cadence and discipline which is awesome.

Angie Aldinger:

Yeah for sure. Yeah. It’s critical and anyone in my organization who’s watching this or watches it, there’ll be laughing because I’m definitely known for that.

Frank Dolan:

That’s awesome. So, Angie so two last things. One is where can we connect with you online if we want to be able to be exposed to more of the the content and the wisdom that you’re sharing. And then the second question is would you leave us with some closing thoughts on this topic?

Angie Aldinger:

Yeah, absolutely. So first and foremost, you’re welcome to visit the taylorstrategypartners.com website and connect with myself or any of our leaders. We’d love to chat. And then certainly I’m pretty active on LinkedIn so you can find me there too. And Frank ultimately has all my contact information so he can share that with you. You know, I think I would go back to where we started. And you know, I would just say that here’s the good news. Tomorrow’s going to come and it’ll be a new day and this too shall pass. And so if you take away anything from this you know, be kind, right, so practice grace, give that grace and I think one it will help this pass a little bit more easily. And I think when we get to the other side, it’s going to make us such better people. I just, I hope that’s the case and I think if we all embrace that, I think we’ll start to see it.

Frank Dolan:

I agree, there’s nothing like a shared experience to connect people in a very unique way. So Angie, Hey, I just wanted to say thank you for what you do. I mean, we’re so connected to this community, I know who interacts with you and your team. Both is from a hiring standpoint, the client’s side as well as the community of talent. And you guys are really, really good at propelling the values that this industry stands for. And I just, you know, really expect every client of yours to kind of live up to that cause you guys are the tip of the spear when it comes to that. So thank you for what you do for being a great friend and colleague, for sure. And to our community. I just want to say thank you again for coming together, sharing some ideas connect this community to do great things, big responsibility to be a leader, especially in this industry. So thank you for for accessing some ideas to accelerate innovation. On that note, have an amazing April fool’s day and we’ll see you tomorrow at 11. Thank you everybody.

Angie Aldinger:

Thanks everybody.