From large corporations to a start-up – the importance of flexibility

Natasha Olsson. March 28, 2021

Continuous learning, flexibility and respect. These are some features that can be found in a start-up team. But why are they important and how can they be expressed? In this interview, Frank Alkenbrecher shares his exciting experience from entering the start-up environment as new European Sales Manager for Neobiomics, after 28 years within the pharmaceutical industry.

About Frank Alkenbrecher

Frank Alkenbrecher is the new, and first ever, European Sales Manager for Neobiomics. He has an MBA degree from the University of North Carolina and a MA degree from the University of Economics, Austria. Frank has been working in the pharmaceutical industry for 28 years in the USA, France and Germany and was General Manager for several companies in the specialty field.

Please describe yourself!

I am enthusiastic, positive and some of my friends think that I have some humor. Having lived in Germany, Austria, France and the US has influenced my way of looking at people and challenges. Last but not least – I am father of three boys. I live in Berlin and the children are studying/ working in other parts of Germany resp. Switzerland.

You are new into the team of Neobiomics. What are your initial thoughts?

There is a unique group of great, solid and experienced people who have various talents.

We can draw from an incredible pool of experience since we all are in the industry for quite a while which makes it fun.

I am also impressed with the high energy and endurance of the two founders, Stefan Johansson and Philipp Novak who made a vision reality!

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Stefan Johansson, Associate Professor and CEO of Neobiomics, together with Frank Alkenbrecher.

You have a strong record within the pharmaceutical industry, both in the USA and all over Europe. Are there something in particular, that you have thought of when going from large companies to a smaller one?

A company is always about people and products. Working with colleagues who have a similar mindset helps me and is important to me in the way we have to bring things forward.

In a small company, you have the chance to do a lot of different things: One day I help to create a business relationship with a potential distributor partner, and the next day I find myself being a sales representative answering questions about ProPrems®.

This is not for everyone – being flexible means that not only the company needs to be flexible, but YOU have to be flexible as well. When I have issues with a particular customer or I have to buy stamps from the post office, I need to take care about it myself since there is nobody else who does it for me!

Talking about postal services: Some weeks ago a customer in Germany called me on a Friday morning and wanted a box of ProPrems® in his clinic the following Monday (by the way, it was his first order!). I called Stefan Johansson, our CEO, in Stockholm, and he immediately rushed to the next postal station to bring the box on its way. Where else in the industry you will find that?

Beside your strong background in the pharmaceutical industry, you have done (and still do!) a lot of exciting things. Such as authoring of a book about Resilience. What is Resilience and is it important?

Resilience describes the mental resistance of a person or a system. You focus on the things or characteristics that you are good at and the ones which helped you during a crisis, i.e. improvisation, endurance, patience, only to name a few.

You can learn resilience, just think about what helped you in your last crisis to overcome the challenge. Every company goes through some tough times, and resilience helps you to get through those challenges and come out stronger than you were before.

Important is that you learn from the experience of past challenges and use these internal tools when it comes to the next roadblock.

Not only people can be resilient, but also organisations. What are your thoughts on start-ups and resilience?

There are several principles of resilience, let me mention two of them: Flexibility and improvisation. In a start-up environment, we find ourselves much in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world and you have to deal with this kind of environment.

I think that we at Neobiomics are living of lot these principles already: We are improvising on a daily basis, dealing with a lot of uncertainty, having respect for each other and living a small hierarchy. These are features you find in a lot of successful start-ups!

These are features you find in a lot of successful start-ups!

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I have understood that you are a jazz DJ! Where can we hear more?

The DJ work started in June 2020, and I fulfilled an old dream of mine. I did an internship at a radio station in 1986 (long time ago!) and I was always fascinated about this medium. Due to family, career and other reasons I lost sight of this adventure. However, in the beginning of 2020 I asked my favorite radio station which is Jazzradio Berlin (the only 24/7 Jazz station in Germany) if they needed help, and they did.

It was fascinating to dive into a completely different world, and now I am doing this for nine months already. It gives me the chance to learn more about my favorite music, which is Jazz. There is a live streaming on the website www.jazzradio.net where you can listen to it.

Last month, I had an interview with Vera Westin, Customer Support Manager at Neobiomics. She forwarded a question: “Dear Frank, congratulations to your advancement! What are you most excited about with the new position?

Selling a great product, contributing to the European business and being a part of a great team!

Thanks for your answers! In the following article I will interview Mårten Österlund. What would you like to ask him/her?

“Hello Mårten, how does your experience in Business Development helps you when working with Neobiomics?”

(C) Janine Escher

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Please let us know what you think of this interview. What are you key learning outcomes? Connect with Frank and the rest of the team at info@neobiomics.eu or by visiting www.proprems.eu.