Updated: Apr 21
Paul B. Cook, Ph.D.
Project management provides many benefits to different types of organizations. The life sciences industry is no different. In this series, I will periodically put a spotlight on a project manager who works in the life sciences field.
Meet Dr. Paul Cook
A passionate leader harnessing emergent properties of high-performing teams to improve the quality of life for all.
What is your 30-second elevator speech when you describe what you do?
Currently, I work on the human side of technical innovation to help clients solve organizationally complex problems that impede progress on delivering critical results. As the Director of Business Development at IPM, I engage industry stakeholders to understand what business problems they are trying to solve. This consultant-as-a-seller role fits well with my passion for helping people solve problems.
Please describe how you ended up in life sciences project management.
As a young scientist, I swore never to work in the industry, especially in sales! So be careful about what one rejects as a possible future. I started as a bench scientist, seeking to understand fundamental principles in neuroscience and systems physiology, but always had a keen interest in what others were doing. This became more evident once I began contributing to cross-functional technical projects. Project and program management provided me a higher-level view of the interactions between deep SME technical expertise functional support (quality, regulatory, manufacturing), and the business drivers.
How has the life sciences industry benefited from project managers in the field?
That depends on who you ask. From a leadership perspective, good PMs are able to balance the needs of the individuals on their teams, help improve coordination of effort, while peering over the horizon to proactively prepare the team for the next sprint. An experienced PM is able to ask probing questions relevant to the team, the project, and the business (as opposed to asking irrelevant questions related to the discipline of project management). But ultimately all of our work involves human interactions and decisions. A PM needs to have great interpersonal skills and a deep appreciation and compassion for each member of her / his team.
What are your tips to avoid project burnout?
Coffee and exercise. Seriously, finding what brings you joy outside of work, and be sure to carve out priority time to embrace those activities. For me it was being outdoors moving and time with my family playing music, cooking, and having fun.
Anything else you want to share?
There is a desperate need for passionate level-headedness. We are constantly inundated with noisy nonsense; care about what you let into your consciousness. And never underestimate the power of kindness in helping positively influence the world.
To contact Dr. Cook, you can reach him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulbcook/
If you or someone you know would be a good fit for this spotlight, be sure to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org