Have you met...Cora Griffin?

Cora works as the Business Developer (BD) director at the peptide drug discovery company Orbit Discovery, and she is the head of BD at ReViral.

Cora holds a PhD in human virology. She was always curious about the translational science opportunities that could be out there. During networking events, she found the business development (BD) world. So, she started as a BD executive at Arrow Therapeutics (acquired by AstraZeneca). Then, she co-founded ReViral, an antiviral company focusing on respiratory viral infections and worked as a BD Director for drug delivery companies. She has since co-founded Oppilotech, a completely different challenge, which involves systems biology and bacteria modeling to uncover antibacterial and human targets.

How is the daily life of a business developer?

Every BD position is different. We can be involved in search and evaluation (S&E), licensing, strategic planning, and alliance management. With ReViral, I work on S&E, in and out-licensing opportunities, go to partnering meetings and conferences, and I’m also involved in the company's marketing department, and deal with investors. You must be quite flexible in a small company as a BD. Working with your team and also with external collaborator teams!

How to transit from academia to BD under the same field scope? Any advice?

You need to be able to network - it’s very very important! If it scares you, maybe it is not the best career for you. Apart from that, you need to be curious and resilient as in a PhD! For me, the transition occurred when I focused on a BD position where my background was a valuable asset; it may be a good way of approaching it!

Are you interested in creating your own BD company someday?

I did a little bit of that in the past, I mean working for a BD consultancy firm. I enjoyed it! Who knows, maybe one day… but I’m enjoying working within pharma/biotech right now.

How has the experience as co-founder of Oppilotech been? Why focusing on this area?

The team was already in the process of creating it when I joined. The opportunity appeared since I had experience in the anti-infective field. In this case, the anti-bacterial targets were uncovered based on a model created in academia, initially focused on bacteria modeling.

MBA or not?

There’s no right or wrong answer. You caught me on this! I considered it so many times... As far as I know, if you are going to do it, do it as early as possible because it requires a lot of time and effort. A lot of companies ask for an MBA in BD, but it is not mandatory. What I know is that, with an MBA, you acquire certain skills that should aid in career development.  And again, to network, it’s an excellent opportunity for that!

And a PhD? Is it crucial for BD?

If you don’t have an MBA, you need a PhD; otherwise, you’ll probably struggle in finding a position. Your scientific knowledge is very important for a BD position.

Which are the main set of skills that you value in a member of your team?

As I said, we deal with both external and internal teams. Regarding the external party, transparency, and willingness to collaborate - make sure everyone has the same goals as you and be open with them. It is as in every relationship!

Internally, teamwork is essential, be able to problem-solve together, and communication. I love working with energetic and curious teams especially if I can learn from them!

Ever thought about Business Developing as a career? We will post more career paths that you can pursue with a science degree!


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