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“The many faces of Lygature” – Interview series, part 2

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The following news stories are dedicated to showcasing the variety of activities our Lygature colleagues are involved in and the value they bring to the projects we provide partnership management services for. They share what excites them the most about working at Lygature, what they find challenging and how they adapted to the new working conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Janneke Boere works as a Program Manager at Lygature and she is responsible for managing large international consortia who are funded by the European Innovative Medicines Initiative in particular. The focus of her job is to make sure that project timelines run smoothly ensuring that the project meets all deliverables and milestones. Furthermore, Janneke keeps a close eye on the project budget and make sure that partners collaborate in order to meet their targets. Janneke shares: “I always try to keep the project end goals in mind. In that sense, my main task is supporting consortium members and partner organisations in staying on track to ultimately meet those goals”.

Janneke's home office set-up
What do you enjoy most about your work within Lygature?

What I like the most is that I can work with many international partners, who are of different backgrounds. I collaborate with representatives from academia, hospitals, patient organisations, industrial partners, SMEs, European and governmental bodies, among others. This makes for a broad audience that I can learn a lot from. I like a good challenge and to work with all these different “blood groups”, so to speak, is definitely a great challenge!

Is that the only challenge in your daily work?

No, another challenging part is to “keep all noses in same direction”. By that I mean that there is a broad variety of partner organisations and countries that work together in each consortium. This can make it challenging to achieve individual partner goals but also to meet the common goals of the project. I am the one that has to make sure these goals are achieved under any circumstances.

How does Lygature bring value to the wider field of medical innovations in your opinion?

At Lygature we support Public-Private Partnerships and I am convinced that this is the future of research. If you take a look at the medical innovations brought to the market in the last decades, you see that most of them could not have been accomplished with a single organization working on it. That is why we support consortia in making sure they are successful. The only way to do this is by facilitating a healthy collaboration between different partners, which is one of our priorities.

What is the nicest compliment you have received while working at Lygature?

The project coordinator of one of our larger IMI projects sometimes refers to me as ‘Janneke, the brain of our project’, because I know all the details and timelines of the work to be done, which is clearly appreciated a lot by consortium members. He also expressed in a project meeting his appreciation that Lygature does work in the background which is so important and of such a value that cannot be missed, although not always visible.

How has the COVID-19 crisis impacted your work?

To be honest, for me there is not that much impact. As Lygature employees we are all in possession of work laptops and phones and are thus mobile. I can therefore complete all my work tasks in the way I do them normally, but now in my home office. Nevertheless, since the start of the crisis, my responsibilities have shifted in focus. Before I used to be in charge of organising consortium meetings, for example, which are now all cancelled. Instead, the focus has now moved to making sure we can arrange the proper execution of tasks in accordance with timelines, budgets and responsibilities so that the outcome of projects can be guaranteed when the crisis is resolved. It is lots of creative management I do at the moment to keep the project tasks aligned in these unpredictable times in which most general rules for consortium management do not apply anymore. But I don’t mind, it gives me even more motivation to show our value as Lygature.

Do you have a tip for adapting to the current situation of working from home?

Although I am a very social person, I also like my quiet time and can cope relatively well with being stuck at home where my two cats keep me company all the time and guard my office when I am at work. I actually enjoy that my colleagues all over the world share the same daily struggles of working at home; I won’t forget the moment when the coordinator of a project showed up on camera in his pyjamas during an online management team meeting (he apologized and blamed the time difference, it was 7 AM). I like the informalities that are now being accepted; it makes the work more fun, and more human!

I do notice, however, that society is at a stand-still, which worries me for what the future will bring. Nonetheless, it gives me comfort to see that Lygature deals with the situation very well and this makes me feel like I am in a safe environment. On the positive side, there are now a lot of great collaborative initiatives that would otherwise not have started without the COVID-19 crisis. At the end, I try to look at the bright side and all these positive outcomes keep me optimistic.

Wim-Jan Koot, Director Business Development at his home
What is the focus of your work within Lygature?

My work has a two-fold focus. On the one hand, I look for new opportunities for collaborations on behalf of Lygature as a whole. I also make sure that the interests of Lygature as an organisation are taken care of in any discussions. On the other hand, on a project level, I provide support to Program Managers at Lygature, assist with any business development issues that might arise in projects and advise on any legal cases there might be. In that sense, the second part of my work is to keep the focus on the progress of the project and make sure it reaches its goals.

What do you enjoy the most about your work in the organisation?

What I enjoy the most is the intense interactions with colleagues from various departments, such as programme management, finance and communications, also direct interactions, discussions on new topics and solving issues as they arise. Moreover, I take pleasure in helping people out wherever possible with questions or a problem. I love helping out and finding solutions to difficult problems!

What is challenging about your work?

In fact, there are many challenges. One of them is that I need to act as an interpreter between scientists and finance or legal representatives. That means that I try to explain, for instance, to scientists why projects require clear structures or why it is beneficial for them to involve financial, legal and communication professionals early on. Other times I need to explain to legal representatives that sometimes solutions to problems might be theoretically correct but that they will not work in practice. In that regard, I advise them to step away from theoretical interpretations and learn what works best in practice. Otherwise I think you cannot make progress. Another challenge is to act as an intermediary person between stakeholders in the medical tech field and - for instance-, pharma companies and/or academic institutions, when I have to translate issues from one field to the other and make each understand that all their concerns need to be addressed.

How does Lygature bring value to the wider field of medical innovations in your opinion?

Collaboration is at the heart of what Lygature wants to achieve and I am absolutely certain that only more and more people will start realizing that they cannot do things on their own. We need to work with open innovation models, especially when it comes to tackling new issues. In the past, pharma companies collaborated with academic institutes too, but trying to solve issues in larger partnerships is something that really started to grow over the past five years.

What is the nicest compliment you have received while working at Lygature?

When we were at the final stages of the collaboration agreement for one project, various partners said to me that they didn’t realize there were so many aspects to be considered and that they think I did an excellent job explaining this and being on top of the issues. I felt very rewarded by that compliment!

How has the COVID-19 crisis impacted your work?

So far, I would say the crisis has had limited impact on my work. The most obvious is that, together with the managing directors, we had to look into the consequences from the crisis for Lygature. Of course, that was work which I would not have done under different circumstances. Nevertheless, the overall amount of my work has not changed, other than having to address questions from colleagues and issues coming up related to the new situation. Also, I enjoy working from home but prefer being amongst colleagues. I miss being able to approach someone at the office, ask a question and have a small chat. This aspect I find the most fulfilling and very necessary.

Do you have a tip for adapting to the current situation of working from home?

One has to get the most out of the tools at their disposal – call a colleague if you have a question, set up Teams meetings and certainly avoid being by yourself too much. Try to keep structure in your working days, this helps me to focus.

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