Take Ten with Team HPNE: Meet Ken Jacobsen
This week, we talked to our new Sales Manager Ken Jacobsen about his extensive career in the industry, his leadership strategies, and his experience at HPNE so far.
Your education and degrees are focused on business, leadership, management, and operations. What led you to the biotech industry?
A year out of college an opportunity came up to join Immunex in Rhode Island. At the time, I wasn’t overly familiar with the BioTech industry but I quickly learned the impact their therapy was having on people’s lives and what role I could play in the process. It has been incredibly rewarding ever since.
You have had years of experience in the biotech industry. Could you talk a little bit about your career so far?
I started in operations making buffer and media early on, and from there grew into leadership roles covering upstream and downstream operations, as well as validation and process improvement teams. Having this foundation in operations made my transition to a commercial role much easier, as I could quickly relate to what customers were looking to achieve, and understood the complexities of making changes to any process. I have found both my operations and commercial experiences have been very rewarding, and we have an incredible opportunity to ultimately impact patients in a positive way.
How do you think the biopharma industry has evolved from when you started working in it to now?
The industry has grown immensely over the years, and continues to. Our industry continues to accelerate through all phases of development. More recently Cell and Gene therapy is starting to take off, and there are more small molecule indications as of late. As a result, the speed in which customers bring molecules through their pipeline, and the need for fast efficient changeovers continues to drive the single-use business.
Throughout your career, who has been one of your biggest sources of inspiration?
The patients we serve continue to be my biggest source of inspiration. We have a unique opportunity to make an impact in an amazing industry, and it is not lost on me what role we play. My mother is a cancer survivor, and I also lost a brother to cancer. Both of them used medicines that we touch in one way or another through our work, and ultimately had a great impact on their lives.
You recently joined #TeamHPNE as sales manager working closely with sales team members and the products they represent. After learning more from the team about their product lines, what would you say makes HPNE products stand out in the market?
In my brief time at HPNE, I have discovered just how broad the product portfolio is and how vast the customer base is. The single-use portfolio is very comprehensive, and tied to this product line are very competitive lead times with no minimum order. This is a big differentiator in this space, and the chain of custody is fully managed in house. Adding in pumps, sensors, columns, along with many other products to this offering certainly sets HPNE apart from competitors.
In addition to my work with the sales team members, I was also able to be part of the launch of our new partnership with Custom Sensors & Technology’s, where HPNE will be the exclusive United States distributor of six CST products including the Single-Use Process Pressure Sensor, Conditioning Module, Process Flow Cell and Holder, and family of PX2 Photometric Transmitters, the PX2, PX2+, and PX2 Condensed. During this launch, I was able to offer suggestions about how we should position these new products, and work closely with the marketing team to ensure all launch materials were technically accurate.
What strategies do you utilize to manage your direct reports, especially considering the wide variety of products they represent?
My main strategies are ensuring the team has the right tools at their disposal, has the training and resources available, and also working to remove any roadblocks they come across. Making myself available and collaborating with the team on projects is a key to success as well.
What eventually led you to HPNE, and what has been one of your favorite things about working at HPNE so far?
I found a job posting on LinkedIn that a former colleague had posted. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a new job, but the idea of joining a smaller company has always been appealing. Through discussions and interviews I quickly grew to admire the culture at HPNE, along with the camaraderie and purpose they serve.
Has there been a project that you have worked on at any point in your career that stands out or has been particularly memorable?
Being a commercial partner with customers has allowed me to work on many projects directly related to clinical trials as well as commercialization of drugs. I’ve had the fortune to be involved with many drug development projects, and they are all rewarding.
What advice would you give to young professionals aspiring to be strong leaders like yourself?
Finding passion and purpose around what you do provides a driving force in growth and development. It’s also important to embrace the team around you, and find everyone’s strengths.
What is something you are passionate about outside of work?
First and foremost would be spending time with my wife and two boys. Outside of family, I love to play golf as much as I can.
What has been one of your favorite places to travel to?
Aruba has been a great destination for us to relax and enjoy life.