Bobby Anderson, Vice President, Silicon Valley Bank
Bobby is a Vice President at Silicon Valley Bank in EMEA Life Sciences and Healthcare and based in London. He focuses on lending to venture backed and public life sciences and healthcare business throughout the region. Previously, Bobby was based in San Francisco with SVB, focused on lending to biopharma companies in California and the Pacific Northwest.
How have the events of 2020 impacted Board leadership and diversity in early-stage biotech companies in SVB’s portfolio?
All our networks have reduced growth given the lack of ‘physical’ industry conference events. Given this there can be a tendency to rely on an existing network, rather than broadening the search, as would have happened previously. SVB hires 60% through our referral network; which has meant exploring different ways of broadening our reach in the virtual world. It still feels less comfortable to hire digitally; but there is no doubt we, and our portfolio companies, have developed and improved those processes in the last 12 months. My sense is that where you have a strong biohub, like LA or Boston, the transition to digital hiring has been easier.
How have SVB ensured robust assessment of Board leaders in the virtual world?
We are taking longer to complete the hiring process. This includes involving more stakeholders during the assessment and ensuring there has been sufficient focus on cultural and social fit; asking different questions to cover the coffee meeting aspect.
Given the continued pace of biotech investment across all asset classes, where is the pipeline of leaders to support that growth?
Being clear about what a business needs at each stage of its development, ie technical, commercial or other experiences. Past experiences are important. In that way SVB has been assessing first time CEOs for some portfolio companies. Current board members of portfolio companies are extra important in this case. The importance of a diverse Board has been highlighted in the last 12 months. Success has been on par with previous years if not higher.
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