Health Tech: Jeff Souza On How BioBridges’ Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness
An Interview With Dave Philistin
Make sure to account for emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a skill that we use daily in both our personal and professional lives. It affects how well we manage stress, our mental health, our relationships with others and helps us resolve conflicts. The ability to recognize and understand our own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. This ability helps us communicate, solve problems and make decisions. Technology that can foster emotional intelligence would have a considerable positive impact on society.
In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Souza.
Jeff Souza, President and CEO of BioBridges, has more than 25 years of healthcare and life sciences consulting experience, driving the expansion of multiple organizations. He has led the growth and evolution of BioBridges, a company that provides clinical development services to more than 600 pharma, biotech and medical device companies.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
My parents were second-generation immigrants who raised my siblings and me in a small home on a modest shoreline in Massachusetts. We didn’t have a lot, but we always remembered to appreciate and value what we had, like the beautiful view behind our home. Coming from a lower- to middle-class family, it was always difficult not to compare myself to my friends whose families were wealthier, lived in bigger houses and had more than I did. Nevertheless, I grew up learning to apply sheer hard work and dedication to everything I did, which was extremely valuable and ultimately led me to where I am today.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I think the most interesting story in my career is also the biggest risk I’ve ever taken, which was completing the sale of BioBridges. The night the deal was signed was an out-of-body experience and a singular moment that showed how all the work someone puts into a business can pay off. Seemingly overnight, our acquisition provided us with access to global resources, which further expanded and enhanced our integrated services for the ever-evolving life sciences community.
It was such a surreal experience after months of negotiating that all I could do was go to The Cheesecake Factory and think about what the future might hold for us. People were staring at me in the restaurant because of the ear-to-ear grin on my face.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
As a young teen with no direction or guidance from my parents, I was fortunate to have an uncle, a very successful businessman, who really believed in me and my potential. One day, he took me aside with my father in the room and said, “This kid has ‘it.’ He will be a successful businessperson and has the ability to warm up any room.” Although I didn’t understand what he meant or believe that I had a “gift,” my uncle’s words resonated with me and gave me permanent inspiration. From there, I was motivated to be a risk-taker and never give up.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you allow people to mistreat you, you are teaching them how to treat you.”
This is particularly important to me when it comes to managing our employees. Many leaders believe that employees leave jobs due to compensation, but that’s not true. Most individuals leave jobs because they work under toxic leaders and work environments. I use this quote to guide how I treat each and every one of my employees, and I’m proud to say that of the 56 employees we have at BioBridges, nearly half came from my last three companies. I take pride in having people who have worked with me and want to work with me again. I think they knew that somebody cared about them and their goals.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I think three important traits are passion, enthusiasm and persistence.
Genuine passion, whether it’s in your professional or personal life, is what drives your daily choices and activities. Passion for the work you do will further enhance your desire to reach for excellence and success.
Enthusiasm goes hand in hand with passion. It’s the fuel and spark that reflects your attitude externally and can be seen in your actions.
Persistence, finally, is what enabled me to achieve my goals. Learning the importance of hard work and determination at a young age enabled me to build towards the success I enjoy today.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?
We are focused on accomplishing the work that is required for successful clinical development. BioBridges currently works with over 600 pharma, biotech and medical device companies to advance science and produce therapies for patients who need them. Through clinical research, we are able to collaborate with our clients to help them gain insights and answers to their questions about the safety and effectiveness of drugs and therapies before they go to market.
As a former medical scientist and nurse, I saw healthcare within a hospital setting for 13 years. I watched many patients die because the hospitals they were in didn’t have the resources or specialties to treat the diseases they suffered from. Teaching hospitals, such as academic teaching centers for rare diseases, are in the unique position to have knowledge of particular diseases. Those patients I saw would have had a better chance of surviving if we could’ve brought them to a place where their diseases weren’t as rare.
How do you think your technology can address this?
We’re solving that today through our proprietary and scalable Career Portfolio® Management model, which helps pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device professionals pursue the work they are passionate about and collaborate to advance therapies for patients who need them most. We’ve built an internal database that can track where healthcare professionals are within the context of a study, which helps improve collaboration on new drug applications and other therapies.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
When you think about experiences that have had a serious impact on your life, you often think about family. My two youngest siblings barely survived birth due to a serious congenital heart condition, which as you can imagine wasn’t something that was easy for an 8-year-old to understand or articulate. I just remember thinking, “Is this what life is going to be like?”
I later realized that because of my family’s decision to enter into the Boston Children’s Hospital Research Center, my sister was the first person in the world to undergo the type of surgery that would lead to a cure for her, my brother, and many others to come. Because of organizations like Boston Children’s and March of Dimes, my sister lived beyond the 6-months she was expected to live at no cost, simply by being a part of the initial research.
The summation of these events and seeing its potential outcomes first-hand are what truly inspired me to pursue biotech, life sciences and clinical development and research.
How do you think this might change the world?
Through scientific discovery and innovation, there is great potential to treat and cure diseases. Our services and technology help the professionals working on these innovations to further move clinical programs forward.
No, in fact, our model is intended to support the collaboration that health professionals working on different studies need in order to iron out potential drawbacks or other concerns with clinical programs as new treatments come to market.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)
First, you need to inspire passion. Whether it’s for yourself, your team or your technology’s end users, the best products and services inspire or nurture passion, which ultimately drives more innovation and better outcomes.
Second, be sure to support collaboration. If you’re looking to make a positive social impact, think about how your technology can connect people. That’s a critical component of our business, with our services focused on collaborating with clients to advance clinical programs.
Third, you must have a properly staffed team. With the right quantity and quality of people, your team will provide more effective technology while limiting the chance of mistakes following through the cracks.
Fourth, consider user access. Going back to my healthcare background, there are so many patients out there who would benefit from better access to cutting-edge treatments. Technology like telepracticing can empower more people to access programs and expertise that isn’t available within their organization or market.
Finally, make sure to account for emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is a skill that we use daily in both our personal and professional lives. It affects how well we manage stress, our mental health, our relationships with others and helps us resolve conflicts. The ability to recognize and understand our own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. This ability helps us communicate, solve problems and make decisions. Technology that can foster emotional intelligence would have a considerable positive impact on society.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
I would simply tell them, “You could have it all.” You don’t have to choose between having a fulfilling career and a positive impact on society
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Richard Branson. Not only do I find his success story inspiring, but he’s always involving himself with out-of-the-box hobbies that allow him to build more resilience. I also appreciate and resonate with his belief that success shouldn’t be measured by the amount of money that is being made.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.