Public lecture audience

Leading in the face of a global pandemic

Classroom discussions on the importance of community – and the difference between leading as opposed to managing – have proved to be invaluable

Renzo DiCarlo

Renzo DiCarlo is CEO at BioPharma Services Inc. and a graduate of LSE's Executive Global Master's in Management.

In my role as CEO at the clinical research organisation BioPharma Services Inc., I am normally concerned with the governance of our company and the leadership of more than 250 members of staff across two research sites in Canada and the USA.  

But the outbreak of COVID-19 has brought about changes to my daily tasks, as well as some unprecedented challenges to our clinical environment.

We are one of the few sites of our kind that remain open, with many others across the world closing down. Our main concern is protecting the health and safety of our workforce and research participants, whilst working with biotech companies to conduct COVID-19 trials. My colleagues and I have been implementing internal safety programmes, business continuity plans and negotiating with research and development companies to ensure the important work we are doing is conducted in an environment which is safe for everyone. 

One of the biggest challenges I face in a leadership role is trying to steer our company during these uncertain times. It is during this period I have found myself drawing on the lessons I learned from LSE’s Executive Global Master’s in Management (EGMiM).

Prior to studying on the EGMiM programme, I completed an MBA at Queen’s University and an Executive Business Program at Ivey Business School at Western University, both in Ontario, Canada. What the EGMiM programme provided was a different approach to the traditional MBA topics – such as finance, marketing, accounting, etc. The programme went beyond these subjects and highlighted the socio-economic and geo-political forces that affect businesses around the world. These considerations have become all the more relevant given the global impact that coronavirus has had on all aspects of our lives. 

The coronavirus pandemic has given me the chance to apply these lessons in the real world. What I learned about regional versus global markets is more applicable than ever, as concerns about imports and international trade has forced business leaders to take a more local approach to their operations. Classroom discussions on the importance of community – and the difference between leading as opposed to managing – have proved to be invaluable, as I am tasked with guiding my staff and our organisation through these anxious times.

I feel privileged to be working for a company that is actively responding to the COVID-19 crisis. I am immensely proud of all my colleagues for the work they are doing in such difficult circumstances, and I am thankful for the lessons I learned during my time at LSE – which are helping me tackle the unique and ever-changing situation we are faced with. 

Renzo DiCarlo 
CEO at BioPharma Services Inc.
Executive Global Master’s in Management (2015)


Wednesday 22 April 2020