In celebration of her two-year anniversary at XenoGesis, we take a look back at what Rachel Hemsley’s role as Global Head of Business Development has involved over the last couple of years, and where she sees it taking her in the future.
Business Development at XenoGesis
Rachel Hemsley is the global head of business development at XenoGesis. She supports the team in expanding the company through developing its client base within Europe and the US. In the last year, XenoGesis saw 78% increase in its exports from the year before, with half of its revenue now coming from overseas. This increase in international clients is the direct result of the business’ growth strategy to develop overseas markets, with more and more clients coming to us from overseas for our high quality, consultative and flexible approach.
Over the last two years, Rachel has built and maintained an infrastructure of connections through forming and nurturing a number of strategic relationships with its partners. The scope of scientific excellence that our partners have truly enriches the service offering that XenoGesis is able to provide, and Rachel’s role is vital in preserving this for the benefit of our clients.
Prior to working at XenoGesis, Rachel spent eight years at UCL Business plc. During her time there, she gained extensive experience in business development, which involved securing investment funding, licensing early stage healthcare technology, early stage technology development, and setting up new companies. The opportunity at XenoGesis provided Rachel with the chance to come into a fairly young company and to actively grow it as part of the next stage of its development plans.
The challenges of a CRO
Moving to XenoGesis was, in Rachel’s own words, a bit of a leap of faith! The working environments at a CRO and at UCL Business are worlds apart. In her previous role, Rachel managed a number of projects that involved almost constantly outsourcing to different providers. Being on the other side of the table in her role at XenoGesis has been a very different experience, and something Rachel found to be a rewarding learning curve when she first started.
Getting used to the type of projects that are run was also a significant change. For instance, the short, sharp projects with a high number of clients is a stark contrast from, for example, securing £6.5m in funding for a four-year project while at UCL Business. Though Rachel closes smaller work orders at XenoGesis , this had to be done a lot more frequently – and the luxury of having the foresight of a full book for the next four years for a project is no longer necessarily there. Rachel has used her expertise in portfolio management to find a comfortable balance between larger and smaller clients for the company.
As big pharma has changed in recent years, innovation has exploded underneath, with 75% of new drugs coming from biotechs. For Rachel, a major attraction of joining a CRO was to help support this innovation across the UK, whether that’s through the development of new technology or through providing the tools needed to take new technology forward. XenoGesis is a CRO with an excellent reputation, and is very strongly science led with high quality customer interaction and a robustness of data, and these factors are all key to driving innovation forwards.
When Rachel first joined the company, her role was to really establish XenoGesis’s business development. Marketing had been previously geared at customers who already fully understood drug discovery, but our client portfolio had now expanded to include those who are new to the area too. An aspect of Rachel’s work has been to guide the XenoGesis marketing team in creating materials suitable for both types of client. XenoGesis now markets on multiple levels, from informing those who are aware of what we do about all our different services, through to finding new clients , informing them on the benefits of our services and establishing trust. XenoGesis does not over promise, and we always deliver top level quality, evidenced by the amount of repeat business we continue to receive. We provide iterative feedback and prefer to work in partnership with our clients – which means we’re not afraid to challenge clients when we need to. This method has proven to be effective; according to our customer survey stats, 100% of clients state that they would recommend XenoGesis.
2 years from now: looking to the future
In terms of business development, expanding on our footprint in Europe and the US is the real focus for the company in the near future. In 2018/19 XenoGesis worked with clients from 15 countries, and we will look to extend that over the course of the next two years. Rachel hopes to maintain and further develop our current relationships with partners, especially with Brexit looming, as well as increasing and deepening the number of strategic relationships we have.
Rachel would also like to see the BD team expanding in the coming years, specifically growing its presence in the US. With the increased drive towards to US market, Rachel has already been on trips to Boston, Philadelphia, Maryland and California in order to help increase XenoGesis’ profile there. Export growth has been phenomenal for the company, having recently been crowned winners of the Export Achievement Award at the 2019 Medilink East Midlands Business Awards Ceremony, and Rachel sees the continuation of this as a main priority moving forwards.