Jonathan Zung, Group President, Clinical Development & Commercialization Services, has only been at Covance for a short time, but he already has big plans for the future of our clinical and commercialization businesses, as well as fresh ideas on talent development.
We recently spoke with him to learn more about his passion for operational excellence, and ideas for helping us develop and nurture our own careers.
Leading the way with agility
“After spending my entire career on the pharma side with both mid-sized and large companies, I saw this position with Covance as an opportunity to take my experiences and think differently about how contract research organizations (CROs) provide services to sponsors,” said Zung.
Zung understands Covance has a unique position in the industry by offering a full range of solutions from early development to the clinic and beyond. But he also recognizes the chance to do more to make Covance as competitive as it can be in the conduct of clinical trials.
“We are focused on becoming more agile and empowering each other so we can operate with a sense of urgency and accountability – similar to a small, entrepreneurial biotech client,” he explained.
“I admire the flexibility in a biotech and would like to further instill that in our clinical and commercialization organizations. Clients expect us to take ownership for their projects and execute the work, matching their same sense of urgency. Thinking and acting like a sponsor will allow us to differentiate from the competition.”
Managing talent from within
In Zung’s vision, aiming to operate like a nimble biopharma client isn’t something that will happen with corporate initiatives alone. This effort will grow from within – starting with Covance employees.
“In my time here, I’ve learned we have really good people and a lot of talent,” said Zung. “I’d like to continue to build robust talent management programs and further enable employees to grow in their careers, while they assume more ownership for their projects. This is the key to being successful and functioning like a smaller, agile organization.”
Taking charge of your career
Throughout his career journey, Zung credits his co-workers, leaders and mentors for keeping him inspired. “I’ve had mentors and bosses that encouraged me to work outside of my comfort zone. Now, I really enjoy putting people in ‘stretch assignments’ and coaching to help them grow. That’s where I get my energy.”
Based on his own experiences, Zung believes it is important to have a mentor to discuss issues, outline goals and brainstorm career ideas. But this guidance doesn’t replace the ongoing need for fueling one’s own personal ambition and following a career development plan.
“You can’t wait for someone to tell you what to do because that may not happen,” explained Zung. “It can seem counterintuitive, but you have to take charge and own your career development. It’s perfectly okay to discuss your aspirations and interests with your manager and/or mentor so they can help you look for appropriate development assignments. Bi-directional communication around your career development is critical.”
A natural calling to manage organizations and nurture talent
Outside of the office, Zung has channeled his passion for change by playing a major role in a variety of industry initiatives. He served as the operations chair and represented one of the founding member companies of TransCelerate, an industry consortium that unites pharmaceuticals in a pre-competitive space to simplify and accelerate research and development. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors with Clinical Data Interchange Standards Consortium (CDISC) to help the organization evolve and develop new strategies.
“I like to understand where companies are going and anticipate what’s next, especially in operations,” he said. With Covance being part of LabCorp, Zung is eager to help people across both companies work together and leverage the teams’ joint power to optimize clinical and commercialization solutions.
“We know the clinical trial of tomorrow will look different from how trials are performed today,” he said. “I am excited about the changes that will occur in trial execution and the difference we can make at Covance. The evolution of clinical trials and how we get ready for the future is an important part of my job that I really enjoy.”