The Accidental Alliance Manager

Posted: 10/11/2013 by Norma Watenpaugh

No one graduates from school with a degree in Alliance Management and most of us have found ourselves in the profession quite by accident.  I’ve asked people how they have come into the profession and there is quite  a spectrum.  Many come from technical or scientific disciplines when products are created through a collaboration of different companies.  Some come from the sales organization with an alliance has a market-facing role of driving new business. kayak partners

 I had the opportunity to speak with alliance managers from Proctor and Gamble and many of them came from HR.  This made sense within their company context. At the time they were trying to transform the company business model to one where 50% of the new products came from outside of the company from partners..  They approached this transformation from a organizational development perspective in having to retrain and some cases ‘retire’ those people who could not make the transition.

 I came into alliances from product management where I discovered I needed partners to bring a more complete product to market and help develop new markets for my product.

 Unfortunately many of us also learned alliance management through trial and error as well.

That does not have to be case anymore.  Alliance management is becoming a codified management discipline with a competency model, certifications and education that can help those who find themselves in the role to acquire the knowledge and develop the skills to be successful.  There is also opportunities to learn from peers.  The  Association of Strategic Alliance Professionals Silicon Valley and the Northern California Biopharmaceutical Project Management  are hosting a panel of alliance management veterans to share their experiences of managing alliances and creating value through the life stages of drug development.  

Check it out:

Responses to The Accidental Alliance Manager

Dennis Kater

This is indeed an interesting discussion, as I have only recently been exposed to Alliance Management, and am interested as how someone can even get into the field. I believe Alliance Management would actually be a good fit for a strategic planner, such as myself, or a project manager. However, as mentioned, it appears there is not direct track to entering the field. Luckily, I have found ASAP, and I hope it may lead me to a potential position some day!

Craig Battleman

I fell into alliance management more than a dozen years ago when my manager joined a new group in IBM Global Services to identify, recruit, enable, and manage alliances. We were all very new and were willing to roll up our sleeves and dig into the grunt work to make alliances work. My background in college was accounting, finance, and then in graduate school, logistics. I had purchasing experience too. I am not sure that you could look at my background and say that I had a future in alliance management.

Jose Moacyr Camargo

Dear NormaI am the Alliance Manager for a large ITC multinational company in Latin America and I came from the Sales Group. From my point of view in ITC segment most of the alliance professionals come from Sales or Product Management, because their necessity to address the customer needs force them to look for products in other companies to complement an offering to the customer. After some accomplishments in this arena it is natural to become the Alliance Manager, and this is a very rewarding position because their business vision is much more embracing, without the pressure for weekly sales forecasts.I really like it!

Michael Lord

An interesting topic.....As an organisation we groom our Alliance team from leadership roles within sales. This makes perfectly good sense when you consider that Alliances is generally an extension of your organisation for sales and execution.Regards,Mike.....

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