Thursday, July 13, 2017

Building Cathedrals

Guest Blogger: Chad League
Manager, Office of Contracts and Grants Management, Medstar Health Research Institute

It’s 7pm and I’m sitting in a hotel room on the 18th. floor, looking over slides that I will have to present in a little over twelve hours. Not even twelve hours ago, I found out that one of our co-presenters had to back out, and that many of her slides were now assigned to me. Despite having to publicly speak over and over again in law school, I have been out of practice. On top of that, I’m not just representing myself anymore. I’m representing a reputable organization to a number of potential and current business partners. I need to knock this out of the park!

As I prepare, I recall an anecdote that Dr. Weissman shared at an MHRI event when I first started – the stonecutter parable. Do I want to get up there and represent to the audience that I’m just cutting stone for a living, that all I do is collect a paycheck with no real investment into my craft? Or do I want to get up there and explain to them how I am trying to build a Notre Dame, how most of our contracts hinge on subject injury and indemnification language? How they are typically the cornerstones of every agreement? Naturally, my desire is for the latter. First thing is first though – don’t throw up.

Over four hours, two industry colleagues and I explain the importance of crafting indemnification and subject injury clauses. How every word matters, how the use of certain words might impact liability in unimaginable ways. Throughout the presentation, the audience stayed engaged, asked questions, and many people came up to us to introduce themselves, hand out business cards, and seek advice. Those people were from across the research industry, from pharma, sites and CROs. They were contracts administrators, budget analysts, attorneys, project managers.

In these meetings, it dawned on me how important getting out there and presenting at these conferences is for us at MHRI. Speaking in front of others who look to you for advice and innovative approaches, even in the field of research administration/contracts negotiation, puts us at the forefront of the industry. It makes us appear the expert stonecutter – and all of the other stonecutters in the room will want our advice on how to build cathedrals in a similar manner. The connections also happened to Tina after her presentations and after my workshop on subject injury and indemnification. I’m sure it happens to many other representatives from MedStar who present at conferences.

As MHRI and MedStar representatives venture out to these conferences and present, members of the industry will begin to view us as a prevalent force in clinical research. The greater a presence that we can sustain, the more likely it is that our industry partners, both current and potential, will realize that MedStar Health Research Institute is comprised of highly reputable, highly knowledgeable expert stonecutters.


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