Jennifer PasterDetmer recently transitioned into a role in business development and licensing at global life sciences company Sanofi Pasteur. Because this position requires advanced skills in negotiation and dealmaking, she sought to enhance her competencies in these areas—a search that led her to apply to Harvard Business School (HBS) Executive Education's Changing the Game: Negotiation and Competitive Decision-Making programme. In this interview, she discusses why she chose this programme, what she gained from her experience, and how she now uses what she learned in her job.

Why did you choose to apply to this programme?

When I moved into a new role in which negotiation was even more critical, I felt it was important to find a quality programme that could enhance my strategic approach as well as my confidence with negotiations. I wanted to maintain my personal brand of quality and impact as I attacked this new role. Changing the Game features faculty who are widely recognized as experts in the field of negotiation. In addition, the programme's weeklong immersion approach offered real-world applications. I saw it as a smart way to maximize my returns and challenge myself to learn and execute in a short period of time.

Was there a particular insight that strongly resonated with you?

The concept of creating value in a deal for both parties, rather than just claiming value for my side, was very powerful. The programme outlined specific methods that I could use to resolve a negotiation, whether dealing with a friendly or antagonistic partner, and I found that to be both insightful and truly life changing. The programme's key lessons reached far beyond just negotiation strategy, because every interaction is a negotiation in some way. I was able to apply what I learned not only in our simulated negotiations, but also while closing a deal at my company that very same week. I experienced immediate, real-world application and results. I wish I had taken this programme years sooner.

What is the greatest challenge facing your industry, and how has this programme helped you overcome it?

The greatest challenge facing my industry is change. Health care is evolving quickly, with more and more information being placed in the hands of the patient via new applications and ways of connecting. Medical providers are financially stressed to provide a higher quality of care while driving accountability and prevention globally. Particularly in the United States, the overall medical business model is being flipped on its head, and we all have to think differently. We have to be able to identify the value we bring to our patients, the medical community, and health care decision-makers. More importantly, we have to recognize how that model is rapidly changing in an ever-evolving landscape. This programme's curriculum-delivery method, with actual negotiations that allow participants to apply the concepts every day, was a good simulation for how quickly things are changing in our industry. The programme demonstrated the importance of proper preparation and scenario planning in order to keep pace with the speed of real-world negotiations and business deals.

What are your thoughts on the case study method of teaching?

I loved the case studies because they forced us to be practical when applying the concepts we learned. In addition, the teamwork-style negotiations allowed us to bond with our fellow participants and share personal experiences so that we were growing both inside and outside of the classroom. The professors were exceptional, but part of what made the classroom experience amazing was the cohort of participants. The HBS staff did a wonderful job assembling people from around the globe, from multiple industries and different disciplines, to ensure that our conversations had real dimension. I was in the room with entrepreneurs, CEOs, and senior-level staff of large companies and innovative start-ups. I was beyond challenged and truly inspired by the people around me in every single interaction—class discussions, negotiation preparation and execution, and even our downtime discussions over breakfast and dinner.

How would you describe the programme’s value to someone considering applying?

This programme should be a requirement for anyone in business. If everyone took the time to understand "value creation" as compared to "value claiming," we would be a much more efficient workforce on the whole—regardless of industry, business, or role.

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