Log In

Staying True to Yourself is Product Management

Mary Christ and Evgueni Malikov, co-heads of Nestle Health Science’s e-Health incubator, discuss how to build an innovative business when faced with limited resources and within the confines of a large corporation. 

Nestle Health Science, a subsidiary of Nestle, was founded nearly 10 years ago and is focused on advancing the role of nutrition therapy for consumers, patients, and healthcare partners. Two years ago, the company established an incubator to accelerate innovation.

The e-Health incubator is a venture set up to quickly identify, create, implement, and scale new businesses at the intersection of nutrition, health and wellness, and technology. Mary and Evgueni were tapped to lead this venture. Since then, they’ve used agile methodologies to launch five new platforms in the healthcare market.

They credit their success to a shared drive. “Both of us are driven by the same passion, and that's why our dynamic works so well,” says Mary. Evgueni echoes that, saying, “We share the same mission: Driving improvement in patient’s lives.”

But their success can also be attributed to a working relationship built on mutual respect, trust, and teamwork, and a dynamic that’s fast-paced and risk-obsessed. All are qualities that are fundamental when operating as a startup in a large organization, like the e-Health incubator does. “To be in an incubator, if you’re risk-averse, you’re going to be so afraid to ever do anything that it won’t work,” says Mary.

How can you challenge long-standing institutions and move quickly when the organization around you moves at a much slower pace? That’s exactly what Mary and Evgueni’s jobs demand of them, and they offered four key insights:

  1. When dealing with limited resources, keep it simple and focus on solving an actual business problem, not on technical ingenuity.
  2. Put forgiveness before permission, because being in violation of internal processes is a sign that you’re innovating.
  3. Be smart about the risks you take, and own your failures.
  4. To avoid internal opposition, have executive backing and focus on execution to continually build their trust.

In this episode, you’ll learn a lot about making decisions and innovating quickly as a startup within a large corporation.

Here are the highlights: 

  • Five factors to establish great professional relationships (5:57)
  • Mary and Evgueni’s approach to building internal and external partnerships (10:02)
  • How improving your BS radar will help you find partners you can rely on (17:30)
  • Stories that showcase Mary and Evgueni’s ideation and business building skills (23:33)
  • The risks associated with innovating as a startup in a large organization (33:02)
  • How to navigate inevitable naysayers and internal politics (40:27)

Subscribe to the This Is Product Management