David Johnston CFO Explains Thought Leadership and Why is it Important for Biotech Startups

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Thought leadership is more than a buzzword or a marketing tool. It’s a way of interacting with your customers, peers, and even your competitors. Former CFO David Johnston believes that thought leadership provides a great foundation for biotech businesses, particularly those just starting out.

What is Thought Leadership?

The Oxford Dictionary defines thought leadership as “the practice of developing important new ways of thinking that influence others.”

Wikipedia goes into more detail, defining it as “an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded.”

Thought leadership means recognizing your areas of expertise and then making them available to others. According to David Johnston, it’s being the person people come to for information. It’s answering the questions that are on the mind of your audience and answer them better than the competition.

Many people make the mistake of believing they aren’t knowledgeable enough to be thought leaders. The truth is, you don’t have to be all-knowing. You just have to be the best source of information in your field.

Deep research is one aspect of thought leadership that makes sense in the biotech world. Taking a deep dive can help you stand out from the competition and be a thought leader, particularly when you combine it with your own unique point of view.

Benefits of Thought Leadership


The first benefit of thought leadership is trust. When you show yourself to be knowledgeable in your field, you are immediately seen as more trustworthy. This is important in any industry, but particularly for biotech firms.


Of course, before trust comes awareness. Before potential consumers can make any inferences about your company, they have to know you exist! Being a thought leader gives you a way to get your name out there in a way that people are receptive to.

In today’s culture, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements. In 2014, 82% of all online ads were ignored. As the number of ads we see continues to increase, so will our capacity to ignore them.

Thought leadership stands out from advertising. Instead of asking for something from consumers, it provides something valuable. This is refreshing and gets consumers’ attention.


Innovation is the cornerstone of the biotech industry. Thought leadership often focuses on providing unique content or a different point of view. By establishing yourself as a thought leader, you are also displaying your ability to innovate, which is key to success as a biotech company.


Thought leadership is an effective business strategy. 89% of decision-makers state that thought leadership enhances their perception of an organization. 59% used thought leadership to determine the company’s capabilities. Nearly half, 49%, said that it influenced their purchasing decisions.

The world of biotech is highly competitive. David Johnston states that being a thought leader allows your business to stand out from the crowd and be more successful. At the same time, you are contributing to the industry by providing quality useful information.

David Johnston CFO

David Johnston has over 30 years of financial leadership experience. He’s currently the principal of DBJ Consulting. Through DBJ Consulting, Johnston uses his expertise to advise emerging life science companies.