Today’s member spotlight is with Noushin Dunkelman, Founder and President, MaxSynergy Consulting, LLC. Noushin has been a member of SDEE since 2015 and has served on the Executive and Consulting Committees.
Tell us about your background
MaxSynergy started in 2014. My background is in Biomechanical engineering, and I have been in the biotech space for about 30 years. The first 25 years were in tissue engineering and development for cell therapies, specifically stem cells, where I started at the bench and moved up to the executive level. Early on, I just wanted to do a technical role, and after a few years, I started leading and managing teams and became known as someone who could come in, put the right team together, and meet aggressive timelines, while still allowing the team members to enjoy themselves and grow.
What is MaxSynergy?
MaxSynergy is an organizational development company, specializing in the biotech sector. I bring relevant hands on experience and a seasoned approach to build effective teams and organizational structure to meet deliverables on time and on budget. MaxSynergy Consulting helps eliminate the challenges organizations face so that the leadership team and colleagues are able to effectively deliver the results needed for success.
How did you get the idea for Max Synergy?
During my 25 years as an employee working for other companies, I found challenges in our industry. We have talented people and good ideas, but companies get tangled up as they start growing. People don't communicate effectively, company culture changes, and managers are not trained to teach people how to grow and be accountable. Since addressing these issues was natural to me and I enjoyed doing it, I decided to make it a career. A CEO I had previously worked for approached me because they were having difficulty with their team and asked for me to help. I did a quick assessment, provided some solutions, and he asked me to come back a second time. Although I already had a job, I was considering making the shift to doing this full-time. I asked him if he could be the anchor for me and help make that change. I wrote him a proposal, he accepted, I put in my notice, and then I started MaxSynergy to help other companies.
What is your goal when working with clients?
I want our industry to be successful. That was my intention when changing my career. Our industry has so many great people and ideas to improve patients' lives. For me, it is important to be a part of that success and to help people be successful. My passion is to help people reach their goals, so both the industry and humanity can benefit. We let too many great ideas die because we can't figure out how to work, communicate, and solve personal issues. We have smart, intelligent, caring people. We just have to create effective and high functioning teams to achieve our goals.
What kind of companies does MaxSynergy work with?
I primarily work with small to mid-sized biotech companies ranging from small seven-person companies to as many as 150 people. Usually, the people who make the decision to hire me are CEOs or VPs of a department. Typically, as the company starts to grow the team challenges become more apparent. I assess and see where the problem lies and identify different areas that are potentially contributing to their problems. Then, I provide custom solutions for lasting success.
What approaches do you use to help solve their problems?
Each organization is unique and has its own DNA. While their challenges might be similar, their root cause is different. I help them with coaching and mentoring specific to their needs. Using a multi-prong approach, I coach the executives and the team, since both groups are required for long-term success. Often with small to mid-sized startups, they aren't yet thinking about who they want to be, so I focus on cultural norms. I help them become focused and intentional regarding their culture. Strategy is easier to come up with; implementation requires everybody's attention. I always say teams are like gardens; you can have the most beautiful flowers, but if you don't prune and water them, and make sure they all have sunlight, weeds will grow. You need to be intentional in building and cultivating your team and culture.
How do you know when you’ve succeeded?
My validation comes when I can get an organization to a point where they don't need me. This is when the people within the company have had enough training so that they can function successfully. Also, when the CEO reaches out to me to help them with their next challenge. More notably is when I get texts and emails from people I have coached in the past who tell me I have made a significant difference in their career and personal success. It is gratifying to see people get promoted versus getting let go because they were having a challenging time. It is satisfying to help managers lead a group of people to reach success in cohesive ways.
What advice do you have for startup companies and entrepreneurs?
For founders, when they start putting their team together, they need to be very intentional. Often, when founders don't have a lot of money, they hire people they know. There are times when the skill you need to be successful does not necessarily match with those of the people you know. I've worked with companies where this is the case, and I ask them, "Do you have the time, or ability, to train the people you know who do not have the experience?" If the answer is no, then there will be a huge skill gap in the organization, leading to more frustration over a period of time. Be intentional about who you hire.
I also recommend being intentional about developing the culture. Every hire may not be the right hire, and if that is the case, address it immediately, and go find a better fit.There is nothing worse than having the wrong person who compromises the rest of the team.
“Hire the right people, set the right culture, and when you don't hire the right people, don't keep them on.” Noushin Dunkelman, Founder & President, MaxSynergy Consulting
Creating a culture comes from leadership. Set clear expectations, provide frequent and meaningful feedback, and reward success. Unfortunately, we don't use positive reinforcement enough. People find giving constructive feedback difficult. A poor characteristic in leadership is the inability to provide meaningful feedback for the growth of their team. Constructive feedback is necessary, and don’t forget to enforce and encourage with positive feedback on things they do for the team. When they are doing something right, reinforce it by acknowledging it.
What do you like best about SDEE?
I enjoy the SDEE members because they are passionate about what they are doing and driven to make a difference. I like the mission of SDEE and their casual culture. I enjoy interacting with the members and believe you're as good as the people you surround yourself with.