Strategy4Scientists - Toolkits

Welcome to the workshop page for Strategy Toolkits

This workshop is designed provide an overview of tools used to develop and assess strategy, and use examples to illustrate the concepts. This webpage outlines the lectures, podcasts and small group activity for the workshop. PLEASE READ about all three workshop components (videos, podcasts, group activity), which cover two major topics.

This module about Strategy Toolkits comprises two major topics:

1. Environmental Assessment - frameworks to evaluate an operating environment including competitors, stakeholders, supplies, and economic, regulatory or technology trends; SWOT, Four Corners and PEST analyses. By the end of part 1, you will be able to:

  • Describe commonly used tools for environmental assessments
  • Explain the benefits of doing the analyses
  • Identify which tool applies best in a given setting
  • Use one or more tools to describe the operating environment of a scientific enterprise

2. Developing Strategy - tools to help set, generate, and prioritize an enterprise's goals. By the end of part 2, you will be able to:

  • Describe the key elements of an enterprise's strategy
  • Identify common tools used to facilitate strategy development
  • Draft SMART objectives
  • Explain the value of monitoring progress towards goals



This workshop is designed as a flipped classroom - participants watch the videos before the class and discuss the cases in class.

It is mandatory to watch these videos before attending the workshop. Total video time for Parts I & II is approximately 30 minutes.


PODCAST - Strategy4Scientists

For this module, we suggest the following podcast episodes, which can be found on iTunes - Strategy4Scientists.

  • Asha Collins, PhD- Industry, Asha talks about how communicating your strategy is part of a successful strategic plan. She shares her experiences in healthcare and policy.
  • Matt Cook, PhD - Industry, Matt talks about using matrices to clarify problems and identify possible solutions. He says it's critical to define your metrics of success from the beginning. He also uses matrices to make career decisions!
  • Neal Alto, PhD - PI in Academia, Neal talks about criteria he sets for success including data, trainee's career interests, and mapping long and short term goals.


SMALL GROUP ACTIVITY - bring your laptop

For the in-class discussion, the participants will break into small groups and describe the operating environment of a scientific enterprise. The group members can choose to perform a SWOT, PEST or Four Corners analysis for a company of interest or an academic lab. You may continue this activity with a company of interest from last week: Global Blood TherapeuticsIntersect ENTJuno Therapeutics, or choose a company from the QB3 incubatorNOTE: Bring your laptop or tablet for this in-class activity.

YOU WILL NEED TO PREPARE for the discussions by reviewing the sample companies ahead of time. Participants who browsed the websites before class reported a more positive and engaging in-class experience. So go ahead and see how much of the company's strategy you can identify from the website.

Questions to answer in the small groups:

1. Why did you choose the SWOT / PEST / Four Corners to assess your company?

  • What are the benefits of doing that specific analysis
  • What is the external landscape for that specific company

2. Based on the analysis, what is a possible next move for the company?


Speakers and course developers

Deb Dauber, PhD - Deb has 15 years of experience in pharmaceutical market analysis and strategy. Currently consulting with a focus in pharmaceutical competitive analysis, Deborah works with biotech firms to make informed business decisions based on in-depth assessment of competitors in development and on the market. Prior to that, Deborah was head of CI for Genentech, and led competitive intelligence initiatives to investigate key competitors (product and company-level), evaluate revenue impact of competition, and assess full market landscapes. She holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from UCSF and a Master’s in Public Health with a focus in Health Policy & Management from UC Berkeley


Course producer - Thi Nguyen, PhD - PI of Burroughs Wellcome Fund grant, OCPD career development consultant, and associate dean for graduate career and professional development at Washington University in St. Louis.

Course manager - Kevin Hartman, UCSF graduate student and co-producer of the Strategy4Scientists podcasts.

Podcast speakers


  • Asha Collins, PhD - leads the US Clinical Trial Sourcing business at McKesson Corporation, one of the largest healthcare organizations in North America. In this position, she leads a team that strategically sources commercial products for research and clinical trial studies. Prior to McKesson, Asha focused on leading biopharmaceutical companies through strategic change as a management consultant at Deloitte and Quintiles. Asha received her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Matt Cook, PhD - Consultant at The Boston Consulting Group and former UCSF postdoc. He developed a Udacity course, The Design of Everyday Things, that now has over 50,000 students enrolled. Matt received his PhD from Duke University. 
  • Neal Alto, PhD - Associate Professor of Microbiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Neal is an HHMI-Simons Faculty Scholar.


Video production

These educational videos were produced in collaboration with iBiology. Videos found in the iBioMagazine section under "Business Concepts".


Course funding

This course is provided at no cost to graduate students and postdocs thanks to funding by a Career Guidance for Trainees award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and NIH T32 administrative supplement (co-PI K. Mark Ansel).


Interested in learning more about the course or delivering this course at your university? Contact Thi at [email protected].


Strategy modules

Collaborations is part of a Strategy4Scientists series that includes:

Intro to Strategy 

and Strategic Collaborations

Images downloaded from Shutterstock and Canva.