After 10 Years at Offices on Both Sides of the Pacific, This SF Principal Says He Landed at the Right Place

Posted by ZS on Aug 3, 2018 10:00:00 AM



ZS-Principal-Joe-Stevens

Joe first connected with ZS by chance at a career fair for Japanese-English bilinguals in Boston in 2006.  At the time, Joe’s work experience was at technology-related companies, and he'd never even considered a career in consulting.  However, he found himself intrigued by the kinds of problems ZS solves.

Joe decided to pursue an internship at ZS in Tokyo that summer, and after that he never looked back. He joined full-time as a Consultant in San Francisco after graduating from business school in 2008, eager to spend time in one of our larger offices to become immersed in our practice. By 2011 though, he was on his way back to Tokyo where he spent the next four years.

“Our Tokyo office is smaller than most of our offices, but almost every major ZS client has a presence in Japan which is the world’s second largest pharmaceutical market after the US,” Joe said. “I had the chance to work with many clients on a wide variety of issues, which was a great experience.”

Joe returned to San Francisco in 2015. Although his work has evolved over the course of a decade-long transcontinental career, he was always challenged with the same goal: helping new pharmaceutical products achieve commercial success. He evaluates the opportunity, figures out how to realize that opportunity, then develops a commercial and managed care strategy to make it happen.

In recent years, Joe’s found his passion in two closely related solution areas. “In the value and access solution area, we look at how to help pharmaceutical companies engage with payers in the current healthcare system,” he said. “In the healthcare ecosystem solution area, we’re considering how the many changes in this system will impact our clients and ZS in the future.”

Joe was elected principal in March 2018.

We talked about what you do. So why do you do it?

My “why” is on par with so many others’. I enjoy solving complex problems, and ZS’s people have kept me here and motivated. The more personal side though, is the connection I feel to my work. I’ve always been fascinated by products, services and ideas that have the potential to change people’s lives.

The cost of healthcare is skyrocketing, and it’s come to the forefront of the political agenda with the affordable care act and healthcare reform. Equally prominent have been debates about how access to care should be controlled and what is a “right” versus a “privilege”.  I enjoy really understanding what’s going on—not just having a cursory opinion on what’s being talked about on TV, or what I read in the newspaper. My work here empowers me to be a driver of change; to help companies adapt and make good decisions that will have broader impact in society.

What’s the most game-changing feedback you ever received?

Shortly after I joined, a principal I was working with explained that the way we work both inside and outside ZS should be seamless. Our clients view us as a deep, integrated part of their team which means our partnership with them should mimic the collaborative dynamic we have on our own teams. This advice stuck with me, and changed the way I think about consulting.

Also, early on, a different Principal told me to forget the phrase “work life balance.” At ZS—and at most demanding jobs, probably—it’s about “work life blend.” When you’re balancing something, it’s eventually going to tip. In a global consulting firm, we don’t go to work, go home, then go back to work the next day. To be satisfied in both your personal life you need to mesh them both together.  Blending the two can be a hard skill to master but the more you work at it, the better you’ll become.

ZS-Principal-Joe-FamilyGive your 25-year-old self one piece of advice.

“Play the long game.” Life is much longer than it seems like it’s going to be when you’re 25. Plan for the long term, then relax and let stuff happen without fretting over the details along the way.

What’s your life like outside ZS?

I try to spend as much time as I can outside. In my younger days I was an avid scuba diver, but now I’m a diaper-changer and playground equipment enthusiast. My wife Maiko and I have three kids—Joey, 5, Max, 3 and Amelia, 18 months.  One of the things we’re known for here in the office is our family Halloween costumes in which the adults always have an antagonistic relationship with the kids. For example, my wife and I dressed up as pirates, while the kids dressed as Peter Pan and crew.

Topics: Meet ZS

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