Marijuana Business Magazine September 2019

Marijuana Business Magazine | September 2019 14 B renda Verghese’s background in pharmaceutical development made her a natural fit for Stratos, a Colorado cannabis company that produces THC- and CBD-infused tablets, tinctures and topicals. As vice president of research and development, Verghese is charged with creating new products. What made you jump into the cannabis space? I think the most compelling for me was the amount of cannabis ref- ugees, specifically children, who were taking refuge in Colorado to deal with epileptic seizures. Next on the list would definitely be people who are dealing with chronic illnesses and trying to just maintain an enjoya- ble quality of life. What have you learned about finding business partners in cannabis? We are approached frequently by many people who want to partner up for distribution deals or auxiliary services. It takes creative and deliberate investigating to deter- mine why people enter the cannabis space and whether a partnership would be a good fit. Our mission is to help people, and we want to partner only with people who share that vision. Do you have any tips for evaluating business partners and avoiding bad actors? One of the main things I advise before signing with a company is to be sure it has a solid moral compass and an overall goal to do better. Find a business partner who has aligned moral values. They also need to demonstrate willingness and apti- tude in quality and compliance. This can be determined by looking at standard operating procedures, checking business references and interviewing staff. How can you tell whether potential partners have these qualities? During site visits with a potential partner, evaluate if their team members are happy. The mood in the office is very telling. If a team is motivated and excited about their job, then chances are you’ve got a pretty good company that you’re potentially working with. Also, assess what their overall end goals are in regard to community involvement. For SOPs, they need to be documented and in place. Of course, for references, we look for trust and enthusiasm in past or ongoing relationships. Where do you get management advice in an industry without long-established operators? Good leadership and management translate to any industry. It can be very fruitful to maintain a good relationship with a professional coaching program. We work with a local coaching firm, and it’s been valuable to have an external perspective to work through challenges and amplify successes. How does management coaching work? We have monthly meetings and are frequently consulting with them. They always give sound, unbiased advice regarding leadership, change management, organizational structure and conflict resolution. It can be hard as a manager to separate the emotion from what’s actually going on. It’s always great to have Brenda Verghese The vice president of research and development for Stratos reveals the value of management coaching and how to build company loyalty Editor’s note: Each month we ask a cannabis industry executive for business tips and advice, as well as insights from their own professional experiences. To suggest an executive for this page, email [email protected] . The Executive Page | Tips & Advice By Kristen Nichols