From building partner ecosystems to surviving cancer

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Niall Wall is a builder at heart. In his role, he not only forges relationships — with people and the organizations they're part of — he also thinks in terms of systems and scale. 

So, as Benchling looks to bring the R&D Cloud to more biotech companies, we needed to find someone intellectually curious, pragmatic, and thoughtful, with experience leading, building, and scaling world-class partner programs. Niall seemed like a natural fit for this moment in Benchling’s growth.

What you might not know about Niall, though, is that he has a very personal reason for connecting with Benchling's mission — something that makes the power of biotech incredibly meaningful to him.

Read our Q&A with Niall below to learn about his experience in tech and business and how Benchling's mission motivates him each day.

Benchling: You’ve worked in enterprise software for most of your career. What intrigued you about the chance to work on software for scientists?

Niall: Over the last decade, I’ve been part of building some of the most successful enterprise SaaS companies, most recently at Workday. Before that, I spent almost 7 years helping to build Box from a small early-stage startup to a leader in enterprise content management and collaboration. 

I have been looking for a company that has a real impact on society and aligns with my personal and professional aspirations to help the world be a better place. When I came across Benchling, I was blown away by the surface area of our customers and the amazing things they're doing — whether it’s therapeutics, design for cutting-edge drug research, agriculture, food science, or synthetic manufacturing. It was an absolute no-brainer once I met the team and understood what we were trying to do.

Benchling: Can you speak more about your personal motivations for working at a mission-oriented company like Benchling?

Niall: The reason why what we enable our customers to do is so profoundly important to me is that I am a late-stage melanoma survivor. In 2005, I was diagnosed unexpectedly, and went through five years of various treatments, many of which were very difficult to consume and unsuccessful. I was lucky because I live in the Bay Area, where there are a lot of advanced research-oriented university hospitals, so I was able to get onto a clinical immunotherapy-based trial specific to my type of cancer. It saved my life. It became obvious to me that time matters when you're doing drug research. 

That's my story, but not the reason I joined — I'm here to help build Benchling’s amazing biotech R&D cloud platform. I can personally appreciate how organizations use Benchling to improve collaboration, and even the speed of science. That speed allows millions of people like me to benefit from the therapeutics that will come as a result of research. 

Benchling: What are your early thoughts on how you’ll prioritize different partnerships? What are some of the ingredients to a successful partnerships program?

Niall: For us to realize our vision and mission, we need to build a mutually aligned and beneficial ecosystem of partners that help our customers both identify why they need to digitally transform their biotech R&D, and how to do so quickly. 

The first and most immediate need for Benchling’s partner program is to work with progressive leaders in the ecosystem of systems integrators (SIs) and service providers who will help our mutual customers through this journey. We’ll also be working to build out an overall platform ecosystem, not dissimilar to how other enterprise software companies like Salesforce, Workday, and ServiceNow have been successful, including technology partners, independent software vendors (ISVs), and developers who are building derivative applications from our data models. Beyond supporting our customers, we also should be mindful of our partners’ needs and build those into the program. 

Benchling: What are your thoughts on Benchling’s culture so far? 

Niall: I’ve been more than impressed with the human aspect of Benchling’s culture. One of our leadership principles is “Admit mistakes and shortcomings” to celebrate our failures and learn from them. That comes with a need for our leaders to be empathetic to the challenges Benchlings are all facing in our everyday lives. It means a lot to me to work for a company that reinforces the space and ability for our leaders to encourage showing empathy toward each other and our customers.

The other leadership principle I love is “Unite around the mission." I cannot think of a company I've worked for where what we do has such an impact on so many different people. I appreciate how Benchlings have a clear understanding and common alignment on how important getting our customers to success is — that’s really important to me.

Benchling: Can you share any of your management guiding principles or philosophy?

Niall: I have over my last number of roles always had a mindset of a teaching hospital — attracting and enabling a world-class team of “athletes” who are capable, curious, and creating conditions for them to learn from each other. Whether that's domain knowledge, a particular functional expertise, or leadership objectives, it’s important that everyone is open and intentional about what they’re working on to ensure others who have unique capabilities to provide value. This creates an environment where people are constantly learning and allows people to grow collectively. I’ve always had that leadership philosophy at the core, and I've found that helps attract amazing talent and raises the boat for everyone.

Benchling: How do you fill your time outside of work?

Niall: I just celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary, and we have two boys in college. My wife and I are immigrants — my wife is from Cuba and I’m from Ireland — and have traveled extensively to over 50 countries. We feel passionately about raising the next generation to have empathy toward what's going on in the world. I’m also quite outdoorsy and love mountain biking and skiing, and am an aspiring amateur rock guitarist since picking up the guitar during Covid. I try to enjoy everything about life!

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