Change Never Happened Standing Still

Optimal Clinical Trials’ Barney Montgomery speaks spirit, grit and ambition in the face of adversity . . .


Leveraging one of the world’s most terrifying pandemics into an opportunity to drive positive growth in an organisation – in fact an entire country – isn’t a task for the faint hearted. Especially when many of us simply aim to ‘get through’ tough times – not transform.

But just safely navigating his team and business through Covid-19 challenges when they struck Kiwi shores, was not the only option for Dr Barney Montgomery, Managing Director of New Zealand’s fastest growing clinical trial research company, Optimal Clinical Trials – he knew it was an opportunity to grow and expand.

With over 18 years’ experience working as a medical professional internationally and nationally, his perseverance and focus on improvement, saw Optimal Clinical Trials pivot itself into a whole new era of virtual operations across lockdown and beyond – a platform destined to cement New Zealand’s steadfast position on the international clinical trials stage.

“Even starting out as a doctor working in clinic many years ago, I always had ambition – I never wanted to stand still. And, when you work in the medical field – that’s a good thing – nothing is finite, we always need push for new ways for doing, treating, measuring and resolving.”

When you’re constantly braced for change – even those situations that throw the world completely out of kilter – you’re better equipped to reap the positives from that change.

“For me it’s about having that strong team. Those with equally high standards and the grit to make sure we turn things around,” he enthuses. “Doing the hard thing each time – which is typically recruitment – and delivering results time after time, that’s just what we do. We go for it.”

Adversity isn’t something to fear – but it’s something you have to embrace indefinitely. “I’ve been Principal Investigator on over 40 international trials – I didn’t stop at 20 and say ‘I’m done now’. It’s not the way I see things – there’s no end date. To extend yourself, to better your business and business reach, you have to commit to doing the right things in the most difficult setting.”

And, when you draw out the talent in your business and allow your people the opportunity to shine you don’t just grow a strong organisational culture, you grow your industry and country forward.

“Our ambition is for New Zealand to grow as a world leader in clinical trials – and we’ve proven time and time again that we can meet demand, expectation and achieve the highest of standards,” says Barney.

“When I look at our response to Covid as an organisation and as a country, I’m proud. Here at Optimal we can now run trials virtually – pivot on a dime if we need to – so if we have to go back into lockdown, our trials will still run to the same high standards. No excuses, no compromising.”