This is the first in a series sponsored by Delaware Prosperity Partnership shining a light on the leaders who make our communities a better place to live, work and play. Delaware Prosperity Partnership promotes Delaware as a premier location for companies to locate and expand and supports local entrepreneurs and innovators.
Andrew Cottone is the president of Adesis, one of the fastest-growing life sciences companies in America. The New Castle-based Adesis is a contract research organization (CRO) specializing in organic synthesis.
Delaware Prosperity Partnership: Growing up what did you want to do?
Andrew Cottone: I am still a little stunned that I am not playing shortstop for the Phillies! Like many American children, I dreamed of playing a sport. Like how, today, I think many young women are growing up with dreams of playing on the U.S. women’s soccer team. I think baseball is a perfect mix of individual/team responsibility combined with physical skill and mental preparation. Many characteristics of a good teammate are the same requirements for being a good co-worker. But I quickly realized my athletic talents were more suited to chemistry.
Delaware Prosperity Partnership: When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing in Delaware?
Cottone: My wife, Jennifer, and I have three daughters – all at a local Delaware school. So, you will probably find us at sporting events or academic gatherings. My parents live less than 20 minutes away.
Family life is very important for all three Cottone generations. Both my wife and I are Italian-Americans and Sundays (especially holidays) involve great food with close or extended family and friends. When Jenn and I have time to ourselves, we will walk 9 or 18 holes at Fieldstone Gold Club (and she always wins) or we will be in Dover, where my in-laws live, to play golf and visit my nieces.
Delaware Prosperity Partnership: What makes you passionate about Delaware?
Cottone: I have been in Delaware for almost 20 years. I appreciate how relationships in Delaware matter. The other day I was at an event with a top Democratic leader and former Republican Chief of Staff. The discussion was lively, civil and honest.
Delaware is a great place to raise our three daughters and it has provided a robust business environment for Adesis to take root and grow. The close working relationships between industry, academia and government make Delaware an ideal spot to start a company and raise a family (and the taxes are reasonable).
Delaware Prosperity Partnership: What’s your advice for scientists who want to lead a company?
Cottone: Surround yourself with honest people who are smarter than yourself. To lead a company, you will need many areas of expertise. Go out and hire honest and smart people, listen to them and work hard to retain them.
I welcome points of view that challenge the status quo or my own preconceptions. All parties might not agree on a certain course of action, but when I make a decision, I will explain my reasoning and positively champion any new initiative.
Delaware Prosperity Partnership: What’s a book you recommend or the latest book you read?
Cottone: One will never (or very rarely) find me reading fiction. I prefer biographies of key people throughout history. I try to choose a topic or person that is controversial or might make me question my current beliefs.
I have taken my wife and family to see Hamilton on Broadway, and I read the biography. I most recently read a book about Andrew Johnson, The Impeachers, by Brenda Wineapple, and it really gave me a lot to consider. The constitutional challenges, the jockeying for power between the executive and legislative branches and passionate debates made me appreciate democracy in a new light.
Delaware Prosperity Partnership: If you weren’t a chemist, what would you be doing today?
Cottone: Growing up, my parents always championed the sciences to my brother and sisters. I suppose that passion for science is what led me to chemistry. But, if left to my own devices, I would have enjoyed running a small garage, fixing cars with a small staff and being known in my neighborhood for my talent and honesty. I’m still looking for that perfect 1956 Chevy Bel Air.
Delaware Prosperity Partnership: What do you think is the most important attribute to your current success?
Cottone: I think determination is key to my personal success. Determination can manifest itself in many ways. For instance, when I fail, I will never quit or surrender. I will learn from my mistakes and try again. My determination is illustrated in a great work ethic or relentless pursuit of a new or better idea.