Early in my career, I had the good fortune to work
in an area most of us should have on our resumé.
I was appointed Innovations Director at AstraZeneca. Looking for the next move in my career,
I wanted to broaden my experience rather than
aiming for a higher level sales or marketing position.
We needed to think differently about our marketing and selling models. The market place was
changing and the needs of our customers were
changing. It’s not just about the products – it’s how
we talked about our products, the different channels we used, and the support services we offered
that ultimately benefit the patent. That whole
continuum needed to be addressed.
So we examined various selling techniques and set
up a process to test these methodologies: create
an incubator, experiment, see which ideas work
best, set up pilot selling models. They also would
examine where a product was in its life cycle, and
what was required to market it at that stage. Are
you primarily looking for new patients, or would
it be better to focus on current patients and help
them be more compliant?
All of these factors influenced messaging, materials, application of resources. With a mature product doctors are familiar with, for instance, why
invest in a full suite of marketing materials, when
dropping off samples would be just as effective?
When you do innovation, trying out different
models, you need to be aware of the organizational
appetite for risk, and how they treat failure. You
have to show them how we can fail fast so that we
quickly find the ways to succeed. It was exciting
and energizing, and I probably developed a lot of
skills I might not have learned in a different position.
A NEW CULTURE
Several years later, I accepted an oncology position
at Teva. It intrigued me for a number of reasons.
Most importantly, I wanted to immerse myself in
an area where I was having a direct and dramatic
effect on the lives of patients. In a previous role, I met so
many amazing women who were living with advanced
breast cancer. These women have been through so much
– both physically and emotionally – yet so many still had
a positive, can-do attitude. Those are the moments that in-
spire you. They’re saying “I’m not going to let this disease
define me. I’m going to beat it.”
I also liked working with a big melting pot of experienced
professionals who had been at many companies and had
different backgrounds. Everyone brings expertise to the
table. And Teva has an efficient structure, with each posi-
tion holding a broad scope of responsibility. This gives
people an opportunity to learn quickly and thoroughly
from their expert colleagues. It also creates a more ef-
ficient decision-making atmosphere. I remember a prod-
uct-naming project. I took the short list to my superior
with a recommendation. He approved it. I asked him who
else needed to buy in to the recommendation and how the
final decision would be made. “We just made it,” he told
me. It was a welcome surprise.
The moments that inspire you are
when patients say “I’m not going to
let this disease define me. I’m going to
Armed with the freedom this atmosphere provided, I have
been able to apply my “innovation” experience numerous
times, and my colleagues are of a similar mind. There’s a
sense of shared ownership here. We’re all in this together,
and everyone has a stake in the outcomes.
What I keep top of mind is marketing and sales integration, making sure that there is communication early and
often, that all the options are heard and goals are clearly
communicated. At the end of the day the goal of service to
our patients is the prevailing one.
Know what motivates your people,
what their strengths are, how to help
each individual grow and learn