Nick Saunders, Commercial Operations (UK) and Brand Director at Theramex, won the Hospital Representative Pf Award at the Pf Awards in 2000. It directly impacted his career and he is now heading up the UK arm of Theramex, building a new pharmaceutical company specialising in women’s health.
What’s your career background?
I studied Genetics at university and was keen to go into an industry where genetic knowledge could have a strong impact. A university tutor introduced me to the pharmaceutical industry, and I started my career at Procter & Gamble. There I received some really good training, advice and since then I have developed my career through various pharma companies and roles. I moved from P&G to Warner Chilcott, then through acquisition to Actavis, a large generic company, and then onto Allergan where I ended up running the UK business for Medical Botox. From there, I took up a new challenge with Theramex.
What does Theramex do?
Theramex is a newly-created pharmaceutical company. I head up the UK business, where I am Commercial Director, my role spans multiple responsibilities, for example pricing and regulatory, which is a great new challenge. Theramex is creating a company that is focused on a woman’s health on their journey of life – so very unique. The key areas we work in are contraception, fertility, menopause and osteoporosis. We only came into existence last year, after acquiring a large part of business from Teva Pharmaceuticals and have been building it further since then – which is fantastic as you don’t get many opportunities to create something from scratch. Globally, we have over 350 employees, we operate in over 50 companies and have over 20 products. To create that in a very short space of time is a real achievement. Each day is interesting, motivating and exciting.
How has your career led to you this point?
I started my career in the field, which was great grounding. I had a territory manager role and then hospital representative before moving into key opinion leader (KOL) management. These were all very close to the customer. I spent the first seven or eight years doing customer facing roles before moving into marketing, marketing management and heading up business units in a variety of therapeutic areas working with colleagues across Europe.
What was it like to be a Pf Awards Winner?
I have my trophy in front of me. I won the Hospital Representative of the Year Pf Award at the first-ever Pf Awards.
I remember the Pf Awards Assessment Day clearly, being interviewed by the panel of independet judges. We had to do some detailing, and planning – it was quite a fun day.
Winning the Pf Award definitely impacted on my career. It gave me external validation as well as giving wider functions of the company confidence in me. After my win, I quite quickly moved from Hospital Representative into KOL management which is where I wanted to go in my career. The Pf Award win helped to open that door. To be a Pf Award Winner is also very useful in interview, internally and externally. To have that recognition from industry really makes a difference.
What exciting projects have you got coming up?
Everything is exciting at Theramex because we are creating something new and that has a definite potential impact on women’s lives. When I joined about 12 months ago, we had no UK organisation, it was me. We now have a team with a salesforce, marketing and matrix managing. We work with our global head office, which is based in the UK, to call on resources throughout the company. It’s genuinely exciting. It’s the most exciting thing I’ve done in my career and is a great opportunity that you don’t often get.
We’ve just launched a new product for the treatment of vulvar and vaginal atrophy in post-menopausal women having moderate to severe symptoms. It’s going really well, it’s great working in women’s health, it’s a very satisfying disease area to work in. Women’s health can be deprioritised in our healthcare system which it shouldn’t be and brings out the feminist in me.
What’s the best career advice you were given?
Working for P&G, when we looked at making decisions, we talked about being in touch with the customer, and we really made that live. That is something I carry with me in every single thing I do: the customer and patient are at the heart of every decision I make. I’ve managed many teams of marketeers and one of my mantras is that they get out in front of the customer and have to be close to the customer to be able to do their job. It can sometimes challenge my colleagues, because if our decision isn’t in touch with what the customer needs then we need to go away and do more work to make sure that it is. Strategies need to be in touch with what the customer needs, it can be disruptive, but it is crucial to deliver the results we need.
What motivates you in your role?
In my current role, in addition to everything I’ve already said, I find challenging the status quo very motivational. Because we have a blank sheet of paper at Theramex, we’re not doing what pharma has always done. We’re finding new ways of doing things. For example, we have lots of virtual elements to our company, including the way we work with experts externally.
What does the future hold for you and your career?
It’s very hard to think beyond what I’m doing now. We have a small business in the UK, which is worth a couple of million pounds, but we want to really grow that to be a great deal more. From a new business development point of view, we have the ambition to do that: lead the company and a great team of people on that journey to positively impact on the health of women throughout their lives.
Go to www.theramex.com
The Pf Awards 2020 are open for nominations. Go to www.pfawards.co.uk