Troy Robinson, Managing Director, Chugai Pharma UK, on how creativity and innovation are key to success.
What do you do?
In July I became Managing Director of Chugai Pharma UK. As a wholly owned commercial subsidiary of Chugai Pharma Europe (CPE) I oversee all UK commercial operations, working alongside colleagues in Germany and France to bolster CPE’s commercial activity across Europe. This includes forming new partnerships to bring novel therapies to patients both in the UK, and across the continent.
In the UK we are proud of our Japanese heritage but have developed a set of strong values and a great culture. It’s important that I ensure everyone in the organisation believes in and embraces these as it really does represent the way we work. Focussing on our people I want to ensure we deliver a good work-life balance and focussing on our partnerships I want to ensure we are agile, responsive and deliver excellence. As Chugai Pharmaceutical Ltd is a member of the Roche group, I also want to see us continue the strong relationships we have both in the UK and globally.
“Right now, in my opinion the uncertainty around Brexit and the reimbursement environment are the two key challenges.”
How did you find your way to pharma?
Being honest, I stumbled into pharma. As an accounting and finance graduate I qualified as an accountant while working in financial services. After that I took a year out to live in New Zealand where I was originally born. Coming back to the UK I was looking for my first role as a team manager and it came in pharma; at that time it was the role and team that was important; I didn’t know anything about the industry but quickly learnt. After that role I stepped into FMCG for a few years but have spent the past 11 years in smaller medical device and pharma companies.
What are your career highs so far?
I wouldn’t have got where I have without qualifying as an accountant; that was my stepping stone. Putting those traditional milestones aside, other stand out moments include being at the London Stock Exchange for the initial day of trading following a successful IPO. Diversifying away from finance and leading other functions was the start of a desire for more general management. Deliberately taking the decision to work for SME-sized organisations (from a UK affiliate perspective) has really provided the opportunity to work across broad responsibilities with a business wide impact, ultimately resulting in where I am now.
What drives you?
I have to enjoy my job and the challenges it brings as well as the people I work with. To do that, I have to see what a difference it makes. Ultimately that means do we make a difference to patient’s lives and having heard from a number of them I know we really do. Along the way to that goal I also want to see that everyone in the organisation is aware of it and committed to it. I want to see us overcome challenges and celebrate successes. You can only do this when you have a good team of people and continually developing those people helps motivation to make it all happen.
What’s the best piece of careers advice you’ve ever been given?
- Work hard – coming from a finance background I was always in deadline specific roles meaning early mornings and late nights were the norm.
- Learn from your mistakes – no one is perfect.
3. Make your own destiny – if you really want to achieve something, more often than not you will find a way to make it happen. For me personally that has meant putting my hand up to take on additional responsibilities, sometimes out of my comfort zone, but working hard and learning from my mistakes to succeed.
What are the biggest challenges facing pharma now?
Right now, in my opinion the uncertainty around Brexit and the reimbursement environment are the two key challenges. Whichever side of the Brexit camp you sit in I have no doubt once we know the final Brexit terms, businesses can make any necessary changes and continue to succeed. The uncertainty of the final terms and / or even the terms of the transition period could result in the need for quick and more pressured implementation of change with all companies wanting to avoid any potential impact on patients. Reimbursement providers globally are challenging pharma pricing and the added value of new products. Overcoming the burden of proof is key to continued investment in R&D and innovative solutions.
How can those challenges be turned into opportunities?
Through planning for various Brexit scenarios, we have identified some processes and ways of working that can be more efficient and other opportunities to grow the business regardless of the final Brexit terms. In a smaller organisation taking a step back and looking at the way things are working, particularly when working well, could seem like a waste of time – but small changes can make a big difference. The reimbursement environment is forcing the industry to look ‘outside of the pill’ and to adopt new innovations such as artificial intelligence and real-world data. Those companies that can do this quickly and successfully will have a short term competitive advantage in overcoming the burden of proof for reimbursement before others follow suit.
What advice would you give someone wanting to enter and make an impact in the pharma industry?
Do it but do it differently. Don’t be constrained by traditional ways of working. Achieving desired outcomes through creative and innovative solutions will lead to success and no doubt change in the pharma industry over the next five years.