What’s my motivation?

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What’s my motivation?

The past ten years have been changeable for the pharmaceutical industry, with priorities shifting as the tide of healthcare turns, both nationally and globally. Sarah Rees takes a look at how motivations have changed.

There are many that would say the golden age of pharma is over. Drugs are not bringing in the mega bucks they once used to, new products are fewer and further between, and patents on many of the major names approach expiration without viable competitors on the horizon.

Optimists, however, prefer to see pharma moving into a mellow maturity, with a slackening of the pace allowing the more sedate process of exploration – namely, research and development – to enter the fore. Is the shift towards R&D for the greater good of humanity or a response to the respond to markets? Who can say, but the industry shift towards value-based pricing has certainly caused many pharma companies to rethink their business models in a bid to stay ahead of the curve and prove their worth in an increasingly scrutinised environment.

This scrutiny has extended into marketing and publicity, and there is no doubt that today’s pharma is under the spotlight in ways that management in the previous decade would not expect. After a number of high-profile cases challenged the reputation of some big names, pharma companies have responded to government and industry pressure for a more transparent system.

Other current watch-words that would surprise managers of old are ‘joint-working’ and ‘integration’, as pharma has made a big move towards alignment with the NHS in order to gain access to the funding pots of commissioners in the system.

This is surely just one of the many ramifications of NHS reform, which stands to shake up the health service in England in 2013 and has forced pharma to re-think business models and strategies. A squeeze in NHS funding nudged open doors for pharma, and the opportunities for pharma to supplement health services and ease the increasing pressure on the NHS are turning from ambitions to realities.

Strategies on the global front have definitely shifted in a decade: China is now a golden location for pharma as the star rises in the East, while the improvement of Latin American economies has attracted the attention of those looking to be ahead in the emerging markets.

While pharma companies have steered their ships through the changeable global industry waters, the staffon board shifted their own priorities and motivations as the decade ticked by.

According to information garnered in the Pf Survey over the years, money and ‘the relationship with the boss’ have remained consistent priorities for sales reps over a decade, but job security has rocketed up the list of importance. Could we expect any less in an environment shaken by the financial crisis and record unemployment?

Pharma sales reps are also attaching less importance to personal development and the, once-adored, bonus with work-life balance now being seen as far more crucial to a workforce that increasingly values its time away from the office.

The times are certainly a-changing, with the shifting sands of expectation and funding sources causing pharma to jump through hoops unheard of in the board rooms of 2003. Nevertheless, pharma has risen to the challenge, weathering the financial crisis far better than many other industries and proving its ability to adapt in the face of changing demands made by the consumer, the health service and the world.

Spotlight on…Abbott Nutrition

In the competitive world of the healthcare industry, Abbott Nutrition is proof that being adaptable, and viewing change as an opportunity, ensures long term success. After more than a century of developing medical products to improve quality of life, Abbott remains an industry leader in terms of market position and workforce satisfaction.

“We are very aware that companies are not successful, people are,” stresses Sales Director Stuart Shotton, who has himself been part of the Abbott business for his entire 15-year career. “We take the results of the Pf survey very seriously, and in response to last year’s survey we targeted personal development and improving work-life balance, so we can continue to lead the industry in terms of Sales Force satisfaction.”

Abbott’s internal motivations are clear, while the external influence that has posed the biggest demand for change in recent years has been the Health and Social Care Act of 2012. “The largest reorganisation of the NHS since its inception has brought new customers that demand new approaches from our Sales Team,” explains Stuart.

“The shift in decision makers towards higher level HCPs, CCGs and procurement has demanded different skills and strategies from our Sales Force.”

An evolving and more discerning customer base sees Abbott Nutrition working to offer industry leading service wrapped around a value offering at a competitive price. “We are working to retain our competitive element by maintaining and enhancing the customer relationship towards partnership status, dependant on what the customer wants partnership to be,” says Stuart.

These methods are the means by which Abbott Nutrition will meet its aspirations for 2014, namely growing its market and margin share. “We want to continue to compete successfully in the market but we also want to grow our margins so we can invest in our future, and this involves making all individuals aware of the personal contribution they can make to improve the efficiency of the company,” Stuart notes.

Again, it comes back to the workforce, and their development remains a key priority for the company as the industry and its relationship with the public sector changes. “Today, sales personnel have to conduct higher-level discussions and be more sophisticated in their approach to the products and the customer, so we train them in these skills.”

“It is a more demanding role but it is also more rewarding,” adds Stuart, “and by preparing our people for change and encouraging them to see change as an opportunity, we can ensure that our 

Spotlight on… Lundbeck 

Lundbeck UK – the national arm of a Danish company – works to create and market products ease the lives of those with mental health and neurological diseases. Founded in 1972 with a staff of just four, the past 42 years has seen the company blossom into a 100-strong organisation that holds a firm position within the pharmaceutical market; an achievement bearing testament to Lundbeck’s ability to keep pace with industry evolution and adapt to the changing needs of the market and the customer.

Having spent the past few years refining the company mission, vision, and strategies, Lundbeck enters 2014 eager for implementation. With the recent launch of some new products – most latterly in collaboration with Otsuka – Lundbeck’s priority is to further establish the new products and drive their commercial success whilst delivering on the vision for those affected by mental health disorders.

That isn’t to say that company priorities are all externally, or commercially-directed – Head of HR and Development Helen Carberry is quick to stress that Lundbeck continues to prioritise “building the skills and knowledge within the company, and continue to make Lundbeck a great place to work”.

Lundbeck has weathered many changes in the pharma industry landscape, with Managing Director Steve Turley viewing one of the major changes in the past decade being the decrease in scale, influencing the ways Lundbeck does business.

“We have to change how we work with GPs in particular” explains Steve, “we are less transactional and have to utilise a more strategic approach to our work. This demands a different skill set, and we always aim to have a better understanding of, and consideration for our customer.”

While commercial success has always been at the heart of the business, strategies have evolved significantly over the past decade to deal with the changing market, with company working systems similarly changing and developing.

“When once the different parts of the company would work separately, we now have all key functions operating to one company strategy with everything geared towards the customer,” explains Steve. “The decision making customer has more power than they ever have done before, so we can’t afford to get it wrong!”

Helping customers achieve their goals is emerging as key, and Lundbeck now have two individuals working on joint-working projects with the NHS. “Joint working has now become critical,” explains Helen. “The role is evolving significantly as we enter a new era in pharma.”