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EF: We call 2020 the year of diagnostics and 2021 the year of vaccines. Looking back at 2022, what will we call the year and why?
AM: The aim for 2022 is the organizational culture transformation strengthening our data & digital mindset in order to amplify the knowledge of orphan diseases, increase disease awareness and give to the patients the opportunity for early diagnosis. We are realigning and adapting our goals and strategic structures in preparation for the Dengue vaccine launch in Colombia. This launch and our growing portfolio have garnered us a lot of credibility and respect in the country.
EF: When you were appointed as the general manager of Takeda Colombia, what mission did you set for yourself?
AM: One of my most important missions as a general manager is increasing the development opportunities for Takeda´s people. Currently, I am also focused on promoting the DI&E (diversity, inclusion, and equity) culture within the company. Takeda is a phenomenal company with great development opportunities. I can attest to that as a newly appointed general manager. It is the reason why I want to continue cultivating a culture of growth and development. We are also promoting a speak-up culture among the employees to promote engagement and inclusivity.
EF: Can you elaborate on Takeda's current footprint and portfolio in Colombia, how it is evolving and how it will evolve over the next few years?
AM: Takeda is a highly innovative company. In the last 2 years, Takeda Colombia has launched two new products. Our priority for the next 2 years is the preparation for the Dengue vaccine launch. Additionally, in oncology, we will launch two key products that will offer new treatment options for breast cancer.
82% of the Colombian population is endemic to Dengue. The dengue vaccine is an innovative prevention option that will help several Colombian citizens taking into account that 42% of our territory is hyperendemic, and vaccine, as well as vector control, are unmet needs for this population. We want to be partnered with the government to combine vaccine and vector control in order to decrease the Dengue burden disease. On the other hand, Takeda has an innovative portfolio focused on covering unmet patient needs in cancer and low-prevalence diseases.
EF: What is the importance of Colombia to the organization, and how do you attract resources from your headquarters over other big countries?
AM: Colombia is a core country for Takeda. We have been growing steadily in the past few years. Colombia has a good healthcare system in comparison to other Latin American countries giving patients the opportunity to access innovative therapies.
From our side, Takeda has a great opportunity to grow in Colombia because most of our products are for rare diseases. Our main mission in Colombia is to improve awareness of rare diseases among people and physicians. We highlight the condition, not the product, for better diagnosis.
EF: How is Takeda contributing to creating a sustainable healthcare system in Colombia?
AM: Takeda is aligned with the Colombian government’s price control. 95% of our products are under price control and have a competitive price. It all comes back to making our products accessible to patients. It is critical to align and partner with HMOs, IPS, logistic operators, and other stakeholders within the sector. Partnerships and alliances are crucial and beneficial for patients and access. Several stakeholders in Colombia are more willing and open to collaborating.
With the launch of the dengue vaccine nearing, we began raising awareness of the importance of prevention. We are collaborating with different territorial entities around the country to extend understanding, access, and reach to more patients. We are advocating for people to vaccinate because several people aren´t aware of Dengue risk. The low perception of Dengue risk can decrease the percentage of people willing to be vaccinated. For this reason, is critical to work closely with territorial entities in order to improve Dengue’s awareness and risk in the population.
EF: How do you promote the culture of Takeda in Colombia? And how do you partner and collaborate with other sectors?
AM: We aligned our commercial team and strategies with the markets here due to our alliances and partnerships with various stakeholders. We work closely with HMOs and have formed alliances and opened communication channels with territorial entities. We communicate and provide information about Dengue to these entities. These collaborations are cross-functional.
This is an important moment for Colombia because although 99% of the population is affiliated with the healthcare system, the access rate is only around 65%. The only way to improve access is to collaborate and integrate all the stakeholders in the value chain. Compared to a few years ago, now more stakeholders are open to forming alliances and collaborations.
For Takeda, Colombia is crucial to create alliances across the Health Care System. In the specific case of orphan diseases, these alliances create new opportunities to improve orphan disease knowledge and improve early diagnosis. It is important to consider that in our country, especially in rural areas access to health care is difficult due to different conditions such as distance and economic factors. This situation as well as low knowledge of orphan diseases are strong barriers to increase diagnosis. Our mission for the next years is to implement digital strategies and solutions to reach more physicians in rural areas in order to increase orphan diseases awareness and patients’ diagnosis.
EF: Can you elaborate on how you promote innovation within the country? And how do you encourage an innovative mindset among employees?
AM: We promote agile methodology to improve our working model. One example of that is the creation of Value-based contracting that enables us to give value to our products and contributes to the Health Care System's sustainability. It is why we continuously improve our individual and team capabilities and promote our innovative ideas to other stakeholders.
Our approach to innovation is based on creating innovative negotiations linked with patients’ outcomes and developing digital and data strategies in order to improve patients’ diagnoses. Our portfolio focuses on orphan diseases and high specialization. For this reason, we must be innovative in approaching the market. Patients that need medicine for their rare conditions need our products and in some cases, the Takeda products are the only option that patients have. The objective of these innovative alternatives is to work closely with the Health Care insurers in order to balance the cost of therapies and patient outcomes. The agreements we have implemented add value to the payer and improve patient access. The Creation of value in order to increase patients’ access is one of the key pillars of our work.
EF: Can you elaborate on your contributions to accelerating access and social responsibility initiatives?
AM: Environment protection is very important to us, so we consciously work tirelessly to create awareness in our people. We are actively developing different green programs that cover the distribution of ecological cars, reusable refrigerators in cold chain transportation and the use in our office of recyclable materials and the reduction of single-use plastic. We are actively improving the environmental culture in the office and teaching people how to take the initiative to take care of our ecosystem.
EF: What advice would you like to give to new-generation female leaders who would like to follow in your footsteps?
AM: My advice for female leaders is to be more day by day, more empowered, and take advantage of their high capabilities to inspire people and to have a holistic vision to create a motivational company environment. It is important to improve inclusive culture and build an organization with people with high human qualities. You need to have an integral vision of how you will obtain the result. Being a capable leader is about improving the talent in your organization and managing the resources. For me, people are the most important resource. My advice is to focus on developing and making your team believe in their development. It would be best if you concentrate on creating a good environment and incorporating it into the culture and DNA of your company. A good leader creates good leaders. Motivation is the first step to success.
EF: When you reflect on your first year as a general manager in Takeda, what would you like to celebrate at the end of the year?
AM: My greatest achievement would be to improve people's motivation and company engagement. In our sector, it is common that several talents are continuously moving between companies. Our most important goal is to create an exceptional environment where people feel that development is objective and consider Takeda the best company to work for. We have been voted the top employer for three consecutive years in LATAM, which is a testament to our work culture. I sincerely hope all our employees see their potential for growth within the company. The biggest achievement for this year should be having a highly dynamic organization in all our processes, company culture, and work DNA. It is a continuous process of developing winning strategies.
EF: Is there a final message you would like to deliver to our readers?
AM: My key message for leaders is to always think about people. When you believe in people and their potential for development within your organization, and you make them really believe it, your company will succeed. Additionally, in terms of external actions is critical to forming alliances with all Health Care System stakeholders as the government, HMOs, and healthcare organizations that will be in favour of protecting patient rights. No one can stand alone. As you create a collaborative environment, you are also strengthening the trust in society and opening new opportunities to improve patients’ lives.