Read the Conversation

EF: What was your mission when you were appointed as the General Manager of Janssen?

AH: My mission at Janssen South Africa is firmly connected to Janssen's mission worldwide. It's sharply focused on the patient's interests. As a leading pharmaceutical company, we are extremely passionate and focused on patient-centricity as a mindset and objective. It’s at the core of everything we have been doing since our inception.

The focus starts with bringing innovation to real unmet medical needs through various and focused therapeutic areas to ensure broader access to this innovation for the largest number of patients on local levels. We believe that patients are waiting and should not wait anymore. Our mission is to ensure faster, broader, more robust and sustainable access to this innovation for the benefit of the patient. This is our top priority and ultimate interest.

Our other focus is centred around our people. We want to ensure that we are growing our talent across different roles and functions to be future leaders for Janssen in South Africa and across the globe. This is to be attained by creating our Credo based culture where our high-performance team can live their purpose in full, collaborate with each other effectively and develop themselves towards their aspiration while helping more patients.

EF: In celebration of 80 years of the Johnson & Johnson credo, how do you intend to reinforce this culture and keep it going?

AH: I believe that across many corporations, you will usually find some sort of content related to the code of conduct and procedures that guide the organization's way of doing business, yet the very special thing about Our Credo is the fact that it has a long-standing history and concrete legacy since it was crafted in 1943. Our Credo reflects the real DNA of our organization as it is not something that has just come along recently with the business and organization’s evolution.

This fact reflects on all J&J employees as we live by Our Credo every day, where allour business decisions and professional interactions are tested against the credo script, word by word, making it a live document and at the core of everything we do.

This makes Our Credo an intrinsic component of our interviewing process, all the way until onboarding to ensure deliberately from the hiring process that the values and behaviours of all our colleagues are in full alignment and accordance with Our Credo guidance and spirit.

Moreover, Our Credo is carefully written in a very well-structured way to contain powerful words and compelling meanings, while showing the inclusiveness of all our stakeholders in a comprehensive manner, as these stakeholders contribute actively to the patient’s journey for better well-being.

I can say the essence of Our Credo grows day by day along with further evolution and advancement of the healthcare system to include more sophistication and potential complexities. In the beginning, the patient journey was quite simpler and straightforward. Today, we are managing a more sophisticated and potentially advanced systems with multiple stakeholders. These include – but not limited to - healthcare providers, nurses, caregivers, funders, and the government. All these elements add to the complexity and make Our Credo more relevant and intrinsic.

EF: What are Janssen South Africa’s priorities for 2023?

AH: Our priority is to ensure broader access to our innovative medicine for more waiting and deserving patients. We are sharply focused on this goal and are saving no effort through our solid partnerships and purposeful engagements with various stakeholders.

We understand that access is not limited to making sure that the product is available, but it also means ensuring that the right medicine is available for the right patient, at the right time, in the right place. This means that there is a lot of work to be done to optimize the patient journey for proper and timely diagnosis, until a smooth and robust fulfilment to get the right medicine and stay on it for the right time.

We also put a lot of focus on launch excellence through early investment to ensure that patients have access to future innovations. This requires a lot of emphasis and preparedness in collaboration with many stakeholders to ensure that the healthcare system will accommodate and leverage the next generation of medicines.

We are also focusing on our people to ensure that they are well-developed to live their full potential and materialize their career aspirations to the maximum within J&J.

EF: How are Janssen’s Global goals in their therapeutic areas translated into the South African market?

AH: As the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, weare excited about making a difference in patients’ lives, and to make these differences, we need to ensure the right focus. Accordingly, Janssen has prioritised therapeutic areas where we can make a lot of difference. These include oncology, immunology, neuroscience, infectious disease and vaccines,cardiovascular metabolism, and pulmonary hypertension. These are the six therapeutic areas in which we believe Janssen can provide a lot of transformative innovation that can make a big difference and significant improvement in patients’ lives. Our role at Janssen South Africa is to transfer this innovation to the South African population through broader access, launch excellence and having the best talents working for J&J.

EF: What are the initiatives being taken to collaborate between the public and private sectors,locally and globally?

AH: At Janssen, we believe that health is a real investment for any community or government. We believe that we carry the responsibility to ensure the creation of meaningful collaborations with relevant stakeholders. As the South African government moves towards National Health Insurance (NHI), we recognize that this is a big step for society, and we will have to collaborate and put all our efforts and expertise into co-creating a future that ensures better quality and equality in health.

The COVID-19 pandemic drew the attention of the world to the importance of health and how important it is to work hand-in-hand on improving health outcomes and we are proud of the strong collaboration we had with various stakeholders to enable access to our vaccine. Other examples of areas where we have collaborated with impact are:our collaboration with the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG)for several years – providing support to ensure the successful running of a community mental health counselling clinic in Diepsloot, Gauteng; and MomConnect to help more women gain access to vital information and care needed to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy and labour. Finally, it is worth highlighting our support of the Unjani Clinics, focused on empowering professional nurses to operate and ultimately own their clinic businesses and provide real social value to their communities. These examples are just some of the many initiatives that we believe demonstrate our Credo commitment to our patients, communities and other stakeholders, and our ongoing focus on working together for a future where disease is a thing of the past. And until then, wedo our best to make sure no patient is left behind.

EF: What steps are you taking to achieve sustainable and preventative healthcare? Please talk about your role in diagnosis to help develop better treatments for patients,especially in oncology.

AH: We all need to look at the patient journey in a broader sense and more integrated way, starting from origination, because a disease may start silently with no symptoms, and to leverage the potential of early diagnosis. Like in oncology, it is very well known that the late diagnosis of prostate cancer, for example, will imply further challenges on the patient, the caregivers, and the entire healthcare system. With this mindset, we need to optimize the patient journey through faster diagnosis and access to medicine. With further advancement and better understanding of the disease, we may reach a futuristic approach to better tackle the prevention and protection of some diseases till eradication, for the better well-being of the entire humanity. At Janssen, we have a clear vision that we are working relentlessly towards: “Creating a future where disease is a thing of the past”.

EF: What are the lessons you learned in Egypt that you would like to implement in South Africa?

AH: We have the similarity of being part of the emerging markets and developing countries, where we potentially share similar challenges and have the same aspiration. In that sense, I believe that a lot of deliberate focus, investment, and efforts need to come from the private sector and corporations to ensure better and broader access to medicine. We need to co-create solutions and co-build the capabilities hand in hand with all stakeholders in the healthcare system to deliver this noble objective of better and broader access to medicine,timely and effectively. Our teams at Janssen South Africa are deeply inspired and purpose-driven because we know that through more effort in this direction, we will be able to help more patients get access to the right medicine, timely.

EF: Are there anyinitiatives in which you are supporting and educating the younger generation?

AH: During my first month in South Africa, we participated in the YES Graduate Programme as part of our collaboration with the Talent Development Institute (TDI), focused on developing young talent whilst also helping to reignite the economy. I am delighted to witness nine future leaders in our offices as they are connecting and learning to start their careers as early as possible. In our industry, we speak about products being in the pipeline,which means that the product is still under development. For me, these talents are the pipeline for the human capital future, where they start to learn here to grow further to the highest level for themselves and a brighter future for the entire country.

I’m personally inspired by this generation who show a significant deal of resilience and agility, making them adaptable to navigate their ways and ready to tackle any challenge head-on.

EF: Janssen is going to be celebrating its platinum (70th) anniversary in 2023. What are you going to reflect on as you commemorate this milestone?

The Janssen story starts in 1953, in the Belgium town of Beerse. It was here a young medical doctor called Dr Paul Janssen established the research laboratory, Janssen Pharmaceutica. In 1961, Janssen Pharmaceutica joined the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies.

Dr Paul Janssen's research laid the foundation for over 80 medicines that have saved millions of lives. Over the course of his long career, he was granted more than 100 patents. Coming back to today, 10 Janssen medicines are on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, and we remain committed to driving continued growth of our current portfolio, while delivering on our near-term product pipeline and investing in long-term growth. And ultimately creating a future where disease is a thing of the past. The patients are waiting!

May 2023
South Africa