Read the Conversation
EF: What mission were you given when you were appointed?
AV: My given mission once I got back to Brazil was beginning fluidity into our engagement in Brazil as an important part of the global market. One goal was clear from the beginning: activating the new pipeline. Since GSK was separated from Haleon, all our new launches had to be well-activated. Having managed commercial operations in emerging markets for a few years. I then transferred that knowledge to our unique pipeline and the launching processes.
EF: What have been the two biggest lessons you learned that could be brought into the future in Brazil?
AV: My agenda is mainly people-centric since my background is in human resources. The general assumptions we had before the pandemic vanished. Many people achieved what we thought was not possible during the past two years. I managed the global vaccines division from my office in London through digital tools and platforms. I have not met most of the people I hired during the pandemic in person, and they are some of my best relationships. When we reinvented ourselves, the assumptions vanished. It led to us triggering ourselves for more meaningful and sustainable interactions. It was a complete shift in the functional paradigm.
The second lesson was to be more open and understand people's situations. I started paying more attention to mental health, physical needs, and how people were adapting to the pandemic. Now caring and being mindful of others comes more naturally than before. Managers and leaders went on a journey from activity-centricity to people-centricity, this included employees. This became the backbone of all decisions.
EF: 2020 was the year of prevention and diagnosis, and 2021 was the year of vaccines. What do you think 2022 will be remembered for?
AV: It is a year of consolidation. We have identified several variables that need to be consolidated and grounded. Covid was a success story for the whole world. The vaccination coverage rates were tremendous globally; however, paediatrics fell behind. It is something we need to pay attention to and improve, as we see a resurgence risk of diseases that were already eradicated. It is one of the variables we need to consolidate and get back on track.
The second thing we need to consolidate is the rules of social engagement. We have to lay down some guidelines for better re-engagement. Digitalization is a valuable tool and asset. The way we use digitalization will dictate how effective it is for us. It saturated several channels because of the sudden move from normal processes to digitalization. It is not the if but the how that will have to be re-engineered or redesigned.
EF: Can you elaborate on the strategic importance of Brazil for GSK, how your pipeline looks, and your portfolio performance expectations?
AV: Brazil is highly relevant to the company; we are within the top 8 globally as local affiliates of the company and third in vaccines. GSK Brazil focuses on four areas, vaccines, HIV, respiratory, and oncology. In the next three years, we will launch four new products. One product was launched earlier this year, one is being launched later in the year for HIV, the third is an injectable HIV prevention product that will be launched soon, and we also have a solution for RSV that will be quickly found. GSK is at the forefront of the RSV solution.
In oncology, we recently launched a new product. We also have a new immune-oncology product in the pipeline. We are finding solutions and producing a product pipeline encompassing all our key focus areas. All these products are relevant for the patients, which is something we want to be for them. By 2025 we will see a new composition of the business. The speciality business will scale from 2% to 12% soon. It is a great portfolio of chronic and non-communicable diseases, with expertise in both in a market that requires both.
EF: What expectations do you have of your recent collaborations in oncology?
AV: The collaboration falls from primary research to clinical trials, which is still a way to go. We are still in the primary target setting for identifying targets and markers. The focus is on immuno-oncology because of the life-cycle management of the disease. It is an area of interest for our partners too and there is a clear synergy between us. As we advance, we want to lay the foundation for all the possible solutions and production of the drugs for the targets and markets. We want to cover end to end from the onset. We also want to protect institutions and incentivize the science community in the country. It is not just about reaching our goals. It is also about the value the country and science community add to these collaborations and projects.
EF: As an ambassador of Brazil within GSK, how do you attract investment?
AV: I like the test-and-learn approach. As a result, I take balanced risks and test them out. We find solutions and test them out to provide evidence that we can create sustainable products that are worth investing in. Our clinical trials increased by 300% over the past five years. It grew this fast because Brazil proved that they have qualified and efficient centres that meet the criteria. In that sense, Brazil is a potential market for growth and discovery.
EF: What does access mean to you?
AV: Access means reaching as many people as possible to provide adequate treatment. Globally, GSK goes to over 2.5 billion people through medicine or vaccines. For seven consecutive years, we have been leading and driving access globally, according to the Access to Medicine Index. We still intend to get to the underdeveloped parts of the world and create access for them. Access does not end at reaching people; it also means making treatments and products accessible and affordable. We need to find the obstacles that block access to the market and remove them. My team and I are working on increasing consumer opportunities within the market. Others may stop providing access to the private sector, but for us, it is insufficient because everyone deserves access.
EF: What advice would you give on managing the chronic and non-non-communicable portfolios simultaneously?
AV: When you manage portfolios that are more aggressive long, -term, or short-term, you need to choose a path and stick to it. You cannot take on both short-term and long-term aggressive goals without facing challenges. When you select one target and put your energy and resources towards it, you can accomplish much more and develop more innovative solutions. Finding solutions that encompass your entire portfolio rather than just a part is better. For example, we had to let go of one product, and now the product is fully digital on our end. It was a tough but rewarding decision to make.
EF: Do you think digital therapy will impact therapeutic areas and how they evolve and grow in the future?
AV: It is all dependent on the way the industry views digitalization. There are two ways to view it. The first is viewing it as a side effect of everything that happened. Even before covid, companies had to have digital footprints to stand out in the market. You had to have a landing web page and at least some social media presence. From this perspective, it won't be easy to leverage digitalization. Digitalization's capabilities are based on customer activation. We need market depth to understand our customer's journeys and needs better and to map them out; only then can digitalization become influential—these dynamics touch on capabilities and the ability to invest in systems processes. Businesses need to have a different mindset and capacity to leverage the market.
EF: Do you expect the acquisitions happening in GSK to translate to Brazil or Latin America?
AV: We fully expect the products to translate to Brazil. The sequencing of launching and getting new products is immediate. This is because Brazil is very well developed in the regulatory aspect. In oncology, we mirror FDA in a project where it is on a fast track.
EF: What advice would you give to the new administration in Brazil?
AV: We need leaders that think about enterprise leadership. We cannot continue being niche markets. Understanding the impact of all the pain points in the organization is a must. For me, enterprise leadership is the key as we move into the future.
EF: Do you have a final message for our readers?
AV: The inclusion and diversity agenda is very relevant for any leader. We are embedding inclusion and diversity organically within GSK and its plan. This is something that all leaders should think about and implement. It is something that cannot be avoided.
EF: How does it translate to Brazil?
AV: Brazil has more specific characteristics and traits it looks for, like positiveness. Diversity differs from region to region. This is why as a leader; you need to understand the reality of your country. With that knowledge, you can play your part in diversifying your company. The leader's plan is transforming from year to year. In Brazil, we have both good and bad references. We should learn from the bad and improve the good.