Read the Conversation
EF: Why was coming to South Africa a good decision for your career? What excited you the most about the job and managing the region?
CB: I am from Latin America, which has similarities with South Africa and the region. After nine years of experience working as General Manager across Latin America, the opportunity to come to South Africa and contribute with all my experience to Lilly's goals and learn from a new culture is something I am very grateful for. I am excited that with my experience I can provide value to the organization and its objectives of expanding access and introducing innovative medicines to improve the life of people in South and Sub-Saharan Africa.
I visited South Africa for tourism ten years ago. Now, I am back for work. It is a great professional and personal opportunity, and I am thrilled to be here.
EF: What mission were you given when appointed? As part of a new generation of executives shaping the future and advancing the African agenda, how do you see healthcare´s role in developing the economy and its importance?
CB: In the past, we have launched new products in South Africa later than expected compared to other regions. Fortunately, with the support of the Regulatory authorities in the last two years the approval times have improved considerably. That is why one of our priorities is to accelerate the growth of recently launched products and accelerate the launch of new products. Lilly has a promising pipeline with solutions to unmet needs in Diabetes, Oncology, Immunology and more to come.
Also, other priorities are to expand access and explore innovative opportunities to reach more patients with our products across the region; and support the team post-Covid era to adapt to the new environment and deliver on Lilly’s objectives and mission of making life better for people in South and Sub-Saharan Africa.
EF: What is the strategic importance of South and Sub-Saharan Africa to Lilly, and how do you attract resources to your region?
CB: South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa are part of a region that has the biggest population. Lilly's strategy is a constant focus on innovation, which also benefits this region and boosts opportunities to grow. Covid has taught us that innovation is vital and sometimes the main response to complex issues. Lilly has historically launched many breakthrough products. Lilly dedicates resources to creating lasting social impact in Africa.
Lilly South Africa, as a commercial affiliate, operates at the extreme end of the value chain and remains highly focused on accelerating launches and expanding access to our products to more people. We are always exploring new ways to partner with government and private stakeholders to find ways to contribute to improving the quality and efficacy of the health system. Also, we believe that we work for something much larger than each one of us, we aspire to bring hope and health to more people.
EF: How did the Eva-Pharma collaboration happen, and what are your expectations?
CB: Lilly began an initiative a few years ago called Lilly 30x30. Its goal is to improve patient access to quality health care in resource-limited settings for 30 million people on an annual basis by 2030 with a special focus on Africa
The collaboration of Lilly and EVA Pharma is part of this initiative and aims to deliver a sustainable supply of high-quality and affordable insulin to at least a million people in low- to middle-income countries. With this and other initiatives, Lilly is committed to providing sustainable, quality medicines for diabetic patients in African countries.
EF: As somebody who has worked in different clusters in Latin America and now in South Africa, what is your definition of access? What does access mean to you?
CB: It is the capacity to provide quality medical care to treat the health conditions of the population with the right diagnosis, right treatment and at the right time; regardless of the economic situation of the patients and in partnership with government and private stakeholders; including regulatory authorities and pharmaceutical companies, to expand access to innovative medicines that improve health outcomes through safer and more effective treatments to meet patients' needs.
EF: When it comes to managing teams physically or digitally, business models, and launching digital tools, what were your biggest lessons learned, and how will it impact companies' business efficiency?
CB: A key lesson I remind my team is to see changes as opportunities and to focus on what we can control, and not to spend time and resources on things we cannot control. Digital Transformation brings stronger competition and higher customer expectations, and it is a reality for all industries. At Lilly, we see it as a fantastic opportunity to better serve our customers.
Lilly’s response to this new reality is to empower our employees who interact with customers to provide more meaningful and timely responses. As Team Lilly, we believe that with digital evolution we can improve customer experience and benefit patients from Lilly’s innovative products.
As an example, there is a corporate Omni Channel Engagement initiative that has the goal of providing customized solutions with coordinated Face to Face and virtual interactions with customers. Before, we had independent channels to communicate with customers. Now, we must interconnect all our channels (F2F and digital) and combine them to provide relevant responses. It requires cross-functional teams coordinated efforts to transform how we engage with customers using data analytics and technology to significantly improve customer experience.
EF: Fast forward five or ten years; when you reflect on your time in South Africa and the region, what legacy would you like to leave behind?
CB: I’d like to believe that I positively impacted the life of South African families expanding access and reaching more patients who can benefit from Lilly’s innovative treatments. It is a fulfilling goal. Lilly’s mission is to help people to live longer, healthier, and more active lives.
I would also like to believe that I contributed to the professional and personal growth of the team, they are great people. I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to learn from great leaders in all my years at Lilly who helped me become a better professional. I aspire to “walk the talk” and live the Lilly values of Integrity, Excellence and Respect for People. These values summarize how I would like to be remembered.
EF: Is there any final message you would like to share?
CB: We all are facing big challenges, but as one Lilly mentor used to say, “actions are not results,”. We must remain focused on our priorities and on what we can control to create a positive impact on the patients we serve. We aspire to be the best team in pharma and expect the best out of each other, every day.
It is an exciting year for Lilly. Based on market capitalization by May 17th 2023 analysts ranked Lilly as the world's most valuable pharma company. We look forward to continue delivering more medicines for unmet health needs and promoting collaboration with government and private stakeholders to expedite innovation and improve patient’s access to quality health care in South Africa and the region.