Read the Conversation
EF: Can you provide a comprehensive summary of your business activities in South Africa?
EA: Zimmer Biomet is a global medical technology leader with a comprehensive portfolio designed to maximize mobility and improve health. Every day, our mission to alleviate pain and improve the quality of life for people around the world moves us forward. Our team members believe in it, our customers count on it and patients depend on it. With operations in more than 25 countries, sales in more than 100 countries, and over 18,000 team members around the world, we embrace our role in transforming health care.
The South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa consist of East-West Africa, including SADC countries and South Africa, and it’s part of our Emerging Markets organization in the EMEA region.
Although the region presents numerous geopolitical and economic challenges, it remains a market with significant potential. I regularly visit South Africa to maintain insights into the opportunities for the year ahead and how we can expedite market development activities, which go beyond our robotic program, where we are the leader in South Africa. Our objective is to expand our operations throughout SADC and sub-Saharan Africa.
EF: What have been the key milestones in emerging markets during your three-year tenure at Zimmer Biomet, and how do they align with the company's mission during your appointment?
EA: I joined ZB during the global pandemic and starting a new role during such challenging times helped me step out of my comfort zone and grow. I had been with Medtronic and Covidien previously, and my objective at ZB was to establish emerging markets as a distinct region within the company. We aimed to prioritize emerging markets, building a unique identity and robust strategic plan. Over three years, we reorganized the region and established a leadership team in four sub-regions and this transformed the organizational structure and gave us focus. We continue to optimize our portfolio across emerging markets so that we can deliver a profitable pipeline and achieve sustainable long-term growth.
Operating in this region is the most complex and diverse global business environment for companies in this industry; however, it also presents significant opportunities. Conducting business with integrity and compliance is crucial. We are highly aware that some countries in the region rank poorly on the Transparency International corruption index, and so my focus is always on making sure our efforts to win are compliant and protect the company before we grow
EF: What is your definition of access applied specifically to Africa and South Africa?
EA: We have a great opportunity to partner with our customers to revolutionize healthcare and advance our mission of improving lives and alleviating pain worldwide. Our purpose is compelling, and this region holds significant importance in our global business. While we cannot control everything happening in this vast and dynamic region, we remain committed to leveraging the opportunities it presents for our company. We are also committed to creating a Best and Preferred Place to Work, where every team member feels valued, cared for, invested, and inspired to do and be their best.
EF: In which orthopedic therapeutic areas do you think there are significant market opportunities in Africa, and how do you tailor your portfolio to meet those needs?
EA: Our company is transforming into a solution provider and redefining ourselves as a technology medical devices company. We are expanding our offerings to cover the entire patient pathway, from pre-operative to post-operative care, focusing on our core segment of implants and technology platforms such as CPH and robotic-assisted surgery. We also prioritize data's legitimacy and effective utilization, including predictive analytics and artificial intelligence. As a company, we are committed to being at the forefront of transforming the orthopedics industry globally. This is an exciting time for us as we invest in shaping the future of orthopedics to meet the needs of the evolving healthcare landscape.
EF: How do you gauge the adoption of technology in South Africa?
EA: Besides transforming the orthopedics industry, we are exploring how to support Africa's healthcare market and providers. Our continuum of care solutions can help increase efficiency, productivity, and patient outcomes, benefiting patients, healthcare professionals, and the healthcare system. This is particularly crucial in Africa, where healthcare challenges are abundant, and resources are limited. By providing solutions that optimize healthcare delivery and savings, we can contribute to improving the overall healthcare landscape in the region. This solution can serve as a means of enhancing efficiency and promoting the system's long-term sustainability.
EF: How can we make our sector more appealing to the newer generation that will help shape technologically and innovation-driven companies? What advice do you have on building those teams?
EA: The MedTech industry in the healthcare sector serves a higher purpose, contributing to the mission of alleviating pain and improving people's lives – and that should attract the next generation, who are inspired by purpose-driven organizations. The industry is transforming by adopting technology, digitalization, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence. Incorporating cutting-edge technologies contributes to the emergence of a new and exciting era in orthopedics. Collaborations with leading technology companies such as Apple, McLaren and Microsoft are helping to bring such solutions to the orthopedic and healthcare industry. We need to continue to open our organizations to new skills and new ways of thinking so that we can capitalize on these opportunities in such a dynamic period in healthcare.
EF: As an expert in healthcare investments and emerging markets, what advice would you give those considering investing in the African healthcare sector?
EA: Despite the large population of Africa, the continent is often overlooked due to difficulties in accessing healthcare and infrastructure. Zimmer Biomet acknowledges the challenges but sees Africa as a significant mid to long-term opportunity. We have established a hub in South Africa to serve the SADC and sub-Saharan regions and are assessing the best go-to-market models to increase access to care. We plan to leverage our presence in emerging markets and build our identity and organization globally
EF: What do you think 2023 will be the year of in healthcare?
EA: 2023 will be a year of consolidation for MedTech and healthcare as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of COVID-19 varied across different regions, but emerging markets are quickly improving their infrastructure and addressing the backlog of elective surgeries. However, disruption of the supply chain and geopolitical challenges continue to affect the industry. This year will mark a shift from tactical to strategic mode for companies in the MedTech sector, laying the foundation for future market development activities.