Read the Conversation

EF: What was your given mission when appointed in July 2020?

HP: The first objective was to consolidate Takeda´s growth in Colombia as an emerging market as it is one of the top 15 markets in Takeda´s emerging markets area. In relation to the current situation the objective was to ensure the continuity of supply of medication to meet commitments to our patients working incessantly with our system allies. Our logistic network was a fundamental factor to ensure the value chain wasn’t interrupted. Another key factor was to achieve empathy and harmony not only with our strategic partners but internally, to guarantee the continuity of treatments, wellbeing and safety of our collaborators.  

EF: What were the lessons learnt from the pandemic and from leading the Andean cluster virtually?

HP: All through the pandemic we faced both professional and personal challenges in the process of adapting to a new reality. For Takeda the first lesson learnt was to understand the true sense of the synergies, even between competitors of the industry. Takeda has experience in therapies derived from plasma and an international alliance was consolidated between laboratories –normally competitors- to work on the development of a therapy for an antibody treatment for Covid patients. Many barriers fall when we are united by a common goal. We have also learnt to work remotely, learnt of the importance of technology and the use assertive communication toward our teams, always observing personal and professional times and spaces of our people. This is especially meaningful considering we are a very traditional industry. We have learnt to guarantee wellbeing to our collaborators and their families which also contribute to the general society as a whole.

EF: What are the challenges that had to be overcome when working remotely?

HP: When the pandemic arrived we were in the post-acquisition of Shire internal transformation stage and although we were already integrated we were working on becoming leaders in high specialty bio pharmaceutics. The organization operates under corporate values and four pillars that represent what we call ´takedaism´, universal values of integrity, justice, honesty and perseverance. We managed to resolve the challenges of working remotely by aligning under the corporate philosophy, taking decisions based on what we call PTRB: putting the Patient in the center, generating confidence in the society to achieve Trust to reinforce our Reputation and finally develop the Business. Even though it sounds a bit abstract, following these steps in the process of decision making we were able to align as a team and overcome any obstacle that came our way.  During the ´virtual´ period Takeda launched three new and innovative molecules that will transform treatments, each in its own area: multiple myeloma in oncology, long term prophylaxis in angioedema and short bowel syndrome in gastroenterology.  

EF: What is the company’s footprint in Colombia in terms of market, product and portfolio participation, and what are your prospects for the future? 

HP: Colombia covers all Takeda´s therapeutic areas. Takeda has adapted its portfolio in a time of worldwide transformation and focuses on all the main global therapeutic areas in Colombia: i) rare diseases, immunology and angioedema, ii) hematology, leader in Colombia, iii) oncology, with our launches of oral multiple myeloma and Hodgkin lymphoma we are also leaders and finally iv) gastroenterology, mainly focused on Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and short bowl syndrome. We have various launches planned for Colombia in the mentioned therapeutic areas, some of them for 2022. We have a very promising pipeline with high specialty treatments well worthy of a leader in pharmaceuticals.

Colombia is a top 15 country in emerging markets for Takeda, and considering that emerging countries have presence in around 80 markets -through direct and indirect presence- these 15 markets make up 92% of the business in emerging markets. Therefore to be part of this ranking reflects the importance of Colombia in Takeda´s global map and explains my mission in the country over the next few years. Those of us who understand Latin American markets know the need of risk management while not disregarding an emphasis on strong growth by way of an innovative pipeline. Even considering currency fluctuations Takeda´s growth projection is in double digits for the next three years.

EF: How have you managed a specialized portfolio in the context of a pandemic with a focus on communicable diseases?

HP: So as not to generate any kind of disruption we very quickly adapted to the different stakeholders of the system (EPS, IPS, and even patient associations). We had to find virtual ways of following the company ethos represented in our PTRB steps and further the digital development so that the channels of management and participation wouldn’t be broken and move forward being flexible. Our priority was to continue giving treatment to our patients, not generate disruption within the system and have a dialogue with each one of our stakeholders. Not all therapeutic areas and not all stakeholders are the same nor respond in the same way so we had to adapt and be flexible to achieve our goal. 

I think the companies in the future will be focused on three areas of skill sets: 

  • Innovation: it is not just about innovating on products; it is about innovating in the relationships with our stakeholders, in how to look after and ensure leadership for our personnel and collaborators, and how we develop skills within the company. I believe the key lies in creating an exceptional experience for the patients in the different pathologies and therapeutic areas. The organization must be flexible, diverse, and inclusive, with the health and wellbeing of our collaborators coming first. The patient must be in the center -we all are or will be patients one day- and we must be prepared to incorporate a learning mentality. 
  • Digital Leaders: data is a key capacity in the management of our therapeutic areas. I believe all companies should innovate scientifically and concentrate on solid data-based results because solid data makes possible the continuity of treatments and commitments. With the pandemic, digitalization has quickly accelerated and acted as a breakpoint for the said acceleration.
  • Protect the Planet: Takeda operates in 80 countries with positive environmental leadership, protecting the natural ecosystem so it is more sustainable and balanced, benefiting the ailments our products treat. Environmental leadership and leading by example demystify the concept that it is all and only about the treatment of the ailment. We are committed to the sustainability of the environment to benefit less propagation of certain pathologies or illnesses. Takeda has a global program for all regions where the end goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2025 and definitively eradicate them by 2040. The people who use our products are aware of our working ethics and it is very gratifying to lead actions that aim at raising awareness.

EF: What do you think can be achieved with health budget planning at the country level?

HP: The world economies and commercial activity will recover, it is actually already happening but it will take two or three years -depending on the country- to get back to 2019 levels of activity. The health system funds are at the service of health so now is the time to plan growth. Colombia is open to pharmaceutical innovation and has a clear and ordered health system as far as its stakeholders are concerned especially at a time like the present where the pandemic forces us to rethink the financial sustainability, priorities and the allocation of the company's internal resources. Takeda believes in the country´s positive growth forecast and we project a double-digit growth over the next three years tied in to the value of innovation. We don’t feel our pandemic experience has been a bad one; we launched three innovative products which makes us look to the future with optimism. With the correct mapping of different scenarios, with our capabilities and resources, well-planned priorities, and the right stakeholders we will prioritize the country's growth drivers and we will never give up on innovation and on access.

EF: In a few years when you look back at this period what would you like your “pandemic tenure” to be remembered for? 

HP: I would like to be remembered for having uninterruptedly offered the best treatments to patients, for our capacity to adapt, to be flexible and resilient, for having internally built a team of these characteristics which honors the purpose of being part of Takeda and is represented in the PTRB. The pandemic and its effects did not cause us disruption nor did it take away innovative opportunities to offer a better quality of life to our patients, we managed to be flexible and safety orientated toward our people. Our P stands for people as well as for patients as we will all be patients at some stage of our lives. The role of Human Resources this year has been crucial to the company's sustainability, fundamental in matters such as virtual empathy and in cultivating telework, upholding timetables, schedules, and conditions. After a very complex 2020 at the beginning of 2021 we were awarded for the fourth consecutive year as a top employer in three countries in the region: Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. I am grateful I had a position of leadership during the pandemic because it made me see things differently on both a professional and personal level. It has forced us to empathize, it has obliged the industry to join forces and have greater rapprochement both internally as with our stakeholders virtually and digitally. Last year was evidence enough that we can come together in aid of a shared goal. But above all, it has shown us that people are a company’s biggest asset and must be valued, cherished, and developed not just because of the present situation but for the future of the industry and the world, and into the next decade where a different skill set will be needed.

March 2021