Read the Conversation

EF: What impact did the spin-off from BD have on embecta in the Asian region? 

JC: Before we spun off from Becton Dickinson, we were one of the oldest business units, known as the Diabetes Care business unit in BD. In 1924, BD produced the very first insulin syringe in the world, which was a significant milestone for both People with Diabetes and the organization. This was very soon after the discovery of insulin by doctors Frederick Banting and Charles Best in 1921. It has been 98 years since we made the first insulin syringe and about a year since we became an independent company. We call ourselves the “new/old kid” on the block. 

As a global company, embecta serves 30 million  People with Diabetes. We are one of the largest diabetes pure-play companies in the world. While we are an American company, we have a significant presence outside of the US, including in the Asia Pacific region-. Our focus today is on insulin delivery. Over the next few years, we will continue to focus on the MedTech space within diabetes care and leverage our core competence, which is making high-quality insulin delivery devices and distributing them on a large scale across the world.  

Our strategy for the future can be defined in three broad pillars. The first pillar is focusing on our core strengths. It is about increasing our footprint to serve more People with Diabetes. Not only do we deliver high-quality insulin delivery devices, but we also pair that with clinical education that supports clinical outcomes. An example of how we reach more People with Diabetes is the investment we have made to grow our presence in the e-commerce space. Through e-commerce, we can reach more People with Diabetes and provide convenience in terms of how our customers get access to our products. In the case of e-commerce, our products can be delivered right to their doorstep.  

The second pillar is our internal innovation pipeline. Our R&D team is currently working on an insulin patch pump, one that is designed with Type 2 patients in mind. Type 2 represents 90% of all people with diabetes, and this represents a significant market for embecta to serve.  

The third pillar is finding market-relevant products across the globe, products that allow us to leverage the capability of our teams on the ground. As an example, we recently partnered with Intuity in the US, a company that has created an automatic blood glucose monitoring device. This is an innovative all-in-one device that allows users to take their blood glucose readings in one simple step, compared to traditional BGMs.These three pillars form our strategic intent over the next few years. As we continue to grow our business, we will have the opportunity to serve more people with diabetes. And the more people we serve, we hopefully will create a bigger, positive impact in the diabetes care space.  

EF: When you were assigned your new role as general manager in Asia, what mission did you set for yourself? 

JC: When news of the spin-off came, many of our employees were naturally surprised, and they were trying to understand how this change would impact them in a practical sense. The first thing that was on my mind was to ensure business continuity and our ability to drive business growth from the day of the spin-off announcement to the day of the actual spin-off and beyond. I had to keep associates across the region engaged, informed, and understand what the changes meant for them.  

We decided to err on the side of over-communication within the Asian region. As an example, we decided to organize monthly updates from the region to all employees across the Asia region. The intention was to ensure that all employees had access to the latest information relating to spin. Since the spin-off, we have had relatively high retention and engagement rates, which is encouraging. We may not always have a crystal clear plan of what the future will look like years down the line, but we have a very good idea of what we need to do to stay focused and keep the business on track. 

EF: To what extent is embecta using Singapore as a gateway and hub to service surrounding nations? 

JC: Although Singapore is a small country, it has a highly developed economy and healthcare infrastructure. It is digitally advanced with high internet penetration, mobile internet usage, and high adoption of social media and digital services like e-commerce. It is often seen as a good location to test new ideas before scaling them to other Southeast Asian countries and beyond. Some even say that Singapore is a “country of pilots” because there are so many pilot programs launched out of Singapore. The government is collaborative and innovative, making it relatively easier to get things going. Our team based in Singapore has engaged the Ministry of Health in Singapore to think about how we can leverage our regional hub in Singapore to test some ideas before scaling across the region. 

The Ministry of Health in Singapore will soon launch the Healthier SG, a multi-year initiative that aims to shift the focus from “Sick Care” to “Health Care.” This will be achieved through a number of means, including a preventive care strategy that involves family physicians. Chronic disease is one area that the ministry will focus on. With the decentralization of care, patients will eventually rely more on their family physicians to care for their chronic disease needs. We believe that, given our expertise in diabetes care, embecta has a significant role to play in this initiative. There is much work to be done in the space of diabetes care, so we are naturally looking at partnerships within this ecosystem to develop a comprehensive solution.  Once we have the chance to test, learn and refine this solution, we can then think about how we scale this across the region. Chronic disease management and decentralization of care are common themes that all health systems have to deal with. So I’m sure we will find use cases to deploy the solutions we develop in Singapore.  

EF: What is embecta doing to leverage technology for the patient’s benefit, and how do you see the adoption of technology in diabetes care in your region? 

JC: One of the ways we want to deliver our clinical experience, knowledge, expertise, and leadership is through our diabetes care app. Technology is based on people’s beliefs that have sped up technology ado. People are now more open to technology and all the benefits it has to offer. E-commerce has also changed how people access and consume goods, leading to technological adoption. Asia is highly connected and developed digitally. It had one of the highest mobile internet acceptance and usage rates before COVID. Covid accelerated those rates exponentially. People now use digital media to connect and consume.  

One of our biggest challenges at embecta is our reach. The people we help are in different places, which means stretching out our reach and resources. We can leverage people’s technological adoption and acceptance to expand our reach. We actively work on consumer engagement through social media channels, e-commerce, and apps. The adoption rate within the MedTech industry is not too bad, but it has room for improvement. We are expanding, learning, growing, and using various digital tools to assist patients better every day.   

EF: If you had to create your start-up in Singapore’s health sector in 2023, what would it be and why? 

JC: – It is a known fact that the majority of startups fail, so I would advise anyone to do their homework before jumping in! The key to success for any business is to identify an unmet need in the market and a profitable way to meet or even exceed customers’ expectations.  The health sector in Singapore is fairly developed, so to uncover unmet needs in a matured market, there are potentially a couple of areas we can look at.  MedTech is a very vibrant space with innovations coming into the market across many therapeutic areas. Many of these innovations come from the west, and it is not always easy for these companies to establish a foothold in a very diverse region such as Asia. Singapore is a good starting point, so this naturally presents an opportunity. The other area that is interesting to explore is within the startup ecosystem itself. Many startups exist to solve a unique problem statement, and by nature of being a startup, they are also limited to a specific domain. So instead of creating a start-up that goes head-on with other players, conceptually, it is interesting to explore how we can connect the dots for start-ups that will play to their individual strengths and allow the sum to show up as a broader solution.  

EF: Ten years from now, when you reflect on your career and the inception of embecta as a stand-alone company, how would you like to be remembered as a leader? 

JC: I have been given an incredible opportunity. The spin-off is a gift because I am today one of the pioneers that are entrusted to build the future of an organization that has such a rich legacy. All the decisions and choices we make in embecta today will become the foundations for the next ten, thirty, or hundred years.  

Looking back ten years from now, there are two things that I want to accomplish. One is to know that I have made a positive impact on the millions of people who rely on our products to live a life that is unlimited by diabetes. The other is to know that through the work we do at embecta, our employees have the opportunity to grow, become successful in their careers, and continue to create. 

EF: Do you have any last message you would like to deliver to the sector? 

JC: As healthcare professionals, let us continuously remind ourselves of whom we are serving. The purpose will keep us grounded in our day-to-day activities. 

March 2023