Read the Conversation

EF: From your perspective, how do you see 2023 as a challenge or an opportunity?

KA: Mexico is poised to offer significant opportunities in 2023, given its vital role in the Latin American (LATAM) region and the global economy. This is supported by Mexico's expected economic growth, which surpasses the global average, signaling a promising outlook. Moreover, our currency boasts exceptional stability, bolstering the country's overall appeal to potential investors. Other microeconomic factors and current global trends also contribute to the abundance of possibilities in Mexico.

Our prospects in Mexico are bright, although the extent of this brightness depends on the collective efforts of my team and me. For Lilly, a company in Mexico for over a century, this year is particularly exciting, as many ventures are on the horizon. We plan to launch two to three new products annually, driving accelerated growth.

EF: What mission did you set for yourself when you were appointed General Manager of Latin America, and what do you want to achieve in this position?

KA: As a Mexican in Mexico, I consider it a great privilege to undertake the mission of enhancing access to innovation, elevating the quality of life for LATAM patients, and cultivating the next generation of leaders within our organization. The invaluable guidance provided by previous leaders has been instrumental in shaping my career. Now, I aim to reciprocate by ensuring a sustainable future for our company and preserving our reputation as the premier organization for professional growth.  

My focus is steadfastly on achieving flawless product launches across our four therapeutic areas, namely diabetes, oncology, immunology, and neuroscience. In doing so, we remain committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity in all our operations.

EF: Can you elaborate and paint a picture of your operations and evolving portfolio?

KA: Lilly is among the select few companies that allocate a substantial proportion of its revenue towards research and development, with approximately a quarter of our revenue earmarked for this purpose. This underscores our unwavering commitment to fostering innovation and upending traditional treatment paradigms, particularly in therapeutic areas where significant unmet needs exist, such as diabetes, immunology, oncology, and neuroscience.

Our extensive pipeline of drugs spanning phases one to four, coupled with upcoming product launches, reinforce our position as an industry leader. With plans to roll out two to three products annually, we anticipate launching more than ten products per year across LATAM, comprising new molecules or indicators.

The prevalence of diabetes in Mexico remains a significant challenge, with over half of all patients lacking control over their condition. Similarly, the need for innovative treatments in immunology is acute, with limited therapeutic options currently available. Given the considerable gap in addressing this condition, we have prioritized breast cancer treatment in Mexico. Given the constantly evolving nature of these fields, a keen sense of urgency characterizes our work in oncology and other therapeutic areas.

In neuroscience, we remain focused on tackling diseases with few existing treatment options, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia caused by Alzheimer’s. We maintain an unwavering dedication to conducting our research and development with the highest standards of integrity, which is reflected in the significant investment we make in clinical trials across Latin America. Furthermore, it is intriguing that Latin America accounts for around 30% of the clinical trial patients worldwide, particularly in diabetes, where prevalence is high. Our efforts in positioning Latin America as a hub on a global scale are noteworthy.  

EF: Do you think Mexico has everything to become an innovation hub, or is it already an innovation hub?

KA: Mexico serves as an innovation hub with all the necessary tools. Nevertheless, we must continue to strive for progress. As a business hub, Mexico has a proven track record of serving many patients over the years. One of Mexico's strongest environments within the region is its robust intellectual property protection. However, the challenge is maintaining this momentum by accelerating regulatory approvals and access times. At Lilly, we remain committed to partnering with governments, patient advocacy groups, patients, and other stakeholders to sustain innovation and drive progress in Mexico and the wider industry. We are committed to collaborating with other stakeholders to facilitate advancement.  

EF: How do you leverage digitalization and tools with your Mexico and Latin America operations?

KA: We have established an innovation hub within the region to foster digital transformation, recognizing its pervasiveness in all aspects of our promotion and operations. Our focus is cultivating automation experts who can identify opportunities for digital interaction with patients and explore novel ways to leverage technology to enhance health outcomes. We are actively seeking out individuals with technology and artificial intelligence backgrounds to augment our talent pool, recognizing these as vital new skills for our operations. Notably, we have earmarked significant resources for data analysis and have recently appointed a new head for our digital transformation strategic pillar to spearhead this effort. By prioritizing data, we seek to differentiate ourselves strategically from competitors and remain at the forefront of corporate innovation.

EF: Can you elaborate on how you are collaborating with different stakeholders within the industry and how Lilly is ensuring the healthcare system's sustainability?

KA: Through partnerships with multiple governments, associations, and patient advocacy groups, we have forged a united agenda for advancing patient healthcare. We prioritize accelerating innovation to drive progress in this domain. Our engagement with regulatory authorities is extensive. We work closely with select countries to facilitate their inclusion in the ACH, thereby enabling rapid approval of new drugs through therapeutic equivalence. Further, we collaborate with key stakeholders to advance the pace of patient access to innovative therapies. Continual communication with other nations allows us to share best practices and foster mutual learning.

EF: How do you assess access in Mexico and other Latin American countries, and how is Lilly driving access in Mexico and beyond?

KA: Our commitment to ensuring access to our treatments is unwavering, although it varies across regions. Access may be attained either through the government or directly by the patient, and we strive to make our therapies accessible and affordable to all through dedicated patient support programs. Our pledge to broaden Lilly's impact is steadfast, and we collaborate closely with all stakeholders to achieve this goal.  

The Lilly 30x30 initiative underscores our ambition to improve healthcare for 30 million individuals by 2030 through tailored programs for low-income patients. Our aspiration as a company is to serve 50 million patients while enhancing the lives of another 30 million individuals through diverse partnerships. In Mexico, we have focused on partnering with clinics that cater to pregnant women with diabetes, thereby improving infant outcomes holistically. Our endeavors to commercialize drugs are integrally tied to advancing patient-centered care.

EF: Being a Latina woman, what advice would you give to other women that want to thrive in the healthcare industry in Latin America?

KA: Finding a company that champions diversity, inclusion, and equity, such as Lilly, is key to success. These values are fundamental to our business and critical to reflecting the diversity of our patients. Our patients come from varied genders, cultures, languages, and ethnicities, and we believe that a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity has a profoundly positive impact on our enterprise.

My first advice is to seek out such companies to thrive in the workplace. Second, focus on what you want to achieve and seek the advice of individuals who have successfully balanced work and life. Mentorship can be invaluable, so strive to find a mentor who can guide you. Don't limit yourself without first consulting women who have paved the way.

Finally, create a robust support system for work and personal life, and enjoy the journey. Having a good support network enables you to excel in any situation. If you have children, consider enlisting the assistance of others. If you are single, surround yourself with supportive friends.

EF: In ten years, looking back at this moment in your career, how would you like to be remembered as a leader by those around you?

KA: As I look ahead at the next ten years, I have three main goals. Firstly, I aim to be recognized as a leader who has nurtured and developed the next generation of leaders. Secondly, I am passionate about making a real impact on the health of Latin Americans. This could be achieved by improving access to innovations, increasing the population that can benefit from these advancements, and influencing policy or the environment. Finally, I aspire to be known as an innovator paving the way for a brighter future, delivering groundbreaking launches that exceed expectations. With innovation and talent at our disposal, our future is bright; how bright it is depends on us. The future lies in our hands.

EF: If you had to pick three pillars to create a roadmap for Mexico, what would they be and why?

KA: Our focus is on three key areas: digital transformation, talent development for the healthcare industry, and continuous innovation through sustained research and development. We strive to bring about innovative changes in treatment and go beyond the introduction of new molecules, which sets us apart from others in the industry.

EF: Is there anything about Lilly you would like to showcase, or do you have any final message?

KA: We are dedicated to improving access to innovative healthcare solutions, and we reaffirm our commitment to this objective by working collaboratively with various entities, including governments, patient groups, and other stakeholders. We recognize that achieving this goal entails a collective effort from all parties involved, and we remain steadfast in our resolve to contribute to this endeavor. Additionally, we pledge to develop cutting-edge therapies that enhance patients' quality of life globally. With a rich legacy spanning over 150 years, Lilly has consistently revolutionized the approach to treating numerous ailments and will continue for decades.

March 2023