Read the Conversation
EF: What mission did you set for yourself when you were appointed?
LC: I have the amazing opportunity to lead the affiliate and to serve the patients in Colombia. My main mission is to protect the brand, protect our integrity, and do good for our patients and the ecosystem in Colombia. My second mission is to grow and improve the team, which is directly connected to the third mission, which is to grow the business. If I accomplish the first two missions, the company will naturally grow.
EF: What is Lilly's footprint in Colombia, and what is Colombia's strategic importance to Lilly?
LC: Lilly's focus in Colombia is partnering with the healthcare system to speed up the release of innovative products for patients. The regulatory system in Colombia is different from the other regulatory agencies worldwide. Therefore, our focus is to partner with the regulatory agency and the government to improve the processes and to increase the speed of regulated products. Seeing many patients that could greatly benefit from our products have deteriorating conditions is quite disheartening because our product approvals are delayed by two to three years. We have innovative products that can help prevent patient treatment complications and mortality. At Lilly, we work to improve access to our treatments and increase equity throughout the healthcare system.
EF: What are three key therapeutic areas you can add the biggest value to in Colombia?
LC: We’re urgently advancing new discoveries that have the potential to radically transform diabetes care, advance immunology, and turn hard-to-treat cancers from fatal to manageable. We can change the way oncology patients receive prognosis and treatment as it is no longer life-threatening. Another area we can add value to is diabetes. We can change how diabetes patients are treated and the complications that come with the condition as it progresses. Our immunology portfolio is strong, and we can make significant changes in this area, but there is still room for improvement. Last year we launched a migraine product for targeted and personalized treatment for the patient. We are excited to be able to improve and change the health burden and system for patients.
EF: How can we restore the importance of non-communicable diseases and channel the resources back into this area?
LC: We fully utilized digitalization throughout all our processes and systems during the pandemic. At every turn, we continue to invest in internal R&D and new technologies to bring more discoveries to patients more quickly. It is something we must learn and adapt to. We communicate the relevance of diagnosis and non-communicable diseases through several digital platforms. Last year we held various campaigns for patients and customers through platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn to build awareness. We were able to reach out to more physicians and healthcare professionals. Now doctors in LATAM have global communities and learning materials at their fingertips.
EF: What does the future of education look like, and do you see it changing and following the trends from face-to-face and zoom meetings to shorter videos?
LC: Education is one of our strengths, and it has been changing rapidly. Doctors are just like everyone else, they want short, straightforward learning materials, and we understand this. It is important to understand the physician as an individual. We have been developing different strategies with personalized touchpoints to automate the learning process and understand doctors' needs and behaviours. The systems we create should be more efficient, convenient, and practical for the doctor. We have been collecting different learning materials and information to develop better strategies.
Lilly LATAM is recognized for its speedy channel engagement and for being there for doctors through different channels. We have been developing podcasts and Ted Talks, and now we have a huge community of doctors on our platforms. Lilly has an excellent research department. If a doctor searches for specific information on our platform, our research team conducts the research immediately and delivers the information quickly. Lilly is also recognized for using the digital-first system strategy.
EF: How do you see employees' skill sets evolving into the future?
LC: Lilly is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). It is our goal that every employee feels welcomed, respected, valued, and heard. Not only will this make us a better company, but it is also core to our values and critical to our ability to innovate and understand and serve our customers. Diversity and inclusion are very important skills for organizations. To attract the best talent, we need to be open to different ways of thinking, behaving, speaking, and listening. We must be available to our differences, recognize them, and work towards a common goal together to save and improve our patients' lives. Two weeks ago, we attended a level-up corporate training with over six thousand employees worldwide. Diversity and inclusion are important topics we are working on at Lilly because it is the only way to keep evolving, make Lilly sustainable, and create a psychologically safe environment free from discrimination for everyone.
EF: As a recently appointed country head of Colombia, what advice would you give to women who want to achieve leadership positions in the healthcare industry?
LC: In 2013, Lilly started a career journey for women, and I was part of the pilot program. Through this program, I understood that our mindset is usually the biggest block in our careers as women. Women are always thinking of ways to balance being a mother and furthering their careers. These two can be mutually inclusive. After understanding this and being coached on advancing in executive positions, I felt highly committed to leading the next generation of female leaders. Lilly supports women growing within the company and balancing their personal development to advance women across the enterprise and harness their diverse talents to best thrive and contribute.
Having someone to look up to and emulate within your organization can help you tremendously in your journey. I recommend introspecting and questioning why you cannot achieve what you want. I also recommend that you get the right mentor and partner in life. My mentor is the leader of the Lilly Italy hub. She has mentored me in balancing my work and family life.
EF: What is the role of healthcare in developing the economy and society in Colombia?
LC: Colombia's healthcare system is more advanced than in Latin America. Colombia's combination of public and private resources in the last three years has helped it advance. Colombia has several highly competent people in different areas. Its leaders are highly capable and amazing. There is a lot of hype around transformation, but the new objective of the new government is the right one. The aim is to implement preventative medicine and measures. Innovation became relevant in preventive care because there should be preventative measures to create a sustainable system. The best weapon for prevention is innovation. I am very excited about our portfolio and the different partnerships we can have with the other stakeholders in the ecosystem. Reaching across industry boundaries, we seek to collaborate within the healthcare community and beyond to help people in Colombia and around the globe live longer healthier lives.
EF: How do you choose your partners, and what do you for?
LC: At Lilly, we always interact with all the ecosystem players. We are well known and recognized as an integral and ethical company. Last year, we had the price of the most honest company, which added to our value. This opens various channels and opportunities for future partnerships. Our goals are like the players in the ecosystem, which helps us achieve our purpose. Our weapon is our integrity, innovation, and reputation. Our secret recipe is our people. We’re deeply committed to our purpose, and we live out our values in everything we do. Our company culture is very strong, which helps us in being patient-centric and to serve patients better in Colombia.
EF: How do you see the trends in mental health in Colombia, and what can be done to increase awareness?
LC: Lilly has been a front-runner in many things, including innovation and integrity. Integrity includes taking care of people's mental health and other patients. I am lucky to be working at Lilly because they are invested in our development and mental health. I have a responsibility to share with Lilly employees and the people beyond. The way we think is the way we live. We need to be careful with what we allow into our minds. It is why I campaign for people to think positively. In Colombia, people are quite aware of the importance of living healthily and balancing work and life. We have campaigns raising awareness of having a healthy lifestyle and its connectivity to mental health.
EF: What are the next sustainability initiatives, and how do you sustain the company for the future?
LC: Lilly is one of the only companies to invest 25% of its earnings into research yearly and our percentage of the workforce dedicated to research and development is in the order of 23%, about 8,900 people. In 2014 the company created a goal to launch ten new treatments within ten years. Our strategy is the same, but we need to increase our growth in certain areas.
Lilly recently invested in new sites for research and development. We are building two new manufacturing plants to speed up our discovery and supply management agility. We are using innovation and robots to conduct faster research. Lilly's dream is to discover a way to diagnose and recommend the exact drug needed to treat, cure, and prevent complications and secondary conditions for every patient. Creating more preventative measures is one of the only ways to become more sustainable. It is driving towards personalized healthcare which is the whole focus.
EF: Fast forward five years from now; what do you hope to celebrate?
LC: We established a milestone to double the number of patients we serve today. Currently, more than 44 million people in the world depend on our medicines. We can achieve this because we have the right people and portfolio. There are a lot of talented Colombian people on my team. I will celebrate double the patients, improving inclusion and diversity within the company and attracting more qualified individuals. We want a more diverse affiliate and more Colombians in other affiliates globally.