Read the Conversation
EF: If healthcare has its own COP26 and you were a speaker, what would be your message to world leaders?
MGJ: My message would be that Latin America has great opportunities due to certain macroeconomic indicators, natural resources and investment opportunities, although we are starting from behind and have lost growth and financial standing in the last two years. I see Covid almost acting as a rocket for healthcare in terms of digital transformation. Before the pandemic, healthcare was always considered the laggard industry in any meeting or forum where digital innovation was discussed. Covid has changed that out of necessity. When I look at the future for the region and the industry, I see a very positive future ahead of us.
EF: What are the lessons learned from managing remotely?
MGJ: Covid has made us much more accepting of what before we considered limitations, whether of physicality or location, in our different roles and other unconscious biases. There are new possibilities in diversity and for women's inclusion. Democratization has come to society through Covid, and it works in this new virtual world; I am not blind to the negatives, but this is a positive side of Covid. The digital tools have allowed a much wider reach; we did a virtual kick-off meeting inviting people in the organization that would otherwise never have gone to a Latin American kick-off. The ability to reach a much larger group and go deeper has been impressive. It allowed us to do 160 virtual product launches in one year, with physicians from ten different countries and four different regions, and we have Covid to thank for this new reality. Covid accelerated the digital and technological landscape to the extent that I doubt this would have happened without the Covid crisis. I already predicted six years ago; we were entering the fourth industrial revolution, having information, banking, and purchasing in the hands of everybody. Now six years later, it is a global reality. Many people thought it would only happen in developed countries, but Covid accelerated the transformation with such speed that Latin America may bypass some developed countries.
EF: Could you elaborate on doing > 100 new product launches in a year / in numbers almost 1 every 2 days?
MGJ: We did all our launches virtually, like a TV production launch. We invited physicians, hospital caregivers, and our teams. Previously when we did launches, we would organize a more formal event, introduce the product, and have product detailing at the hospital. The event was three times more costly and, more importantly, took five times as long. In the future, we will go hybrid; I don't think we will do launches differently, although maybe it will be more hands-on than during Covid. We have also noticed that the physicians who were reticent to telemedicine or getting information via social media pre-pandemic are now much more open to technology. They have realized technology affords them more time. I lived in Brazil for five years as Boston Scientific's vice president and president of the national subsidiary, and Sao Paulo can easily take two hours to commute across a part of the city, so virtual launches make a lot of sense. We will continue with virtual launches, and we will have in-hospital detailing of the products. Although we see the real benefits of what Covid has done in the virtual mediums available, we are a company that recognizes the need for human touch. We look at digital enablement precisely for what it is, not a digital transformation strategy, but as an enabler. It allows us to be much more efficient internally as we manage our channel and more innovative in our go-to-market strategy. It also gives our people more time to focus on being human.
EF: Did you introduce any new KPI's (digital metrics or processes) during this time?
MGJ: We have always had metrics and KPIs; we are a very metric-oriented company. I consider we follow a lot of the Peter Drucker school, believing we can't manage what we can't measure. And we have always been very patient-centric. All our KPIs are about how many patient lives we impact, and they are always patient-centric, customer-centric, and supply-chain-centric, but our use of dashboards became more critical. We already were a data-driven organization before Covid –it was one of our pillars- and we are more so now; data is paramount in Latin America and across Boston Scientific. The one KPI that has come to the forefront is a 'cost to serve ', a different way of looking at our direct accounts to segment them better, based on the cost-to-serve. It also allows us to look at our channel partners and better segment channel partners based on a cost to serve.
EF: How did you ensure the security of supply?
MGJ: We have a very agile and well-connected crisis management team across the entire organization and within Latin America. We have immediate access to the CEO and COO of the company whenever we have had a crisis management situation, whether it is the hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico or earthquakes in Mexico or Peru, and our response rate is very fast. The first emergency supplies that arrived in China last year came from Brazil. As a company, we could provide our internal supply chain; we even used some of our corporate jets to mobilize PPE to wherever it was needed across the globe. We were never without emergency supplies for our people in hospitals. Although there was a time when we didn't have access to the hospitals as they were centres for treating Covid, once we were allowed back, supplying PPE wasn't an issue in Latin America.
EF: You are such an inspiration for women and inclusion. What would be your advice to women who want to pursue a career in the pharma industry?
MGJ: My first piece of advice to both men and women is that it is not about the destination but the journey and making sure you enjoy it. Enjoying the journey, loving what you do, and doing what you love sounds like a cliché, but I live by it. My advice is to focus on learning and adding value and not on the title, the time spent in one position, or the next move. That is important, but it will come much more naturally when doing things you are passionate about. If we are passionate about what we are doing, we are better employees, and the company will also do better by us. As for women in healthcare, I never planned my career as a Latin female, but it is important to have mentors and sponsors. Women should have both female and male sponsors, men are better at doing this, and I encourage women to look for mentors and sponsors. Studies show that women feel they have to be much more prepared for either going after a job or taking a new responsibility. Men will go for a job if they feel they have 50% of the skillset needed, whereas women feel they need 80 to 85%. I tell women that if they are asked to take on a stretch assignment or a new job, not to question the offer or their ability, they have to trust that there is a leader out there that sees something in them and is prepared to see her grow and develop. Women, for some reason, seem to have the little red hen syndrome. In a children's story, the little red hen could never accept help and insisted on doing everything herself. Women tend to insist they can manage independently, but they can ask for help. A quality in a great leader is to be confident in what they do, but that same confidence allows the leader to ask for help and bring people to the team that compliments their skillset. People think confidence means a person is good at everything, but confidence comes with a healthy dose of humility, allowing leaders to recognize areas they are not good at and need help.
EF: What skills do you look for in the people you are hiring today?
MGJ: I don't look for hard skills; I only look for soft skills. Age has taught me that I can train hard skills, but I can't teach soft skills. The number one soft skill I look for is a love of learning, a person that wants to learn and grow, and there is no age attached to that. Love of learning, creativity, and particularly calm under pressure, a skill that people are now looking for. Covid rocked the boat under us, and importance has been placed on people who can stay calm no matter what is happening around them. Other needed skillsets are being open to innovation to the digital space and diversity and inclusion; we live in a more diverse and inclusive world. Our organization is extremely diverse and inclusive, and a person who is not open to this will have problems in our space.
EF: When you look back on this period in your professional career, how would you like your tenure to be remembered, considering you navigated a pandemic?
MGJ: I feel I live in unprecedented times in history, not because of Covid but because we live in a new digital revolution. The fact that the Spanish flu and the last industrial revolution start mirroring what we are going through today is coincidental, but it has a special meaning. My great grandfather brought one of the first Model T cars to Cuba around 1916, and a hundred years later, I am living a time in world history where the definition of business efficiency, the go-to-market, and healthcare are all changing. I started my career in the late 80's early 90's, and I will be able to transition from how it used to work to the next level. I am very excited to have lived and learned through this process, and I hope to add to forming and developing people that will be tomorrow's leaders. I will be able to transform the channel of how we operate in Latin America with channel partners and multinationals. A before and after. I think the traditional distributors of medical equipment and medical products in Latin America will cease to exist in 10 or 15 years, and only the organizations that managed to adapt will prevail. To be part of that transformation on a go-to-market model basis is exciting, as is the fact that the knowledge I bring will help develop tomorrow's leaders.