Read the Conversation
EF: If 2020 was the year of diagnostics and 2021 the year of vaccines, how would you refer to the year 2022?
SJ: I would definitely describe it as the year of the acceleration of changes. Particularly in the pharmaceutical area, we perceived a remarkable dynamic of change that brought a significant impact on the healthcare systems worldwide. It also called for a reassessment and redesign of our market strategies for the future. In addition, CEOs in both the pharmaceutical and other industries developed deep resilience skills as a result of recent global events. This prompted each of us to discover new paradigms in our industry and to recreate traditional ones.
EF: What was the mission you set for yourself when you were appointed to GM in Colombia & Peru?
SJ: Becoming GM of my native country had always belonged to my professional trajectory. As a leader of the pharmaceutical area in Colombia, my mission is to improve the health conditions of patients from Latin America through science, and I personally pursue the same interest. Every team member strives to achieve innovations to help bridge unsatisfied medical needs and contribute to better life quality for patients.
BMS aims to continue leading the investigation and innovation area of medicaments against severe pathologies like oncology, haematology, immunology and cardiology; and to promote diversity, safe working environments and professional development of our workforce. Creating comfortable environments will impact personnel potential and the growth of innovative ideas, as the richer the company’s diversity is, the greater the innovations will be. New initiatives and improvements in the field are only possible with dedicated teamwork, for this reason, our teams and patients are always at the centre of our work.
EF: Could you elaborate on your current footprint and portfolio in Colombia and how you expect it to evolve over the coming years?
SJ: Next year will be our 75th anniversary of presence in Colombia, fulfilling years of pioneer development and distribution of innovative medicines, treatments, and therapies for patients. We even manage to break down antique paradigms and that is why pharmaceutical investment seems very promising here. With our dedication and professional trajectory, we became pioneers in immunotherapy for our patients. The company has grown enormously over the last years in our market and has a vast quantity of modern products in the pipeline that will help overcome severe illnesses and reshape how patients cope with their diseases. We are currently projecting major medicines additions for 2023 and 2024.
EF: Which are the complementarities and differences between countries like Chile, Peru, and Colombia in terms of the footprint of BMS regarding clinical research?
SJ: We decided to invest in clinical research in both Chile and Colombia due to their interesting local environments, including their stable economies. We can get faster regulation approbations in Chile due to its operational functions and entities. On the other hand, patients gain access to innovative medical therapies in Colombia due to the health system organisation. Healthcare represents a sector of utmost importance to both governments of each country and BMS, giving us valuable opportunities to create pharmaceutical access that can be strongly developed in the future. Our objective is to supply patients with easier access to innovative medical therapies and sustainable resources, like Continuous Medical Education for healthcare professionals and disease awareness for the general public, in order to promote early diagnosis and proper treatment. The pandemic shed light on hidden issues due to the transformation of digitalisation, but it also revealed insights into faster ensuring and higher quality patient access to telemedicine, appointments with professionals and treatments. We discover how to bring closer universities and institutes, researchers, and physicians worldwide to do research and analyse collected clinical data.
EF: Could you anticipate this impact in Colombia? How do these acquisitions strengthen your position within the market?
SJ: BMS is committed to continuing to be a leader in innovation in the field of pharmaceuticals. The last acquisitions have allowed us to increase and diversify our portfolio and the work we do in different therapeutical areas such as oncology, haematology, and, in the future in areas like immunology fighting psoriasis and Cardiology. Our mission strengthens our position within the local market and inside the company. We are introducing new areas to BMS, where we will learn from new therapies, develop modern treatments, and build our workers' capacities and knowledge. BMS is in a privileged position here and has a huge role in the pipeline, because of our focus on improving the burden of diseases.
EF: Regarding a communicable disease scenario like the one we suffered last year, what is your advice on managing the highly specialized portfolio in such a situation?
SJ: It is clear that COVID disease and post-COVID conditions remain the relevant situation for the world, but an important aspect we must not neglect is the circumstances severely ill patients lived during the last years, as they have not become safe and reliable access to diagnosis and treatments. Fortunately, in these last years, we could restart safe diagnosis of such illnesses, stabilize again the health system, and earn the confidence of patients. The pharmaceutical area is now able to improve the educational levels regarding these diseases and offer greater prevention and promotion facilities.
EF: Let’s move on to experiences during the last two years of the pandemic. What would be your advice to others in the executive forecast if they were faced with a pandemic situation?
SJ: Although there were great discoveries as a result of the pandemic, the digital evolution was the most significant one. The evolution of digital tools is also an irreplaceable change we came to, as it has evolved to become a key element of worldwide telecommunications. We now create hybrid forums of communication where we can have access to omnichannels and interact with our stakeholders around the world. Due to the pandemical circumstances, personal worries and paradigms, leaders had to develop empathetic skills, which is the most profound change of all. Only the leaders who were able to remain authentic and calm against the pandemical adversity were the ones who win this empathetic leadership and talent recognition by the company. With this access to new technologies, it is necessary to further capacitate our teamwork and improve its potential, as the competitive environment is now broadened, including talent from all over the world.
EF: What makes Colombia so attractive for healthcare companies to invest in and operate? How to pitch to HQ to attract resources to the country over other big economies in the region?
SJ: Colombia is a stable economical country that shows confidence in investors, relying on a huge development process. We possess here investigation and development institutes of the highest of levels that facilitate and guarantee healthcare access beyond frontiers. Regarding cancer investigations, we invest here in a pioneer institute from Latin America. Colombia is a country where human resource is of the highest quality; that is why we continue promoting local diversity and inclusion in our company. Here we can anticipate a successful launch of new products and treatments given the beneficial conditions present in this country.
EF: After a busy year with many achievements, what will you celebrate at the end of this year?
SJ: Our permanent alignment and focus of our personal motivation with the company’s mission is a fact that BMS will always celebrate. There is an impressive sensation and feeling of duty fulfilled towards the patient, because we always aim our work to acquire the best results under the particular urgency of working in the pharmaceutical area, the passion we invest by improving the treatment of these diseases and finding innovations to bridge them the best possible way. Patients are at the centre of our work and compromise to the field and we owe that to the application and growth of science. We have outstanding talent working alongside us and we are planning to expand the diversity of the workforce in our company, including and encouraging women to join BMS. We want to reflect our diversity and inclusion levels and commitment to society, so as to promote its permanent growth.