Read the Conversation
EF: How do you see 2023 as a challenge or an opportunity?
VP: Everything is an opportunity, including challenges. My role as a leader is to provide solutions for the organization to adjust to the ever-changing environment. We always started the year in the past decade by noting all our challenges. Our mindset has completely transformed, and we now see challenges as opportunities. Reflective opportunities are only sometimes positive. Several unicorn organizations are born out of changing how they think about healthcare and the available resources. Sustainability is at the forefront of every organization, which drives change.
There are several opportunities available in Mexico. The economy has been stable since the pandemic ended, the inflation rate is well controlled (<10% in 2022), the population is growing, and imports and exports are highly beneficial to businesses. Primarily we are situated in the ideal location. We can easily import and export our products to the US. We recently registered two products in our pipeline for approval in the US. The first product is microbiota-based, and the second is for oncology treatment for bladder cancer. These two products are a priority for us and we will work to get them in Mexico the soonest possible.
Other opportunities come from society. Ferring is running a PLAN M program to empower women and couples to receive robust information about fertility. Our studies noted a change in the trends from having babies earlier to later, and Mexico is not an exception. Those individuals can benefit from the healthcare sector because several families require help when planning to have children.
EF: Could you elaborate on the PLAN M initiative and how else you and Ferring are educating the society in Mexico?
VP: PLAN M is an awareness campaign sponsored and conducted by Ferring. It is a global initiative that differs from our daily operations in Ferring, Mexico. It is an open platform that aims to raise awareness of fertility, reproductive health, female healthcare, and options to plan for a family. Our audience is women, men and couples from the ’20s to ’40s. PLAN M is an open education-oriented initiative that has a broad reach. The information on the platform comes from different sources, including physicians, researchers, and testimonials. The platform uses testimonials from a very diverse group to encourage people from different backgrounds to educate themselves. PLAN M is published through the press and the platform online with more than 20 thousand followers between the Metaverse options including Facebook and Instagram.
We are reaching out to various businesses to increase awareness among workers. Several companies provide support and benefits for workers with families. We are motivating companies to change this by including also workers planning to start a family. As we present PLAN M to companies, we clarify everyone’s role and responsibility. The company’s role is to raise fertility and family planning awareness among its workers and PLAN M aims to help people build their families in a way that better fits their fertility and personal conditions.
EF: How do you see the adoption of PLAN M in companies in Mexico?
VP: Mexico is one of LATAM's most advanced and open countries to diversity and different parenting structures... Life in the capital is fast-paced., Mexico was one of the only countries open to same sex marriage in the Americas since 2010, before US (2013). However, in Mexico, all these communities are in the capital, not the other cities, towns, or rural areas. We are looking at increasing the adoption and acceptance of all communities in other cities and surrounding areas.
I am personally taking more risks in actively promoting and expressing myself. Last week my husband, children, and I had an interview with El Economista about same-sex parents. They published the interview with pictures of us, which was a big risk for us. Regardless, I want people to see that there are normal families despite being big or small, and solo, traditional, or same-sex parents. The objective of PLAN M is to help everyone build a happy future with children regardless of who they are. We are building up access to fertility and PLAN M for everyone in Mexico and Latin America. Our planning for PLAN M is very well structured and pivotal in providing quality information access.
I look at access in three different ways. The first is the government. We are approaching government to ensure that the inclusion of fertility treatment becomes a reality for the country in the future. The bigger picture is for the constitution to have inclusion and access to reproduction for everyone.
The second way to create access is by working with private financing. We are working on helping people get financing for the treatment they need by working alongside banks to launch the first fertility healthcare treatment loan in Colombia this first semester 2023. I am very proud of this achievement because it was an arduous journey to get banks to transform their perceptions of fertility treatments for everyone and the sustainability of the changed perception. The biggest challenge any company has is changing others’ mindsets. Once the first loan is launched in Colombia, other banks will probably soon follow.
In the future, people that need treatment can go to a fertility clinic, find their eligibility for a treatment loan, and receive a response from the back within minutes. If approved, the loan will be deposited directly to the clinic. The plan is to help patients manage the loan between clinics and the bank. Currently, the only private financing option available is FinTech. However, FinTech loans are at a staggering interest rate of 50 up to 62% per annum.
The third is the role of employers in delivering access to employees. Ferring has taken the lead globally by creating the billing family program. The billing family program provides access to fertility treatment for all employees, allowing maternity and paternity leave and providing access to surrogacy if needed while bearing all the costs for all employees.
We hold diversity, inclusion, awareness, fertility, and family planning conferences. One of the roles of PLAN M is also to approach organizations to create more access to benefits for fertility treatment for everyone. Some companies will bear 20% of the cost, while others bear 50% or even 100%, depending on the organization's size. It is becoming a trend. Innovatively creating access to treatment includes private banking and employers taking responsibility for their employees’ future. We are making an alternative way that will succeed.
EF: Being a research-based biopharmaceutical company, do you think Mexico can become a leader in innovation?
VP: We have a lot of research and innovation centers outside Mexico, including in Brazil However, I think that Mexico is one of Latin America's best foreign investment options and I wish one day we can be more present here. Investing in Mexico creates sustainability and stability
EF: How does Ferring collaborate, and how do you work with different stakeholders to achieve sustainability and innovation in Mexico?
VP: We are part of AMIIF, CANIFARMA, the Swiss Chamber, and the industry in Mexico. We interact with stakeholders from other sectors to become impactful and to create a sustainable economy and environment. Ferring Mexico is smaller than some other players in Mexico,
We are raising awareness among government officials and workers through open discussions. For quartiles 1 & 2, we plan to organize a fertility summit. We will invite government workers and officials to join the conversation on fertility, planning for family, and the future population. Mexico’s population will continue growing until 2033 (Source: Estimates by Mexico's National Population Council. https://www.un.org/development/desa/pd/sites/www.un.org.development.desa.pd/files/unpd_egm_200203_countrypapers_fertility_in_mexico_tuiran_partida_mojarro_zuniga.pdf
). After 2033, it is predicted that the population curve may decrease under the replacement fertility rate. It is something we must start preparing for now.
EF: When attracting employees to the company, what skill sets do you look for? And how do you attract top talent and the talent that suits Ferring in your work?
VP: People join because of the mission and inspiration instead of the payback and bonuses. That is the real goal that people strive for. Like any other corporation, talents come to us with their questions, and they get fascinated by the what and the how. Ferring is committed to changing people’s lives. People come first, is our philosophy. I am active in our recruitment process because I can fully convey the company’s mission, vision, and values.
Ferring is a privately owned company with less hierarchy and more autonomy for its employees, with a real culture of entrepreneurship. There is empowerment and opportunities for growth. I have been with Ferring for thirteen years and was allowed to develop and grow within the company. We encourage people to take risks and learn from their mistakes. It is an approach that attracts talented people. With the new generation, we must become more flexible and adapt to a demanding younger generation. It takes time to adjust to these recent trends.
I have an open-door policy and believe that any employee can approach me. Spending time with employees is my leadership philosophy. Most of the younger generation come through the door to converse with me. Besides work, I read a book a week to stay updated on all the latest business and social trends. I also publish reviews on those business books. You can find my reviews on @Vincethereader.
EF: As an avid reader, if you were on the other side and you were writing a book for executives about the future roadmap of the Mexican pharmaceutical and healthcare industry, what would the three most important chapters be called?
VP: The first chapter would be about creating trust with your team. This is something challenging in Mexico because of the submission culture. But just because someone submits to you does not mean they trust you. We can view this challenge as an opportunity.
The second chapter would be based on upholding and inspiring creativity in your people. I expect my team to bring ideas to the table and express their creativity. When I mention an idea in a meeting, they take it as the final product without expressing their thoughts or opinions.
The last chapter will be on creating new opportunities for access for patients because the current system will not be able to sustain the healthcare system. In time all the smaller and sidelined issues will overrun the entire healthcare system. We need to create sustainable access to healthcare through new strategies. The focus should be on access because access will create a highly developed and performing nation.