You joined Siegfried end of 2015 following the acquisition of BASF. What’s your interim balance after two-and-a-half years?
It has been an interesting journey. For me personally, it was a two-step integration: the first one-and-a-half years after the acquisition, during which Exclusive Business was integrated into one team, I was based in Evionnaz. In a second step, I moved to Zofingen in May 2017.
What are your responsibilities as Head of Business Development and Account Management, Exclusives, Drug Substance?
Within Drug Substance, I am responsible for development projects on the one hand and for managing existing clients on the other. We offer custom synthesis services on an exclusive basis, which means that we produce specifically for our clients those products that they no longer want to or can produce themselves. My team consists of Marco Henneböhle, Eva Mössl, Charles-Svend Perrenoud, Florian Munck, Peter Hekler, Shawn Springfield and Aaron Mercier. They are based in different regions and focus on the one or the other pillar.
The Business Development part is about acquiring new business, in other words, finding new clients and projects. We have to convince our customers that we are the best choice by offering them reliability and sustainability. Reputation in the industry and a flawless quality record are crucial since we work in a trust driven business and our customers depend on us. In this area we work together with our Project Management colleagues to prepare the best offer and provide excellent service.
Account Management deals with maintaining good relationships with our existing customers by delivering on time and showing consistently good performance. We work closely together with our clients concerning forecasting, and we strive to obtain the highest market share in the industry. BMS, for instance, is a customer with whom we entertain very close relations. Siegfried is their preferred partner by contract, and we interact intensively with them. On the most important accounts we count on the support of our Program Management colleagues with whom we collaborate on a daily basis.
“We must not forget that our business is a relationship business and, therefore, being visible and raising awareness is vital.”
Do you have a typical workday?
There is no typical workday, however, my work can be divided into internal and external interaction. My internal work consists of providing support to my team in their daily business by creating the link to senior management, by offering support in case of escalation and by acting as a supervisor. In return, my team supports me in providing information for business planning, budgeting and strategy issues for management. I always try to interact with people as much as possible and to keep my team in the communication loop. I am convinced that this is the only way to achieve good results.
External interaction consists, on the one hand, of primary contacts with clients, which happen directly on a senior management level. On the other hand, for interactions on a working level, I like to empower my team. It’s a constant game of leading and supporting people and finding the right level of interaction.
Another branch of my daily work is the part I call industry intelligence. It means showing interest in the industry, knowing people, being present at events, networking, reading publications etc. It’s about being aware of what’s going on in the pharma industry because we depend on it. In times like these, when a lot of change is happening, it’s important to feel the pulse and to speak the same language. We must not forget that our business is a relationship business and, therefore, being visible and raising awareness is vital.
What’s your favorite activity?
My heart says Business Development, because I am a scientist and like to be creative in this field and be exposed to new projects. However, I also enjoy working on establishing internal processes and team development. I like to create a structure in a complex environment, which helps my colleagues do their work well. This is a challenge for the brain. In general, I always try to keep an analytical approach and like to work in a structured, data-driven way in order to be consistent in decision-making.
How did your professional career develop?
I studied chemistry (organic synthesis) up to my PhD in Italy. After a brief stay at Montréal University (Canada) in 1999, I was hired by BMS. I stayed with BMS for 10 years, mostly based in the US, but also in other countries, like Ireland. My career with BMS started within operations and continued with process R&D where I ended up as Principal Scientist. One of my tasks at BMS also included procurement, which put me in contact with CMOs.
In 2009, I joined BASF in the US, moving from the technical to the business side and taking on responsibility for the custom synthesis regional unit. In 2012, I was appointed global head of custom synthesis business development and, therefore, moved to Evionnaz, where the headquarters of BASF Pharma was located.
In 2015, our business was acquired by Siegfried. That is when I joined the company.
What are the similarities and differences between your present field of activity and your earlier ones?
I moved from the technical to the business side. This switch happened for specific reasons as chemistry increasingly disappeared from the pharmaceutical industry’s focus by outsourcing it to suppliers like CMOs. I decided to follow this trend and to go to where chemistry is still the core business, which turned out to be a good move. Thanks to my previous work, I contribute the experience of a customer to a CMO, which is a good exchange.
What about Siegfried appeals to you?
When Siegfried acquired our business in 2015, I was an expat from BASF US in Evionnaz. I had the choice to stay with BASF or change to Siegfried. Staying with BASF was not an option and the choice in favor of Siegfried was easy because I wanted to work for a company that is fully committed to the pharmaceutical chemistry.