Industry Executives - Q&A

Recently Dan Nathan, Managing Partner at Euromedica, spoke with Olivier Charmeil, Executive Committee member and EVP, General Medicines at Sanofi, as he moves into a new internal position and to share his insights on leadership within a transformational industry.


1. You have recently transitioned to the role as Head of General Medicines, how have you found the first period in the new position?

It’s been an amazing few weeks and I am really thrilled to be in this new role. I see every job as a learning expedition. You learn every day. I am focusing my efforts on building my new leadership team, reflecting on ways we can create value together and how we bring the rest of the organisation with us.  We’ve embarked on a journey ,we are charting our course and setting our ambition on where we want to be in 5 to 10 years from now. As it is a pretty intense period it forces me to focus on what really matters -- where we can truly make a difference-- and go for the 80/20 rule.

2. We have known each other for a few years now but for the purposes of this interview, can you give a little outline of your background and how the various positions you have had in the past can benefit you in the positions?

I am running a global business unit with significant presence in markets as diverse as China and the US. The experience I have accumulated as Head of Emerging Markets and Head of Sanofi Pasteur have prepared me well.  It taught me the importance of making tough choices - to focus on what matters and where Sanofi can make a difference to society. As I progress in my professional life, I am more and more convinced it is about making a meaningful impact -- that you have to be bold or go home!


3. Your new remit covers covering diabetes, cardiovascular, and established products, can you please share your general perspectives on the current and future industry landscape for each?

Within this unit we are at the forefront of the fight against two global epidemics: diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.  Every seven seconds, it estimated that someone will die from diabetes or its complications; half of those deaths or roughly (4 million a year) occur under the age of 60 years. The WHO estimates 18 million people will die from Cardiovascular disease each year, accounting for about a third of deaths worldwide. These are serious diseases affecting people from all walks of life and the consequences are very real and devastating. We have the potential -- or rather-- a responsibility to reinvent the fight against these epidemics. In Sanofi, we have an impressive array of medicines --trusted brands—many form the cornerstone of treatments for these diseases.  We have the ability to reach every patient in all corners of the world. So I believe we can make an impact. 


4. Where do you see particular opportunities for Sanofi within your BU?

We have a unique and novel opportunity to create more value, by shifting our business model from “pushing pills” to delivering Healthcare outcomes. Turning the tide on diabetes and cardiovascular diseases requires a multi-sectoral approach.   We need to recognise there is more value in working together with governments, payors and other stakeholders to manage the burden of widespread diseases. Providing medicines alone is not enough. In diabetes, 60% of insulin patients are uncontrolled despite having the medicine in hand. As a Global Pharma leader, our value proposition is to ensure individuals get the full benefit from available cures – we can be the catalyst to bring all players together to find holistic solutions that can truly improve health outcomes, while generating savings for the healthcare system in the long term. We now have technology and big data to help us – we just need to change our approach and work together to keep population healthy.


5. It feels as if a profound transformation is taking place within the global pharma industry at the moment, due disruptions and innovation. On that basis we feel that organisations will need a new kind of leadership, how would you describe the way your approach to leadership has changed over the years based on the evolutions of the industry?

The next generation of leaders will need to have the courage to change our trajectory from managing the legacy to creating a new Pharma model.  We need Changemakers – leaders who are creative problem solvers, ready to take risks with confidence.  These are decisive men and women who act quickly, and are ready to be bold and invest at scale. We want agile and innovative leaders willing to set the ambition high and are optimistic about the impact they can make to change the world.


6. Considering you manage such a diverse set of geographies and products, what is your approach to leadership for the group

I am a great believer of diversity, gender, cultural, origin as well as sector diversity. A diverse team allows you to look at different topics with different lenses. This is very important at a point of time things are less and less linear. I believe more and more in cross fertilisation and I never hesitate on specific topics to ask some members of my management team to join across the world for specific sessions --as a diverse team we can better contribute to create value.

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