Country Chair of Sanofi in Ireland and the General Manager of the General Medicines Business Unit Mary Dickens discusses teamwork techniques, overcoming medical barriers in Ireland and the future for the Irish healthcare sector.
In addition to her role as Irish Country Chair for Sanofi, the global biopharmaceutical company which focuses on human health, Mary is also President of the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA), which represents the international research-based pharmaceutical industry in Ireland.
Inclusive and collaborative teamwork
Mary says the people around her being dedicated to the cause gives you a completely different outlook and it makes you want to work even harder to match their enthusiasm and work rate.
“When you have the ambition that your organisation is successful and you firmly believe that the people across the organisation all contribute to that success, it shapes your whole approach to leadership. I would like to think that my style is inclusive and collaborative as I want to ensure that we capture the skills and knowledge of the diverse group of people we have working in Sanofi – that way we are most likely to achieve the organisation’s goals and objectives.”
With that, her team is everything but guiding it in the right direction is even more important to the success of a business. This can only be done with acknowledging what your team’s strengths are and using these traits alongside motivation to further the business.
“The team is everything. If we all know where we are going, and each of us knows what we have to contribute in order to make the company successful, then everything possible can be achieved. Understanding the strengths of each individual in our team is really important. We can then focus our approach based on our strengths and build collaboration and high performance.”
“Open and honest regular communication is a critical factor for high-performing teams. If people are aware of what is working well, and not so well, they can be part of the solution. Being a valued member of a team that shares both success and failure is important because we continue to learn and adapt. There are always going to be challenges and we just have to have the courage and conviction that we can overcome, and the belief that we can move forward. Good team dynamics will always provide the best platform to achieve so much more than we can as individuals.”
With all this in place, Mary says the foundation for people’s professional growth is there. That is her epitome of success.
“Success is where the ambition is achieved by working together and to the highest ethical standards. It is building a sustainable business through the vehicle of a strong mission, good planning and good team engagement as well as creating an open environment for people to learn, grow and, most of all, remain relevant now and in the future. My driver is seeing people evolve their skills, knowledge and confidence over time. When people gain confidence they have new courage to step into new roles and responsibilities. Successful organisations have the right people in the right place to achieve a common goal.”
Challenges in access to medicine and Brexit
Delays in medical access is a huge black mark on Irish society right now. This includes hospital waiting lists and access to key, potentially life-saving, medicines. Mary says Sanofi is working towards timely access for medicines in Ireland that match our fellow EU counterparts.
“At Sanofi, our purpose is to research, develop and bring innovative medicines and healthcare solutions to people who are facing health challenges, so they can live life to its full potential. Right now we have a worrying trend where people in Ireland experience unnecessary delays in accessing new medicines compared to other European countries; and these are medicines which have the potential to make a significant impact on people’s lives. Our political system can work to improve this time lag and we will work with all concerned to ensure that people in Ireland can access these medicines in a timely fashion, in line with other countries in Europe.”
Brexit could put a major spanner in the works for this reform of speedy distribution of medicine. With the EU’s free movement of money, people and trade, one of Ireland’s key trading partners may be a disruptor to the Irish medical industry’s and Sanofi’s future outlook.
“The uncertainty lies around maintaining capacity for timely introduction and maintenance of medicines for Irish patients. It is crucial that we are able to move medicines and pharmaceutical supplies without measures which could lead to supply disruption or delays. We also want to see the preservation of a well-functioning intellectual property system and, in research, continued funding and collaboration in projects to ensure a world-class European life science basis with certainty for EU and UK citizens employed in the sector. We can achieve this by working with relevant bodies to identify key issues and propose solutions to ensure continuity of supply despite the uncertainty of Brexit.”
Mary emphasises once more that Ireland has to provide fully-operational medical services when people need them most. “In Ireland we are slow and late in achieving that today, for new medicines”, she says, and innovation is a vital part of getting out of this rut.
“This can be challenging particularly when we are competing with other countries for investment. This is an additional dynamic to manage and it means that, even more so, we must be creative to find meaningful and sustainable solutions to ensure patients across Ireland are getting the medicines they need, when they need them.”
Business & Finance, A View from the Boardroom
A View from the Boardroom, in association with Irish Life Health, features Ireland’s leading decision makers in business – those who provide effective leadership and are capable of understanding potential risks.