In the past year, PharmaBoardroom has spoken to several of the most impressive female pharma leaders working in Asia today. These women are breaking new ground and managing some of Big Pharma’s most important global affiliates. Here, five of Asian pharma’s top female executives give exclusive insights into their successes and how others can follow in their footsteps.
Having an Impact
Hong Chow, Roche China
Hong Chow emigrated to Germany with her family at age 12. With a wealth of experience in Germany, the UK and Singapore behind her, Chow moved back to her country of birth in 2015 to take the reins at Roche’s China affiliate. She has overseen significant successes since then, notably when four of Roche’s innovative oncology drugs were listed on China National Reimbursement Drug List (NRDL) in 2017.
I see myself as a bridge between China and the West.
Hong Chow has a dream – a dream for a healthy China. Chow came to Roche China as General Manager in 2015 after spending many years in Europe, one of a growing number of Chinese who are returning to the motherland from abroad.
Her ultimate goal is to make an impact by providing access to cutting-edge treatments to underserved populations. Chow elaborated on her objectives in an interview with PharmaBoardroom, “I think independently of which path we choose to take, many of us share the same ‘Healthy China dream’. For me personally, I can see that the impact I can make on the industry as general manager of Roche China is huge… Roche provides me with a fantastic platform to accelerate the introduction of high-quality, affordable and innovative medicines to China. Globally, Roche is going through a transformation as well and our top mission is to make our innovative medicines accessible to more patients faster. There are high unmet medical needs in China and China has a vast population so it is clear that Roche has a great mission to fulfil in China.”
Chow is not only passionate about her own nation – she contributes her expertise in several other roles, including a seat on the Supervisory Board of Beiersdorf, the German personal care company. Her degree of international experience has given her a unique perspective and enhanced cultural understanding. Chow explained further, “I see myself as a bridge between China and the West. It is not about local versus multinational companies, because innovation does not have boundaries. It is not about where innovation is created, but where innovation benefits people!”
Global Issues; Chinese Perspectives
Ingrid Zhang, Novartis China
As China becomes more important, people with China backgrounds and China experience will also become critically important
Ingrid Zhang joined Novartis China as country manager in 2017 after spending two years as general manager of Novartis Poland. She completed her studies in the United States, giving her a broader vision of global issues before returning to her country.
Zhang believes that a deep understanding of China is essential to working in the region, telling PharmaBoardroom that, “As China becomes more important, people with China backgrounds and China experience will also become critically important. Today, China has many features of an emerging market – like rapid growth, high out-of-pocket expenditures and so on – but the innovation piece is growing. We have the best of both worlds!”
Zhang continues, “We have a great track record of bringing people to China and helping them achieve success and looking ahead, we want to further take Chinese talents out on the global stage.”
An International Mindset
Joyce Lee, Amgen Taiwan
My passion is developing people. I hope more prominent talents will be developed, enhancing their influence to contribute to society, and to shape a better world
Joyce Lee is new to Amgen Taiwan, having just completed a year of service as general manager. She brings extensive experience in the Taiwanese pharma sector, having worked for BMS, Novartis, P&G, Pfizer and Merck. Lee worked her way up from marketing associate to commercial strategy director before becoming a country manager, and therefore was able to share plenty of words of wisdom for those just starting their careers in a recent interview: “Speaking to domestic Taiwanese, my biggest recommendation is to equip themselves with language skills, excel in the quality of their work or study, and most importantly to internationalize themselves. Domestic young professionals should keep themselves well connected to what’s happening globally. Gaining life experience in different countries and regions is really invaluable, both professionally and personally.”
Though Amgen’s presence is relatively new on the island, Lee has managed to grow the affiliate since her arrival, and she already has a strong vision for the future of the company: “As Taiwan is facing an ageing population, I hope to position Amgen as a partner of the government and healthcare system in the management of patient longevity through our osteoporosis and cardiovascular products. A picture in my mind: in 2025, I want to see Amgen play a stronger role with different stakeholders to enhance the quality of healthcare and science in Taiwan. Meanwhile, my passion is developing people. I hope more prominent talents will be developed, enhancing their influence to contribute to society, and to shape a better world.”
Ai Hua Ong, Company Group Chairman, Asia Pacific, The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
Ai Hua Ong, company group chairman of the Asia Pacific region at The Janssen Pharmaceutical Company of Johnson & Johnson, feels that the creation of a diverse workforce is of paramount importance for the futureproofing of all organisations.
Creating a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture is key to an organisation’s success in today’s and tomorrow’s world.
Ai Hua Ong started her career as a product specialist more than 25 years ago and today serves as the Asia Pacific company group chairman of The Janssen Pharmaceutical Company of Johnson & Johnson in Singapore. On her path to the top, she held various leadership roles in the pharma industry and previously served as president of One J&J Southeast Asia. Ong has made it possible for other women to follow in her footsteps through mentorship and advocacy for women in leadership. Ong explained the importance of diversity in an article for PharmaBoardroom, “Creating a diverse workforce and an inclusive culture is key to an organisation’s success in today’s and tomorrow’s world. Organisations large and small are embracing what we in Singapore have known and nurtured for years – the understanding that diversity and inclusion breed growth and prosperity.”
Ong believes that to succeed in building an inclusive culture, unconscious bias must be uncovered and addressed, and underscores how Janssen fosters an inclusive environment: “At our organisation, we are actively addressing unconscious bias. We have trained our employees to understand the risk of unconscious bias and provide the tools they need to avoid falling into its pitfalls. To help build truly inclusive leadership competencies, our employees are equipped with the capabilities to pro-actively address unconscious bias and lead the way in fostering a diverse and inclusive culture.”
Taking Global Strategy to the Local Level
Min Young Kim, Ipsen Korea
In line with the global strategy I wanted to transform the focus from toxins and aesthetics into the specialty therapeutic market.
After working for over 13 years in marketing and sales at Eli Lilly, Min Young Kim joined Ipsen Korea as its general manager in 2015. Kim has been an integral part of Ipsen Korea’s transformation process, leading the affiliate from focusing on toxins to focusing on specialty therapeutics and oncology.
Kim spoke about her experience in an interview with PharmaBoardroom, “Even though Ipsen has had a presence in Korea for almost 20 years, it almost felt like we were starting from scratch when I joined. Ipsen’s focus area in Korea was originally toxins. However, in line with the global strategy I wanted to transform the focus from toxins and aesthetics into the specialty therapeutic market. This was more fitting to my previous experience, focusing on specialty care and innovation.”
During the company’s shift toward specialty therapeutics, Kim has focused on making sure employees at all levels of the organisation were prepared: “It was my aim to build the capabilities and skills of both the organisation and the people involved in it. This has been one of my key priorities. While the project is not completed and is ongoing, we have laid the foundations to become an oncology and speciality driven company here in Korea.”
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