Christine (Chris) Fox, VP general manager UK and Ireland at Amgen discusses the rationale behind taking on the management of a UK affiliate in challenging times and the specificities of Amgen company culture.
Everyone tells you how complicated the UK market is and that is true – it’s one of the reasons I took the job
Chris Fox, Amgen
With the full implications of Brexit on the country’s life sciences industry still unclear, the UK stands as one of the most challenging roles for a country manager anywhere in the world. However, for Amgen’s Chris Fox, two months into her first country manager position and in her first role outside of North America, “the challenging nature of the situation is exactly why I took on this role!” Fox continues, “As an affiliate, we have a great reputation internally within Amgen for innovating, partnering and collaborating – and now I’ve seen it for myself and I’m excited to lead the team in taking that to a whole new level. I am learning a lot and we have a great calibre of talent here. I’m looking forward to building on their perspective in a health system that I don’t know as intimately. I also look forward to using my experiences to develop talent, so we will all be learning together.”
In terms of first impressions of the UK market, Fox posits that “Everyone tells you how complicated the UK market is and that is true – it’s one of the reasons I took the job. There is a lot of complexity, layers, established norms but it’s also evolving at the same time. There is a deep public pride in the NHS, which is sometimes undermined by this complexity, but the political nature of healthcare is something you find in all markets – it just plays out slightly differently.”
Fox also has responsibility for Amgen’s Irish affiliate; a challenging brief, especially given that Ireland is set to remain under the jurisdiction of the European Medicines Agency after Brexit, while the UK leaves. She is, however, keen to play up the synergies between the two countries, noting that “Ireland used to be where the UK is now – market access was slow, but there was an openness to doing business and companies could eventually bring innovative products to market. In the last couple of years, that has vastly changed, but Ireland is now coming out of that period. What makes managing our joint affiliate work from an Amgen perspective is the cross-functional teamwork and the fact that the same portfolio is represented in both markets, although Ireland is in a different stage of its journey. The spirit we have in Ireland is also very translatable and there is a healthy competition between the two teams!”