PharmaBoardroom takes a look at the careers of five pharma executives who we spoke to as Romania country managers back in 2015. At the end of 2019, all of them had taken on new responsibilities in different regions.
Gabor Stanislav, Amgen
In Romania, healthcare is commonly considered from a purely fiscal point of view.
Gabor Stanislav, formerly general manager of Amgen Romania, is now general manager of Amgen Poland. He spent over five years directing the Romania affiliate, achieving milestones such as increasing the in-country workforce, expanding phase III clinical trials and getting Amgen’s first products placed on the reimbursement list. His vision for Romania was to introduce innovative drugs, including bone disease and cancer therapies, to Romanian patients. He transitioned to Poland after a short stint as Performance Director Europe in 2018. Stanislav counts more than ten years with Amgen in commercial and management roles, previously working as a sales manager for Organon Biosciences. Stanislav also served as president of the Local American Working Group (LAWG), a group of pharma company leaders committed to developing public policies.
When interviewed by PharmaBoardroom in Romania, Stanislav underscored some of the top challenges he was facing, namely around Romania’s healthcare spending and its heavy generics focus. “In Romania, healthcare is commonly considered from a purely fiscal point of view meaning how many euros we are spending on medicines and treatment programs. What should be factored in as well are the indirect societal consequences… Today, the Romanian state spends substantially less than any other EU member on pharmaceuticals and less than most other non-member European countries as well.” On generics he commented, “It’s a fact that the growth of the Romanian pharmaceutical market is not coming from innovative high price products: a full 70 per cent of all units sold in Romania constitute generics.”
Christophe Gourlet, Sanofi
My role is to encourage transversal projects, empower people and support them in proper resource allocation.
French native Christophe Gourlet counts vast commercial experience in a wide number of countries, which serves him well in his current globally-focused position as Senior Vice President of Emerging Markets and Established Products Finance Head for Sanofi. He joined the Sanofi Group in 1993 working in finance and commercial roles in France, Portugal and England, rising to become CFO for Asia, Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, and later led global business operations and finance in Japan. In 2007 he left the Asia Pacific region to work as General Manager of Sanofi Morocco, and three years later was appointed Country Manager of Sanofi Hungary and then Country Chair of Romania and Moldavia. He has since gone on to lead expansion efforts for the company’s diabetes franchise and European generics before taking on his current role.
In 2011 PharmaBoardroom had the opportunity to interview Gourlet in Hungary. He gave insight into how the role of country manager is to empower the local workforce and encourage a sense of unity: “Managing such sizeable operations is always a challenge. At the same time, it is a more generalist position that I am taking here. I am not a marketer or a medical doctor either. My role is to maintain a general overview, and make sure that different disciplines, units and people work together. My role is to encourage transversal projects, empower people and support them in proper resource allocation.”
Radu Rasinar, AstraZeneca
Radu Rasinar led AstraZeneca’s Romania affiliate from 2009 to 2017, when he was subsequently promoted to Area Vice President for Central and Eastern Europe. With a medical background, he joined the industry in 1996 and held various roles in sales and marketing and further enhanced his skills through various international positions and certifications.
Rasinar’s Romania leadership experience also includes a stint working for Eli Lilly’s Romania affiliate as well as senior level internal consultant for Eli Lilly Global. Within the industry Radu has participated in the Association for Pharma Manufacturers (ARPIM) and served as president of the Local American Working Group (LAWG) in 2015. He was also involved in projects aiming to improve healthcare in Romania. PharmaBoardroom met Rasinar in 2010, when he pointed to the importance of nurturing industry relations, particularly by tapping into production and distribution partnerships.
Nolan Townsend, Pfizer
Romania is, without a shred of doubt, one of the most attractive countries in the EU.
Nolan Townsend, formerly general manager for Pfizer Romania, has returned to his native US to take on the role of Regional President of Pfizer’s North America Rare Disease business, coming from a prior position managing Rare Disease business across Europe and parts of Asia from Pfizer’s UK affiliate. Townsend counts over ten years of experience with Pfizer, first joining the company in the Corporate Finance Division and later taking on roles in corporate strategy, business operations, marketing, and general management in the US, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Africa/Middle East region.
PharmaBoardroom caught up with Townsend in 2015 when he was managing Pfizer’s Romania affiliate, in which he assumed the mandate of expanding the affiliate’s presence in the market, ramping up investment in manufacturing and service support centers, and fostering internal development. He also prioritised diverting product lines from elsewhere and manufacturing them in Romania. He highlighted the attractiveness of the Romanian market: “Romania is, without a shred of doubt, one of the most attractive countries in the EU. The labor laws and cost will attract manufacturing in the first instance and crucially what will keep it here is the superior education level of the Romanians and their work ethic. The corporate profit tax scenario is additionally appealing.”
Jacopo Murzi, Janssen Companies of Johnson & Johnson
We have to adapt to the Romanian context. We certainly cannot deploy the same approach that we might habitually use in Italy or the UK.
Jacopo Murzi, currently Managing Director of Near East, Maghreb and Africa for the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, also made several geographic shifts in his career. Hailing from Italy, Murzi started out in business development and later moved into marketing and sales. In 2010 he made a transition to Poland where he worked as the affiliate’s sales and marketing director, in charge of designing Janssen’s marketing strategies in Poland. After gaining experience in Central and Eastern Europe, he was appointed managing director of Janssen Romania for two years, where he was tasked with strengthening the company’s reputation through clear and transparent initiatives, highlighting in an interview with PharmaBoardroom that “the reputation of pharmaceutical companies in Romania is poor for historical reasons if you think back to the transmission of infectious disease through sharing of needles during vaccination programmes of the 1980s or of a populist press quick to cast multinationals in the role of a societal villain. My feeling was that Janssen with its strong reputation for ethics and quality could go a long way to readdressing that popular image.”
Murzi went on to underscore the need for adaptability, “We have to adapt to the Romanian context. We certainly cannot deploy the same approach that we might habitually use in Italy or the UK. We have to consider cost in relation to the needs out there and find the optimum solutions for a given set of circumstances. This might entail adopting different managed access schemes allowing pro bono treatments to some patients. To a certain extent, it also means getting the most out of our existing product range and being attentive to product lifecycle management.” Murzi’s understanding of adapting to different markets served him well as he went on to become vice president of global commercial strategy and finally managing director in the Near East and Africa region in 2019.
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