After five years with Takeda heading up the Japan-headquartered pharma company’s US business, following the organization’s 2019 USD 62 billion acquisition of US rare disease player Shire, Ramona Sequeira was appointed president of global portfolio commercialization and a member of Takeda’s global executive team in April 2020. In conversation with PharmaBoardroom Sequiera outlined the global responsibilities that this new role entails and the vital impact of culture and people development.
Today, we view culture as a strategy because while other business strategies can easily be replicated, culture cannot
Ramona Sequiera, Takeda
On the scope of her enhanced role, Sequeira noted “I lead our commercial partnership with R&D through every stage of development through launch. My goal is twofold: bring a consolidated commercial voice into our R&D plans and leverage scientific expertise to help shape our commercial plans,” adding, “I also chair a committee with our head of emerging markets, our head of Japan and our head of Europe and Canada (EUCAN) [to] look at the development and launch plans of our pipeline assets to evaluate our overall progress.”
With the role bringing along far weightier responsibilities, not only because post-acquisition Takeda is now a global top 20 innovative pharma company but also because Takeda has set an ambitious target of delivering roughly ten to 12 launches over the next five years from their so-called ‘Wave 1 pipeline’, Sequeira revealed the leadership insight that has facilitated her career progression: “as I have taken on roles of increasingly responsibility throughout my career, I have learned that to be effective, it is important to work differently, not just do more. If you can prioritize where you want to add value and then surround yourself with a strong leadership team, you can focus your time where you can have the most impact.”
For her, one of the most important areas where leaders need to have a positive impact is in culture and people development. Sequeira advanced, “sometimes, leadership teams think it is more important to invest in other things first and leave culture until later. In business school, we used to say, ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast,’ meaning culture could really hurt your strategy. Today, we view culture as a strategy because while other business strategies can easily be replicated, culture cannot. It is so unique to the organization and its identity, and it can enable the business’ success in a way that few other aspects can.”
For that reason, she affirmed, “my leadership teams and I have focused on building a culture based on trust and openness – and we understand that it starts with us. Sometimes leaders surround themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear, instead of what they need to hear. That is not good for diversity, culture or innovation.” Ultimately, she is convinced that, for a company to be successful, “we need to be the kind of leaders who are comfortable surrounding ourselves with people who think differently from us, and we need to be willing to accept constructive criticism and different perspectives.”