What traits, competencies and drivers do you need to be a successful pharma country manager in today’s dynamic Mexican pharma market? Jose Guerrero and Male Mejido from the Mexico office of global management consultants Korn Ferry explain what they look for when hiring Mexico GMs, and outline some of the key challenges that successful candidates will face.


What are the qualities you look for in a Mexico Country Manager?

The life sciences industry is facing a new era in Mexico. Various components have changed which have had a significant impact: a new NAFTA, a radically different government mindset compared to any previous regime, and digital transformation challenges, among others. All of these factors, of course, alter the competencies, traits, drivers and experience requirements of new GMs being hired.


Below is a selection of what companies in Mexico are looking for in their GMs in order to succeed throughout the upcoming phases of Mexico’s development and face up to any challenges that may arise.



Adaptability – in order to be comfortable with unanticipated changes.

Persistence – to be passionate and steadfast in the face of obstacles, distractions and discouragements.

Tolerance of ambiguity – to be comfortable with uncertain, vague or contradictory information.

Need for achievement – a tendency to work intensely to achieve difficult standards and goals.



Cultivates Innovation – to create new and better ways for the organization to be successful.

Nimble Learner – learns through experimentation when tackling new problems.

Engages and Inspires – creates a climate in which people are motivated to do their best.



Challenge – motivated by achievement in the face of tough obstacles

Collaboration – group decision making and the pursuit of shared goals


Is there an ideal profile/professional pathway?

We believe there is not one ideal profile or professional pathway, especially now that conditions are changing so much in the local environment. We believe it is good to try to insert profiles from other industries, such as the consumer product and technology industries, into the life sciences as they can bring several of the characteristics mentioned above to the table, as well as a fresh approach to old problems. It is something that we have done recently and has definitely been paying off.


Which are the main challenges they’ll need to be ready to address?

Because of the changes mentioned above, we believe they will face challenges including, but not limited to, the fact that:

  • In Mexico, as well as in many other developing countries, the main customers of the life sciences industry reside not in the private but in the public health sector: government spending on low-cost treatments for minor afflictions such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases makes up the largest chunk of the available market. The very profitable, high-specialty treatments that life sciences firms normally crave are scarce, forcing them to adopt innovative commercial strategies.


  • The way that the Mexican government acquires drugs is changing (and already has changed) radically. A more centralized approach that involves the purchase of drugs by one federal entity, as opposed to individual, state-level purchases by each government organization, will be adopted in the near future. This will most surely imply a significant change for the public health sector, with fresh players getting a chance to compete for federal contracts. If life sciences companies wish to get their hands on some of the opportunities that are arising, they must re-orient their company strategies.