Egypt country managers tend not to stay in their roles for more than a few years, instead moving on to different pastures when new opportunities arise. However, those that do stay put – such as Roche’s Mohamed Swilam, now approaching his ninth year as general manager for Egypt – can obtain a uniquely nuanced long-term perspective on the development of Egypt’s healthcare and life sciences industry.
We are now living in the best time of healthcare provision in Egypt in terms of positive change, appreciation of the value of innovation and genuine interest from decision makers to improve patients’ lives. And I believe there is so much more to come
Taking The Lead
Swilam’s commitment to Egypt has been recognised by his peers, who recently nominated him as chairman of the board for the Egyptian Society for Pharmaceutical Research (ESPR), the industry association that represents 21 of the top innovative global pharma companies operating in Egypt.
Given the pace of transformation underway in Egyptian healthcare as it attempts to rollout universal health insurance, Swilam feels that the ESPR needed to create a similar level of dynamism in its work. “Whenever I sit with my colleagues in the pharmaceutical innovation field, I feel we speak exactly the same language,” he notes. “Now more than ever, we need to work together to create stronger, more resilient and responsive health systems. We are committed to working with all health system partners in the Egyptian healthcare ecosystem to support their transformation and bring more innovation to the different points of patient care, from awareness to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.”
Swilam adds, “In this transformation, we’re also focused on supporting the digitisation of the healthcare system. A data-enabled system will improve patients’ outcomes, reduce the overall cost of illness, and accordingly, support the sustainability of the healthcare system in Egypt.”
Transforming In and Out
In addition to the transformation underway in Egyptian healthcare, Roche itself has been transforming in recent years, with the Swiss-headquartered company having introduced a new operational model around financial compensation. Roche is also about to see a first change at CEO level for 14 years.
By removing sales targets for its medical representatives, Swilam feels that “Roche is challenging the status quo – the core of the traditional commercial model – which has long been focused on the product.” He continues, “As someone who spent seven years as a sales rep, I understand that there are pros and cons with sales targets – as they come with end-of-the-year bonuses. The idea behind the new approach is that if people are driven by something bigger than bonuses, they can drive bigger results. It was not easy in the beginning, but the results after four years are very encouraging.”
Looking to the future, Swilam is highly optimistic about potential improvements in Egyptian healthcare and Roche’s role within its transformation.
“By joining forces with cross-sector and healthcare partners, we can achieve the speed, scale, and efficiency to accelerate patient access to innovation and deliver high-quality care targeted to each and every individual’s unique needs,” he proclaims. “Today, we are witnessing a huge effort by the government to deliver this innovation. A change in dynamism, appreciation and understanding of the value of innovation – and of agility.”
Swilam concludes, “In my humble opinion, we are now living in the best time of healthcare provision in Egypt in terms of positive change, appreciation of the value of innovation and genuine interest from decision makers to improve patients’ lives. And I believe there is so much more to come.