written on 05.04.2013

Interview with Luz Stella Gómez, General Manager, GEMEDCO S.A.

You have been with GEMEDCO since 2004 and have been General Manager since 2007. What were your main priorities when you started in your most recent position?

One of my main priorities when I was appointed as GEMEDCO General Manager was to establish an external Board of Directors choosing people with expertise in different areas such as healthcare, finance, international law, government and business strategy; which meets every month.

In order to respond to the new challenges of the market, we hired well trained professionals with a great deal of experience in the healthcare sector and promoted some of our employees to directive positions.

Given the importance of having a robust information system, we acquired the best Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) in the market: SAP, to obtain reliable and up to date information on real-time.

Additionally, to improve the logistics operation we contracted an experienced third party in the medical devices industry.

We have met other family-owned companies in the past, which see advantages such as not having to report to shareholders, and their strategies can be formed in a less pedantic manner. What were the opportunities in transforming the company from a family-owned business into a true corporation?

Although GEMEDCO was not exactly a family-owned company, it was being managed as if it were.

The owners, conscious of the new realities, empowered me to do the necessary changes to transform it into a true corporation by establishing a Corporate Governance with clear strategic plans and guidelines to take the best decisions for the benefit of the corporation.

What is the number one challenge that medical device companies face today in Colombia?

The biggest challenge is to survive in this competitive market, by providing cost-effective and high quality solutions which impact positively in the population.

The government sometimes puts regulations in place that affect the import of many different products. Does this happen in Colombia?

In Colombia, Decree 4725 of 2005 rules trading authorization, sanitary registration and surveillance of medical devices. This Decree was written following the GHTF regulation standards; however it is necessary to adjust it to the new requirements of the market.

What are the main characteristics of the Colombian market that make it so attractive for this particular niche?

The market is attractive because the economy is performing good; the registration processes take a reasonable amount of time compared with other countries in the region; the almost universal healthcare coverage and the availability of highly-trained healthcare professionals.

GEMEDCO acts as a sales and service representative on behalf of GE Healthcare importing, marketing and distributing a number of products. What is the breakdown of your various channels of revenue and main growth drivers in 2013?

GEMEDCO maintains a substantial market share in ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance (MR), nuclear medicine (NM) and contrast media.

We will strengthen our efforts not only to maintain the market share but also to increase it by expanding the sales force throughout the country.

What are the success factors that have lead to GEMEDCO’s market leadership positions?

GEMEDCO has a long time tradition of seriousness, ethics and transparent business practices.

Its sales and service employees are well trained and highly motivated to meet the highest requirements from customers.

Our represented brands are internationally recognized as being among the best in the industry, supporting us permanently.

Where is the growth coming from?

GE Healthcare´s commitment to creating better health for more people has brought technology at low cost to more people throughout the world.

In many of our global reports, CEOs often bemoan the fact that it is difficult to find talent and specific skill sets. How do you find the best talent in Colombia?

There are many different methods. I have been working in healthcare for 25 years, and with that experience I can find the right people because I know what to look for. GEMEDCO also offers internships, and many students spend several months working here. We are also in touch with the major universities in Colombia, and sometimes hire students who have the best performance. These are informal partnerships, but they work very well.

On the topic of partnerships, GEMEDCO has alliances with companies all around the world for distribution within Colombia. What makes GEMEDCO the partner of choice?

The key is GEMEDCO’s reputation. The company has a very strong brand, and it also has a structure to support operations.

You have had experience in a number of key areas in Colombian healthcare, ranging from Valle de Lilli to ANDI to GEMEDCO. What are the main differences in management styles between companies, associations and hospitals?

Each one of these organizations has a different management style given their entrepreneurial (ANDI), healthcare provider (Valle de Lili) and commercial (GEMEDCO) perspective, which finally all merge at the same objective: the patient.

If we were to return to Colombia in the next three to four years, how will we find GEMEDCO?

GEMEDCO will continue leading the market and it will reach the top position. We will continue providing the best solutions at the right costs, facilitating poor people to access high technological healthcare services.

What keeps you motivated after 25 years of experience?

I enjoy taking risks. I love the challenges that are presented to me every day. I am motivated by trying to fulfil the many objectives that come with the position. I am a very customer-oriented person, and I enjoy working with people. In our company we have diligent people with a lot of energy, which is also a great source of motivation.

What would be your final message to Pharmaceutical Executive on behalf of GEMEDCO?

Colombia has good opportunities and we all have to contribute to make it a better country. Even though GEMEDCO is not a non-profit organization, we take social responsibility with all seriousness. We must work together with everybody in the value chain: government, suppliers, insurers, healthcare professionals and hospitals among others, to find common ground towards people’s well being.

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