On Becton Dickinson’s 40th anniversary in Spain, Lourdes López Jiménez, general manager of BD Spain & Portugal, introduces BD’s strong manufacturing footprint in the country and emphasizes the importance of the Spain to BD’s global operations. She also explains why she is so positive about the recent acquisition of Bard and offers her vision of Becton Dickinson as a partner in the healthcare ecosystem.
You have a long, esteemed career at BD, could you briefly introduce yourself to our international audience?
I have been in this position as country GM for Spain and Portugal for 2.5 years, but began my career at BD 23 years ago, first in marketing and then moving to different divisions, holding roles in different geographies: three years in France, five years in Mexico, and almost three in Colombia. I have taken care of not only business lines, but of regional operations too. This has provided me with a wide experience. It has been a continuous learning process, which BD can offer.
Becton Dickinson is celebrating its 40th anniversary in Spain. What is your local footprint?
Our revenues in Spain are around 225 million euros. In Spain, we have three manufacturing plants and two commercial offices. In total, we have around 1500 people. Here at San Agustín de Guadalix we have one manufacturing plant and the main office for BD Spain. In total there are 500 people, 60 percent in manufacturing. The second manufacturing site is in Fraga where we have close to 600 people. This has been operational for 40 years and is much more focused on big scale products. The third plant is in Cáceres. There we have 130 employees, focused on manual products, building them manually. Interestingly, Becton Dickinson globally manufactures more plastic pieces than Lego.
What is the importance of having such a manufacturing footprint here in Spain?
Spain is very strategic and critical for global BD. In these manufacturing plants, 70 percent of production is exported overseas. Here in San Agustín de Guadalix we are manufacturing some products of which 60 percent is exported to the USA. We also have one product to protect healthcare workers from exposure to hazardous drugs which is manufactured exclusively in Spain. Fraga is also one of the plants with the highest productivity across the company’s global operations. We have low operational costs combined with high standards of quality. In addition, Spain hosts the main BD’s Technology Innovation Center for Medical Segment in Europe. In the past three years and in the coming two more years, BD will have invested over 200 million euros in Spain across all of the sites. Fraga is the only the plant in BD where we have the complete supply chain integrated.
What are the star products driving BD’s success in Spain?
We have a large core with some products existing in BD for 70 years. In addition, we are bringing new innovations, with a strong focus on automation. We are moving to try and sell everything from small syringes to large automated equipment, as well as robotics which provide pharmacists with the correct products at the correct dosage. Obviously, the venture into these new technologies is creating challenges for BD.
A key area of specialism for BD is in the prevention of medical errors. We are the company with the most solutions for adverse events in patient safety and have received an award from Frost & Sullivan. We have different solutions covering this area. At the moment we have all kinds of devices to administer any treatment, from a syringe to catheters as well as pumps for continuous infusion. To prevent that there is any mistake in the delivery, we also have robotics and other equipment which select the correct drug for the correct patient. We call this from the vial to the vein, as we offer the complete solution. We not only care for the safety of the patient but also the healthcare workers’ safety too.
To ensure we can bring these products and not spread ourselves too thin, we have different strategies to deal with direct and indirect stakeholders. The direct stakeholders are the users and the medical services/ departments. With these stakeholders, we still maintain a highly specialized business approach, with a number of key opinion leaders advising us on the best methods to follow. On the other hand, the C suite executives and local administrations have more impact, so we need to tackle these indirect stakeholders. For this, we have created another department that concentrates on market access and finds solutions in a global way. With such a wide variety of products we can offer customized approaches for all of our specific customers.
We want to be perceived as a strategic partner. This goes beyond producing products and moves into offering solutions. If you want to manage the treatment of your patients well, we have the widest offering that can be optimized based on the budget and requirements that our partners face.
How open-minded are the authorities in Spain about integrating these innovative solutions into their current healthcare network?
This is a challenge, but there is considerable optimism from the authorities in this regard, understanding how much is wasted on medical errors annually – over 1.5 billion euros. With these kinds of efficiency savings, our solutions can really resonate with the government. Moreover, the hot topic at this time is results-based solutions. This is the work that we are doing, working with health economics to quantify the savings from our unique offering.
We want to be seen as partners, not only to just bring the solution. We are also involved in the training and implementation and are supporting the customer the whole way, helping with both the why and the how.
How strong is the infrastructure in Spain to make use of real-world data to understand the outcomes of new innovative solutions in medical devices?
Compared with other countries, Spain is one of the most advanced in Europe. I think there is good development in Spain in this regard. It is true that hospitals have a lot of data and need resources to manage and extract the right information. In one of the last acquisitions of a local distributor, we brought on board to BD a team of highly skilled data scientists who are developing applications for connectivity so that we can integrate our solutions across products and for our customer to be able to extract the data and analysis and make decisions based on that.
BD has been very active in acquisitions on a global scale, the most recent being Bard. How has this acquisition trickled down to the affiliate in Spain?
The acquisition of Bard has proven a nice cultural fit. We have started to work very cohesively. Bard has begun using BD’s back office teams and have been integrated into our leadership teams and so forth. In addition, we now have an even stronger portfolio, able to cover the whole patient journey from the moment they enter the hospital. We have one of the widest portfolios possible in the medical device and medical technology industry.
The main challenge involved in this acquisition has been the internal processes. This will take 1-2 years until everything runs smoothly. Nevertheless, I love this acquisition because it is not to increase market share for the products which we were operating but to widen our operations and capabilities.
What are your objectives over the next 5 years?
I have three key goals. The first is to contribute to the Spanish healthcare system. This is through the three channels: the patient – creating the best and most accurate care continuum, through the institutions – finding efficiencies for the system, and finally for the healthcare worker – ensuring safety and higher productivity for them.
The second goal is to contribute to BD. We need to grow and develop the best strategies possible to continue advancing. Commensurately, our people are critical. I have a special focus on diversity and inclusion, looking to ensure that we can be an inclusive employer for those with special needs and disabilities and having parity between women and men. We also invest a lot in the development of talent: we have a BD university, in which we have the collaboration of Harvard Business School and McKinsey, which facilitates the growth of our employees.
The final goal is to contribute to society. Our plants are run on 100% renewable energies and we maximize our recycling. We also collaborate with associations as part of our CSR operations, such as children with cancer.
All this makes BD one of the best places to work.
What advice would you give to a young woman starting her career in the healthcare industry?
This is a very important topic for me. I am participating in several associations that help empower women in leadership positions. I am a mentor in a number of high schools to encourage young girls to choose STEM careers. There are still several barriers that must be overcome to reach complete parity. I believe the most important piece of advice is for young women not to have limits on their aspirations.