Much like the healthcare environment in Asia Pacific, Roche is rapidly evolving. We are transforming our organisation to fulfil a bold ambition of delivering more benefit to patients faster by helping to build the efficient, sustainable healthcare systems of the future. A critical part of this process is the development of our talent. We believe that helping our colleagues reach their potential and creating an environment where they can thrive is the key to achieving our goals to benefit the lives of patients.
Unlocking the potential of our passion
I have always felt fortunate to work in the health industry. It is incredibly fulfilling to play a part in bringing cutting-edge solutions to patients to help them live longer and healthier lives. It is equally rewarding to work alongside people who share a passion for putting their skills to work every day to make a positive difference to patients’ lives.
One thing that has always been very clear to me in our industry – regardless of where we are in the world – is that the energy, enthusiasm and commitment we bring to work each day has a direct relationship with the success we achieve in bringing medical benefit to patients. This is something that has stayed true throughout the three decades of my career.
What is important to recognise is that populations across Asia Pacific are ageing and levels of non-communicable diseases including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurological conditions are rising, driving up demand for healthcare. At the same time, science, data, technology and personalised healthcare are opening up new possibilities for the delivery of care. But these advances are taking place in an evolving healthcare landscape in which challenges, including insufficient healthcare spend, low access and trust, mean governments and health systems are facing big questions about how they deliver care.
One consequence is that expectations of the pharmaceutical industry are changing. Our customers and healthcare professionals are busy, their jobs are complex, and they deal with significantly more information than they did in the past. They want joined-up services, simplification, and economically viable innovation. Roche has responded to that call. We are evolving our organisation so we can do what patients and society need us to do. This means delivering more medical advances while reducing the overall cost of illness to society, and leveraging our expertise in diagnostics, pharmaceuticals and data to enable health systems to improve outcomes for patients in a way that is sustainable in the long term.
This is probably the most fundamental transformation we have made in our company’s long history. It is enabling us to explore new avenues of science and technology, to roll out new customer engagement models and to build closer partnerships with health systems, institutions, researchers and innovators across the region. But what really excites me about the transformation is the focus it enables us to put on creating a thriving workplace where colleagues are empowered to reach their full potential. Because, in our industry, when colleagues are able to reach their potential and are supported, it doesn’t just translate into enhanced productivity, stronger customer relationships or business performance – but into something far more valuable: better outcomes for patients.
So how are we creating a workplace where our talented, diverse team of colleagues across Asia Pacific can truly thrive?
Evolving into a learning organisation
To achieve our ambition, we need a deep understanding of the health ecosystem and the needs of patients and our customers. We also need to be able to grow and evolve that understanding in real time so we can be agile and adaptive to their needs. This is why we are transitioning towards being a learning organisation, where people can continually develop and expand their capabilities.
Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, describes a learning organisation as one where: “people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together”. This is exactly what we want for our people: to enable and empower them to grow and learn and to throw the full force of their talents and skills behind the work that matters most to them.
Becoming a learning organisation is not about attending more training courses, instead it is a shift in the way we think and work as individuals, teams and as part of a global network on a daily basis. This is an ongoing journey for us, and it always will be. Becoming a learning organisation is a learning process in itself. For us, so far, it has included:
• Creating space for continuous learning. Giving our people the time and resources that they need to make learning part of their daily work.
• Encouraging self-organised learning communities. Our transformation is characterised by a move away from traditional top-down management structures and teams defined by geographical boundaries, towards working as a networked organisation where people can collaborate in flexible teams – or pods – to tackle specific tasks. The same applies to learning. We encourage our people to come together with colleagues from across our global network to learn together and mentor each other.
• Supporting ‘self-authored’ learning. Giving our colleagues the power to determine what, how and when they learn and how they apply their learning to their daily work.
Unleashing the potential of each person at Roche by giving them the freedom to think and act bravely and creatively is critical. But that’s only possible when people have ownership of their work. That means having a real say in what they do and how they do it and can make important decisions without having to seek permission. This is why we have moved away from traditional hierarchical management and decision-making structures and towards a new way of working which emphasises ownership at every level of the organisation. We encourage our colleagues to ask for advice and support when they need it, but we trust them – as the people who are closest to our science, our technology, our patients and our customers – to make the big decisions and find the best path forward.
This has been a significant transition for us. It is not easy to leave behind the comfort of tried and tested structures and chart a course into something new. But those old, rigid structures simply were not built for today’s dynamic, change-driven healthcare ecosystem or today’s lightning speed evolutions of science and technology. To achieve everything we want to achieve for patients, we have to transition to working practices that enable our colleagues to use their talents and knowledge to their full extent in an environment that values and recognises the contribution they are making to our goals.
Our shared purpose is our North Star
What really matters when it comes to empowering ownership if that everyone is pulling in the same direction – that we are all working towards the same North Star. For us at Roche in the Asia Pacific region, that means that we are all working towards our ambition of delivering more benefits to patients faster by helping to build the efficient, sustainable healthcare systems of the future. If we all believe in the value of this ambition – and I believe we truly do – and we all understand how our work contributes to achieving it, we feel empowered to pull out all the stops, every day, to get us there.It is the power of this shared purpose that is enabling our people to do things differently.
Making collaboration the foundation of our success
Globally and across our region, the healthcare ecosystem faces many barriers which must be overcome to deliver what patients need next. Many are highly complex challenges which cannot be solved by one country or stakeholder alone and require sustained, open partnership, from across the healthcare ecosystem nationally, regionally and globally.
In the Asia Pacific region, we are working in collaboration with governments and health stakeholders as a partner, a problem solver, and an ally. Together, we are pioneering pilot initiatives to explore how we can tackle the challenges they face today and in the future, build the capability of healthcare professionals and use real-world evidence to support access to more personalised, targeted treatment options that can be scaled for society at large.
Successful partnerships can create a path forward. For example, Roche is working alongside Project ECHO, a well-established non-governmental organisation (NGO), to support capacity building initiatives which can strengthen health systems in the Asia Pacific region. The project is helping to expand medical capabilities beyond key health centres, leveraging technology through a collaborative video tele-mentoring model for medical education and care management, which can connect national centres of excellence to remote and underserved areas.
Our regional collaborations are a great example of how our new, networked way of working has enabled our colleagues to come together across functions and geographies and pool their talents and knowledge to tackle challenges in the healthcare arena. Our work is powered by multidisciplinary teams – or squads – made up of specialists in personalised healthcare, real-world evidence, science, access and diagnostics as well as local experts. Working in this way enables us to be more informed about and responsive to the needs of patients and health systems. By bringing together learnings from each of our experiences and realities across countries in Asia Pacific, we can simplify our processes, expand our ideas, and maximise the impact and efficiencies of our innovations. It also provides our colleagues with a wealth of new opportunities to work with and learn from people outside their immediate professional circle. It opens up new pathways for career development because it offers us opportunities to contribute to initiatives led by teams and geographies other than our own.
We thrive together
Creating a thriving workplace where continuous learning is the norm and people feel empowered to work together to chart bold new courses to the future of health is only possible when we foster a working culture that is open-minded, purpose-driven, and collaborative. This is a culture in which everyone can bring their passion, excitement and commitment to work each day – and channel it towards our shared goal of delivering more innovation to patients faster. It’s a culture where diversity is valued and the unique power of each person to transform the lives of patients and society is embraced.
Ahmed Elhusseiny has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for nearly 20 years, holding local and regional positions across Europe and APAC, as well as globally. He has a strong track record of building and leading matrix teams in challenging environments, as well as developing and implementing comprehensive strategies for the launch of health therapies. Prior to joining Roche in 2013, he was at Novartis for 10 years, where he led various business units, including Ophthalmics and Primary Care.
Before becoming Area Head for Area Pacific, Ahmed was the Head of Integrated Strategies for Pharma International 7. In this role, he led a regional transformation towards new ways of working and processes, improving decision-making across teams and enhancing the patient and customer experience. Ahmed also served as Head of Commercial for the EEMEA region with a focus on launch readiness; and as Therapy Area Head, Global Product Strategy for Neurosciences and Rare Diseases, where he spearheaded Roche’s mission to develop innovative treatments to improve patient lives, including the successful launch of Ocrevus, a multiple sclerosis treatment designated as a Breakthrough Therapy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Ahmed is passionate about helping to build data-driven health systems, and is committed to bringing quality healthcare to the greatest number of people around the world by doing now what they will need tomorrow.
He holds a BSc in Biology and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from McGill University. He also received an MBA from INSEAD.