The Importance of Training Talent

Fernando and his journey at Takeda
Originally from Valencia, Spain, I moved to Dubai’s sunny shores in July 2019, to join Takeda as Head of Business Operations. Prior to joining Takeda, I spent the majority of my career in financial and business analyst roles in the pharma industry, including 11 years working at American healthcare company Baxter International, before going on to work as Associate Director at Merck, and Head of Finance for Spain and Portugal for Shire.

Throughout my 16-year career, I’ve had the pleasure and good fortune to work in numerous countries and regions worldwide, including the US, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Thanks to this international exposure, I’ve led extremely diverse teams, and in turn, developed my leadership skills leaps and bounds. With much of my work focused on developing business partnerships and commercial leadership, engaging with a diversity of people and cultures has helped me become a more strategic and dynamic leader, with a strong awareness of the cultural sensitivities unique to each geographic region that shape our business. My competencies have been further strengthened with the completion of an MBA program at the London Business School.

Today, at Takeda, I oversee the implementation of the global strategy for the newly created Middle Eastern business division, covering 17 countries. As part of my role, I am also responsible for business intelligence, customer excellence, integration, divestments, projects management, strategic alliances and communications. In what is an exciting time to be working in the healthcare industry regionally, thanks to the significant investments and innovations taking place in the Middle East, it is my personal mission to ensure that we are on track to deliver a Better Health for People and a Brighter Future for the world through leading innovation in medicine.

To achieve this, we as a team are bringing medicines, treatments and vaccines of the highest quality to market, as quickly as possible. The growth is made possible by dedicated team, who I am keen on attracting, developing, and retaining to become diverse purposeful leaders who are the best at what they do. We are committed to ensuring an inclusive, safe, and empowering work environment where each employee and their contributions are recognized. Our company was built on our values of Takeda-ism and Patient, Trust, Reputation, and Business, providing opportunities for everyone to develop to their fullest potential.

The team is as diverse as the patients we serve, our aspiration is that every employee at Takeda enjoys the opportunity to thrive, develop, and grow based on merit, potential, and ambition, regardless of gender, age, nationality, race, religion, belief, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or lifestyle. Takeda is endeavouring to attract and develop diverse global talent and provide an inclusive and empowering work environment. Such diversity is essential in our transformation into a best-in-class global pharmaceutical company and advance the health and well-being of patients. Every opinions count is one of the moto for the Leadership team and therefore we need diversity for every topic

The importance of training and development at Takeda
At Takeda, we understand that success starts and ends with our employees, and as such, we recognise the importance of having a continuously engaged workforce. Part of our company philosophy and our DNA, we focus on equipping our employees with the tools, resources and skills required to ensure a growth mindset and high-performance teams. By listening to our employees, we do our best to ascertain how we can best support them in their development and career advancement. We view these efforts as integral to our business’s long-term growth and success, and I believe our efforts have paid off. Takeda has been internationally recognised by the Top Employers Institute as an outstanding place to work.

Developing the team’s skillset through global programs are helping them prepare to be the next generation of leaders. To guide our transformation to the next level, we introduced Leadership Behaviours to define what Takeda leaders must do to drive our business forward now and into the future.

What training is available at Takeda for staff for career development?
Last year, we launched several new training programs for staff in the region as part of our growth mindset commitment, with the core focus of these programs being customer relations and sales, alongside leadership skills. In light of the events of 2020, these training programs have also been focused on helping employees adapt to the “new normal”, with challenges ranging from working with customers remotely to adapting to new levels of uncertainty. The training programs offered included the following:

• Agility +
Agility+ is a training program designed to help employees understand their customers’ mindset and improve their sales skills. Designed to help staff recognise the latest trends and how these impact customers, the program’s fundamental aim is to serve Takeda patients better. Participants are required to engage in several exercises to study and analyse customer behaviour and explore how behaviours and attitudes shape decisions. The end goal is a workforce aligned with the customer to ensure a collaborative relationship that will deliver value to all parties.

• Virtual Messaging
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, WFH has become the “new norm”. This has presented a specific challenge to our sales teams, whose work is often based on face to face interaction. As with almost all sales roles, success is dependent on building personal relationships, which is not easy when one is restricted to online communication. This virtual messaging workshop was designed to provide staff with the skills they need to thrive in this novel environment, from gaining the customer’s attention to being one step ahead of their needs.

• Quality Conversations
Designed specifically for those managing a team at Takeda, our Quality Conversations workshop is designed to uphold Takeda’s core philosophy of open dialogue. All employees at Takeda should feel the company provides a safe space for them to express their opinions. This workshop is designed to help Takeda leaders create this environment for employees, with a focus on transparency and fairness.

• Coaching Master Class
One of our most exciting new training offerings, we launched our first coaching masterclass started in February 2020. Designed to enhance leadership skills, the masterclass’s objective is to foster a high-performance team led by our coaches. With these skills and after around 40 virtual hours all done remotely our newly qualified coaches will better encourage fellow team members’ performance and development, providing them with constructive advice and feedback. Those that complete the masterclass will receive an official certification from a reputed external body. So far, over 30 Takeda employees have participated.

• VUCA Workshops
VUCA is an abbreviation which stands for ‘volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity’ – likely some of the favourite buzzwords from 2020. No doubt, last year many business leaders realised the importance of preparing for such tumultuous times. Thanks to globalisation and digitisation, this is now the order of the day. With it more difficult than ever to plan ahead in a rapidly changing environment which can literally change overnight from one day to the next, this training session focused primarily on supporting employees implement change more effectively. The workshop focused specifically on the principles and processes of change management, cross-functional collaboration, external stakeholder partnerships and strategic alliance.

Are there specific training programs available for specific roles?
As you can see from the list of training above, several of these training programs are designed with specific employee functions in mind. Since last year, that has been a particular focus on sales and customer engagement, leadership skills, and adapting to the new environment in response to COVID-19 associated lockdowns. However, we are working continuously with HR on our development programs, and one of our next objectives is to develop customised growth mindset initiatives. Furthermore, we hope to embed our focus on coaching in the Middle East, so we expect to do more on that front in the future. Finally, digital transformation will be an essential focus for us as we move forward, and we will be rolling out both employee and patient-specific training programs to that end.

About the author

Fernando Borras

Fernando Borras

Takeda, Business Operations Head Middle East

Fernando Borras is the Business Operations Head at Takeda Pharmaceuticals in the Middle East.

Driven by strategic thinking, Borras has more than 15 years of experience across different functions in the pharmaceutical industry with a solid track record in business partnership and commercial leadership.

In his current capacity, Borras leads the implementation of the company’s global strategy as well as its business intelligence, customer excellence, integration, divestments, project management and communication activities.

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