For Peter Streibl, General Manager of Takeda (Thailand) Limited, it’s essential that his team understand the patient journey in detail. Though the global biopharmaceutical company with Japanese origins doesn’t deal directly with patients, instead supplying healthcare providers with innovative, life-transforming products, Peter believes this insight is critical.
Therefore, Takeda invites patient organisations to share their experiences and challenges with employees and discuss what can be done to ensure better health outcomes. The General Manager says such connections resonate with his team and bring to life the company’s purpose of “better health for people, brighter future for the world”.
It’s no surprise that he wants staff to feel connected to their purpose; Peter takes a very emotive approach to leadership. “It’s about enabling our people to shine with their own thoughts, ideas, motivation and optimism towards common objectives,” he says.
“It’s necessary to be resilient, because when you try to achieve transformational goals, it’s never a straight line to success. There are bumps in the road, and the leader needs to make sure everybody stays on track. Some motivation is needed when people face difficulties, but you must allow the team to come up with their own ideas and push through with it.”
This approach seems to work well, as the company in Thailand received the Best Companies to Work For In Asia 2020 Award from HR Asia, and was also recognised as a Thailand Top Employer by the Top Employers Institute, which Peter describes as “another testament to our efforts to provide an outstanding employee experience”.
Thailand represents a focus market for the globally present company – it’s been serving patients in the country for over half a century. What’s more, the business is in an exciting transformational stage in Thailand.
As a healthcare company, Takeda’s products are not only innovative but potentially lifesaving too, and it’s a vision that’s seen Peter travel the world with the biopharmaceutical leader.
“What made me excited about taking on the General Manager role in Thailand is this opportunity to transform Takeda Thailand into a leader in our chosen disease areas,” he says.
“In gastroenterology, where we are already a leader, in haemophilia and plasma-derived therapies, and then also oncology and rare diseases. We also have a very exciting dengue vaccine candidate. I think we’ve made great progress in the past one-and-a-half years already.”
Takeda operates on a locally based model, with its focus tailored to its surroundings; Takeda believes the closer they are to the patients, the better the company can address theunmet medical needs of the patients in the community.
Peter exemplifies this patient focus; he’s on the board of Thailand’s Pharmaceutical Association to help shape future healthcare policy and drive access to innovative treatments for Thai patients.
He notes the government has made efforts to accelerate healthcare innovations, but there are still issues with access to treatment, so Peter and his team are invested in increasing accessibility.
Takeda supports various programs for those faced with barriers to the medicines they need, facilitating treatments even when patients cannot afford to pay in full.
“Every decision we make, we need to ask ourselves: What’s the right thing for the patient? Does it help us to build trust with society? Does it serve to reinforce the reputation of Takeda? And does it help to develop a sustainable business?” Peter explains.
“It’s in that order because patient-centricity is a key element that we reinforce internally with our teams. That’s a constant message that we’re delivering.”
When it came to COVID-19, Thailand was lucky to have a relatively low number of cases and the Thai authorities were able to manage the pandemic well, until a spike hit at the end of 2020.
As a healthcare company, Peter, says Takeda has an important role in ensuring uninterrupted access to medication, all while supply chains and logistics face significant challenges. The nature of team and stakeholder engagement is very different now, and Peter admits it’s challenging to lead remotely.
Patient-centricity is a key element that we reinforce internally with our teams.
But Takeda has quickly embraced the necessary technology. Peter believes the pharmaceutical industry typically followed a more traditional operating model and wasn’t at the forefront of digital innovation before, but this is changing now – also due to COVID – and the accelerated adoption of digital engagement models is the right way to go.
“We have to adapt to that new environment, and that means engaging stakeholders in a virtual way,” he says. “Telehealth is becoming more and more important. In a pandemic, people can be scared to go to the hospital, whether it’s for a diagnosis or even a follow-up or treatment. So how can we help patients get the treatment that they need at home or in other settings, so that they don’t have to be in a hospital that may be overloaded or have other risks involved?”
Within Takeda, Thailand has been selected as a pilot country for digital innovation and the learnings and solutions developed here will serve as a platform for other markets. For example, digital platforms have been used to facilitate interactions between physicians.
It’s helpful in sharing information on rarer disease types, where physicians may be unable to consult immediate colleagues, and the ability to build professional networks is also invaluable. Takeda is pursuing other technological initiatives too – AI promises to play a part in predicting outbreaks and spreads of disease in future.
It’s a powerful purpose, says Peter, and it gives him the energy to wake up each day and get to work. Few industries can be said to have such a profound impact on the quality of people’s lives, and given that Takeda provides life-changing treatments for rare diseases, it’s no exaggeration to say that the work is essential.
There have been moments where he sees up close the result of his work, and it’s hard to imagine anything more rewarding. “Last year, we participated in a run for cancer patients to raise awareness, with 120 colleagues,” Peter recalls.
“We joined on a Sunday morning, and somebody who’d seen our company logo thanked us for making a treatment available to his son, who was suffering from cancer and had gone into remission. We do see that our innovative treatments save lives, and that’s really what gives me energy.”
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