Talking about his work is a sure conversation-starter, as Sean discovered in his role as the General Manager of Allergan Aesthetics Taiwan and Hong Kong. Ranging from curiosity to reservations to misperceptions, he takes them in stride, finding value in these insights, ground-up, reinforcing the importance of education.
While not one to shy away from sharing his experience with his company’s products when asked, Sean recognises that not everyone is ready to do so.
“We respect that it’s all about personal choices and decisions in this business. What we commit to is to provide innovative treatments, product training and educational opportunities to support clinic consultations. This is really no different to how we advocate consumers to talk to their doctors about what’s best for them, as we do with all pharmaceutical products,” he adds.
When Sean, a chemical engineer turned executive, joined the company in Taipei two years ago, he was responsible for Allergan’s complete portfolio: neuroscience, eye care and aesthetics.
However, following the company’s acquirement in May by global research-based biopharmaceutical company AbbVie, the neuroscience and eye-care sectors were absorbed into AbbVie’s portfolio, leaving Sean’s role solely dedicated and focused on aesthetics.
“It’s a win–win situation where the new combined company is now the fourth largest pharmaceutical company in the world,” he explains.
“Our enhanced growth platform offers Allergan’s aesthetic products, which complements AbbVie’s leadership in immunology producing innovative medicines.
“It’s about diversity and more investment in R&D. Globally, we will be covering 175 markets with more than 30 brands treating more than 60 conditions. In aesthetics, our commitment is to help healthy people become more confident about themselves.”
Leading a team of 100 people across Taiwan and Hong Kong, Sean’s more finely tuned role serves two very separate client bases. One is to serve the clinics offering the treatments, operations usually run by businessmen, dermatologists and surgeons, while the other is to meet consumer needs.
“We are continually working to be the essential partner to our clinic and physician customers,” he says. “It’s something we don’t take for granted. The long history and leadership Allergan established in the aesthetics market is the result of this commitment, which we take seriously.
“Our global slogan is ‘Your practice, our purpose’. It is a way of being, putting customers at the centre of everything we do. For example, we responded quickly with support initiatives during COVID-19, including extensive educational programs that continued during this time.”
After working 70-hour weeks as a Project Leader for Boston Consulting Group and Marketing Director for Pfizer, Sean understood the need for a healthy work–life balance.
He also knew a leader was only as good as his team, and that meant creating a buoyant environment where laughter lines were ironically welcome.
“I created the Happy FACE concept when I joined Allergan in 2018, because I wanted a workplace where people can thrive and look forward to support and collaboration,” he says.
“Happy, of course, means a happy environment, and that’s followed by the four pillars I lead by. ‘F’ is for fair, be fair to the team; ‘A’ is for assist, so help them succeed; ‘C’ means change, learning to adapt; and ‘E’ means leading by example.”
Sean admits his biggest challenge still lies in education. The Allergan Medical Institute provides robust training to clinicians to improve their sense of aesthetics, injection techniques and complication management, while internal business consultant teams assist clinic owners to run their businesses smoothly and efficiently.
Meanwhile, consumers also need education, with Sean revealing that only 15% of Allergan Aesthetics’ targeted consumers in Taiwan and Hong Kong, those wanting to improve their appearance, pursue enhancement options at a clinic.
He says the remaining 85% concerned about the treatment stay at home debating whether they should go or not. “We are looking at how we can direct our educational efforts to this 85%,” he says.
We respect that it’s all about personal choices and decisions in this business.
“Millennials are among them; they’re the fastest-growing market and the ones most likely to try. So we’re using a diverse digital approach to reach them via Facebook and Instagram.”
Recognising the myriad of options available to consumers as well as their reservations with aesthetic treatments in clinics, Sean says, “The more information we can provide to empower their decisions, the better. Think about the reasons for considering treatments and how they complement current skin- and body-care regimes. Do research about products and physicians, including how to make the most of a consultation. Work out a plan with the doctor that matches specific needs and goals. That, I believe, makes for an aesthetic journey that goes beyond face value.”