The message ‘love what you do’ is often bandied about in the business realm as an iron-clad rule for living. While many preach it, how many actually put it into practice is less clear. After all, to love some jobs stretches credulity.
There’s a lot to love about the business of health care, however. To change people’s lives for the better and improve the standard of living for an entire society brings an unrivaled feeling of satisfaction.
At least, that’s how healthcare veteran and Sanofi Consumer Healthcare General Manager of the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Vanee Gosiengfiao, feels about it – and she would know.
But what I’ve learned throughout my career is that there needs to be a purpose behind change. It can’t just be change for change’s sake.
“Health care is part of my purpose,” she says. “It’s where I find fulfillment. And now, in my job, it’s how I’m able to help others in the community. It’s my purpose and my passion.”
Six years ago, French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi traded its animal health division for Boehringer Ingelheim’s consumer health business. In the wake of the trade, Sanofi set about completely transforming its new acquisition, and hired Gosiengfiao to head up the process.
“I came to this role three years ago, and what excited me most about it was the chance to lead the transformation,” she says.
Change with purpose
No stranger to business overhauls, Gosiengfiao has spent two decades in health care, and in that time she’s often found herself leading change.
“Sanofi was very much open to transformation,” she says. “They were aiming for a fast moving healthcare company; the values and purpose of health care but with the discipline of FMCG.”
While change can be unsettling for some, Gosiengfiao felt entirely at home. “I was able to use my strengths to help remodel not just my business unit, but the whole business,” she says.
“But what I’ve learned throughout my career is that there needs to be a purpose behind change. It can’t just be change for change’s sake.”
In health care, purpose is inextricably linked to patients; in business, it’s about the consumer. For a hybrid like Sanofi Philippines, it’s important to get the balance right.
“We’re innovating the way we engage with healthcare professionals and consumers,” Gosiengfiao says. “We’re promoting wellness, whether it’s physical or mental. A better state of health, better ways of managing yourself. And having that bigger purpose to serve is where I find fulfillment.”
Primarily managing Sanofi’s Philippines operations, Gosiengfiao’s jurisdiction was recently expanded to include Hong Kong and Taiwan. The markets are different enough to require a deft touch when it comes to meeting customers’ needs.
“Sanofi has very strong brands, which is something I’ve always appreciated about the business,” she says. “There are still so many opportunities for consumers to be made aware of what our brands can do.
“Take probiotics for example – one of the best ways to improve immunity, but not a lot of people take them every day. It’s my job to let Filipinos know about the value of probiotics. We can do a lot more to improve health care in the Philippines and across South-East Asia.”
Challenges to opportunties
Sanofi brands itself as a ‘health journey partner’ for consumers. Gosiengfiao has integrated that concept into her job description so that it’s part of her professional purpose. “The work we do is for the greater good, it’s purposeful, and that’s exciting to me,” she says.
A member of the Filipino CEO Circle, advocacy of female empowerment and women in business is another cause close to Gosiengfiao’s heart.
“I help coach and mentor our young leaders so that they can become more successful and confident,” she explains. “And many of our products, such as feminine hygiene wash Lactated, are also tied to that. It’s about empowerment and confidence from inside. If you’re confident in yourself you can live out your purpose.”
I wouldn’t call them challenges. They’re opportunities.
With a solid team behind her and purpose driving her heels, Gosiengfiao says her aim is to double the size of the business in the immediate future. When asked about the challenges standing in her way, she smiles.
“I wouldn’t call them challenges. They’re opportunities to better engage our stakeholders, to better partner with healthcare professionals, to improve awareness of the value of health care,” she says.
“The future is full of these opportunities, and my team and I are always ready. We have a motivating force, and that’s our purpose.”