Born to Transform

04:25 EDT 3 Apr 2017 | Eyeforpharma

Marc Princen’s three-decade career is defined by two words – building and transforming. Now Executive VP and President of International Business at Allergan, he got his first taste of both as General Manager in Turkey at Schering-Plough when he was only 32.

“It was very fortunate for me as I got exposure to building up a business in new markets and new regions,” he says. “Taking an existing business, keeping what works well within existing portfolios, focusing on customers, building new operational models, and helping companies forward by doing things in a differentiated way; this is what I did in Schering-Plough, Merck, and Takeda, and it is why I was particularly attracted to Allergan.”

Princen’s task at Allergan is just as challenging. “We want to build a growth powerhouse internationally based on existing strong capabilities like customer focus as well as excellent medical education, expand our capabilities into new therapy areas and develop the best customer experience. We will realize this by building the strongest, most engaged and most curious workforce in the industry.”


Social contract

CEO Brent Saunders is clear that he wants Allergan to behave like a small, nimble, entrepreneurial “growth pharma”, investing in development projects that are already successfully underway rather than ploughing money into unproductive early-stage R&D.

Saunders is also an advocate of transparency, taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times in September 2016 to announce a promise to cap drug price increases as part of a ‘social contract’ with patients. In the wake of controversy surrounding the price gouging activities of Valeant and Turing, this move was reported – and applauded – widely.

Allergan’s social contract is about more than just pricing, says Princen. “There are four key principles; investment and innovation, access and pricing, quality and safety, and education. Allergan has set a standard within the industry of limiting price increases to single digits, more in line with inflation, and that’s a healthy way to start dealing with the issue of rising costs.” He points to other companies – including Novo Nordisk, GSK, Merck, and Takeda – that have followed Allergan’s lead.

For Princen, price gouging is symptomatic of a greater malaise and a lack of innovation. “Pricing gouging is a lazy way to drive company performance instead of driving the innovation part. Industry has an obligation to ensure that innovation is affordable to society; development costs are prohibitive and it’s incumbent on pharma to drive down those costs and find efficiencies. The amount of compound failure is also too high and we need to find better indicators of what works and what doesn’t, and shorten development times.”

Lessons in leadership

Transformative business leaders have taught him a great deal, says Princen. “Within a few short years, Fred Hassan [CEO of Schering Plough] has turned the company into an innovation machine that performed very well. He has been very influential, both for his transformational capability and for his humbleness in how he approaches and engaged people.”

Princen also cites Ken Frazier of Merck as an “eloquent, outspoken person” who brought innovation into the oncology space. “Brent Saunders is on a fast track; he has a lot of conviction and I see him taking a driving role in how industry makes [medicines] more accessible and affordable.”

Clarity of purpose is crucial for driving profitable growth down, he says. “When working in teams, I’m all about focus and prioritization; you have to be crystal clear on your direction and the key levers to get there, then work on what really matters. I have also always helped other people to succeed in their careers by giving them exposure to experience and by coaching them.”

Other key elements are playing to your strengths and an ability to form partnerships.“You need to use diverse and existing creativity to collaborate and co-create in order to get better outcomes. You need to work in an ecosystem with others and have transparent communication around what you are trying to achieve and the direction you want to take so that everyone understands the aspiration and how to get there. I’m a transformer – I’m in it for the long-haul and so it has to have meaningful impact that lives on beyond you.”

Published by permission of the International Journal of Sales Transformation ©2016


Marc Princen is invigorated by what he does best – building and transforming businesses

Original Article: Born to Transform


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