Pharmaceutical PPM

How to overcome cross-functional difficulties in Project Management by Reny ten Haaf

One of the best aspects of being the content manager here at EBCG is that you can have the chance to meet new and interesting people every single day. My favorite way to do it is by conducting interviews with our conference speakers! Last month, I had the opportunity to talk with Reny ten Haaf, TA Associate …

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Speaker Interview with Andreas Norlin, Independent Project Leader

EBCG has the world’s largest conference for project & portfolio management professionals for 6 years now. 2017 will be the year when we go even bigger! On March 2nd & 3rd, around 200 attendees and speakers from all kinds of Pharma and Biotech companies will come together in London for the 7th Annual Pharma PPM Toolbox. They will discuss, laugh, argue, share and work together in order to gain new insights that will help them become more effective managers.

One of our exceptional speakers is Andreas Norlin, Independent Project Leader. I had the opportunity to talk to Andreas a few weeks ago and discuss more of his background, career and presentation.

Tell me a little bit more about your background and your career.

For the last 8.5 years, I have worked full time as a project leader at Novo Nordisk in Denmark, both within preclinical development as well as global project lead with full responsibility for all parts of drug development projects. I have worked mostly in phase 1 and phase 2 development and my biggest achievements have been to bring two preclinically challenging projects into phase 3. Before I started at Novo Nordisk I held a preclinical director position for around 7 years at a small biotech company in Lund, Sweden, mostly as line manager but also with some project management. I have a Ph.D. in Animal Physiology from Lund University, Lund, Sweden so I come with a research background.

Over the years, what is the most challenging part of your job?

This is a difficult question because I think it has been different from time to time and I cannot really say what has been the most challenging part. However, given the choice of topic for my presentation, I would say that stakeholder management is a much more challenging part of leading a project, especially in the cases when your project is not among the highest prioritized in the portfolio. I have experienced both situations where you have all the management focus and support because you are working in an high-prioritized project (stakeholders more or less “manage themselves”) and projects where you have to work actively with your stakeholders (and it is not sure you will succeed anyway simply because stakeholders have different agendas). Realizing this difference and adapt to that has been challenging.

Can you elaborate more on your presentation on our event?

I will talk about when the environment of a project changed drastically due to external events (i.e., events outside the project, but within the company). As a consequence of the changed project environment, the governance was changed and we got a new set of stakeholders. My team and I were aware of this, but we didn’t really think about how this could change who were the more influential stakeholders. Two things happened: the new stakeholders had a different set of priorities which we had to accommodate to and the new governance/stakeholders being more senior than the previous one also made them more difficult to reach (the consequence of a hierarchical organization) so it became more difficult to understand them and influence them. How did this end? Well, the project is still alive, but it took more than nine months to sort things out.

In your opinion, what is the #1 takeaway of your presentation?

Good question – now I really have to think ☺ Remember to do a thorough stakeholder mapping with regular intervals and always when there are major changes in the project environment! Stakeholder management is not just something you learn at project management courses – it really matters.

Speaker Interview with Stefanie Wach from Fresenius Kabi

The 2016 Pharma PPM Toolbox in Basel was one of the most successful events in the history of EBCG. More than 170 attendees and speakers came together in Basel to share their enthusiasm about portfolio and project management. One of our exceptional speakers was Stefanie Wach, Senior Vice President, Global Project Management at Fresenius Kabi. Stefanie is a very enthusiastic and dedicated person and I had the pleasure of getting to know her a little more over the phone.

So Stefanie, tell me a bit more about your career and background.

I am very open person who loves being and working with people. I like walking in nature and exploring new things. So, when it comes to my professional life, I always try to implement that. I am keen on exploring new thing or creating new departments and structures.

Since my PhD thesis, I have gained 15 years of experience in different positions in project management, strategic marketing, product and portfolio management in pharmaceutical, diagnostics as well as biotechnology industries. At the moment, I am working at Fresenius Kabi, a global pharmaceutical company established in 2008. I am the Senior Vice President, Global Project Management and I focus on its increase and efficiency by creating an independent management structure including the alignment and improvement of global processes (communication, enhance productivity etc). About 3 and a half years ago, I was asked to create an established global project management structure for our generic pharmaceuticals.

I also used to work at Merck, in the generic field so therefore I came with this vast experience. I started as a Global Strategic Marketing Manager, responsible for a broad therapeutic area. Luckily, in all positions, I had the possibility to establish a department or a certain structure and to be honest it was a lot of fun.Stefanie Wach

Can you elaborate a little more on your session on our event?

In my presentation at your event in Basil, I told my audience the story of how I established this global project management structure I mentioned above. I explained the initial situation, the challenges and the needs we faced and then step by step, I showed them how I implemented it and how -together with my team- we created a very successful global project. After my presentation, I received great feedback from my audience because they appreciated my openness and the transparent description of my approach. It wasn’t all about success but also about the pitfalls and failures which I explained in detail. I also showed our lessons learned. I think they really appreciated it because it was like a road map. How we created it and how we defined the to-dos and the challenges.

How did this event help you and in what way do you think it will help our potential attendees?

I really liked the event. What I liked the most was the open atmosphere and the discussions during the breaks. We know that we all have challenges in our daily business and sometimes, you have the feeling that this is related only to you. But listening to other presentations and discussing with other attendees,  it became quite clear we are facing the same issues and challenges even if you are working in a small or big company. The exchange of experiences and knowledge was the thing that made this event valuable and interesting. And I am sure that the other attendees will appreciate it as well.

What are your expectations for next year’s event?

Don’t change much! Please keep the nice atmosphere, all the discussions, and the breaks. A very special thing on your event was the round-table
discussions. They created the fruit for discussion between all participant without the usual and boring Q&A after the presentations. People touched critical topics very openly and during the coffee breaks, I was able to follow up with most of the other participants. This created a nice atmosphere and increased networking opportunities.



Infographic: The Pharma PPM Toolbox In Numbers

Last January, the 1st US Annual Pharma PPM Toolbox kicked off in New Jersey. An amazing collection of Project and Portfolio Management professionals joined our conference and shared their insights and enthusiasm as well towards innovation, leadership, personal approach and people management in the Pharma Industry. The outcome was a complete success. You don’t believe us? …

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