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 Director Respiratory & Vaccines Project & Portfolio Management at Abbot. Reny will be one of our exceptional speakers during the Pharma PPM Toolbox on March 2nd & 3 rd. Born and raised in the Netherlands, she answered my questions regarding her presentation and her approach on cross-functional collaboration in Project Management.
Reny, tell me a little bit about your background and your career.
I completed my Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering and Management Science at the Technical University of Eindhoven. Soon after my graduation, I started working in the Pharmaceutical Industry. Even though I didn’t have any medical background, I started learning quite fast because I was responsible for the financial calculation of R&D projects and portfolio analysis.
Later on, I was up for a challenge and started working in a more logistics function: as a liaison between our facility in the Netherlands and our affiliates all over the world. After 2 years, I got the opportunity to shape and lead the new Customer Service Department at our Dutch facility and get some experience with managing people. While in this role, I gained a lot of experience regarding our influenza vaccine and after 5 years, I accepted a role in the Marketing Department of our Vaccines Department.
From there, it was just a small step into Project Management of our influenza vaccine and now, I’m the Project Director for our complete Respiratory and Vaccines Portfolio based in Weesp, the Netherlands.
Over the years, what is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of being a Project Director is to ensure that people will perform well and contribute to the team’s results without being their manager.
Can you elaborate more on your presentation on our event? What is the #1 takeaway of your presentation?
I will give examples of challenges with cross-functional collaborations and provide the audience with tips on how to overcome these difficulties when they arise. As a project leader, managing team members is as important as managing stakeholders.
If cross-functional challenges arise, you need to have the leverage to maintain good cooperation and teamwork.
Therefore, it is important to motivate people in order to do their job so that the team’s goals are met.