Christophe Weber, President and COO of Japanese pharmaceuticals company Takeda, responds to “7 Questions” in the Nikkei Business magazine:
1. You announced your new strategy in October?
I spent the past 8 months since I joined Takeda [from GlaxoSmithKline] talking to various employees, from which I have reached an understanding of Takeda’s strengths and weaknesses. The strategy is to support Takeda in becoming a global, R&D led company. The structure needs to be changed to become more effective, and to develop global minded human resources.
2. How long is needed for this transformation?
I am expecting it to take 5 years. We will focus the structure on the 4 disease areas of R&D strength in Takeda such as oncology and gastroenterology and also vaccines. We will join up the R&D functions which are distributed across various countries, and strengthen their links to improve their efficiency at the same time , as well as their agility.
3. Doesn’t globalization go against becoming more agile?
It’s true that globalization can cause the organisation to become more complex. However each R&D region will be given responsibility and decision making powers. Sales channels will also be delegated more decision making authority. This should enable them to have a degree of agility and for us to grow as a global company.
4. To be a truly global company, you need to expand in developing markets?
We bought the Swiss company Nycomed in 2011. Nycomed has strong sales channels in Russia, China and Brazil. We will develop these further, to sell drugs that we have been selling in Europe and North America. Developing markets are reforming their healthcare, and this will grow rapidly in the next decade.
5. The majority of your management team come from outside Takeda. Why are so few executives from within Takeda?
I expect to hire people from outside Takeda only when there are no suitable candidates within. If there are too many external hires, it gives the impression that we are not developing our own people sufficiently. Takeda currently lacks people with global experience. We are currently thinking how to develop more globally minded people.
6. You attracted a lot of attention as a foreign executive when you were appointed President in June?
It is still rare for a non-Japanese to run a Japanese company and it is a difficult job. However, when Chairman Hasegawa called me to talk to me about this, I thought it was a challenge I wanted to take up. Mr Hasegawa has a strong will to take on the world. I felt he was a fellow spirit.
7. There was some opposition to you as a foreign President from shareholders?
There were many opinions expressed, and I listened to them with respect. It is to be expected that there will be some negative reactions when a foreigner takes on this big a reform. History will judge whether this reform is correct. I was at my previous company for more than 20 years, so I am different from other foreign CEOs who change companies every few years. I have a similar character to the Japanese in that I value stability.
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