Shionogi, Inc.: Deanne Melloy, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

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When Shionogi Inc., was first established in the United States a little over a year ago by its Japanese parent company, Shionogi & Co. Ltd., it had the benefit of an 11-year presence in the U.S. marketplace. However, that presence didn’t actually become commercial until a recent acquisition.

As Deanne Melloy, executive vice president and chief operating officer, explained, the challenge now is in making the Shionogi brand competitive with other pharmaceutical brands.

“We are establishing a new pharmaceutical culture that will lead to new ideas and strategies for growing brands in today’s complex marketplace,” she said. “We approach products as brands; it is not just about selling a product but establishing a brand.”

A challenging first year

Melloy said the last year has not been easy. Starting out, Shionogi had a portfolio of products that were relatively old and predominantly 505(b)2s. However, Shionogi has a pipeline of NCEs (new chemical entities) coming.

“Right now, we’re really building the core competencies and capabilities for us to be able to launch our pipeline products and be very innovative with our launches,” she stated, using the analogy that the last year has been akin to flying a plane and building it at the same time.

Although their financial resources were vast, their human resources were not. Melloy said Shionogi was in dire need of acquiring talent.

“We did not have the luxury of developing talent because we’re still young, but attracting and hiring talent was our mission.”

This challenge was remedied with the hiring of over 300 new employees.

“I thought this was an upgrade opportunity,” she said of her role. “Move off of the 505(b)2 products and move up to the new NECs, best-in-class products, hiring A-talent;  however, it is more of  a start-up opportunity.”

One year later…

Now that their first year is over, Melloy sees Shionogi’s frantic start as being behind her and the future as a growth period. Because it was all so new and because she had to make vital decisions quickly, she said the biggest lesson she learned is that it’s okay to make a mistake if you confront it and fix it as soon as you realize it’s a mistake.

With over 500 employees, Shionogi now has some of the best talent in the industry, and the company has been able to attract and bring into the organization some of the top performers from across the pharmaceutical spectrum.

There are new products about to be filed and prepared to come on to the market, some of which will serve unmet patient needs. The organization is gearing up for success. For example, Shionogi acquired nine assets last year and was able to incorporate them into their business within 35 days without missing a beat, something that is unheard of.

“I really believe that at Shionogi, every individual has an opportunity to make a difference both professionally and personally,” Melloy stated. “You get very few chances in your career to be at a place where you can say, ‘My personal contribution made a significant difference.’ We’re all in it together and  everybody makes a difference.”

“I don’t need a lot of people or resources,” she added. “I just need the right ones.”

Starting with the customer

“It’s not about our agenda. It’s about our customer’s agenda.”

And it is that principle upon which Melloy bases her leadership. Their customers, whether patients or physicians, are demanding value.

“Most times, healthcare professionals and patients aren’t thinking about our products every day like we do, and yet we assume that they are,” Melloy said. “By helping them understand why they need our products or where our product fits in plays more effectively than just trying the old-fashioned way of providing details and brochures about the product.”

It is incumbent upon them to establish a rapport with their customers, to understand the emotional component behind their needs, and to brand Shionogi’s products accordingly.

This is why Melloy doesn’t focus on industry trends. She’s trying to establish a new pharmaceutical culture. Doing this demands creativity and cutting-edge thinking.

“It’s not doing the same old things the same old ways every single time,” she observed, offering this example, “I do not know of any healthcare professional who asks to see the glossy master visual aid.  Yet we continue to produce them and expect different results.

“It comes to the point when we have to take some risks and be forward thinking and try some new ideas,” she concluded.

Creating a cutting-edge culture

The pharmaceutical business is still about the patients, Melloy asserted. She knows many believe that pharmaceutical companies have to be full-service companies, but many of those full-service companies have spun off into smaller companies. It’s almost like they’re going backwards, she observed.

“I think the opportunity still remains to be really good at one or two things,” she said. “You don’t have to be good at everything.”

As Shionogi develops a portfolio that is more specialized, Melloy is focused on creating “transferrable skills,” learning from what they’re doing now and determining what can be transferred into the future to make a big difference.

“There is an opportunity,” she said. “I believe the pharmaceuticals industry is great to be a part of. We have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many people.  There is opportunity within the pharmaceutical industry and the opportunity to create a pharmaceutical company that has a culture that will deliver extraordinary results.”

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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