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Dr. Nathan Cope: Driving Innovation by Placing People at the Heart of Business

Nathan Cope | COO
Nathan Cope | COO

In the ever-evolving landscape of business, one fundamental principle remains constant: ‘People are the true assets of any organization.’ This belief forms the cornerstone for Dr. Nathan Cope, the Chief Operating Officer of a pharmaceutical company, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Europe Ltd.

Nathan stands out as a visionary leader who recognizes the significance of placing people at the heart of the business. He has learned that an organization’s greatest strength lies in the talent, expertise, and dedication of its people. By embracing this philosophy, he has helped contribute to an environment of trust, collaboration and innovation.

Let’s learn about Nathan’s unwavering commitment to people and the value it has generated behind Otsuka’s success!

Kindly tell us about the source of your inspiration. What led you to venture into healthcare?

I’ve always valued science and the benefits that it brings. From a young age, I wanted to help people with their health and was fascinated by biology and chemistry – seeking to understand how the body works, how it could go wrong and importantly how to fix it when it did.

I have seen firsthand the benefits of medical intervention and the positive impact it can have on the lives of individuals, whether through friends or my direct family. Otsuka shares that mindset of helping individuals through its mission, “Otsuka- people creating new products for better health worldwide” to ensure people live long, productive and worthwhile lives.

Brief us about yourself and shed some light on your journey towards becoming a part of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Europe Ltd. 

My career has focused primarily on the science disciplines. After an undergraduate degree in Pharmacology, I pursued a research career via a Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. From there, I was introduced to the commercial side of science.

It was followed by a career in management consulting, where I worked for several of the top 5 global pharmaceutical companies and the UK public healthcare system. Otsuka was one of my clients for a 12-month consulting assignment. This allowed me to understand the culture and the people before joining.

I’ve held a variety of roles in Otsuka, from public affairs to establishing a digital health business and acting as Chief of Staff – all of which have enabled me to gain an understanding of the way the business operates both within Europe and globally and perhaps most importantly, a greater understanding of our greatest asset – our people.

What are your core values within the company?

We have five organizational values interwoven through everything we do. Integrity, Excellence, Collaboration, Compassion, and Creativity. These values were created by a diverse group of over 100 employees from across Europe and we strive to embody these values for our patients, the organizations we work with and each other.

Used in our recruitment process and our continuous performance management to name just two examples, the values act as a compass. However, they are more than just words, they define the culture of our company. We are a team of highly motivated, pragmatic, friendly, diverse, and down-to-earth people who shun office politics and stay focused on the work to be done – helping patients live their lives.

What roles and operations do you play at Otsuka Pharmaceutical Companies Europe daily?

Our operations are only successful because of the people who manage them. They are our greatest asset. After all, people do business with people, and it is people who have creative ideas.

What innovative projects do you have to ensure people at your company can function at their best?

We have a variety of initiatives to ensure our people can function at their best.

For example, our strong hybrid and flexible working practices, where employees’ preferences predominate, highlight the trust that we have across our organization and that’s been reflected in our increased productivity. Our wellness initiatives from health check days, company summer retreats, volunteering days and a genuine focus on mental health, assist in ensuring our people can be the best together.

In addition, we are implementing an initiative across much of our European workforce, “Dreamland.” Following a successful pilot in our Spanish office, Dreamland is a voluntary initiative that encourages healthy sleeping habits. It involves colleagues using a smartwatch to track their sleeping patterns and habits over seven months. Those who improve their sleep quality and quantity by 15%, compared to a baseline period, will be rewarded with a day of extra annual leave. We believe that better sleep leads to improved productivity, increased focus, and overall better health.

What are some of the challenges you face when conducting operations and how do you turn them into opportunities for growth?

Perhaps my experiences here are not unique – the challenges commonly faced are those that are predicted with a degree of certainty. After all, business planning and strategic considerations are a part of the day job and serve to identify these challenges. However, the infrequent or unpredicted challenges are the ones that interest me.

In my experience, these challenges are only solved by having a diverse team to test and seek feedback on the proposed solution. At Otsuka, we consult widely internally to assist in organizational problems, not only allowing the business to grow but more importantly allowing individuals to grow and develop. 

What advice would you like to give to budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts who desire to venture into the sector?

A desire to make a difference is paramount along with a long-term mindset. My personal view is that businesses should be sustainable and provide a benefit to society. More tactically, having a service or product that is different from your competitors offers a greater opportunity to provide value and differentiate yourself, potentially creating a new market, yet passion is paramount and a prerequisite.

How do you envision scaling your services and operations in 2023 and beyond?

We are committed to enhancing a variety of operational areas in the coming years, and one area I am particularly excited about is Otsuka’s efforts in digital health technology. Specifically, within Europe, we’re looking to examine a new digital therapeutic with patients later this year and explore how patients and healthcare professionals could benefit from having access to a clinical trial-validated intervention delivered via a smartphone.

The solution allows easy access to treatment at a time that is convenient to the patient and has the potential to alleviate pressure within resource-constrained health systems. The rigor and clinical testing we have pursued are crucial, ultimately ensuring the intervention is driven and rooted in science, a core tenet shared by our partner in the project, Click Therapeutics.

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