Meet Patrick van der Loo, a true veteran in the pharmaceutical world with an impressive three decades under his belt. As the Regional President of Pfizer Inc, he’s been a driving force for 25 of those years, making his mark in the industry. One of his standout skills? Guiding diverse teams—a skill he honed in Canada.
Patrick’s leadership journey really took off in Canada, where he discovered the art of leading teams with different backgrounds and skills. This experience taught him the importance of understanding different cultures, respecting expertise, allowing teammates to make decisions and explore new ideas, and embracing cutting-edge technologies to help more patients.
In the fast-paced world of pharmaceuticals, Patrick emphasizes the need for a work culture that celebrates diversity and welcomes different viewpoints. He believes that incredible things happen when colleagues support each other, united by a common company mission. Patrick’s own journey demonstrates the incredible impact of appreciating and learning from various cultures—a lesson he’s learned from the teams he’s worked with.
Patrick’s passion for learning takes him all over the world to lead teams. From Japan’s focus on getting things done perfectly to the Middle East and Africa’s emphasis on building strong relationships, he’s always discovering, growing, and sharing insights.
Let’s dive into details to learn more about Patrick van der Loo!
Early Exploration and Passion Ignited
During his pursuit of a degree in International Management, Patrick embarked on his professional journey in the healthcare sector. This endeavor took shape through an internship at a pharmaceutical company in Mexico, followed by composing a thesis centered on the growth of Mexico’s generics industry during the early 1990s. Establishing connections with experts in this domain during the internship ignited a profound fascination for the industry within him. Furthermore, this experience prompted contemplation about the diverse worldwide public and private healthcare strategies.
A Transformative Journey
Patrick embarked on his journey with Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis in 1997. After a series of roles spanning various responsibilities in both his home country of The Netherlands and Northern Europe, he chose to take a year-long hiatus to travel through South East Asia alongside his wife and their young children.
Resuming his tenure with the North American team in 2006, Patrick amassed an extensive repertoire of experience at Pfizer across diverse business segments, regions, and offices. His time spent at Pfizer’s New York headquarters offered valuable insight into the company’s strategic operations, preparing him for a significant transition in his career: a move to Asia.
Taking on the mantle of cluster lead, he oversaw multiple markets, including India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, and Korea. This chapter saw him residing in Hong Kong, Japan, and Thailand, where he spearheaded critical initiatives in major therapeutic domains like cardiovascular and neuroscience. Under his leadership, a 500+ molecule business experienced robust commercial development.
In December 2020, Patrick assumed the role of Regional President for Africa and the Middle East, and his responsibilities expanded in August 2022 to encompass Russia, Caucasus, and Central Asian countries.
Patrick’s journey has bestowed upon him an array of experiences at Pfizer, spanning a multitude of business facets, geographic locations, and cultural contexts. His immersion in diverse regions has not only shaped his personal identity but also equipped him with a profound understanding of emerging markets’ intricacies and dynamics.
Collaboration for a Healthier Future
According to Patrick, the industry offers promising prospects for collaboration, innovation, technology transfer, knowledge sharing, and the adoption of industry best practices. Identifying and executing pioneering initiatives in conjunction with governments is a strategy to foster an environment conducive to sustainable, long-term investments. This involves initiatives like nurturing and training the next generation of professionals, bolstering local research and development capabilities, and facilitating technology transfer and expanded clinical trial capabilities where appropriate. The approach underscores the importance of partnering with governments to harness the vast innovative potential of local talent, research institutions, scientific endeavors, and manufacturing capacities, ultimately driving economic growth within local communities.
However, challenges persist in the form of socio-economic factors, accessibility to information, and infrastructure limitations. Within the healthcare landscape, concerns about high co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses significantly hinder patients from seeking necessary care. Additionally, navigating intricate healthcare systems and comprehending available treatment and financial alternatives poses difficulties for many patients. Mobility-related obstacles, such as transportation to appointments and obtaining prescriptions, compounded by a reliance on familial and social support, often obstruct effective disease management. This issue is particularly pronounced in certain African markets lacking fundamental infrastructure.
Within Pfizer, these challenges have been identified and addressed in collaboration with local governments. The initiative’ An Accord for a Healthier World’ exemplifies this effort, engaging with 45 lower-income countries to provide access to Pfizer’s complete range of patented and off-patent medicines and vaccines on a not-for-profit basis. Moreover, various patient access initiatives have been launched to simplify health systems for patients. The IUdo app, operational in Qatar and Egypt, streamlines access to Pfizer medications, expedites program enrollment, and offers support for treatment plans, among other features. These endeavors highlight Pfizer’s commitment to overcoming challenges and improving healthcare accessibility for individuals worldwide.
Agile Approach to Evolution
In recent years, there has been a notable acceleration in the pace of developing new assets and transforming commercial operations. To remain at the forefront of this rapid evolution, Pfizer recognizes the importance of assembling a diverse team of experts whose scientific and commercial expertise aligns with the company’s overarching vision and mission. While maintaining a robust in-house pool of experts, Pfizer collaborates with external partners occasionally, particularly those specialized in regional macroeconomics and geo-political dynamics. Patrick additionally serves as the chair of an industry executive committee for the region, which offers valuable insights spanning various fields and trends impacting the industry.
Patrick furthered his education this year in a proactive pursuit of staying up-to-date. Given the industry’s dynamic evolution, he recognized the need to engage with senior executives from different sectors and learn about contemporary leadership strategies from university professors. This approach has allowed him to broaden his perspective and adapt his strategies effectively to the evolving landscape.
Insights on Career Growth
Patrick’s initial advice centers on embracing your potential and capabilities beyond the confines of a single role. Although it may require time to cultivate expertise in a specific area, the discomfort that arises can be a fertile ground for accumulating valuable experience. He encourages maintaining an open mind, gleaning insights from everyone encountered, and seeking mentors who lead by example to enrich one’s career trajectory.
Patrick emphasizes the importance of not limiting oneself to a singular skill set. Even if proficient in a certain domain, actively seeking experiences that bridge gaps and broaden horizons is crucial. Continuous upskilling is key.
Confronting imposter syndrome is another critical aspect he addresses. While it might sound straightforward, Patrick acknowledges its challenges from personal experience. He advises against hesitating to seize new opportunities due to feelings of inadequacy. Nobody possesses absolute mastery, and waiting for perfection can result in missing out on growth.
For those in leadership roles, Patrick underscores the significance of providing support and fostering the growth of young leaders within the organization. Pfizer’s talent development program within its regional clusters exemplifies this approach, propelling high-potential individuals through diverse departments and leadership roles at an accelerated pace. Recognition initiatives of this nature contribute to a positive, productive, and thriving work environment, aligning individual contributions with organizational triumphs.
Vision for Transformative Science and Global Healthcare Access
Within Pfizer, Patrick emphasizes that the team continuously pushes the boundaries of scientific exploration, leveraging 174 years of transformative innovations to shape a brighter and improved future. The vision entails a world where science triumphs over disease, ensuring that life-saving medicines, treatments, and vaccines are accessible to all patients, regardless of their geographical location.
The current and future focus revolves around devising imaginative, inventive, and scalable solutions to address unmet needs and critical public health challenges. Notably, the past year witnessed Pfizer’s impactful contribution to the lives of over 27 million patients throughout the MERA countries. Central to these efforts is a commitment to affordability, exemplified by 30 access programs spanning 11 countries. These programs have played a vital role in supporting patients grappling with oncology, inflammatory, and rare diseases.
Looking ahead, Pfizer has embarked on a trajectory of dynamic growth, marked by 30 product launches in the past year, with an anticipated 25+ more to come. Concurrently, the organization is committed to expanding existing patient access programs, incorporating novel treatments and broadening their reach. Collaborating as a steadfast partner with governments, patients, and various stakeholders across the MERA countries, Pfizer remains dedicated to delivering top-tier healthcare services.