Challenge

Innovation is not the first word that comes to mind when speaking of the pharmaceutical industry, but without creative research and development, new and differentiated products would never make it to the market and contribute to the health of patients.

Stéphanie Capo Chichi, an industry pharmacist with a post-graduate qualification in regulatory affairs, has been in the pharmaceutical industry for over 15 years, nine of which have been at Hoffman-La Roche, where she is currently senior Regulatory Program Manager.

Stéphanie works in neurosciences with a current focus on Alzheimer’s disease drug development.

“This is an area of intense research, but with a high level of unmet medical needs to address.”

Because she has been involved in all the stages of development of new compounds, from research to clinical trials, to regulatory body approval and post-marketing maintenance, she says that it is important to be agile and think creatively. And since she must also keep an eye on the long-term prospects, particularly regarding licenses, novel strategies must be devised to keep all the stakeholders on board, including the authorities.

The challenge for her is to find ways to exert her multidimensional role more innovatively with the multiple stakeholders she deals with daily, internally and externally, which is the reason she recently took part in IMD’s Being Innovative on-line program led by Professor Bill Fischer.

Approach

Stéphanie turned to IMD in search of new tools to stimulate her creativity and strategic thinking, as well as better analyze ideas to carry them forward.

“Sometimes it’s necessary to step back for richer ideas which can then be explored and built up is a more robust manner.”

She says that the IMD course, Being Innovative, “allowed me to look at the spectrum of opportunities and make better connections.” She admits that it also helped her see her blind spots.

The tools she acquired have already been embedded in her job:

“I now use a canvas to think of all the stakeholders. This allows me to pitch in a more systematic manner.”

Impact

Working in an area where the level of expectation is so great, not just to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, but potentially to stop them, and, better yet, to develop a cure for the disease, Stéphanie is in constant contact with researchers, clinical developers, physicians and the business units of Hoffman-La Roche.

“To link all the problems together, but also keep thinking in the long-term, it’s essential to keep an open mind.” Failures too, she observes, can stimulate innovation.

The IMD course helped her consolidate her belief that innovation is a way of rethinking the way things have been done in the past:

“Not to disregard the precedents, but to ask ourselves if this is still the best way forward. My approach today is different.”

Hoffman-La Roche dedicated close to USD 10 billion to R & D in 2015.

Find out more about Being Innovative, with Professor Bill Fischer.