Today our mysterious Mr. X not only stepped out of the shadows, but also revealed the secrets
of a successful career for the medical department of Teva Russia. The October's issue guest
is Eran Gefen.
Ekaterina Chekunaeva: Good afternoon, Eran! Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate you.
Eran Gefen: Hi, Ekaterina! Thanks for the invitation. Will we communicate in Russian?
EC: No, of course, in English. Do you speak Russian, by the way?
EG: Yes, I understand Russian and I can read. But it will better to communicate in English.
EC.: Could you, please, introduce yourself for our new colleagues in the medical department of Teva Russia?
EG.: Yes, of course. My name is Eran Gefen. For last 2.5 years, I have been the Head of medical affairs in the International markets region at Teva. Before that, for 3 years, I held the position of Regional Medical Director, Oncology & Respiratory, Growth Markets.
EC.: How does your working day begin? What do you do in the morning when you wake up?
EG.: In the morning, I never check my mail box, only if I have an urgent SMS in my phone with a request to call back. I'm a lucky person - I live near the beach, literally 200 meters away, so I try to run 3-4 times a week. Then I go home and take a shower. My working day starts at 9 am and ends at 6-7 pm.
EC.: How do you distribute your work tasks during the day?
EG.: First of all, I try to book a 15 minutes time frame between meetings. I use this time for preparing for the next meeting, switching to other tasks, try to answer urgent calls, letters, or just take a break. I also find it very important to meet with my colleagues as often as possible. Before the pandemic, we often got together, went to picnics, went for a walks. Now it is very important not to lose the social component, to communicate with colleagues, even virtually, to support each other.
EC.: Do you have any personal recommendations on how to find this "work-life balance" in very intensive rhythm of work?
EG.: If I receive a work e-mail on non-working days, I'm very annoyed, because I suppose, that the weekend should be spent only with closed ones: with family, friends. Late evenings on weekdays are also unacceptable for work. Especially now, during COVID-19, it has become even more obvious, how important it is - to protect health and maintain a healthy atmosphere. Lockdown made it impossible for us to see our loved ones. Time is the most valuable investment, so it is very important to be with closed ones as often as possible.
EC.: Where do you get inspiration?
EG.: Good question. Probably, my job. Especially when I notice that I was able to change something for the better or I was able to do something well. I'm very inspired by the growth of my colleagues. I like to notice details. Sometimes a very small thing, a small step, can drastically change someone's life. People inspire me. Sometimes I see a family jogging or children playing in the park and I really like it. I'm inspired by professionalism. Look, how we quickly adapted to new working conditions, how quickly we found new communication channels, and made new projects. Perhaps, the people I work with inspire me the most.
EC.: How do you prefer to spend your free time?
EG.: To be honest, I recently returned to my piano lessons. I also spend a lot of time with my children - I have four of them, "four девочка" (smiles). It takes a lot of effort, I should say. I love to spend time with my family, friends.
EC.: What do you usually play?
EG.: I know a couple of Russian composers, for example, Tchaikovsky, but so far I'm not very good at playing. But I'm trying.
EC.: What skills (hard & soft), for your opinion, a medical advisor should have?
1. If we look back at 2020, what exactly has changed in our work, then, I think the first one is that comes to mind is digital mindset.
2. The second one, that the medical advisor should understand the business objectives of colleagues from the commercial departments and see various ways to support the business. I think this point is extremely important.
3. The third one - since the medical advisor is a representative of the scientific community and knows the information that colleagues from the business departments may not know, the medical adviser should always remain to be honest with the scientific community, shouldn't give beautiful, but not objective information.
4. And the last one is innovative mindset.
EC.: What steps does a medical advisor / medical manager need to take to build a successful career? And who can help him (eg career consultant or HR business partner, manager)?
I will tell my story. In 2007, I joined a small pharmaceutical company, MetaCure. A year later, I joined Merck as a medical adviser. After a while, I sat with my boss and we discussed my career plan. Where should I go over the next 5 years? Where do I want to be? Where? In which country? In what company? Then together we outlined my development plan and you know, it worked even better than I could imagine.
— First of all, you need to work hard and be a good partner for colleagues from commercial departments, Compliance department, for colleagues from your department. Just be a nice person.
— The second language. It is impossible to build a good career without knowledge of English. Excellent English language is what you should strive for. Yes, this is a big challenge. For medical advisor, medical manager or medical director. If you don't know the language, you block 99% of the opportunities for yourself.
— You have to be patient. Obviously, in most cases, you will not be able to get a raise every year, or even every 2 years. Continue to work well, and then a excellent position will not keep you waiting.
All of these factors are important for a successful career. Let me tell you one secret. I have known Dmitry Estulin for several years. When an good international vacancy was open, I, sitting at the Basel airport, made 3 phone calls: I immediately called Rustam and said: "Rustam, I'm sorry, but I want to take Dmitry to this position. I think this is a great opportunity for him." Then I called Eric, and then Dmitry. It took me 25 minutes to take on this position the employee who meets all the requirements: Dmitry is an excellent medical manager with an innovative mindset, an excellent business partner, with a high level of English.
EC.: What do you think, the medical department will be like in 5-10 years? Will the role or responsibilities of medical department in the company structure change in any way? For example, 10 years ago, colleagues from other departments did not even really know what role the medical department had and what the medical advisor was doing. What do you think?
EG.: I think that the role of the medical department will increase significantly in the future. Nowadays, we can observe such a tendency: more and more budget is allocated for medical activities. The period of the pandemic is a great example of how the medical department has adapted and built communication with the scientific community.
EC.: I will also allow myself to assume that the medical department will not only perform a support function, but also become a kind of driver and example for other departments.
EG.: Yes, yes, when it comes to digital projects, I always remember the team of the Teva Russia medical department. I came to you 2 years ago and even then I was amazed by the projects that you are doing. Your team admires me for their innovativeness.
EC.: What would you like to say or to wish our colleagues?
EG.: I think, first of all, I want to say many thanks. You are doing a fantastic job. It is especially important that during the Covid-19 period you continue to work smoothly and effectively. It's really not easy. Also you demonstrate a very high level of professionalism. So, of course, I want to say thank you very much.
And of course I want to say «take care of yourself». It's very important.
Keep safe and keep well.