Shifting from a ‘Me’ to a ‘We’ view: Q&A with Marie-France Tschudin
Leadership StrategiesTransformation InnovationHealthcareSustainabilityHuman ResourcesTeam Effectiveness
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December 18, 2020
9 min read
Leadership StrategiesTransformation InnovationHealthcareSustainabilityHuman ResourcesTeam Effectiveness
Novartis President Marie-France Tschudin said leaders need to understand how the world changes and be bold in creating strategies around customers and their needs.

Shifting from a ‘Me’ to a ‘We’ view: Q&A with Marie-France Tschudin

RRA Healthcare interview series “Healthcare Leading Forward: Sustainable Leadership in Action,” December 2020

Marie-France Tschudin has been President of Novartis Pharmaceuticals and a member of the Executive Committee of Novartis since June 2019. She joined Novartis in 2017 as Head of Region Europe for Novartis Pharmaceuticals, bringing more than 25 years of broad, multinational experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. Before joining Novartis, Marie-France spent 10 years at Celgene International in a variety of leadership positions. 

Recently, Marie-France spoke with Markus Hofer, Managing Director and Senior Consultant in Healthcare Switzerland, and Dana Krueger, Managing Director and Global Healthcare Sector Leader at Russell Reynolds Associates. She shared how Novartis brings to life its aspirations of bringing its medicines to more patients, faster.

The interview presented below has been edited and abridged for clarity.

Markus Hofer

Novartis’ purpose is “to reimagine medicine to improve and extend people’s lives”. How are you personally thinking and talking about purpose?

Marie-France Tschudin

Thank you, Markus and Dana, for asking about purpose. Purpose is very important to me personally, and to so many people across the organization. The way we think and talk about purpose at Novartis is making sure patients have better access to medicines faster. There are people who are sick and progressing in their disease – they cannot wait.

For me, it is the reason I have stayed in this industry. I am often reminded of a story that happened early in my career, when I was a sales rep in Lisbon waiting outside a physician's office. As he was saying goodbye to his patient, he called me over and said to her, “This is a person who talks to me about this medication that you are taking.”  At that point, she turned to me and started talking about how much better she felt, and how much more she could do. Fast forward to a year later, I received a package from that same physician with a note and a book. The note was from the physician saying that the lady who we spoke with had passed away. She was a writer, and had asked the physician to send me her book of short stories, which she was only able to finish thanks to the energy and the strength that the medicine had given her.

Now that lady has stayed with me for 25 years, because that is what we can do for people and their families. What my team and I want to do is to make that happen for twice as many patients, twice as fast. That is our aspiration. To