Emerging Pharma Leaders 2012 - Pharmaceutical Executive


Emerging Pharma Leaders 2012

Pharmaceutical Executive

Madalina Lucic

Global Marketing Director, Merck

Ambitious, versatile, and, not least, committed to new learning opportunities, Madalina Lucic can already boast of a career that has straddled cultural divides, overcome gender barriers, and moved across disciplines. A few years ago she returned to university to get a second degree in psychology, not in order to follow a new path but, in her words, to know more about herself and "to motivate and to understand people better." That's a modest statement from a woman who has already achieved a great deal by doing just that.

Beginning her career in the mid-90s as a sales rep at VALMEDICA in her native Romania, Lucic progressed to brand manager at Johnson & Johnson within a couple of years, and by 2000 was senior product manager at Schering-Plough. She became the company's business unit director in 2004 and for the next four years was involved in managing almost all of Schering Plough's products. She helped turned the company's hepatitis business around from a 10 percent market share to a 40 percent market share in just 18 months. Identified as a star talent, she was duly posted to a regional role in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), and after the merger with Merck took up a Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EEMEA) position.

Those regional assignments were particularly character building. Being a woman in a senior position is a test of resolve and versatility not just in the Middle East but also in CEE, but for Lucic the opportunity to learn new skills was too tempting to resist. She succeeded by being "very flexible and able to listen and learn the specifics of the country and the culture, and the needs of the market." And, of course, by "being open-minded."

Back then pharma was more of a man's world generally, not just in markets like the Middle East. "Even five years ago," says Lucic, "I was one of the very few women in the management team." But now, she is happy to say, things have changed. "Within the company we now have leadership programs for women; we get a lot of attention." This isn't just specific to Merck, she notes. "Being involved with different pharma associations, I see more and more powerful women, in global and management positions."

As Merck's global marketing director, Lucic is now drawing on her skills and experiences to lead her team through different types of cultural challenges, not least those presented by the post-merger environment. "Becoming one culture is always a work in progress," she says. "But there has definitely been a change: things are more action oriented; we explore more geographies and try to be present in the regions where we can provide more access to drugs for people in need." Lucic works hard to gain her team's trust; she believes in empowering people and giving them confidence to thrive in this new, action-oriented culture. And while, at the company level, "flexibility, autonomy, and a local mindset is vital" to succeed in new markets, "it all comes back to people and execution," she says.

Lucic isn't one to stand still for long, although in her current role, she says, she is still "in a learning phase." It's just over a year since she was involved in the launch of Merck's hepatitis C treatment [Victrelis] and she wants to explore "how we can provide better access and make a meaningful difference in the lives of people living with chronic hepatitis C." She's also interested to learn more about business development.

At the same time, Lucic does have her eye on the next step. Eventually she would like to be a country manager. "I couldn't say anywhere in the world, because in some countries you need to be local to be accepted, and in others, such as the Middle East, it would be difficult to be a country manager as a woman," she says, once again with a heavy dose of modesty—she has, after all, already proved herself in some of these regions. But, she adds (this time with some well-earned confidence), "I would be open to offers and I'm sure opportunities will come."

—Julian Upton


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