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Driving commercial growth and patient access and empowerment in women’s health. (The story of Simon Holland, vice president, women's health commercial lead, for Organon and a 2023 Emerging Pharma Leader.)
Everyone who enters the pharma industry does so for different reasons—and either intentionally or entirely on accident. For Simon Holland, vice president, women’s health commercial lead for Organon, he entered the pharma industry thanks to the advice of trusted professors while finishing his master’s degree. He started his career with an opportunity at Merck, explaining to Pharm Exec that the role was appealing due to the company having very broad commercial capabilities and being established in many countries. While rising through its commercial ranks, including serving as an associate director; marketing director of primary care and diabetes, bone, and chronic disease management; executive director, international marketing; and acting associate vice president for Merck’s women’s health, biosimilars, and diversified brands, Holland found himself living and working all over the world in places like New Zealand, Latin America, the US, Australia, and Switzerland, where he resides today.
In June 2021, Merck spun off Organon, a global healthcare company focused on women’s health. Having spent a little over two decades with Merck and driving commercial growth strategies across divisions and markets, Holland was ready to take this expertise and passion to the next level and help bring Organon’s mission to life. Nearly two years later, Organon continues to grow thanks to his contributions and the dedication of its 10,000-plus employees.
In his current role, Holland describes his three focus areas:
Holland says he identifies closely with Organon values such as authenticity and transparency, which are particularly important for leaders to apply, he adds. Other key values he mentions are diversity and “owning it.” “Ensuring we enable individuals and teams within the organization to really be accountable for the work and making sure that everyone has the ability to speak up and have a strong voice in decision-making is driving our success here,” says Holland.
Empowering women outside of the company—consumers and patients—is also a major focus for Holland.
“[T]he goal for me leading women’s health, and especially with our broad contraception portfolio, is always striving to empower woman with access to timely information around better understanding her contraceptive options,” he says. “Together with her doctor, she can make choices that best meet her specific needs and lifestyle… Being able to leverage digital and social to ensure that Organon is meeting her where she’s looking for information is critical in women’s health and something I focus on.”
Holland’s passion in this area is further exemplified in Organon’s Her Promise Access Initiative, a program he plays a key role in. As part of the company’s environmental, social, and governance efforts, Organon is committed to providing 100 million women with cost-effective access to contraception, information, and education—part of a multi-agency, global movement to expand contraception availability in 73 of the lowest-income countries.
“As we build better health outcomes for those women, we know that this results in better outcomes for her, her family, her community, and society in general,” says Holland. “But it’ll also take incredible partnerships with governments and NGOs in those countries and with many other stakeholders. It must be a highly committed effort across many parties for us to be successful in this space.”
The Organon initiative also supports its goal to help prevent an estimated 120 million unintended pregnancies by 2030.
Driving access has been the theme of Holland’s career since its beginning in 1998. It’s also what makes him most proud today. The impact is even more rewarding, he adds, due to the everchanging and challenging access climate in pharma.
“It’s one thing to gain approval of potentially game-changing pharmaceutical products and devices, but it’s another to actually make sure that they are ultimately getting to the patients who would benefit the most from those products,” he tells Pharm Exec.
As for the future, Holland says it’s always been about his ability to make an impact, and it will continue to be that way. For now, he’s focused on how to grow and improve Organon’s women’s health business. Holland says: “We continue to feel very upbeat; that we can not only drive the success of our existing women’s health portfolio, but successfully advance innovations that will address important unmet medical needs in the area of women’s health.”