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Country Manager and Japanese Leadership Team for a Global Biopharmaceutical Company


1. The Brief

An American orphan drug company was entering the Japan market. They needed to initially hire a Country Manager, as well as heads of Medical, Regulatory, Quality and Safety. Initially focusing on the Country Manager, the orphan drug company narrowed the criteria for success down to these points:

  • Must have run a significant orphan drug business
  • Must have had extensive experience of drug price negotiations
  • Must be bilingual and fully experienced in working for an international company
  • Must be of good character

The Country Manager would be the priority hire, with the other roles to join as soon as possible after the person starts. They know that great talent follows great talent.

2. Execution

Firstly, a compelling pitch deck was created that clearly explained the company’s vision for Japan, putting the candidates at the center of the company’s success. It outlined the challenges, the obstacles, the timeline, as well as describing what success would look like in the next 18 months.

Morunda was asked to map out all current leaders of specialty care units and businesses in Japan, and discreetly approached those whose background and, more importantly, character would align with client’s needs.

We also followed the same process with the other functional heads. The aim was for the successful Country Manager to have a shortlist of three candidates, who had been screened by the global functional head, lined up to have a final interview with as soon as he/she had accepted our client’s offer. This would reduce the time between the Country Manager joining and the other roles.

3. Result

We were able to provide 5 resumes to the client in one month, and one of those people was hired. The GM started 1st June, RA Head 1st August, QA Head 20th August, Safety Head 1st September and Medical/R&D Head 1st October. These positions were subsequently followed by Commercial Head, HR Head and Senior Program leader, among others.

4. Impact

The company successfully launched its first product in Japan and is in advanced stage development with other pipeline. They currently employ around 65 people and are a well-established member of the pharmaceutical community in Japan.

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