To see the interview in Pharma Horizon, please click here
Xellia Pharmaceuticals is a world leader in the development, manufacture and supply of fermented anti-infectives sold as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and finished dosage forms (FDFs) to the global pharmaceutical market. As part of our Prominent Women in Business series, we caught up with the company’s Andrea Dahle-Morville to find out more about her own role and the company she works for.
The company’s product range covers anti- infectives, treating certain serious and life- threatening bacterial and fungal infections; Xellia being the world leading supplier of vancomycin and colistimethate sodium (CMS). The business is built to meet both immediate and long term requirements of their customers. During 2016, they focused strongly on customer service levels and worked in close collaboration with their customers to meet and exceed their expectations.
“In 2016, we supported our customers with the launch of new generic anti-infectives in different geographical markets which contributed positively to our growth in revenue for the year. We also experienced increasing competition in certain markets, in particular from manufacturers operating in Asia, which highlights the importance of our continued emphasis on delivery performance and cost competitiveness” Andrea tells us before going on to expand this interesting point further.
“Looking at the comments received from our customers; product quality, on-time-delivery and service are the three most frequently mentioned, in positive feedback we receive. Overall, from the feedback received, customers find the service we deliver to be one of our greatest assets. Securing solid relationships with customers, by delivering excellent customer service with a great product, is crucial for positive customer experiences with Xellia and towards our promising future.
“Our vertical integration strategy enables us to supply our customers with multiple product forms, improve supply security leveraging multiple manufacturing sites and provide a ‘one-stop-shop’, offering both the API and the FDF. The transition to the supply of FDFs enables us to help simplify and streamline the supply chain for our customers by providing the final product.
“As a global business, our customers include branded, specialty and generic pharmaceutical companies in more than 70 countries around the world. Over recent years, we have increased our focus on expanding in the US market and in 2016, more than 50% of our total sales were generated in the US.”
To remain a leading business in the global generic anti- infectives market, Xellia is committed to, delivering excellence in the execution of our manufacturing and innovation processes and maintaining their compliance track record with the various regulators in the pharmaceutical industry.
In 2016, they continued the focus on increasing delivery performance across their manufacturing network for both APIs and FDFs. Xellia were able to meet most of their key performance indicators for the year, and successfully passed a total of seven inspections by different regulatory authorities across their five global manufacturing sites.
“In the pharmaceutical industry, we are very focused on the patient, we need to integrate internally and externally with our business partners, be transparent and driven by excellence. We need to move from reactive to proactive to predictive” Andrea goes on to say, before offering her thoughts on how the company fared during 2016.
“2016 has also been a year in which awareness of the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has continued to grow internationally as the world attempts to address this growing crisis. We develop treatments in a niche area of anti-infectives - developing last-resort antibiotics. As the need increases globally for our products, so does our commitment to society of ensuring a stable and reliable supply of our products.
“Given the increasing challenge of AMR globally, we are more acutely aware than ever before of our responsibility in this area. Supplying the much- needed products is seen as a great opportunity for Xellia, as we continue to expand our manufacturing capabilities. The challenge lies within the threat of AMR and its fast pace growth which increases the demand at a very fast rate.”
Andrea then goes on to outline her own job role and how she has been successful in her career. As head of quality for the finished products at Xellia Copenhagen site, she takes ownership of all quality assurance responsibilities, building and growing the quality assurance teams and providing leadership of the same, ensuring Xellia’s product quality.
“Fresh from engineering university, I stepped into Novo Nordisk A/S’ production in Denmark with an interest in problem-solving and production. I started as a team leader and pretty quickly learned that becoming a leader involves much more than being put in a leadership role; acquiring new skills, and adapting one’s style to the requirements of that role. It involves a fundamental identity shift. It’s a never-ending training session that I love and that has brought me to the position I am in today.
“It has been intense at times - but I am very passionate about my job. I aim to influence the quality culture of our company in a positive way, by embracing advances in the quality system and improving how we communicate and by being transparent. This journey is all driven by leadership and I believe that this creates the culture of quality by its actions. This applies to the questions of gender diversity as well. We should expect change in everything – and also in culture. We need to get our people to act because it drives value - because quality is a value - and gender diversity is too. I believe this is how we win in the long run.”
Andrea then focuses her thoughts on the extent to which women today are joining boardrooms in Denmark and beyond each year. The number of women sitting at the table in corporate boardrooms across the countries of the world is rising very slowly, but at least it’s rising Andrea says, going on to develop this point in more detail, followed by her thoughts on gender diversity in the workplace.
“In the Xellia Board of Directors, we have one woman out of six members in total. Several studies conclude that companies with at least one female on the board tend to have higher stock returns and better corporate performance than companies with all-male boards. Many European countries are maintaining a focus on diversity in the boardroom, especially from a gender perspective, so it’s not only a question of fairness. The presence of women in the leadership of a country, a region or a business is a question of good governance.
“Basically, it makes bottom-line business sense to have gender diversity in the workplace today. Men and women have different viewpoints, ideas, and market insights, which enables better problem solving. Women are as talented as men, so leaving women out of top leadership just means you are missing 50% of talent. It is a challenge of diversity that we all need to realize is very real. I believe that for women, the subtle gender bias that persists in organizations and in society disrupts the learning cycle at the heart of becoming a leader. Companies need to be very proactive in managing the shift in gender balance as it definitely doesn’t happen by default.”
In terms of the company’s own staff, Andrea believes very strongly that the people make Xellia what it is. They aim to attract the most talented, productive employees in their industry and to earn their loyalty and commitment as Andrea explains in greater detail.
“We support and protect our employees through comprehensive processes, ensuring that every employee is treated fairly and has a voice which is listened to and valued” Andrea goes on to say before offering additional thoughts on the company’s workforce and the value she places on them.
“As a truly international company, we benefit from a diverse, multicultural workforce. Across our sites in eight countries, we employ more than 25 nationalities. Although located around the world, we have an integrated, open and transparent culture, built on mutual respect, trust and accountability. We aim to recruit competent and motivated people who respect our values, and we in turn provide equal opportunities for their development.
“To remain competitive, we need to ensure that our employees have the opportunity to continually advance and extend their skills and knowledge; we achieve this by providing a comprehensive range of training and development programs.