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The Why of Winning Business


“That was fabulous! You should really capture that story and inspire pharma people far and wide!” a prominent executive told us.

By Kathy Foris, VP Scientific Affairs, LEO Pharma; Kim Stoddart, VP Human
Resources and Communications, LEO Pharma; Beth Walton, Regional Business
Development Manager, LEO PharmaPc0470000

The Dancing Boy

So here’s the story.

Why were we sharing something that could be a competitive advantage? Well, we think it’s simply dangerous that pharma is being pushed away from the healthcare table. We strongly believe that:

1. When we focus on the patient, business will follow. Pharma has an important role to play in healthcare and only when we ALL focus on the patient will we gain back our trustworthiness and be able to better partner with HCPs to make the contribution healthcare and patients need and deserve from us.

2. A rising tide lifts all boats. It’s not enough for just one company to shift their internal mind-set; we need our entire industry to do so. Over the past year we have forged a path that others are seeking – to bring our patient-focused vision into our culture. We’ve moved patient-centricity beyond projects and into our people’s hearts and minds. And this effort has the potential to create greater engagement, growth and outcomes! After watching this popular YouTube video, we see ourselves a bit like the crazy dancers. Have you seen it? It describes how a movement begins. The giggles make it worth the 3 minutes to watch it.

Leadership lesson from the dancing guy

Movement is indeed what is happening around pharma’s journey to truly listen to the patient. And it’s only just begun. We’re all looking around asking each other, why, how and what. By sharing our story, we hope it will help give you the confidence to join in this dance! Every great idea begins with a problem. What was the business need that started our journey toward creating a culture of growth through patient centricity at LEO? In LEO Pharma Canada, our journey toward a greater focus on the patient was inspired in 2012 by a shift in thinking from our corporate office in Denmark. Our CEO Gitte Aabo kicked off an initiative called “Building a Global Patient Centric Organization” and challenged us to figure it out. In LEO Pharma Canada we quickly realized that this would require people shift their mindset from focusing on the products to focusing on the patient. The challenge was how. What were the main steps we took to do something about the challenge that came from the head office? A robust communication plan and implementation strategy was created, fully embraced by both senior leadership and middle management, and rolled out at a national meeting to all Canadian employees. Knowing that inspiring versus mandating our people was the best approach, we planned accordingly. We all have an innate desire to find personal meaning in our work. So we decided to name our initiative “What’s Your WHY?”. We asked people to find their personal Why (or motivation); knowing that LEO Pharma’s Why is to help patients and their families live healthier lives.

For example, Kathy moved from saying:

“I’m a dynamic, results-oriented medical executive experienced in the field of drug development and commercialization. I’m recognized for strategic insights and leadership abilities and for building effective teams.”

To saying:

“My passion for and desire to help people led me to study medicine where I felt I could truly make a difference. My position of Vice President, Scientific Affairs at LEO Pharma allows me to apply my passion for people and help them fulfill their potential and the potential of LEO.”

We created an inspiring video to explain the Why concept to our people, and brought in pharmagrowth thought leader Jill Donahue to deliver her EngageRx keynote talk, workshops and to kick off the pilot of the EngageRx, mobile-learning program.

EngageRx is a 15-module (1 per week) mobile-learning program that helps pharma people engage and truly partner with HCPs to achieve greater outcomes for all – patients, HCPs, companies and themselves. By teaching people why, how and what to do to serve differently and better, the program has been successful in developing pharma professionals who are viewed as trustworthy and valuable by healthcare providers and who know how to best engage and move others forward so that they achieve optimal outcomes for all involved.

What about results? How did this impact our people and outcomes?

Knowing that we can’t manage what we can’t measure, six months after rollout we conducted an employee survey. We wanted to determine if our people had truly starting serving (thinking, feeling and doing) differently. The results were outstanding. For starters, 100% of people said YES to the following:

• I feel more engaged in my work

• I feel I have a strategy to ethically and effectively influence others

• I feel confident that we can serve more effectively and ethically.

Not only was the culture shifting internally, our people were approaching our external partners (note that we call them partners, not customers) on the outside in a new and different way; and it was making a difference! We knew that for the change to be sustainable, it had to be more than a talk, or a program. It had to become part of our DNA. We worked on aligning internal programs and processes with the new mindset. We changed things like: incentive plan design, approach to recruitment and onboarding, choice of suppliers, recognition, objective setting and performance management and communication.

An example of success

In March 2014 LEO Pharma Canada secured an Academic Tier 1 account that we had been pursuing over the previous three years. This achievement was the result of serving differently, focussing on our purpose and forming a genuine partnership.

Previously, meetings like this were very dull and short. The committee was disengaged and dismissive. We decided to try something different.

We created a discovery day in which the LEO Pharma team shared our personal Whys and the Why of our organization. We invited multiple departments within the hospital to do the same. The goal was to begin forming the basis for a genuine, sustainable partnership based on common goals and objectives. Over eight hours that day we engaged in real conversations. Think about it — eight hours of discussion with an account! That had never happened before! Talk about gaining time and access.

At the conclusion, we knew we had struck the right chord when the Executive VP of Medical & Academic Affairs at the HealthCare Organization said “You LEO folks are just like us,” acknowledging that we share the same patients-first focus, That was a monumental moment.

We won the account. We realized that putting the patient at the center of everything we do is not only the right thing – it also creates a compelling and powerful common ground which is essential in creating a partnership.Pc0490100

Kim Stoddart talking about the program

Being patient focused has become part of the DNA in LEO Pharma Canada and will continue to drive our success.

Our global patient-centered initiative has now evolved and been renamed “Helping Sarah” wherein we personalize the patient. LEO Pharma is in this for the long haul and are proud that since 2012, all aspects of the LEO business around the world have been asked to ensure the patient is truly the focus of everything we do.

Too important to keep to ourselves

We at LEO Pharma believe the journey to patient centricity is so important that it needs to be spread beyond our organization to our entire industry. Martin Seligman in his important book ‘Flourish’ (2011) quotes John Cacioppo (one of America’s leading Social Psychologists and Neuroscientists):

“Human survival depends on our collective abilities, our ability to join together with others in pursuing a goal, not on our individual might. The cohesiveness and social resilience of the group, therefore, matters.”

If pharma is to regain its place at the healthcare table, we need to serve differently and better, to instill a culture of growth through focusing on the patient. This is key to our future. So key, in fact, that 86% of pharma executives believe it to be so (according to an eyeforpharma 2014 survey).

At LEO Pharma Canada we are loving our new dance to serve differently. Won’t you and your organization join us? •Pc0500100

Gitte Aabo’s interview with Jill Donahue


Kathy Foris is VP, Scientific Affairs at LEO Pharma. This position allows her to apply her passion for people and help them fulfill their potential and the potential of LEO Pharma. She is in a privileged position to contribute to the ultimate journey of transforming pharma to serve the patients and their families better in a sustainable model and to have positive influence on healthcare by leading change and partnering for better outcomes.


Kim Stoddart is VP of Human Resources & Communications at LEO Pharma. She is passionate about making a difference. Everything she does is focused on creating a culture where people are aligned, empowered and focused on our mission to help patients live healthier lives.


Beth Walton is Regional Business Development Manager at LEO Pharma. Beth is genuinely passionate about delivering upon LEO Pharma’s “Patients FIRST” mandate: driving innovative Partnership Propositions that provide compelling and sustainable solutions for the Canadian Healthcare Organizations the Strategic Account Management Team serves.



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