The Art of the Strategy


By Deb Macaleer, Vice President and General Manager,
Teva Women’s Health and Select Brands


Early in my career, I had the good fortune to work in an area most of us should have on our resumé. I was appointed Innovations Director at Astra-Zeneca. Looking for the next move in my career, I wanted to broaden my experience rather than aiming for a higher level sales or marketing position.

We needed to think differently about our marketing and selling models. The market place was changing and the needs of our customers were changing. It’s not just about the products – it’s how we talked about our products, the different channels we used, and the support services we offered that ultimately benefit the patent. That whole continuum needed to be addressed.

The moments that inspire you are when patients say “I’m not going to let this disease define me. I’m going to beat it.”

So we examined various selling techniques and set up a process to test these methodologies: create an incubator, experiment, see which ideas work best, set up pilot selling models. They also would examine where a product was in its life cycle, and what was required to market it at that stage. Are you primarily looking for new patients, or would it be better to focus on current patients and help them be more compliant?

All of these factors influenced messaging, materials, application of resources. With a mature product doctors are familiar with, for instance, why invest in a full suite of marketing materials, when dropping off samples would be just as effective?

Know what motivates your people, what their strengths are, how to help each individual grow and learn

When you do innovation, trying out different models, you need to be aware of the organizational appetite for risk, and how they treat failure. You have to show them how we can fail fast so that we quickly find the ways to succeed. It was exciting and energizing, and I probably developed a lot of skills I might not have learned in a different position.


Several years later, I accepted an oncology position at Teva. It intrigued me for a number of reasons. Most importantly, I wanted to immerse myself in an area where I was having a direct and dramatic effect on the lives of patients. In a previous role, I met so many amazing women who were living with advanced breast cancer. These women have been through so much – both physically and emotionally – yet so many still had a positive, can-do attitude. Those are the moments that inspire you. They’re saying “I’m not going to let this disease define me. I’m going to beat it.”

I also liked working with a big melting pot of experienced professionals who had been at many companies and had different backgrounds. Everyone brings expertise to the table. And Teva has an efficient structure, with each position holding a broad scope of responsibility. This gives people an opportunity to learn quickly and thoroughly from their expert colleagues. It also creates a more efficient decision-making atmosphere. I remember a product-naming project. I took the short list to my superior with a recommendation. He approved it. I asked him who else needed to buy in to the recommendation and how the final decision would be made. “We just made it,” he told me. It was a welcome surprise. Armed with the freedom this atmosphere provided, I have been able to apply my “innovation” experience numerous times, and my colleagues are of a similar mind. There’s a sense of shared ownership here. We’re all in this together, and everyone has a stake in the outcomes.

What I keep top of mind is marketing and sales integration, making sure that there is communication early and often, that all the options are heard and goals are clearly communicated. At the end of the day the goal of service to our patients is the prevailing one.


Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about leadership. Know what motivates your people, what their strengths are, how to help each individual grow and learn. One thing I consistently do is sit down with team and individuals and ask them “Tell me what you’re most proud of. Where do you want to go?” That helps me assign projects that align with their strengths and aims. They feel more motivated. And it provokes some innovative work-arounds. One employee was eager to get some management experience, but I felt that person wasn’t quite ready. So I put the employee in charge of a contractor, which answered the request without stretching capabilities too far. Everybody wants to do a good job. No one comes to work to fail. If it comes to a point where someone is struggling, as a leader you have to determine how to leverage that person’s abilities and desires the best way.


As for our responsibilities to patients, one metric especially intrigues me in my new role. About half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. With all the contraception options women have, why is this? How can we help to better educate women about all the options they have, so they can work with their doctors to make the best choices for themselves? We’ve discovered that targeting millenials is a complex map. In addition to the cornucopia of social media platforms available – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – other channels include engaging the right spokespeople, and keeping up with the other ways to get through to this elusive demographic. At Teva, our goal is to have an even greater impact on women, and help reduce the high number of unintended pregnancies in the US. •


Deb Macaleer, Vice President and General Manager, Teva Women’s Health and Select Brands. Prior to her current position, Deb was Director of Marketing, where she was responsible for leading marketing teams and launch preparations for new products in the Oncology portfolio. She started her career with Accenture, and after five years, joined AstraZeneca where she spent 14 years in positions of increasing responsibility in managed markets, commercial operations and brand marketing roles across multiple disease areas including oncology, respiratory and global CNS.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. is a leading global pharmaceutical company that delivers high-quality, patient-centric healthcare solutions used by millions of patients every day. Headquartered in Israel, Teva is the world’s largest generic medicines producer, leveraging its portfolio of more than 1,000 molecules to produce a wide range of generic products in nearly every therapeutic area. In specialty medicines, Teva has a world-leading position in innovative treatments for disorders of the central nervous system, including pain, as well as a strong portfolio of respiratory products. Teva integrates its generics and specialty capabilities in its global research and development division to create new ways of addressing unmet patient needs by combining drug development capabilities with devices, services and technologies.



“How big is your brave?”