Great Advice From Great Minds: Takeda Head of Commercial Learning and Development: Breaking Down Silos

Serina Fischer talks with Jill Donahue, Author EngageRx

Despite the fact that our industry is drowning in data and more complex than ever before—or maybe because of that!—we need help in making certain areas and tasks more streamlined and efficient, in order to get the job done with the proper speed and strategy.

At the LTEN (Life Sciences Trainers and Educators Network) conference in Phoenix this June, I spoke to Serina Fischer, Head of Commercial Learning and Development at Takeda. While Serina herself is a fountain of knowledge, in her role at Takeda she has taken on the refreshing task of helping her colleagues understand goals, tell stories, and break down the messaging so that it can be communicated to all stakeholders in record time.

After more than 14 years at Lilly, Serina came to Takeda a little over a year ago. She is responsible for markets, marketing, sales and other departments, offering cross-functional support for learning and development. She has a very varied background in sales, sales leadership, operations, marketing, and more, as well as being a certified Six Sigma black belt—not a lightweight!

Takeda is supportive of interaction with other colleagues across healthcare, such as at LTEN, to learn about innovation and share ideas. Serina presented at the conference on their transformation journey, from a training culture to a learning culture—the steps taken and the measurable outcomes.

Part of this culture is a deep respect for breaking down silos and respecting the lenses through which each department sees their role. Serina noted that if you’re advocating an initiative, you’re going to have a better chance of getting support if you have a mutual understanding and communication across the organization. She appreciates Takeda’s internal structure, which supports stakeholder management at each level, making sure there’s sharing and connection. This helps achieve numerous ends: efficiency, alignment, buy-in, strategy.

One of the lessons she teaches is how to tell a story in marketing, communicating the value of what you’re doing. People often get caught up in massive data and analysis paralysis about ROI and what it contributes to the bottom line. But that ultimately isn’t important to explaining the goals, because there are so many variables. More vital is being clear about the knowledge and behavioral changes you want to see at the end, and getting alignment with stakeholders by demonstrating that. She says we often get entangled in an activity-based environment. Serina recommends going right to executionary centralism.

When I pointed out that 85% of life sciences professionals believe in patient centricity as the path to better outcomes, but 69% are not sure that their organizations can clearly define this, she said that Takeda has a framework to achieve it. It’s called PTRB: Patients, Trust, Reputation and Business. All decisions have to start with the patient in mind. If you can determine what’s best for the patient first, all the rest will follow logically from that. All the leaders at Takeda take this very seriously, and insist on moving the process along in the proper order. Their global corporate training programs embed this philosophy as well. From the decision chain to the language they use, this is the motivating influence. It helps connect the concept from the field force through to the home office, and make it part of Takeda’s DNA.

I am really inspired when I meet people like Serina. Despite her youth, she has the knowledge, skills and wisdom of a leader. Our industry is in good hands!

Jill Donahue

Principal, Excellerate

Author, Engage Rx: The 3 Keys to Patient-focused Growth

Co–founder, The Aurora Project

Jill, HBa, MAdEd, is a keynote speaker, author and thought leader who has authored two books on Influencing in patient-focused ways and co-founded The Aurora Project, a global patient-centricity group. She also serves as Associate Editor of Healthcare Sales & Marketing.

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