- 2 years ago
18 October 2021
“Menarini has a very promising future but it’s not promised,” says the company’s new general manager for Australia and New Zealand, Jonathan Mullings.
“We can’t keep doing the same things the industry has done in the past if we are to realise our ambition. We have to do things differently, to stand for something, to take bold moves. Courageous leadership is a must.”
After just seven months at the ANZ helm of Italy’s oldest pharma company, Jonathan Mullings is ambitious for change. In January, he left behind an 18-year career at Janssen where he rose through the ranks to manage a portfolio worth $300 million a year simply because he knew he wanted more.
“I love change, it gets me going,” he tells MedNews. “My morning run is the perfect time to reflect on the changing environment and pace of change at Menarini, and I’m excited about where we are going – Menarini is in a good place.”
For a company with a 135-year history, Menarini is pivoting quickly to cater for a pipeline of innovative speciality products. Global CEO Elcin Barker Elgun moved from Merck Healthcare two years ago to enact the transformation, with Mullings reflective of the new style of Menarini leadership.
“My passion is really in big ideas, in challenging the way things were done in the past,” he says. “We are going to make some bold moves and to do that, you need the agility of an organisation like Menarini.
“In big pharma, you are quite contained with what you can and can’t do. Many people are lost in those big organisations but hungry to contribute more broadly, and those are the people who will thrive at Menarini.”
From local partner to leader
Menarini is still working on being a ‘partner of choice’ for local in-licensing deals, an arrangement that has sustained the company in recent years and includes a deal to purchase the Australian rights to AstraZeneca’s former blockbuster statin Crestor. Mullings sees such deals are essential while Menarini builds capability and prepares for its future portfolio.
“We’re just starting to get to a critical mass where we can go after our ambition,” he says.
“The Crestor purchase was a very strategic play because it gives us good growth, enabling us to invest in the things we need to invest in. It is a short-to-medium term hit that allows us to build capability for our future.
“We have a serious transformation agenda ahead and I would almost go as far as saying you won’t recognise Menarini in 12 months time. Menarini is relatively small but agile and its pipeline is exciting.
“We are going to surprise people, and they will ask, where did Menarini come from? That’s my ambition. It’s a stealth approach.”
Mullings is using his extensive Big Pharma experience to facilitate Menarini’s local transformation. It currently employs just over 70 people across Australia and New Zealand and he is excited about both the team he is building and the opportunity to reinvent the traditional pharma business model.
He recently recruited two new leadership team members in former Sanofi marketing transformation manager Kelly Turner as Head of Customer Experience and Medacta’s Dr Victoria Dokic as Head of Medical Affairs. The company is looking to further build capability in medical affairs along with digital and omnichannel, customer experience, and data translation.
“We want to attract the A-team, to get them to bang on our door and say, I want to work with you,” says Mullings. “Our portfolio will build quite quickly and when we go to market, we want to have a completely new value delivery model.
“We don’t want to build a tank because we’re not a tank, we’re a jeep so let’s stay as a jeep. Agile is a key differentiator for us.”
While Mullings describes the company as still “in a transforming phase, poised with a very promising future”, he believes it also needs to make bold moves in terms of how it aligns with customers and “delivers differentiated value”.
‘The traditional model is dead’
“We want to be a very unique organisation, so how do we show leadership in a fast-moving environment, to do things differently by being bold and courageous and taking those risks that need to be taken?” he asks.
“Our single focus at the moment is understanding what our customers want and aligning to that value expectation. Let’s be honest, the traditional model is dead and the longer you try and flog that, the more you frustrate both your customers and your own team.
“Our customers want engagement but they want to initiate it at their own pace and in their own time. How do we position ourselves so we can respond to a customer-initiated dialogue with reps as key orchestrators of customer value?
“I see a massive shift from salesforce effectiveness to customer effectiveness.”
Mullings says Menarini will continue to have a presence in primary care and pharmacy as it builds in speciality care, its future lying in all three.
“I think the sweet spot is in the middle,” he says. “The patient is initially treated by the specialist but their journey happens all the way through primary care and pharmacy. If we can get that right, it will be a key differentiator between us and other organisations and we can do it because we are already playing in those spaces.
“When a new customer that has never heard of Menarini is really engaged with our value model and talks about us as a true partner, that’s my measure of success. It’s ambitious but I think the way we deliver value will be quite unique.
“In the next 12 months, the Menarini team will take an ambitious leap into the future and deliver on our transformation agenda. People will know Menarini is here and making a difference in ANZ.”
Mullings is also keen to play a part in the wider industry, saying he wants smaller, evolving organisations like Menarini to have a voice alongside big pharma.
“I’d really like to contribute,” he says. “You’ve only got a short amount of time here and I want to be counted, so watch this space. Energy is important.”
Given the energy Mullings has brought to the Italian pharma this year, it is clear this leader has more than enough to achieve his ambitions.