INSEAD – GEMBA
“Experienced, passionate, successful visionary, fighting for world health and caring deeply for others professional growth.”
Hometown: Basel, Switzerland
Family Members: Wife and Soulmate Ivette, 7 children
Fun fact about yourself: The first time I flew in an aeroplane I jumped out of it during flight
Undergraduate School and Degree: Sheffield University, UK, BSc Chemistry and PhD Organophosphorus Chemistry
Where are you currently working? Novartis AG, Global Program Head
Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Cycling, Hiking and Fitness. Founder of Chronic Disease Foundation initiative (a joint venture between Novartis, IBM and Vodafone to improve coordination of care and treatment standards for chronic disease patients in informal communities). Partner and collaborator with my wife’s Charity (ACT – Act Compassionately Together) working on providing water, education and safety to children in under-served communities. Many leadership roles of increasing scope including team and departmental leadership with significant line management and fiscal scope
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Two proud moments spring to mind during the course so far. The first was being nominated by my classmates for Poets & Quants. It is a privilege to be part of such a talented class and I am happy that the guidance and advice I can share is appreciated by my classmates. The second was when I finally realised (only just before the exam!) how to un-lever and re-lever a Beta in Finance class! For me, this symbolised the extreme learning opportunities coming through each and every class on the course, especially as finance was one of the toughest classes conceptually for me.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of my progress so far in striving for broader access to medicines and increased patient centricity. I believe we can broaden access to innovative medicines in poorer communities while maintaining successful and sustainable business results. Our scientific and technological capabilities are improving rapidly and more and more diseases are becoming treatable, preventable or curable. Nevertheless, we still have a long way to go in securing equitable access throughout the different countries and socio-economic levels. Following an Entrepreneurial leadership experience in South Africa, I formed the Chronic Disease Foundation initiative in an attempt to prevent the terrible complications of diabetes I saw in the informal community setting. I hope that this will become a joint venture start-up in the next few years and plan to take a seat on the board to guide it in its mission to eradicate amputation, blindness, and neuropathic pain from the population of people with Diabetes in Africa. I joined the Novartis Corporate Responsibility advisory board to advise colleagues on getting volunteering projects started within the Organization. I challenged the team on a Diabetes medicine to fight for under-served patients, and in doing so we built a $1.3Bn business outside the USA. I then signed this in-patent, growth driving product into the Novartis access program to ensure access in the least developed country setting at $1 per month, setting precedent for the access program to include innovative medicines beyond the Sandoz generic medicines. With patients as the centre of our business, I am now building formal patient advisory groups to bring the patient voice to medicine development, with the first Patient Advisory forum now set up amongst Patient Advocacy groups in metabolic diseases such as Diabetes and Obesity
Who was your favorite MBA professor? All my professors have been great content experts, with excellent teaching skills and a desire to educate so to choose one is a tough call. I would therefore choose Theos, our UDJ (Uncertainty, Data and Judgement) professor as he typified the great passion for education, the high energy, positive use of stories and humor to build a captivating style and not least the ability to turn something very complex into something very simple. I will never be fooled by randomness again!
What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Again, it is hard to choose amongst so many great courses. Macroeconomics and International political analysis were eye-opening and amazing in equipping us with skills to evaluate the future of the world; UDJ prepared me to avoid the trap of being fooled by randomness; and Finance led to improved decision making for value creation. However, the Strategy course run by Javier was my favourite class. Not only was the delivery excellent, but the course taught the true meaning of sustainable advantage and challenged for me the quality of current strategies in Pharma. I can now think much broader about the creation of stronger strategies, including blue ocean approaches that move the boundaries of conventional markets. This course gives the insights into the differences between an average strategy and a truly inspiring strategy, and will help me achieve my dream of delivering innovative medicines to more people who need them
Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I chose INSEAD for my Exec MBA because of the quality of the teaching, the reputation for expertise in social entrepreneurism, the close link to Chinese business insights, the alumni network and the resources and opportunities that will be available after the course is completed
What did you enjoy most about business school in general? I enjoyed most the opportunity to learn more in one year than in the previous decade, in the company of a talented and inspiring bunch of classmates whose stories and experiences are a never ending fascination.
Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? I have a fairly intensive day job running both a 1.3Bn brand as well as developing a new class of medicines in phase 2, coaching 6 colleagues formally, my “hobby job” starting up the Chronic Disease Foundation in South Africa, plus a busy family life with the inevitable daily challenges of 7 kids. As a result, it was always going to be tough taking on an EMBA! Colleagues told me how intensive the work would be, so I spent a lot of time with my team to build opportunities and skills with others to step up and effectively cover my role during the EMBA program. Little did I know how important that would become, as after acceptance I discovered my brother had a non-curable cancer and would most likely not make it long enough to see my graduation. These events are momentous at any time, and really do put your feet back on the ground. Somehow, you find the time to do everything you need to do and you prioritise a lot. It teaches you about the value of having a great team around you at work; about having a wonderful wife to support you emotionally (and Organisationally!); and my brother himself has served as an inspiration, worrying more about the feelings of those around him than about his own challenges ahead. He makes it even more important to excel on the course, to capitalise on this opportunity to become a more potent player in the fight to improve world health and cure disease.
What is the biggest myth about going back to school? I think the biggest myth was that it would be harder to learn after so long out of university. This was very far from the reality. Although it is clearly intensive and highly time consuming, the energy you feel in gaining so much knowledge in so short a time teaches you that you’re never too old to learn new tricks! I do wonder what I will do after it completes with all that time!
What was your biggest regret in business school? Not being allowed to do every single elective and every Key management challenge course! Even that is not really a regret as I can continue them in future years – I try not to hold myself down with unnecessary regrets.
Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire many of my classmates for many different reasons. The class reps have been selflessly dedicating time and energy to organising so many aspects essential to a healthy social and sharing/learning experience. Several classmates have been facing big challenges and still put their whole self into the course. Many are inspiring entrepreneurs having built successful businesses from the ground up. Some are adventurers and explorers while others are inspiring for their social aspirations to bring good to the planet. Of all though, I think I should mention Selma who is managing to balance the usual workload dilemma of home, work and an intensive EMBA, but at the same time as becoming a new mum with all the challenges and learning curves associated with that. Her calmness, professionalism and ability to cope with this amazing mix is very inspiring.
“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I knew I wanted to go to business school when I realised there was so much more to learn that could complement my existing scientific knowledge.”
“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…if I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be less able to achieve my life’s dreams.”
What is your favorite company and what are they doing that makes them so special? I am very fortunate to work for my favourite company, Novartis. What makes Novartis special to me is the direction the corporation is taking and this comes from the Board and CEO, down through a highly inspiring head of global development, through my boss who is one of the best leaders I have met and to me. We are looking to move from being a vendor to being a partner in delivering health outcomes and I love this. Whilst it is incredibly hard to achieve such a shift in big business, the strategy to move this way is being carefully and consistently implemented, with increasing focus on high ethics, compliance, patient centricity and patient relevant outcomes, which are delivered with a strong value set centred on courageous collaboration. The environment is energised, with incredibly talented people in all areas of the business, cutting edge science with a higher investment in R&D than competitors (providing the hope of curative treatments via cell/gene therapy or gene editing). I love the work our foundation is supporting in looking to eradicate malaria and leprosy and in helping my own fight against the Tsunami of chronic diseases that is developing rapidly with increased food availability and sedentary lifestyles. I love the opportunities to self-create interesting projects that bring more successful outcomes and I love the company’s attitude to become a trusted partner to other companies as we seek to leverage the exponential growth in technology assisted solutions. If the prior concepts were not enough I hope one day to be part of the team to bring to reality a cure for Diabetes.
If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the executive MBA experience? I would try to more formally leverage the incredible cross-industry nature of the class and alumni to build stronger collaborative ventures in pre-competitive areas. If I could bottle even a small percentage of the collaborative spirit I see amongst classmates, I could improve teams and businesses across the globe immeasurably
What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To make the biggest personal impact possible in improving global health.
Who would you most want to thank for your success? My wife for being my supporter, coach, style guru, and soulmate. My brother for keeping my feet on the ground. My boss for his inspiration, for being a role model, for his trust in my abilities and his friendship. My team for their support, competence and willingness to step up and take accountability. My teachers for taking their own time to share knowledge, to challenge me and help other grow.
In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Andy cared about helping us become the best we can be.
Favorite book: The Lord of the Flies
Favorite movie or television show: Gladiator
Favorite musical performer: Marc Anthony
Favorite vacation spot: Andalucía, Spain
Hobbies? Cycling, fitness, hiking, painting
What made Andy such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?
“Andy’s nomination largely speaks for itself, and through this recommendation, I will add that it genuinely represents who he is and what he brings to the programme and his classmates. Andy is an excellent example of the positive human spirit and that an individual can make a difference in improving the world. He is selfless and through his humble, confident and understated accomplished style, an inspiration to all of his classmates that they can perhaps exceed their own expectation.
Managing a 1+ B global product line, creating and leading a Foundation to support healthcare in a rural African area, raising 7 children, supporting his wife’s charity to improve lives in under-served areas, and inspiring his classmates while tackling a demanding EMBA programme, all at the young age of 53, is humbling list, but just a typical week for Andy! He is clearly deserving of recognition in the Poets & Quants Best & Brightest EMBA list.”
Managing Director, Executive Degrees