INTERVIEW

The Brazilian creativity

António Alberto Rodrigues "By being extremely formal Portugal does not let communication flow. However, such aspect has increasingly improved over the last years, due to the Brazilian soap operas and also to the great amount of Brazilian immigrants who live in Portugal, that is, the result of a closer relationship between both countries".

The analysis above was uttered by António Alberto Rodrigues, a Portuguese-born and director of Roche in Portugal. During an exclusive interview to Top Team, the executive comments about the creativity of the pharmaceutical industry and states that "marketing requires deeper analysis, but the instinct cannot be neglected".

Rodrigues also gives some hints to the executives who want to have a solid career in the pharmaceutical industry. To him, "it is necessary to analyze, gather data and- above all - decide. This requires intuition and braveness".

Check out the main parts of the interview below:

Top Team: Throughout your career you took on different positions in several countries. How did it feel to deal with new responsibilities?
António Alberto Rodrigues: My career was built step by step, in spite of having had a very fast beginning. After three months as a sales rep, I took on the management of a branch in Rio de Janeiro and right after that I was also in charge of Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro Capital. At the age of 32 I was invited to lead the National Sales Management and I became the youngest Sales Manager of the pharmaceutical industry. That was a huge challenge, not only because Brazil is such a big country but also because I was the youngest among the nearly one thousand people who were part of my team. That as an extremely challenging moment in my life, but above all, a period of great personal and professional achievements.

Top Team: Which were the results obtained in this time?
António Alberto Rodrigues: We were able to be the leading company in the segment for several years. We were a small team with a contaminating enthusiasm. At that time we moved Roche headquarter from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo and then I took on a new major position in the Company as a Marketing Manager.

Top Team: The launch of new products was on the spotlight in the company?
António Alberto Rodrigues: Yes, the launch of new products was a constant concern and the search for new opportunities was almost an obsession. Marketing requires deeper analysis, but the instinct cannot be neglected. I remember a situation in which I called a Product Manager and told him that we were going to launch a vitamin with certain features. His answer was: "No way. We have already taken several studies and market analyses and there is no consumer for such vitamin". I replied: "Ok. Do not worry. Let me launch it". Ephynal 400 mgr ended up being a great success in sales and the manager lost the opportunity to include this case in his resume.

Top Team: After that you were invited to work in Argentina, leading the offices in Paraguay and Bolivia, and consequently in Colombia. What was this experience like?
António Alberto Rodrigues: It was a very interesting experience once I was the president of both Roche in Colombia and in Ecuador. I shared my week between both countries which only had one thing in common - the language - while their currency and health care system were completely different. My satisfaction was mostly making Roche move from the sixth position to become the first ranked Colombian company in the pharmaceutical industry. Secondly, was to have developed several programs to support patients.

Top Team: Later, you became the president of Roche in Portugal. By making a brief comparison, are there many differences between the pharmaceutical industries in that country and in Brazil?
António Alberto Rodrigues: In Brazil, there is more room for creativity than in Portugal. By being extremely formal Portugal does not let communication flow. However, such aspect has increasingly improved over the last years, due to the Brazilian soap operas and also to the great amount of Brazilian immigrants who live in Portugal, that is, the result of a closer relationship between both countries.

Top Team: To wrap up, what hints would you give to the executives who want to succeed in the pharmaceutical industry?
António Alberto Rodrigues: First of all, persistence. That is crucial. When I first came to Brazil, for instance, I had to face the language barrier. The "sweeter" Portuguese from Brazil, as we say in Portugal, brought some challenges. In order to overcome the accent matter, I used to watch the Jornal Nacional news on Globo TV with Cid Moreira and repeated the words after him in order to reduce my accent and practice pronunciation. Another hint is that leadership is essential when it comes to catalyzing energy and enthusiasm, but also as a way of keeping focused and target-oriented. It is necessary to analyze, gather data and - above all - decide. That requires intuition and braveness.

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