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Breakthrough Leadership in Global Pharmaceutical Organisation

26th April 2016
Pharmaceutical organisations are facing unprecedented challenges. Change is now a constant with patents ending for blockbuster drugs, new buyers in the market, complex regulations and technology advancements. Within this complex and volatile environment, savings have to happen alongside the drive for innovation and investment for clinical programme development.

Procurement has a 360 degree view of the organisation and a global reach of organisational influence. It is perfectly placed to bring about significant competitive advantage in the industry, particularly with the potent combination of understanding the buying power of the business and the expertise in the supplier market and the innovation therein, allowing for a broad perspective and robust negotiation.

The Challenge

Driving commercial excellence in a global pharmaceutical organisation

This global pharmaceutical organisation had a legacy of transactional procurement expertise and a good reputation for supplier contracting and resolving issues. In spite of this, it was observed that senior procurement leaders’ didn’t have the influence through relationship with other functions in the country or further afield, to make the required impact and add value through market insights.

The procurement function were constrained in their thinking and struggling to widen their focus beyond their own internal process and improvements. The key challenge here was to transform the thinking of procurement leaders’ so they saw themselves as ‘business leaders’ with a procurement expertise; freed up to make bold decisions, influencing the wider business and becoming actors of change in a multicultural and complex business environment.

The Approach

Management Consultancies Association (MCA) Awards 2016‘Breakthrough Leadership in Procurement’ Programme

Working in partnership, as members of the project team, Achieve Breakthrough created a global 18 month ‘Breakthrough Leadership in Procurement’ programme. The Chief Procurement Heads’ were a critical player in the design structure, being the backbone of the regional organisation and managing 80% of the human resources. Alongside this, the success of the programme hinged on the project based Breakthrough approach used to engage business partners and develop sustainable mind-set and skills within procurement. This incorporated:

• On the job learning: a real time live action challenge
• Real time support with 1-2-1 coaching
• Peer coaching and networking.


Throughout the programme Achieve Breakthrough focused on:

  1. Developing the procurement mind-set to be ambitious and take permission beyond what they previously thought was possible or within their remit. Building skills to then lead and partner effectively in this way by standing in the shoes of their partners and operating from a strategic alignment.
  2. Creating a new procurement reputation in the business in order for the full value proposition to be realised.

Mindset image

There were three key programme elements which supported the above:

  • CPH Leadership soft skills development to empower them to be business leaders
  • Develop the skills to obtain outstanding Breakthrough results
  • Business partnering development to reshape the manner in which procurement engages with its stakeholders and suppliers to drive competitive advantage.


The Results

Outcomes exceeded all expectations and demonstrated a transformation for participants that were previously constrained, reactive and playing safe. The net result being a significantly increased potential for the function as a whole in terms of business bottom line, partnering and influence at a senior level and opportunities through innovation.

Key performance indicators include:

• 700% uplift in strategic business influence
• 20% uplift in savings
• 130% reduction in speed to market
• 88% shift in leadership behaviours
• 50% increase in ambition.


“The Achieve Breakthrough Program unleashed the individual leadership potentials of my country procurement heads through thinking and acting in a different way. This will impact the way of collaboration with our Business Partners in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. This program should be a must for all Procurement leaders.”   Regional Procurement Head, Western Europe

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