Marken - Biopharma
“It’s an honor for me to share my career journey as part of the CEO Today Global Awards 2023. Reflecting on my diverse professional experience, I have had the privilege of working across various cultures, geographies and industries. Currently as the President of Marken, I’m proud to have led the company through a period of exponential growth. As the clinical subsidiary of UPS Healthcare, we are a global specialty logistics company delivering next-generation clinical to commercial cell and gene therapies and clinical trial supply chain solutions under one roof. During cataclysmic disrupters, we played an essential role in the accelerated development, distribution, and global access of life-saving medicines, vaccines, and critical treatments, ensuring continued patient participation in trials worldwide.
The Marken global team is equipped with exceptionally talented professionals, possessing diverse skillsets, backgrounds, expertise, and a shared commitment to excellence. We have a vital role in delivering groundbreaking medicines – from advanced therapies and mRNA vaccines to pioneering drugs and novel treatments in development – that have the potential to cure – not just treat disease.”
How has your work developed throughout your journey at Marken?
Over the past three years, Marken has nearly tripled in size and my responsibilities have grown significantly in parallel to this expansion. It has been a privilege to guide our team with the single purpose and vision of building around the patient even when managing to massively scale our business during a time of unprecedented demand on clinical trials. We pride ourselves on delivering customized services at lightspeed and we have continued to offer a competitive edge in the face of mounting complexities with a ready-now network to deliver new possibilities for patients. From shifts in strategic thinking and talent onboarding to virtual processes, we had to constantly challenge ourselves, develop new services and expand to new areas to be better and faster than the day before.
As the chair of our leadership team, I am fully responsible for the strategic direction of the business, focusing on the “what if’s” and the “what’s next”. My experience managing and mitigating the threats of economic uncertainty, political instability, labor shortages and other global disruptions have helped to determine what should be done differently in the future.
Tell me how you have approached change. What significant challenges have you and your colleagues overcome?
We’ve seen in numerous emergent issues over the past several years that change is inevitable; It can come from any direction and happen at any time. Take the past six months for example — catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey, political upheaval in the Middle East, employees on strike in Europe, global economic inflation and shortages ? these are no longer surprising but are now table stakes, and they will continue in the future.
In reference to the “grey rhino effect” and the “black swan theory”, we build contingency planning, risk mitigation and business continuity into our operational infrastructure, procedures and processes. In a “shape or be shaped” era, we leverage lessons learned combined with the unique strength of the global UPS network, to find the “silver lining” during these threats to unveil and harness opportunities to rapidly evolve.
Diversity is one of our key strengths, we bring an array of ideas, talents and experiences to the table – fostered by a learning culture which is boldened by our unique Marken DNA – we integrate disruptors as a natural part of our strategic discussions.
Today, we don’t wait until we are disrupted – we embrace it to ask how we can disrupt disruption, challenge the status quo and question pre-conceived ideas to remain proactive, anti-fragile and resilient as we continue to deliver what matters.
What do you think is your customer’s biggest problem, what keeps them up at night and how do you tackle it?
Our customers’ biggest challenge is cost optimization and accelerating drug development in a world of continual disruption resulting in widespread shortages. To address this, we ask ourselves where we can enhance our portfolio and remain the preferred and trusted provider for our clients.
To further alleviate customer concerns, we proactively hire top talent from diverse backgrounds and extensive scientific knowledge to bring new ideas and perspectives that can coalesce within the biotechnology and life science industry.
Another pain point for our customers is the growing digital divide between technology and humans. We stay ahead by integrating new technologies, acclimating our internal systems through early adoption, and equipping our employees with the necessary training to use them effectively. All industries have faced labor complexities in recent years, and we have addressed this head on by investing in upskilling our workforce and onboarding digital tools, big data and AI to maximize workflow productivity and prepare for the future.
As the patient is our priority, we will continue to expand our patient-centric portfolio to meet the accelerated go-to-market timelines and support any clinical trial distribution model from traditional to decentralized, hybrid, virtual – and future models not yet designed.
Is there a particular achievement you are most proud of from your period as President?
Absolutely – I am extremely proud of how we consistently come together as one team with a clear mission to accomplish our goals and meet industry demand no matter the obstacle. In the life sciences industry, where groundbreaking advances are constantly emerging, our team at Marken has been at the forefront of logistics innovation, delivering novel scientific discoveries to patients across the globe. And this is only the beginning. As we continue to navigate the rapidly evolving landscape of medicine, including cell and gene therapies, mRNA treatments, personalized cancer vaccines and other new technologies, our team has responded with agility and speed, enabling us to move these medicines with unprecedented efficiency.
Over the past several years, our global leadership team worked tirelessly to adjust our supply chain rapidly, allowing for clinical trials to be completed in record time – sometimes as little as 100 days. We scaled our volumes over 80%, significantly expanding our network and services including in-house dry ice manufacturing. We supported roughly 150 Covid-19 vaccines and treatments including the implementation of one vaccine program in less than eight weeks, as well as onboarded more over 100 new clients in less than three months.
When close to 80% of clinical trials were interrupted and patients could not travel, we focused on patient-centric approaches, delivering medicines directly to the home and accommodating the growing demand for at-home nursing services to administer medicines or collect samples. Since 2019 we have increased our patient-centric services (PCS) coverage more than 300% as today, we offer direct-to-patient services in more than 80 countries and home healthcare in 69 countries.
What was the most difficult decision you have made in your career thus far?
As President, I face new challenges constantly with each exhibiting its own distinct set of difficulties – so I don’t think there has been one single most difficult moment. Restructuring operations, for instance, requires that I set aside personal emotions and long-standing relationships, while remaining steadfast in my commitment to do what is right for the business and the organization’s future. Similarly, to ‘green light’ a new strategic vision for an entire region or service line can be a harrowing decision – but with the right processes, infrastructure and leadership structure in place, I am confident in my decisions and team.
Can you tell us anything about what might be in store for Marken this year?
We will continue to use our logistical strength to expand our global presence and capabilities to areas where clinical trials and patient populations are increasing, supporting improved healthcare accessibility and equity around the world.
Our recent investments in sub-Saharan Africa and India, and planned expansions in Japan, China and South Korea reflect industry shifts, client needs as well as other industry demands. Ongoing industry trends such as nearshoring, reliance on fewer vendors and continued shortages will impact our decision-making but we will continue to learn, grow and embrace changes to demonstrate agility.
I also consider the undeniable increasing role that digital innovation will play in our industry, including advancements such as 3D printing, digital patient (Metaverse avatars), AI, big data, and evidence-based research – I anticipate that both our personal and professional lives will be shaped in fundamental ways over the coming years as so much that is done physically today will be accomplished virtually. As we proactively prepare for the future of healthcare, I am proud of our team’s ability to pivot quickly as needed in this new era of medicine.
Marken is deeply committed to a fostering a healthier and more sustainable future. We will continue to implement business practices and operational efficiencies to lower our environmental impact – such as prioritizing reusable packaging through our closed loop service, reducing carbon emissions through distribution network optimization, establishing supplier sustainability screening, and ensuring diversity and inclusion throughout our organization.
At Marken, we have the best people and the best tools, and we will continue to operate at the leading edge, investing in new technology, enhancing our global network and lowering our environment footprint to deliver with quality excellence this year and beyond.
How do you want the world to remember you?
I would like to be remembered as someone who was a compassionate listener, who approached every challenge with an open mind and willingness to explore new perceptions and ideas. I hope that the team I helped build – and continue to build – gain meaningful insights from me that are useful on their personal or professional journeys.
Overall, I would like to be remembered as someone with a passion to never stop learning and discovering – and who always enjoyed a good laugh.