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Moritz Hartmann

UAE, UAE, DUBAI - Health & Education

Come One, Come All

General Manager Middle East, Roche Diagnostics


With more than 10 years of international experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Moritz Hartmann has, since 2011, been responsible for the Roche Diagnostics business in 20 countries through his position as General Manager, Roche Diagnostics Middle East. He has been at Roche Diagnostics since 2005, working in Basel, Mannheim, and Ljubljana. He holds a diploma in Business Administration and an Executive MBA from the Kellogg School of Management.

"Diversity is an important factor in our strategy of innovation."

TBY talks to Moritz Hartmann, General Manager Middle East at Roche Diagnostics, on operations in Dubai, How have Roche’s operations in Dubai evolved?

We received our trade license in January 2012, and our first milestone was to go commercially live in July. This is basically an internal process that allows us to buy and sell our products in the region through this office. That means Roche Diagnostics Middle East Regional Company is now the commercial partner of all our distributors in the region. This first milestone was met and from there we have launched some initiatives that are part of the overall concept. Among other things, in September 2012, we kicked off our Middle East marketing team, to transfer all market support activity to Dubai for the 20 countries in the Middle East. Before this, the marketing experts in the export department in Germany were covering the region as part of a portfolio of 70 markets, including Eastern Europe, most parts of Africa and the Middle East. Now we have specialized marketing and product management, focusing on the specific needs of the Middle East. In November 2012, we launched our regional warehouse in Jebel Ali, where we now centrally store the products designated to the region, allowing us to act faster and more reliably. We are also controlling a longer part of the distribution chain. Previously, we were sending the goods out of our central warehouse in Europe, so the moment the goods left the warehouse there, they were in the hands of our distributers. Now, we carry the whole responsibility until here, which improves quality control over the supply chain. This is not only about costs, but it is primarily about better serving customers.

How does Roche fit into the vision of improving the infrastructure of Dubai?

On the one hand, the goal of introducing the support functions here is to create a close link to the knowledge of our company, which is future products, medical know-how, and the significance of diagnostic testing, which has in the past been transferred from Germany to our distribution partners. Right now, we are taking this on actively here. We have established a group of experts here that will serve healthcare professionals in a far more intensive way. We want to be understood as the partners of the Ministry of Health or the Dubai Health Authority, so that when it comes to in-vitro diagnostics, we are the ones with the greatest knowledge. We are happy to share this with people who request it, and we actively want to bring our know-how to the market. This aligns very well with the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

“Diversity is an important factor in our strategy of innovation.”

Are you seeing demand in your sector from doctors for more advanced equipment?

Our customers are mostly healthcare providers, and we are seeing an increasing demand for high-quality healthcare services. They request from us the delivery of the latest technology in the same timeframe that we are launching this technology in any other part of the world. Other parts of the world worry whether they can afford the latest technology; however, that is never a problem here. Upgrading the quality of the healthcare system comes with a price tag, and many governments make no compromise about increasing services to the people. Our goal is to be able to serve customers here with a global level of service expected from Roche, irrespective of the fact that distributors are an additional part of the supply chain.

What strategies do you have in place to capitalize on the healthcare boom?

Our strategy is to establish ourselves here with an affiliate of the company. In the in-vitro diagnostics business, we are the first company to do this. Internally, Dubai is getting tremendous attention. Nowadays, we are referring to the Middle East in the same way as we talk of emerging markets such as Brazil or Russia. If we look at how many blood parameters are tested in a patient per year, the GCC countries are still behind the standards that we see in North America or Western Europe. However, the past trend was to go to the EU or the US for treatment, but I think this will reverse. We will increasingly see the top destinations in the region become the preferred places to seek treatments, also when it comes to complicated matters. This is part of the latest developments that we are seeing in Dubai. Medical tourism is one of the focuses. Because of budgetary constraints in the EU and the US, we will see that the top-notch equipment that is here will make a difference, and this is why there will be more people taking an active decision to be treated here rather than elsewhere.

How important is perception in convincing people of the quality of health care in the region?

Trust will come in time, and that is the only thing at the moment that is missing. People in the US will often go to clinics that are managed by leading providers in the US. You will find places in Abu Dhabi like that. There are international hospital operators that are putting their standards from the US in the UAE one-to-one. As a supplier, we are requested to meet the same standards as in the US to service the same protocols in the hospitals here.

How did you achieve 25% market penetration across the Middle East, and what is your outlook for the coming years?

We have achieved this by working very successfully with our distribution partners in each country. We have maintained relationships for many decades with them; in Saudi Arabia, we will be celebrating 50 years of partnership with our distributor in 2013. This long, trusted partnership has allowed us to share knowledge and serve the markets better than other competitors, who were only seeing the markets as an export business. This is not how Roche does business; we are a company with a long history of over 115 years, and we do our business for the long term. We have been committed for many years, and with moving here, we are taking the next step to lead our industry.

Is stability why Roche chose Dubai?

Yes. At this moment, we consider Dubai able to provide us with the infrastructure needed to host our regional headquarters. In the very specialized fields, it is difficult for us to recruit the right talent, and that is one of the main reasons we are in Dubai. We are always evaluating our options, and maybe one day we will have a warehouse in Saudi Arabia to serve that market better. I foresee this happening in the near future. We evaluated the situation, together with our partners, and came to the conclusion that for the time being, Dubai is the right place.

What was your message to attendees at the Women’s Leadership Forum (WIL) conference in November 2012?

Diversity is an important factor in our strategy of innovation. At Roche, we believe only diversity will allow us to continue to be at the cutting edge of innovation. We renew our product portfolio every five years and diversity for us is a key to generate enough ideas to keep this pace of innovation.. The previous organizational structures we had in the GCC were very male-dominated, and since we established our own affiliate we have been fully implementing our global strategy of diversity in the Middle East organization. We were able to increase the number of female employees by almost 50%. The WIL was important for us, because people heard that we are serious about making change happen, and that we believe that this is part of what we want to achieve globally. Women do want to work here, but still face a lot of obstacles. As a company, we provide an inclusive work environment and do not differentiate, for example, in salaries or allowances between male and female employees. It is part of the company’s cultural values, and I was impressed by the positive reactions we received at the forum for implementing them.

Do you have a set goal for diversity in your company?

We have a global target, but that is actually lower than what we need. There is a lot of controversy in our company about this target. I personally think it is not overly ambitious, but it is there to raise awareness and to give the whole topic of diversity a certain importance and visibility. In fact, in the Middle East, our numbers are better than the global target. But this target is not about achieving or overachieving; it is just about finding the right talent.

What are your company targets for 2013?

In the Middle East, 2013 is the year of our customers. We want our customers to feel what the concept of putting our regional management here means and what it delivers to them. We used 2012 to put the infrastructure and concept into place, and 2013 should be the year that customers feel the difference. Our long-term goal in the region is to become the partner of choice for in-vitro diagnostics. We want to be the ones that are referred to not only for making profits in the market, but for giving back to the community.

© The Business Year – January 2013



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