A conversation with Rosita Selva Salis, IBSA Group's Head of International Business Operations (IBO)06 December 2021
Managing IBSA’s presence in over seventy countries across five continents while, at the same time, developing new business opportunities: this is the challenge of International Business Operations (IBO), which in recent months, has undergone a major reorganization. IBO is now structured in three different areas of expertise: business development & licensing, international sales, and customer care & shipping, present both in the Lugano headquarters and in IBSA Farmaceutici Italia (IBO - Italy). All these are very different cross-functional activities that allow the company to better manage its customer portfolio while expanding its presence on a global scale, yet, with a particular focus on those countries where IBSA does not operate yet. Managing all these operations is Rosita Selva Salis, Head of International Business Operations of IBSA Group.
WHAT ARE YOUR DEPARTMENT ACCOUNTABILITIES?
Through these three different “cores” - research, acquisition, and management – overall, my division manages an economic turnover of approximately 180 million Swiss Francs. These three areas correspond to three different consequential steps of a process. The first "link in the chain" is everything that has to do with business development & licensing activities. For example: the recruitment of new distributors. It all begins with a profiling process of the prospect partner company, followed by a negotiation phase, and then, by the definition of the business plan. Once the license and distribution agreement is sealed, the acquired customer is assigned to international sales. In this phase, all the dynamics concerning product registration become fundamental. Precisely for this reason, our department has frequent exchanges with the Regulatory Affairs department. Once all the necessary registrations have been secured, we can start thinking about an actual product launch. At this point, both international sales, which manages and coordinates the launch phase, and customer care & shipping, which manages orders and shipments to our distributors worldwide, step in. As for the therapeutic areas we are particularly focusing on right now, those are: reproductive medicine, endocrinology, pain and inflammation, urology and dermatology. Currently we have ongoing negotiations with several countries: Australia, Belgium, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Latin American countries, Canada and Russia. In addition, our main internationalisation goal is to expand in the Far East, in China and in Japan in particular. In Europe, IBSA is opening affiliates on a widespread basis, thus, we are looking for distributors who can support us in the internationalization process only in those European countries where we do not have a branch.
YOUR ADVENTURE IN IBSA BEGAN SEVERAL YEARS AGO, IN THE EARLY 1990s, WHEN THE COMPANY WAS QUITE DIFFERENT FROM WHAT IT IS NOW. HOW HAS YOUR WORK EVOLVED FROM THE BEGINNING OF YOUR EXPERIENCE IN IBSA TO PRESENT DAYS?
I started working in IBSA as an assistant to Dr. Arturo Licenziati and thirty years have passed since then. When I began, I wanted to become part of a medical-pharmaceutical organisation to continue my path in this sector. At the time, I was arriving from a 600-employees well-structured company, and I found myself in a completely different context, a fairly young company but with an enormous potential that I immediately sensed. Having the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Licenziati, assisting and actively participating in the process of bringing his intuitions to life, truly enriched my path and brought a lot of valuable experience. I am very happy for this, and I am aware of the opportunity I was given. Experiencing first-hand the growth of a company from a "start-up" phase and that has now reached a 750 million revenue, made me understand the extent of the insights of this leader, who has brought IBSA to be what it is today. One thing, among others, that has always characterized IBSA is our simple and pragmatic approach, which is a direct result of Doctor Licenziati’s way of working in first place. This is something that extends to the relationships with our partners as well. We also apply this approach to the relationships with our distributors. A practical example? Our contracts: simple, clear, and easily applicable. Even from a legal standpoint, they never create ambiguity and are of easy interpretation, thus, transcending cultures and languages. This, in my opinion, is the aspect that truly represents the essence of IBSA.
WHAT ARE THE NEXT CHALLENGES AWAITING INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS OPERATIONS?
At the moment, our main goal is to increase our revenue. Together with the two Managers of my team, Business Development & Licensing Manager Andrea Taborelli, and Sr International Sales Manager Carmen Vigorelli, we have set very ambitious goals for ourselves. Andrea Taborelli and his team are focusing on finding new business partners and new markets. Scouting and opportunity assessment activities are supported by a dedicated communication on one hand, and by innovative IT tools (BD website, lead generation and CRM) on the other. Carmen Vigorelli oversees the management of existing partners and she studies their market of reference in detail, to explore new paths aimed at the increase of sales and registrations. I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to my entire team, including the Italian group, for all their support and continued commitment over the years, which has contributed substantially to the growth of the department. Being a financially stable company is essential and it is what allows IBSA to carry out all those activities that transcend the physical product. A steady and increasing revenue allows us to continue research and development activities in our laboratories, as well as the numerous corporate social responsibility projects. For example, through the IBSA Foundation for scientific research. Commercial success and economic stability are also the gateway to attracting talent, and therefore, to becoming an aggregator of high-profile professionals.