SAUDI ARABIA - Health & Education
MCO Lead, Specialty Care General Manager Greater Gulf, Sanofi
Jean-Paul Scheuer is currently the MCO Lead and General Manager Specialty Care for Sanofi in the Greater Gulf. Prior to this, he was country chair and general manager at Sanofi Gulf from 2016-2020. During his 26 years in the pharmaceutical industry, he has held the position of general manager for 18 years and has experience in diversified businesses having worked across prescriptions, rare diseases, OTC, and generics. A French Foreign Trade Advisor since 2008, he has consistently been ranked among the Forbes Top 50 Executives in the Arab world. Scheuer earned a master’s in pharmaceutical industry from ESCP Business School in Paris and a master of arts from the University of Leeds in the UK. He also holds a degree in finance and marketing from the French Business School in Dijon and has certificates in Blue Ocean Strategy and Leadership Transition from INSEAD.
How would you describe the current healthcare system in the Kingdom, and how does Sanofi fit in it?
The future of the Saudi healthcare sector looks bright. Both the private and public sectors are working under the guiding light of Vision 2030, whether it is attracting more investment, pushing for localization, or, when it comes to financing the industry of healthcare, the government realizing that the private sector needs to contribute more. Sanofi is a perfect example of what is happening in KSA. We are bringing scientific innovation into KSA healthcare solutions, while ensuring the best treatments for the people living in Saudi Arabia. The entire Gulf, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is raising the standards of its healthcare system. Saudi Arabia is implementing major reforms in the sector that are well aligned with the overall transformation of the country. I have been responsible for the Saudi market for a few years, and the entire business community and I have been amazed by the plans the Kingdom is implementing and the goals it wants to achieve, overall and beyond healthcare. The transformation in this country in the past two years has been amazing: the Kingdom is attracting a growing number of international companies—key players within the sector —capitalizing on every opportunity that the market has to offer. At the same time, investments are enriching the Kingdom with knowledge transfer. The communities are benefiting from it: our presence is improving people’s lives. We have a manufacturing site not far from Jeddah, though we are also discussing ways to actualize the localization of other strategic products for the Kingdom. We are continuously cultivating the team in KSA; Sanofi is constantly intensifying its presence in the region in general and in Saudi Arabia specifically, localizing and expanding its activities in the Kingdom. The opportunities and market are here, and we want to do our part to improve people’s lives and expand our operations in the region. The local authorities are embracing the change and are opening their doors to investors. There is a feeling of building a real partnership, and they are ready to listen, adapt, and create an attractive atmosphere. From this perspective, I see some similarities with the UAE. Both nations know how to build up the confidence of investors because of their willingness to dialogue. The “healthcare revolution” is not just happening on paper; the revolution is happening now, and Sanofi plans to be part of it. We recently received the Saudi Regional Headquarter (RHQ) license, among the first multinational pharma companies to have been granted this license. This reconfirms our commitment to KSA; the license represents a cornerstone of our continued growth in the region. Setting up an RHQ in the Kingdom is a vital move as we reinforce our commitment as a strategic partner to the Saudi Vision 2030. It benefits our people and will allow us to better serve patients, our customers, and the community.
In what specific fields will Sanofi transfer its knowledge and join efforts with local institutions to boost pharmaceutical innovation in the Kingdom?
The GCC in general is a fantastic region to bring our innovation and know-how. In terms of treatments, it has an incredible openness. It is possible to literally register a product within a few months, which is great compared to other countries, and the health authorities here are working to shorten the timeframe even further. Sanofi shares the same goal of the institutions: we all want to ensure the population has access to the latest innovations as soon as possible. Saudi Arabia is not afraid to make change happen; it is willing to be the first. As far as therapeutic innovation is concerned, Saudi is literally a paradise here. When it comes to innovative projects, we see significant room for growth in the field of digital healthcare and data management. That is a major topic globally right now, particularly here, and it is a fantastic opportunity to partner with the Kingdom. There is an impressive amount of data, and the Saudi authorities want to work with us to manage and analyze the data, translate it, make a retrospective, and analyze the developments. As far as innovation and AI are concerned, Sanofi is one of the most advanced companies in the globe; our activity in the region is the evidence and proof. We currently have more than 12 projects involving the use of AI ongoing in the region, including in Saudi. The highly innovative landscape in the Kingdom provides all the infrastructure to bring in our innovation. It is highly sophisticated in terms of fundamental research and is already equipped to carry out fundamental research. What KSA is looking for today is fundamental studies. The Kingdom has incredibly educated resources, and we are in discussion with local institutions as there is room to cooperate in several areas, including in the field of rare diseases.
Can you shed some light on your pharmaceutical production plant installed at KAEC in Jeddah?
Building a factory reaffirms our long-term vision and support for the country. Today, we have over 20 million boxes going out of the factory each year. We will continue to invest in this plant to ensure the numbers keep growing. The future looks promising. This factory is sufficient demonstration of how much Sanofi is involved in the growth and development of the pharmaceutical industry in Saudi. Our projects and vision fit perfectly with Vision 2030, particularly in securing the availabilities of key strategic products. Sanofi has a portfolio that fits in fantastically with the region and Saudi in particular, including in diabetes. Unfortunately, this country sets the world record in terms of prediabetes. We have products for cardiovascular diseases, which are linked to diabetes as well, but this is one of the major causes of mortality rates. We also have a huge portfolio for rare diseases. Sanofi has an extremely diversified portfolio, with treatments that meet the majority of the requirements of the Kingdom.
What emphasis are you placing on human capital, and how is your activity generating appealing opportunities for the local talented youth?
Today, there are many Saudi nationals joining the team, which is great. We have a platinum status when it comes to Saudization, which we are extremely proud of. The other challenge is retaining them, as the turnover in the industry is generally between 10 and 20%. It is quite high, though this is typical for such a market where things move quickly. I expect it to stabilize over time, though right now, human capital is both promising as well as a challenge that we need to address; however, we need to offer more opportunities for younger people and be ready to create ways to attract them into taking these opportunities.
What are the main goals and targets set in your agenda?
As far as the Saudi team is concerned, my dream is to have four to 10 local top managers in our organization by the end of 2023. If we manage to do this, it would be a great achievement. Personally speaking, I am here to deliver results and develop people. Developing talent is my passion, and the GCC—and Saudi Arabia is no exception—is full of challenges and talent. Talent is the answer to the challenge and cultivating it is the way to ensure a bright future both for the company and for the nation and its people.
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