Acino “a magnet for specialists” – the perfect example of a socially responsible business in Ukraine
Monday 28th June 2021
Swiss pharmaceutical company Acino entered Ukraine in 2015. Eugene Zaika, Regional Head Ukraine and CIS, explains how the company’s sustainable development strategy fits into its business.
— Business objectives are no longer just about making profit. What are the benefits of Acino’s sustainable development?
— Let’s look at things realistically — business is business. Stable and growing profit is what allows companies to implement their plans, including sustainable development. Taking into account that Acino is owned by private equity funds, our investors are interested in the steady growth of the companies they finance. Therefore, we conduct our business in such a way that the changes driven by our sustainable development strategy not only bring profit, but also contribute to the development of society. For example, the workforce of the company more than doubled in the past 5 years of our operations in Ukraine. And we are still open to hiring more specialists — about 70 vacancies are currently available at Acino.
Moreover, 85% of our employees in manufacturing have a higher education. This approach to recruitment is driven by the fact that the technical equipment used at our manufacturing plant is some of the best and the newest comparable to our three plants in Switzerland.
— How did you achieve such growth?
— To use a figure of speech, we have become a “magnet” for highly qualified specialists by offering a competitive salary and an individual pension program while also consistently adhering to the principles of a socially responsible business.
In 2016, we suggested to the Swiss management that we should create a special Hub (Shared Services Center) in Ukraine in particular to take over such functions as regulatory and medical affairs, pharmacovigilance, legal, finance, quality control of incoming active pharmaceutical ingredients and stability studies for our production facilities in Switzerland. We also have about 30 IT specialists maintaining all IT systems across Acino Group in the world. The uniqueness of this Hub is that we also deal with all indirect procurement for the company — from machinery and high-tech equipment to toilet supplies for all our offices and manufacturing sites around the world. Since 2017 and to this day, almost one hundred talented Ukrainians have been working here and realizing their potential at the global level. Therefore, I can say with confidence that our Shared Services Center represents a unique best practice example for the pharmaceutical industry in Ukraine.
Since Acino started its work in Ukraine, we have also served as a driving force leading to the opening of six representative offices of the company in the CIS and neighboring countries, including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. And the seventh one will be opened soon.
— What do you mean by “a healthy ecosystem for the healthcare development in Ukraine”?
— Supporting projects that help meet the needs of society is our day-to-day standard. Therefore, looking ahead, this is a win-win interaction, where we act as a partner for many conferences and specialized events in the pharmaceutical industry in Ukraine, organize educational programs for healthcare specialists, and create our own patient projects or support partner initiatives.
— Can you give examples of such social projects?
— One example is our national social project called “Your Unlimited World” aimed at helping children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Since its launch in 2018, we have implemented over 100 initiatives, including the opening of 11 sensor rooms in 10 cities around the country. Also in cooperation with the Child with Future Foundation, we have published the Guide for Parents and Guide for Teachers and released almost 100 educational videos that help people to connect with these children. As part of this project, we support the Kids Autism Games team.
We also support the global annual World Parkinson’s Day awareness campaign in Ukraine. Since 2017, we have been developing a dance therapy project for people with Parkinson’s disease in 9 cities around the country.
In early 2020, we proactively supported doctors in their fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, and we continue to do so.
We also spearheaded many other initiatives, such as the reconstruction and equipping of the pharmacological classroom for students at the Bogomolets National Medical University last fall. We are doing this because we understand the importance of creating a state-of-the-art environment for the professional education of future doctors and pharmacists, who will be responsible for the lives of our patients and our own lives.
— What are Acino’s immediate development plans?
— Our plan is to grow all parts of our business: from expanding our portfolio with our own products and generics to acquiring new portfolio assets from our partners, or distributing them in our operating markets. In this way, we continue to apply different approaches to stimulating further growth. In February, Acino in Ukraine became one of the top 5 pharmaceutical companies in the country*. Our goal is to be in the top three.
*Source: PharmXplrorer Retail analytics data by Proxima Research company