Lateral entry into Pharma Marketing – a good idea?

Martin Lange
Dynamics, rotation and promotion of the employees, this is what distinguishes Roche for me.
Martin Lange, Produktmanager Roche Pharma AG Grenzach

You were previously in the market research at Roche in Basel and are now product manager in Grenzach. How did this happen?

Already in my previous jobs I had been interested in getting to know product management a little more closely. As market researcher I had analysed and supported the product management in this way. But I was only able to acquire limited insights into the topic area of "Marketing“ and did not find out in detail about the implications that the data had. I found this unfortunate.

In contrast to my previous employers at Roche it is promoted that employees go through different departments so as to acquire an overall picture of the business. So for me the opportunity arose to participate in a rotation program and to get to know the everyday working life of a product manager.

The rotation program is finished – but you are still here?

Correct! I found the work as product manager so interesting that I wanted to continue - and fortunately it also worked out. As product manager I stand in direct contact with customers and the field service team and have the responsibility for moving something in the market. Also within the corporation there are many interfaces that I all need to coordinate. I find all this very exciting.

How did it come to the decision to turn your back on Basel and remain in Grenzach.

The company Roche Pharma AG has an excellent reputation in the area of oncology. Therefore, already from the reputation perspective the company is an extremely interesting employer. But also friends and acquaintances that had changed to Roche Pharma AG had only reported good things. The dynamics, the good promotion of employees and the view beyond the tip of one's nose: these were the things that I found especially appealing.

For me it was also the opportunity to work as a product manager and to collect local experience within the corporation: away from the higher level, very strategic area. Grenzach is by the way located directly on the Swiss border and is very near to the headquarters in Basel. In addition Germany is one of the most important selling markets for Roche. Insofar it is understandable that I feel comfortable here.

What do you find attractive in national product management?

Being so close to the customers, developing strategies and materials, conceiving how we can implement a marketing and sales strategy. These are new tasks, which in the global environment are not present in this form. I need to adopt the local perspective and see how I can implement, respectively adapt global specification on the local level.

The "switch" to a new job is certainly not always very easy. What was it that helped you with this?

There is an own marketing curriculum available: this contains training courses where we are informed about functions and their main tasks. And we learn what is operatively relevant for our job. For example: how do I develop an optimal product strategy? How do I derive optimal tactics from a product strategy? Such trainings help tremendously in the preparation and implementation of strategies.

In general development meetings also start early. This completely surprised me. Here it is discussed what one would like to do over the longer term and which potential pathways are available. I had not experienced this from other companies in this structured extent and speed.

And what has really helped you professionally and personally?

The diversity of the interactions that one has with different functions and people. This has also given me a lot personally. To leave the focused analyst perspective, to work with different people and to motivate. Functionally I have received the complete overview over the processes and learned how to coordinate many things.

You have not yet been doing the job as product manager for very long. Do you nevertheless already have plans for a next step?

My current position gives me a wide playing field in which to try out many things in the daily business. For example we will be receiving a new field service for our product and I will be training the new team together with our sales trainer and the medical manager. At present there are still new things every day and a routine has not yet set in. I therefore find it difficult to put something on the wish list. But nevertheless over the medium term I would of course like to develop further in the marketing area.

Interested in marketing at the company Roche Pharma AG in Grenzach? Find out more.

Tags: Germany, Career Blog