From knocking people’s doors and making a sale to sneaking into their social media handles, the way of marketing has transformed drastically. Today, organizations are questing for marketers who demonstrate marketing excellence, can change the game every day with innovation and creativity, rise above challenges, and help their businesses stay ahead of the curve.
Meet Marianne Späne, Chief Business Officer at Siegfried, who has been and is responsible for Business Development, Sales and Marketing for Siegfried Group for 18 years. Since her joining, Marianne has been instrumental in driving Siegfried’s growth in the pharmaceutical industry. She has taken the company to new heights through her expertise, profound knowledge, and marketing acumen.
We at Insights Success caught up with Marianne to learn more about her journey and how she is helping Siegfried Group achieve its business goals.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at Siegfried. What challenges you had to overcome to reach where you are today?
I have been in leading positions of the industry for more than 25 years, with a global network in the pharmaceutical and chemical industry as well as a profound understanding and extensive knowledge of the chemical and pharmaceutical market along the whole value chain, including P&L and financial experience.
I joined the Siegfried Group in 2004 with the responsibility for the Classical Generics Business Unit, in 2008 headed the Siegfried Generics Division till 2010 and became Global Head of Business Development and Sales, Marketing and Regulatory Affairs – today called Chief Business Officer – as well as Member of the Global Strategy and Executive Committee in March 2010. Prior to my joining Siegfried, I worked as Logistics, Business Development, and Site Manager in Boucheron’s Cosmetics Division. Then I moved into the pharmaceutical industry as Head of Sales and Marketing of the Pharma Division at Schweizerhall and at the American Aceto to develop expansion strategies for Europe. Concerning my academic background: I hold diplomas in finance, economics, and marketing from the Kaufmännische Führungsschule KFS in Basel and the Marketing & Business School MBSZ, Zurich.
As you see, my journey to the pharmaceutical industry has not been a direct one, and I changed lanes more often than maybe others did. But I built on the experiences, knowledge, and network that I developed. I faced a lot of challenges as a leader, as a woman in leadership positions, and in a very regulated industry. Here my positive approach helped me: I always see challenges and difficult situations as a way to grow or train my problem-solving muscle and develop perseverance. Today, we talk a lot more than twenty years ago about work-life-blending, mental health, and what a leader can do to help teams to perform, and I think this exchange and bringing in new ideas is very helpful. Because some challenges have always been there but were not on anyone’s agenda respectively were taboo to discuss, like being the only woman at the bar at night on a business trip with a group of colleagues and customers or networking events as the only woman. I like to think that we are finding solutions more easily than in the past as this is now discussed more openly, also thanks to social media platforms and the communities there.
Tell us something more about Siegfried its mission and vision.
I once read that a good mission and vision incorporate what makes you get out of bed every morning. Taking this as guidance, our mission, and vision show exactly this: Based on our current portfolio, Siegfried serves more than 300 million patients annually, so we at Siegfried know that what we do matters. We aim for industry leadership and want to be the most trusted partner of the pharmaceutical industry and the global leader in the CDMO space because we are the strongest team running the most competitive network. With mastery of science and technology, we take the precious innovations of our pharmaceutical customers to an industrial scale and manufacture safe drugs for patients worldwide. I feel very much compelled to do this, and even more so in the current times in which the coronavirus has shown us so clearly how important the pharmaceutical industry is for the wellbeing of all of us.
Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in the pharmaceutical niche through your expertise in the market.
As I said: I joined Siegfried coming from a very different background, and I brought these experiences and routines into my daily work in the pharmaceutical industry. My perspective on the industry was very different from that of someone who has always done marketing and sales for pharmaceutical companies. I think my approach was and still is very much hands-on, open, and direct. Thus, I often manage to find ways to make something work – projects, negotiations – when things get difficult and don’t give up easily. It is so important to be open for change and new developments and be a creative solution provider and team builder. This applies especially to us as we work in the CDMO business as a service provider in a B2B industry without directly linking to our customers’ brands. One project where we as a team could really make an impact was the implementation of a new filling line for the vaccine in our site in Hameln. Here we experienced first-hand what it means to contribute actively to the fight against the pandemic.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives your organization.
When we talk about our values, the feedback I always get is how tangible and how deeply imbedded in our daily work the five core values are: From excellence «We excel in everything we do», passion «We deeply care about what we do and how we do it», Integrity «We act responsibly, reliably, respectfully and live up to our own standards» and Quality «We do it right the first time» to Sustainability «We do not only think about tomorrow but far beyond».
We know that to stay successful, we need the best team and the most competitive network in the industry. So, based on our values and Siegfrieds leadership principles, we have clear guidance and common understanding about how we want to work together. This is something that our employees value and that we constantly re-evaluate to keep it up-to-date.
Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?
For us as a global manufacturing supplier, technology and technological innovation are key to be able to deliver the best solution possible for our customers.
And I would like to point out that our teams work so closely together that we can offer an integrated service and establish a liaison from active ingredients to pharmaceutical formulations, whether oral or sterile or inhalative dosage forms. We bring all expert knowledge together to find the ideal offer for our customers.
In the marketing and sales department and also in the business development, we are pretty hands-on: In order to reach our customers and make sure our offer is known in the market, we are using online and offline channels depending on the defined target group. With regards to new channels like TikTok, we are working together with an agency and thus get new impetuses. When it comes to our internal communication, the pandemic accelerated the development, and the use of teams, skype, and zoom are now self-evidently like in a lot of companies.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run and what are your future goals?
I am glad that I had the opportunity to get to know not only different cultures but also many different roles from development to supply chain, operations, and finally, Business development. I have the advantage of being able to look back on a long and successful career already today. So my vision for myself now is to contribute with my longstanding experience and openness for change to the growth of Siegfried, prepare the organization for the future, enhance cross-selling cross-thinking with further creative business models, make the difference, and be fit for the future and further growth.
For the long run, I could imagine bringing in my experience from a multitude of roles and different industries and now as a member of the Executive Committee at Siegfried in an advisory role to help make other businesses successful. I am and have always been very passionate about my job and continued to learn and open up new fields, so I would very much enjoy this in addition to what I do every day. Companies are faced with multiple challenges these days, and I would love to contribute to their successful further development by bringing in my financial background, business development know-how, and global network.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the marketing sector?
If you are passionate about your job, ready to work hard, and like to make an impact, you are in for a very rewarding experience. The field allows a lot of different paths and offers a lot of possibilities to combine technology with people, build relationships, learn about different cultures and use your financial knowledge. You need to care about people and be always ready to go the extra mile then you can make a difference for a company.