How to manage in times of crisis
Portrait of SFEE President, Mr. Konstantinos Μ. Frouzis
It seems that Konstantinos Frouzis was preparing himself for all his professional life for the challenges he would have to face as President of the Hellenic Association of Pharmaceutical Companies (SFEE) in crisis-stricken Greece. When he joined Novartis’s Greek operations in 2007 and became Vice-President and general manager of the company he had already achieved an impressive career across diverse sectors including in petroleum (ELF Total in France), consumer products (l’Oreal in Greece and France), retail (Promodes /Carrefour) and telecoms (Vodafone and OTE). Since 2007, as Novartis Executive Vice President, along with his associates they achieved to drive the Greek Subsidiary at the top position of the pharmaceutical Industry in Greece and turn it in one of the most successful in Europe. Now, as SFEE President is leading a 15 member board comprising Presidents and CEOs of 8 multinational and Local big pharma companies, actively supporting both the innovative part of the industry as well as the local. Konstantinos was awarded Manager of the Year in Greece, across all sectors, in April 2013. It is pure coincidence that Health sector perhaps requires the highest managerial skills, especially in today’s business climate.
It is for certain that Konstantinos’s vast experience in different sectors has given him the capacity to act decisively as the head negotiator and major participant in the discussions with the government and international lenders regarding pharmaceutical policies in Greece. Having studied chemistry, chemical engineering, economics and executive leadership he’s been in the position to combine the interpretations of real facts of Greek healthcare with the steering of complicating discussions that are leading to tough decisions.
During these testing times Mr. Frouzis holds the firm belief that the key to decision making for moving the agenda forward is the ability to build relationships based on trust and respect and focus on identifying the common ground with boldness, clarity and sincerity. “Especially in times of crisis you have to double your efforts and become more focused, planful and methodic in figuring out the right policies and strategy”, he says. Bridging the gap between industry and politics is an essential task for any industry leader. In today’s Greece where the reorganisation of health care has been a top priority, the successful collaboration between the state and the industry is essential for safeguarding fundamental healthcare standards.
Konstantinos Frouzis not only has a vision for the Pharma Industry but also he has the arguments, the method and the determination to integrate this vision in the realistic decisions for healthcare in the context of the current economic crisis. The President of SFEE firmly believes that pharmaceuticals do not represent “liabilities” on the national budget but an essential investment, a pillar upon which the efforts for financial, social and economic regeneration are based. He has accepted the imperative of bringing down healthcare costs, but he has also maintained that the industry should operate under clear terms and conditions so to help safeguarding not only the sector’s future but most of all the public health itself.
Therefore, despite the fact that the industry helped the government achieve crucial cuts in the national budget without putting under threat the access to medicines for millions of citizens, Mr. Frouzis insists that Greece cannot continue being locked in the canon of 1% of GDP for pharmaceutical spending. Greece cannot play dice with public health because the contraction of GDP creates a vicious circle where less investment on medicines pushes the country closer to a humanitarian crisis which in turn creates conditions that make practically impossible for the country to return to economic health.
More than ever, Greece should unlock access to new medicines and therapies that is severely delayed for two years. The country should catch up pretty fast with the rest of Europe in this domain sending out a message of boldness in supporting innovation which is fundamental for growth and development. Cutting fraud across healthcare, ensuring the proper funding of the system, settling the debts to companies and removing barriers to R&D so new investments could flow in the sector are important priorities of Mr. Frouzis. It is for certain that the “Manager of the year” will have an even more demanding year in front of him, perhaps the most crucial year for healthcare on Greece in the last more than 40 years. The stakes for Konstantinos are unbelievably high, but they are also matched by his experience, determination and work ethic as well as by the work already being done by fellow top managers and hundreds of scientists in pharmaceuticals and healthcare. Perhaps, one of the few good things is that Mr. Frouzis and all his colleagues operate in one of the rarest of situations where friends and foes wish success.