Empowering Impact: The Imperative of Innovation Reaching Those in Need

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Diving into conversation

Interview with Stefano Volonte, General Manager at Roche Lithuania.

Health Tech Accelerator, Justina (Interviewer): Let's delve into a conversation, Stefano, about your journey and what led you to your profession. Additionally, I'm keen to hear your insights on the health tech ecosystem, given our shared focus on its enhancement.

Stefano: Of course, I am happy to dive into that.

Interviewer: Let's start from the beginning. What initially drew you into healthcare and pharmaceuticals? What was your story?

Stefano: It was a bit of a fortunate series of events, to be honest. I studied something completely different – industrial engineering. However, when Roche was establishing a new manufacturing site near Milan, I saw it as an opportunity to delve into organisational and technological innovation, something I had studied at university. I applied, went through the interview process, and started my journey with Roche. Over the years, I've come to admire Roche's mission and have remained with the company for 27 years now, continuously growing and developing within its framework.

Interviewer: That's quite a journey! Can you recall your first position at Roche and what your role entailed?

Stefano: My initial role was as an industrial engineer, a title that aligned well with my educational background. However, there was a steep learning curve as I transitioned into the pharmaceutical business landscape. Despite the challenges, my time at the manufacturing site was invaluable, offering hands-on experience and the opportunity to connect with Roche's network across Europe.

Interviewer: It sounds like a transformative experience. Moving forward, you mentioned relocating to Basel, Switzerland. What prompted this move?

Stefano: Basel represented a hub of international collaboration within Roche. The multicultural environment and the opportunity to work closely with headquarters in Switzerland intrigued me. It was a decision driven by personal and professional growth, fueled by a desire to broaden my horizons in a global context. Later, I moved to the United States as I had a dream to transfer to the business side of the company and have an opportunity to create value for our patients by implementing the innovations we create. If your innovation is not reaching patients, it's not worth it at all.

Interviewer: Your journey took yet another turn when you moved to Lithuania. How did you find the cultural transition?

Stefano: Transitioning from the United States to Lithuania was indeed a unique experience. While Lithuania boasted a high level of education and a proactive approach to problem-solving, I noticed a difference in the decision-making culture compared to my previous encounters in central European countries like Germany and Switzerland. In Lithuania, people tend to take manager or HQ proposals as not arguable. It was a new experience for me. Adaptation was the key, and fostering constructive dialogue became a priority in this new cultural landscape.

Interviewer: Your insights into cultural dynamics are fascinating. Now, let's delve into your passion for patient-centric healthcare. How do you perceive the evolving trends in health tech and patient centricity?

Stefano: Looking ahead, I believe we're moving towards a future of personalized healthcare, driven by advancements in data analytics and artificial intelligence. The integration of clinical trial data and real-world evidence holds immense potential in early disease detection and tailored treatment approaches. However, realizing this vision requires collaborative efforts and a shift towards data-driven insights to deliver tangible value to patients.

Interviewer: Absolutely. And speaking of delivering value to patients, how do you envision implementing these trends in Lithuania?

Stefano: Implementing personalized healthcare strategies in Lithuania requires access to meaningful data and advanced analytics capabilities. By leveraging technology and fostering partnerships, we can translate vast amounts of data into actionable insights that cater to the unique needs of patients. It's about bridging the gap between innovation and impact, ultimately enhancing healthcare outcomes for the community.

In Lithuania, we can learn from other ecosystems, such as Switzerland. We need to think about innovation not from a cost perspective but from an investment perspective, and encourage experimentation and learning processes. In small ecosystems, where you know ten people, you also know the president, opening up collaboration possibilities. So here, we need to try, adjust, and learn from these experiences. It helps us to adapt a mindset that allows us to keep moving the bar. It will help the country move steadily forward and one day become the center of health tech innovation.

Interviewer: Your vision for the future of healthcare is inspiring, Stefano. Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences with us.

Stefano: My pleasure. It's been a pleasure discussing these topics with you. Thank you for the opportunity.