Ellen Driesen im Interview

porträt ellen driesen

Interview with Ellen Driesen, HR Director Schaffhausen, Cilag AG (Johnson & Johnson)

About Cilag
With a workforce of roughly 1,200 people, Cilag AG is one of the major producers of the Swiss pharmaceutical industry and one of the most important employers in the Schaffhausen region. Set up in 1936, the company has been a member of the Johnson & Johnson Group since 1959. Cilag AG is a centre for launching and boosting growth in parenterals. The company produces high-quality pharmaceutical substances and products, from which patients benefit all over the world. Cilag AG belongs to the group of Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical companies operating under the “Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson” trademark.


What means Human Resources for you in your company?
Before talking about Human Resources in J&J, it is important to highlight the Credo that was crafted in 1943 by Robert Wood Johnson. In J&J, the credo is a recipe for Business success since it challenges us to put the needs and wellbeing of the people we serve, our patients and their care takers, first. In meeting their needs we need to think about aspects as quality, reasonable costs, speed and accuracy. On the second place are our employees, who we want to consider as individuals and recognize for their value. This means that we try to secure jobs, do active efforts to compensate fairly and install a healthy and secure work environment. We work on a diverse and inclusive workplace in which people can do suggestions, in which equal opportunity for employment, development and advancement is key.

The credo has 2 other important paragraphs about communities and stockholders, however the patients and medical people and employees are a primary focus when taking decisions and doing business. The credo is in that sense a moral compass that helps us to take different elements into account when taking decisions. It helps to build a fair, ethical argumentation about “how” we best act, even in circumstances that might be difficult and less positive.

With that as introduction, Human Resources in J&J, and particular also in Cilag, is in my personal experience an important business function that sits around the table. In my 10 year career in J&J, I have always appreciated, with all leaders I worked with, the possibility to weigh and bring the human voice to the table. The HR function needs to look and strive in my opinion for capable, employable and engaged resources to succeed in business. We are nothing without our people. We therefore might not forget the word “human” in our name. Each individual is unique and brings a unique background and skillset and needs to get a choice and support in how they build their career path or professional life. We need to give people confidence in what they can so that they do not feel “dependant”. It is clear that this becomes more difficult in an ever changing environment. A contract between employer and employee should be one in terms of equality in which both partners do their best to keep each other happy, healthy and profitable.

What do you think, what sort of skills and competencies do HR-departments need for the future?
I am not sure whether the skills overall will be so different in the future, but it is clear that certain types of skills will become more important and others less. The way everything is organized will certainly be different. Many HR departments are working on process standardization to speed up certain administrative processes and make fewer errors. A lot of services will be standardized to give employees a similar experience wherever they work. CRM technics will more and more enter the HR world which is good. Employees are in fact customers who need to be served correctly and with the needed speed.

Next to that, we see the concept of centers of excellence (COE’s) winning in importance when it comes to talent acquisition, Total rewards, Employee/Labour relationships and training and development.

Finally, there will be increased demands towards the HR business partners. They are the “face “ to the customers and need to make the matrix work with all of the above named HR partners. Besides, in this fast changing business environment, the focus of business partners needs to be on keeping the right talent, adapting the organizational design timely to ensure efficiency in reporting and governance, and coaching leaders in working with their teams. Here it will become more and more important that HR people can bring the needed business acumen and strategic insights to the table.

Will your HR-Budget increase or decrease in the future?
This is difficult to say at this moment in time. The current aim is that we will become more lean and efficient as an HR organization. By organizing ourselves differently, we will free up time for innovation and creating added value as a function. Of course this will have an impact on the budget, but it is still too soon to say what the final outcome will be. Any HR budget savings (through lean processes, HR Services, new org model etc.) would at a global level be targeted toward R&D spend on new product development to meet unmet medical needs and help deliver better products to our ultimate customer, the patient.

What sort of changes for the working with HR do you expect?
There will be probably a change in interaction with HR people. More and more digital apps will be used, software etc will entrance the HR world when it comes to performance & development processes, recruitment, training administration etc . In many of the former areas, this has proven to work well and be successful. It guarantees improved standardization, same customer experience and that the processes are executed well. I see this trend growing still more and it is key we train our leaders and employees so that they judge the systems as user friendly.

Is industry 4.0 an important topic for your company?
Of course industry 4.0 is important, especially to stay competitive. Our production process is already highly automated and we have skilled employees who know to handle that well. In our Pharma world, speed of products to the patients and reliability are very important elements. If we want to improve here, robotics, simulation models, increased information transparency are just some elements we need to further develop to serve our patients better. These aspects will have an influence on our employee population. They will need to cope with those technology changes and we might need to train them to work with them or even hire specialized profiles to put all of this in place. Capability development is therefore a high priority in J&J.

How do you measure the success of HR-departments?
In J&J we have put metrics in place in the area of diversity, promotions, number of external talents we get in and they are tracked and fed back on a regular base. Besides, we also have a credo survey which is held each 2 years, in which we question all our employees on several relevant dimensions. This helps us to keep a finger on the pulse on topics such as talent development, collaboration and managerial communication amongst many other dimensions. Although it is not always easy to measure our success in a very rational way and we can still improve our reflection in measuring the value we bring, we are convinced that some of the KPI’s certainly give us confidence that our initiatives have impact. We however always need to be attentive that the numbers do not take over from the quality of the actions. The world is complex and winning in one area can have a side effect in other area’s (eg external talent attraction versus internal promotions).

At the end, the measurement for success can also be qualitative. For it is as important to get feedback from our direct environment on how my team made people grow, brought new insights on organizational design or helped to increase the level of leadership in management. At the end, HR needs to bring challenge on different fronts to really be able to add value and be taken seriously.

Ellen Driesen, many thanks for this interesting interview!

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