Global Product Strategy Oncology Lifecycle Leader of Roche Holding AG, Lance Duan, worked at the pharmaceutical division of Roche and prior to his posting in 2017, he was a Chinese national based in Roche China since 2011. Lance served in various roles including Head of West Region and Head of Business Unit. In a recent interview, Lance shares with Top 10 of Malaysia his story about his career as the former General Manager of Roche Malaysia. 

Lance Duan has 20 years of cross-industry experience covering areas in pharmaceutical, academia, manufacturing and governmental. “Since joining Roche Malaysia, I have been actively involved in engagement with stakeholders via the European Asean Business Association and the local PhAMA Industry Association,” says Lance who holds a Masters in Business Administration from China Europe International Business School and a Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Medicine from China Medical University.   

Lance is always extremely proud and pleased that Roche has made its mark locally and internationally. “Our focus has always been and will always be about the patients, as we recognise the important role of patient voices in amplifying patients’ needs to help shape policies that help improve the standards of care for patients to improve standards of care,” says Lance cheerfully. 

“The demands of healthcare are rising. And the COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately highlighted many of the challenges even more around the world so it is essential that we all do our part in providing better solutions,” says Lance. Roche sets an ambitious 10-year vision for them to make an even larger contribution to patients and society as a whole. “We want to deliver 3 to 5 times more patient benefit with 50% less cost to society in the next 10 years.”

Roche is a global pioneer in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, it focuses on advancing science to improve people’s lives. The combined strengths of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics under one roof have made Roche the leader in personalised healthcare – a strategy that aims to fit the right treatment to each patient in the best way possible.

“Roche is the world’s largest biotech company, with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and diseases of the central nervous system,” says Lance. “Roche is also the world leader in in vitro diagnostics and tissue-based cancer diagnostics, and a frontrunner in diabetes management.”

In Malaysia, Roche has been present since the 1950s and has established its operations to include Roche (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (the pharmaceutical business), Roche Diagnostics (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (the diagnostics business) and Roche Services (Asia Pacific) Sdn Bhd (also referred to as Roche Services & Solutions APAC). With a total staff strength of over 1,000, Roche has grown into one of the leading healthcare companies in Malaysia that provides holistic healthcare solutions to healthcare practitioners and patients.

“Many young people are not clear on what they really like to do and pursue, it’s very normal. What is really important is to constantly look for your own purpose and where the purpose is to be matched with.”

“I’m really proud that Roche is not only about delivering breakthrough medical innovations but also realising the needs of each individual patient as well as the society, and taking actions to partner with multiple stakeholders in the ecosystem to lower the cost and remove barriers for patients to access the innovative personalised healthcare,” says Lance. “Meanwhile, Roche acknowledges the power of digital platforms which is fundamentally changing healthcare landscape, and is leading from a digital perspective in terms of diagnostic, medicine, and disease insights. I believe Roche will continuously pioneer innovative healthcare, advance science, as well as to lower the cost of society and lead the sustainability of healthcare.”

Lance says that it is also all about the patients. “Providing the needs of patients is our purpose statement hence we believe it’s urgent to deliver medical solutions to them,” says Lance who is passionate about transforming patients’ lives. “I believe that good business means a better world. This is the reason why we come to work each day.” 

“Our purpose statement of ‘doing now what patients need next’ inspires us to relentlessly innovate healthcare with patient centricity. Our value of ‘courage, passion and integrity’ is the underlying reason of the 125 years of success story of Roche,” says Lance excitedly. “Roche never stopped reinventing itself by constantly identifying and meeting patients’ evolving needs over the century. It takes people with integrity, courage and passion to make a difference for patients. It is our people who are proud to say ‘We are Roche. We embrace the diversity of cultures and people across the Group. We are inclusive and encourage the richness of ideas and approaches this brings’. Lastly, it is via our OneRoche approach (Pharma, Diagnostics and Shared Services), we aim to make a meaningful difference in healthcare in Malaysia as we have a broad footprint in healthcare and scientific expertise which allows us to build and analyse meaningful data at scale to transform healthcare for patients and society by partnering with multiple stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem. This is in line with the patient’s journey from early detection to prevention, diagnosis to therapy and therapy monitoring. ”

Roche ranks among the world’s leading healthcare companies with its expertise in two core businesses – diagnostics and pharmaceuticals. As a research-driven company committed to innovation, the Group’s Pharmaceuticals and Diagnostics Divisions supply products spanning the healthcare spectrum, from the early detection and prevention of disease to diagnosis and treatment. Combining the strengths and expertise of both divisions, Roche plays an increasingly important role in shaping the future of medicine by contributing to the personalised healthcare approach. “Additionally, we ranked 1st among our peer group of 14 large, multinational, multi-therapy, pharma companies (referred to as “Big Pharma”) by patient groups from around the world  by patient groups from around the world. This ranking reinforces feedback we have received from our patient community partners, recognising Roche as an innovative and collaborative leader that is committed to delivering medical advances that offer better outcomes to patients,” says Lance.

“Some of the challenges I faced in my career include the negative perception of pharmaceutical companies due to a lack of trust and the cost containment of public health that focuses on volume and not quality,” says Lance. “I also had a challenging experience of improving my leadership skills to grow with the company.” 

Lance’s goal is to inspire people with a purpose, empower and enable people with providing support, and allow mistakes while cultivating a learning culture and nurturing innovation. “I would like to bring out the best of our people while ensuring people are committed and dedicated to deliver better outcomes for more patients with a faster pace.”

Early last year, when Roche Malaysia (aligned with Global’s transformation)  kick-started the transformation journey, Lance took a bold new step in trusting and empowering the people to determine collectively on new business processes and organisation structures, with specific guardrails on delivering better outcomes for more patients with a faster pace. “This shift in decision making has provided a platform for some of our younger colleagues and individual contributors to unleash their hidden potential as they courageously step up to influence and inspire their peers with new and innovative solutions to existing business challenges,” says Lance. “We also encouraged co-creation which not only yielded ingenious solutions but also cohered our people towards collective accountability, in our journey towards our Purpose Statement.”

When asked on how he balances his professional and personal life, Lance replies, “I make an effort to set a committed time with my family, and the key is to be fully present when being with my family.” 

“Many young people are not clear on what they really like to do and pursue, it’s very normal. What is really important is to constantly look for your own purpose and where the purpose is to be matched with,” advises Lance. “Also, I would suggest young people to focus on learning rather than earnings, looking at impact rather than title, looking at team rather than one’s own self, and they will surely find their career desire, the path, and passion.” 


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