Masters Speciality Pharma focuses on supplying medicines to developing countries where access to treatments is limited – partnering with big pharma firms such as Novartis, Alexion and Amgen in the process. We asked one of our team to reflect on their experiences of 2020 and share their thoughts for 2021.

‘We get vital medicines to those that need them…that is our purpose as a company. I just didn’t know it would turn out to be the purpose of the world. And that we would all be in need!’ – Catherine Hayes has been speaking about her recollections of the last year and how her seemingly niche area of the healthcare industry suddenly became the objective of every government on earth.

But while the citizens of the world wait for Covid-19 vaccines to release them from house arrest, regular patients still required treatments for the previously known global diseases we have had to deal with. Catherine continues… ‘Overseeing a supply chain always has its challenges, but trying to get shipments to some of the hardest to reach parts of the world in the middle of a pandemic has been a real struggle at times. Even if flights were not cancelled, the cost had increased by 30 to 40%. Trying to ship goods compliantly to ensure they arrive in perfect condition without being exposed to temperature excursions was Catherine’s next challenge. ‘This is difficult enough when flights are operating as normal, but when those temperature-controlled services aren’t there it makes life even more difficult…. We learned a lot more about thermal packaging, and even developed our own solutions.’

Another curveball was the end of the transition period following Britain’s departure from the EU, where a deal was predictably agreed at the 11th hour leaving businesses with little or no notice of cross-border trading agreements. However, Catherine tells us that Masters has been well placed to weather this change…. ‘On the whole, we should be proud of the fact that ‘business as usual’ has continued throughout and every person has contributed to that’.

And how has Catherine dealt with the sedentary experience of enforced home-working and the video conference lifestyle? ‘It can often be more productive than being in a busy office. We have more flexibility around when we work (brought on through family dynamics, i.e. having children at home making it necessary to work in the evenings). It actually makes for a more contented workforce when you are trusted to get the job done, even if it’s not within conventional working hours. It breeds loyalty.’

Finally, we discuss what 2021 has in store for Masters, and technology continues to play a role. ‘There are a number of large-scale projects underway to map out the business processes and look at how we use technology/resources to maximise its potential. My role centres a lot around looking at HOW we do things and ensuring that teams are supported with the necessary information and resources to enable them’.

Do we dare hope that 2021 will bring a return to normal?

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