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“Passion is Everything if you Want Success”

In Focus
NAME:Andrew Bird
POSITION:Regional Head for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa
Acino Regional Head for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa Andrew Bird explains how providing high-quality medicines to emerging markets is all about adapting to change and staying true to your values.

When Andrew Bird was asked to run pharmaceutical multinational Acino’s for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa operation three years ago, he knew he had an enormous job on his hands.

Globally, the company was increasing its profits, registering ever more patents for innovative new medicines, acquiring a series of up-and-coming companies and product portfolios which would position it well to pursue an ambitious growth strategy.

But Andrew had to first enact positive change within his own division, which was in need of a robust go-to-market strategy to turn it around before he switched his attention to how he might grow it. The key was affecting real change, not just window dressing.

“Once we were back on track, we could employ back-to-basics simplicity to grow organically and set ourselves up to be scalable.

“The priority was to really think about how we could do things better than in the past,” he tells The CEO Magazine. “That required new ways of thinking and some new skills. Once we were back on track, we could employ back-to-basics simplicity to grow organically and set ourselves up to be scalable.”

Acino is a Swiss firm focused on providing high-quality pharmaceuticals to select markets in the Middle East, Africa, the CIS region and Latin America. As a trusted partner to leading pharma companies around the world, Acino also manufactures and supplies quality products through contract manufacturing and out-licensing. Headquartered in Zurich, it also has offices in Dubai, Johannesburg, Panama City, Kiev and Moscow, with reported revenues of over €480 million in 2020.

It has become a world leader in advanced drug delivery technologies, specialising in modified release oral forms and oral dispersible forms, for which Acino also holds patents. 

In the last few years, Acino has successfully optimised its platform to enhance its ability to deliver more value to patients, healthcare professionals and external partners. Now, it holds leading positions in emerging markets in five key regions with an overall portfolio spanning more than 90 countries due to the commitment and hard work of its team members around the world. And the company is poised to continue its growth trajectory driven by its bold ambition to stand out in the world of pharma.

You must love your job. Im very clear on that. If you love it, you’ll do a good job. If you don’t, you need to do something about it.

“We are driven by our collective purpose to deliver best-in-class products and services to patients and healthcare professionals in the emerging markets. We aim to be the preferred, high quality contract manufacturing and out-licensing partner. We actively pursue excellence in everything we do. Our four guiding values are commitment, courage, empathy and trust,” Andrew says. “Our growth strategy embodies the values that will be the bedrock of our success.”

For him, those values need to be personal, not just a corporate slogan. “There are two things I tell my teams that I need from them,” he shares. “The first is that you must love your job. I’m very clear on that. If you love it, you’ll do a good job. If you don’t, you need to do something about it. 


“The second is to do your job with ethics and integrity, treating everybody as you wish to be treated yourself, regardless of your rank. Our pursuit of excellence is about acting with integrity and doing the right thing for patients and partners, where it’s needed most.”

It was by carefully nurturing a culture of respect and transparency that Acino transformed its operation into one ready for the next phase of growth. But there’s something else Andrew harnessed that’s every bit as important. “Passion is everything if you want success, and the tone needs to come from the top. So it’s not just written down that Andrew Bird lives those values – when I’m among my colleagues, they can see it for themselves.

“My passion away from work is football, and when I play, I’m the noisiest person on the field because I’m driving the team by example. I run a lot, even at my age, and I play twice a week. And I feel the same emotion as when I’m at work.”


Andrew says resilience has been important over the past 18 months. “When I suddenly went from face-to-face meetings to being stuck working from home, I needed to be mentally tough, as it can be unsettling,” he recalls. “I’ve hired people that I’ve never met personally, so I can’t even shake their hand and introduce them to the company.

“Resilience also helps me when I’m facing ups and downs, but I can’t let my emotions affect me. However I’m feeling, I am always approachable, so communication has been absolutely fundamental.”

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