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Driven by knowledge

Meet Corinne Pala

Regional Head Regulatory Affairs Europe

I obtained a Diploma in Italy and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from RWTH Aachen University. I then joined Grünenthal and have been with the company for 15 years now. During this time I held seven different positions. I started as a trainee in R&D with focus on project management, and became outsourcing and contract manager in R&D two years later. In 2010, I took over the responsibility for management and oversight of relationships with clinical and non-clinical providers, and in 2012 for the line management of the Vendor Relationship Management Group. As Group Lead Project Management Office, a position I took in 2013, my tasks focused on classical project management office activities including leadership. I became an international project leader in 2014, a position in which I was accountable for global project management and team leadership of R&D projects at all stages. Last year, I took over my current position as Regional Head Regulatory Affairs Europe. I am responsible for line management of EU regulatory functions in the local affiliates and am key contact person for the European commercial organization.

Looking back at my path at Grünenthal so far, there have been three highlights that I’d really like to focus on here. One is the trainee program. It was the beginning of my professional career and a key step to understanding my further development. As a trainee I had the unique chance to rotate in several organizational areas and understand how pharmaceutical business works. Furthermore as an integrated member of the departments, I had the opportunity to build a solid network within the company. I strongly recommend a trainee program for young scientists starting their career in pharmaceutical industry.

A second highlight was the creation of a vendor relationship management program and later of a dedicated department – from scratch. Grünenthal relies on clinical contract research organizations (CRO) for performing clinical trials across the globe. The relationship with CROs is key. During the performance of the phase III program of Tapentadol, several audits indicated that the oversight of the performance of the CROs had not been optimal, leading to increased costs and duration of the clinical trials. In addition, an anonymous survey sent to Grünenthal’s preferred CROs indicated a certain level of dissatisfaction (at the CRO) working with Grünenthal. The vendor relationship program (and later the dedicated department) was created to close the above described gap and showed, with the help of pre-defined KPIs, after only one year, a significant improvement of the performance of the clinical CROs.

Last, but not least, I am very proud that I received a “Best Performer Award” for my contribution to the Palexia®/Tapentadol project. I felt very honored to receive the award from Dr. Klaus-Dieter Langner, our Chief Scientific Officer, as acknowledgement for my commitment to the project and my resilience in difficult times.

“I am convinced that each of us can make a difference at Grünenthal.”

Corinne Pala, Ph.D.

Regional Head Regulatory Affairs Europe

So, what drives me? One sentence describes me particularly well: “Considerate la vostra semenza: fatti non foste a viver come bruti, ma per seguir virtute e canoscenza.” It is from Dante Alighieri’s La Divina Commedia, and means: “Consider your origins: you were not born to live like brutes, but to follow virtue and knowledge.” I am driven by knowledge; as long as I keep learning I am happy and satisfied.

I’m convinced that each of us can make the difference at Grünenthal. All of us, irrespective of the role, can contribute to the company’s success by living our principles which are the foundation of the company. The line mangers are key functions in the organization because they can act as multipliers of information. Especially now, in the middle of a transformation process, it is crucial to reach all the people in the company, to motivate them and make them understand the need for change and the vision for the future. Personally, as line manager in Global Regulatory Affairs, I’ll do my best to make sure that Grünenthal’s principles are lived in my group and that the change message is spread across the organization and in the countries. And of course: if I want my organization to live Grünenthal’s mindsets, I need to start with myself and act as role model for my people, creating and maintaining a performance culture, encouraging honest two-way feedback and courageous behavior.