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Changing Perspectives

Nadia Cheaib of ClinServ talks to EPC about her predictions for 2013 and why there may be more of a focus on the MENA region.

EPC: How would you describe your business philosophy?

NC: Our business philosophy is; ‘To be the best at what we do and always do it with passion, so that we can be of help to others, and never stop evolving, progressing and improving’. I strive for perfection and demand that we deliver a high level of quality services, which drives my team crazy sometimes! However, the fact that we have respect for each other and that we are working for philanthropic causes motivates the team to give their all.

One hundred per cent of our profits are shared between business development and creating new job opportunities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, along with funding charitable causes such as healthcare, education, microfinance, and fighting starvation. In ClinGroup holding, ‘too good’ becomes true, with our non-stop innovation and constant philanthropy.

Which part of your current role is the most challenging?

Recruiting senior managers, as the region is quite young in terms of clinical research. However, we are turning this challenge into a unique opportunity for us, and we are learning very quickly.

What has been your proudest moment?

We have had many proud moments at ClinServ – it would be hard to pick just one!

And your greatest disappointment?

I refer to Einstein when I say, “in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” With all the problems that we face, we are turning them into potential areas of development.

What is the most important lesson you have learnt?

Setting up your own business with passion means, above all, helping others to grow. It brings to mind a quote from Jack Welch:

“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

How does the clinical research operating environment in the MENA region contrast to the worldwide pharmaceutical industry scene?

As an emerging market, compared to the well-established western market, it creates a lot of unexpected work and assistance. However, this presents a great opportunity for sponsors. Indeed, the increased population in the MENA region, along with the high number of clinical trial participants and shorter regulatory timeline, make the pharmaceutical industry turn its attention to this area of the world in particular. Infrastructures in the region are constantly being improved and reinforced to accommodate this increase in demand. The investigators in the region are US- or EU-board certified, thus they have extensive expertise in clinical research. This combination has made the MENA region a desired destination for many pharmaceutical companies.

What does the pharma sector in the MENA region need to focus on in 2013?

The pharmaceutical sector in the region needs to focus on several areas. The first one is increasing the awareness of clinical research among the mass population in order to improve their quality of life. Secondly, the region must identify the needs of the regulatory and healthcare sectors and the relevant solutions needed. As the cost of drug development has increased and many formulae are not reaching the market, the pharmaceutical sector needs to increase the chances by partnering with CROs that can offer relevant and strategic solutions.

How do you think the pharmaceutical industry as a whole will change over the next 10 years?

In the upcoming years the pharmaceutical industry will have to accommodate the changing trends in the field. The industry will have to improve their understanding of diseases, reduce their R&D costs and spread their bets to improve productivity. More risk sharing with other industry participants should help to improve research productivity. Companies will need to maximise the return on differentiated research skills and avoid losing intellectual capital.

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Nadia Cheaib is President and CEO of ClinGroup Holding. She founded ClinServ after 12 years of progressive experience in clinical research in France and in the UK.
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