Meet The Expert - Vilborg Huld Helgadottir

Vilborg Huld Helgadottir is Europe Cluster Head at Medis, leading contract negotiation and product sales for the European markets. She talks to us about what drew her to the position, what matters most to Medis customers, and why it’s never Groundhog Day in the office.  

I worked as a pharmacist in Germany for a number of years and then moved back home to Iceland! I’m originally from Iceland but moved to the northern part of Germany with my husband for university, and ended up staying longer than planned! In 2005, we decided to move back to Iceland to raise our children.

I enjoy living in Iceland but working internationally. Having lived abroad for so long, I wanted to make use of, and expand on, my ‘international’ skills. There was a job opening for a business development manager at Medis that seemed like the perfect combination – it allowed to me to live in Iceland but work ‘abroad’ with international markets. On my day to day, there really are no borders -- my office is in Hafnarfjordur but my headspace and workspace are outside of Iceland.

I wanted to explore the business side of the industry. I have a pharmaceutical background but, in moving to Medis, I had the opportunity to get to know the business. At the beginning, I was responsible for multiple markets and key customer accounts, taking care of contract negotiations, lifecycle of contracts, and just generally anything the customer needed. I took a leap of faith and 16 years later, I’m still here so clearly it was the right move!

My broad responsibility is the European business. My team consists of business development managers who are responsible for contract management and product sales in Europe. This involves key account management of customers in the market, seeking out new opportunities, and maintaining the existing business that we have. I would say that the highlights are having a strong team, as well as seeing the long term, trusting relationships we have built with our customers.

We’ve gone through a lot of changes which has taught us resilience and how to adapt to new situations quickly. The Medis business is well established in the industry but our mother company has changed over the years. Although Medis is a separately run business unit, we are heavily reliant on our mother company for all support functions. Going through this process of change management has been both challenging at times but also a big learning experience.   We’ve learnt to adapt to change and we’ve done it well, in my opinion!

There’s no Groundhog Day in our business, every day is different! And I find that really exciting. Even after all these years, I’m constantly being challenged by new things. My work hasn’t become repetitive. When you think you’ve seen it all, definitely not. It keeps me on my toes and challenges me.

Our customers know what they’re getting. They know they’re receiving high quality products, that we have robust processes, and that we have full backing and support from our parent company, Teva. They know that if they go with us — and our track record shows it — that once we get them to market, we can support the business long term. Signing the license agreement is perhaps the ‘easier part’, but it’s a license and supply agreement. Customers want to see that we’re highly reliable, that we have a strong supply chain, and that we’re providing a good service.

To do this role, you have to be able to look at different perspectives. I’m good at looking at the bigger picture, and taking into account the customer perspective and the Medis perspective, in addition to the market trends. In this business, there can be a lot of unknowns, so the way to succeed is by looking at all sides, and working out how to manage the risks. Once we’ve done that, we can seize those opportunities.

The best part about working at Medis is by far the privilege of working with a hugely talented team that motivates and supports  each other every day, and gets things done together!

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