Interview with Derrill Palidwar, VP Sales and Marketing

Derrill Palidwar is VP of sales and marketing at a global medical technology company. He shares his personal opinions on how the pandemic may change our lives for the better.

‘Covid has been a stepping stone’

It’s been a time of transformation for the medical industry. When Covid struck, there was tremendous pressure on all healthcare companies to develop new technologies and scale-up production for key supplies, very quickly.

There was a need for speed that has never been experienced before. Old technologies weren’t effective enough and we needed to find new ones. For example, we could not afford to wait days for diagnostic results from large, centralized laboratories. We needed point of care testing delivering patient results in minutes, in the doctor’s office, at the workplace or at an airport.

This transition to point of care rapid diagnosis is now being applied to other diseases. Covid has been a stepping-stone in our learning and progress to faster diagnosis and consequently receiving appropriate, effective treatments sooner.

‘What we’re doing now isn’t good enough’

The healthcare world has been complacent. Covid is waking us up. What we’ve been doing until now isn’t good enough. The next new deadly virus may be just around the corner and easily could be two or three times more deadly.

We need to develop new technologies to bring diagnostic tests, vaccines, new medicines and treatments to market much quicker than we did with Covid. We thought we were ready, but we weren’t.

We’ve also got to look at the total continuum of healthcare in a crisis. If you recall the early days of Covid, critical surgeries were being cancelled because we didn’t have enough face masks, ventilators, or even simple swabs to test for Covid.

To handle future crisis, we must invest now in the complete infrastructure required to manage disease: containment, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

‘Being better prepared means being faster’

I am an optimist through and through. For example, I was amazed by how historically competitive pharmaceutical companies started to work together.

In a world that’s all about making money, we’ve seen these giants consciously and ethically working together to find faster, effective solutions. Until people experience a crisis, there is a reluctance for this kind of cooperation. Once people understand how the crisis is impacting them personally, they are willing change the way they work together.

‘We need to educate and understand connectivity’

When Covid started, there was a sense of entitlement and false expectations. Everyone believed we were going to get vaccines or treatments quickly and this would all go away. What we have experienced appears to have been very reactionary and much slower than desired.

We must take a step back and do a lot of more educating. There needs to be more acceptance, cooperation, and willingness to participate in social behaviour that’s going to look after the masses. Our health, lives, jobs, hobbies, and economies are connected, and we must recognize and accept this to react more appropriately and efficiently. No man is an island.

We need to think deeply about connectivity. Who would have imagined that a Covid virus would affect gasoline supplies in the UK and Europe? Unthinkable a few years ago but this connectivity is now apparent and our reality.

‘Forced us to look at the role of social media’

I love the fact that we can learn about the virus and its associated risks through social media. But we need to balance this against the risk of misinformation.

Unfortunately, we hear from “experts” who are not really “expert” and even more, we hear a lot of people’s opinions. This misinformation fuels conspiracy theorists and others, blurring the science and facts with speculation and theory. It’s dangerous.

I’m a huge advocate of freedom of speech, but when do you cross the line and when does the wrong information become dangerous to society? The pandemic has forced us to look at the role of social media and how we educate people. Understanding the role and power of social media could make a big difference the next time something like this happens.

‘That’s a totally different kind of work.’

Working from home will clearly impact the way we do business in the future. On a good note, Covid isolation has helped us become more aware of the importance of achieving a healthy, productive work life balance.

Employers used to look after their employees for eight hours a day, and when they went home that relationship was done. As an employer, you’re now being asked to be more accountable for employees. To give them extra tools and information to support them at home. To support additional childcare and to be flexible supporting individual or family requirements for working hours.

I’ll use myself as an example. When working from home, I work best if I work for two hours, go away for half an hour and do something around the house, then come back and work for another two hours. I still put in my eight hours, but work until till eight or nine o’clock at night. That’s a totally different kind of work.

With so many individual working preferences, it’s going to be an interesting challenge for both employers and employees – to figure out where we draw the line and where the accountability lies.

‘There’s a huge element of trust’

When people are working from home there’s a huge element of trust within the employer and employee relationship.

A lot of it is about how we measure productivity. Here’s two different examples. If I’m doing a customer service role from home, you can tell how many calls I take and how long each call was. There’s a whole bunch of metrics easily obtainable.

But the outputs of a marketing guy working from home may be a business or launch plan and some advertising material. It is harder to measure these activities with daily metrics.

Successfully working from home will required a  relationship largely dependent on the trust established between the individual manager and each employee.

Covid isolation has also taught us not all employees have the same needs. There are individual personalities to consider. Say 50% want to get back to the social environment of working together – that’s what motivates them that makes them feel good. The other 50% love working from home and get far more done than they ever did in the office. They have less distraction and more focus.

The challenge is how do we find a compromise for these two different groups that achieves highest productivity and the speed, efficiency required to fight the next challenge.

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