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Recalls, is it the root cause or symptom of change in pharma industry? By Niyati Mehta – GSB Stdudent

In this entry, guest blogger Niyati Mehta shares her insights about a personal experience while working at a major pharmaceutical company. Niyati is currently a full-time MBA student at Loyola University Chicago.  Prior to joining Loyola, I worked for three and half years in a Manufacturing Plant as a Process Engineer for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Being in MGMT 472 Organizational Dev/Change class, I primarily experienced change by reporting to six different managers within a year and half time span.

With the recent recall by Johnson & Johnson, are pharmaceutical companies facing problems related to manufacturing, or is manufacturing a symptom of the problem known as ‘Change’ occurring in businesses?  Over the past few years, major pharma companies like GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Amgen, and Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) are looking into implementing a strategic approach for change at their workplace. Strategically/with infinite planning companies restructure, downsize, and reorganize. Such companies need to face the real issue of change and effects on behaviors, organization, structure, and patterns at work setting.  Before significant business decisions are taken by a company, the upper management needs to look long and hard at the consequences of introducing a change. Change is unpredictable and unstoppable and often times irreversible. Change may overwhelm people that hold the organization together with tape and glue, as these individuals are aware of the issues within the organization, while others adapt to change rapidly.

A major change took place while I was a Process Engineer at a Manufacturing plant of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) located in Zebulon, NC from June 2006 to December 2009.  First the announcement at the end of 2007 that led to change was our Site Director of Zebulon Facilities affirmed his retirement, which resulted in fear, anxiety, & excitement within the site.  Along with this, a bigger event took place regarding who will take over for Jean Pierre Garnier, a former CEO of GSK.
CEO’s retirement was a major change at GSK culture, as JP Garnier brought the company with merger of Glaxo Wellcome & SmithKline Beecham and upbringing GSK from two drugs going off patent to creating over thirty new drugs.  The new CEO of GSK, Andrew Witty, had big shoes to fill.  With the new transformation in management at GSK, company faced transition stages (compare to Lewin’s model: unfreezing, moving, and refreezing) and change stages (risk-tasking) with shock, defensive retreat, acknowledgement and adaptation/change.

Company announced layoffs, site shutdowns, and reorganization/restructuring throughout the corporation that brought instability in the work force.  As learned in Org Change/Dev class, change is a process and not a result, individuals resist change for many reasons like job security, controlling own work space, unwilling to understand the reason for change or even not knowing.  For any change to be in place, company needs to provide training, communicate well so it can establish trust and build relationship with the employees. One way to state is that: While change might be looked up on as the fight for survival, it is by no means the main driving force. People who can withstand changes and adapt to them are the ones deemed the fittest to survive. In the current dynamic market it should be well understood that people are in the driving seat, while change is the vehicle being driven.

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