Growing up just outside Stuttgart, Germany, Susi Fiedler spent her off hours working in a vineyard jointly operated by her father and grandfather. The vineyard was a hobby rather than a vocation for the family, but Fiedler took great pride in her contributions to the 200 or 300 bottles of wine produced every year.
“Sometimes people would see me in the dirt and dust. They’d see me working hard,” Fiedler recalls.
That willingness to roll up her sleeves, literally, has served Fiedler well over the course of a nearly 25-year career with MSD (known as Merck in North America), during which she worked across a range of therapeutic categories. When Merck announced plans to spin off its women’s health business as Organon, Fiedler was the natural candidate for the chief commercial officer role.
Four months into her Organon tenure, Fiedler spoke with MM+M about both her professional path and the company’s commercial one ahead, including …
… her background. I didn’t necessarily plan to go into the pharmaceutical industry. I was very curious about understanding what motivates people, and I’m very interested in analytical things. You always learn the most when you are outside your comfort zone.
… her formative professional experience. I worked on an osteoporosis product launch, which started with trying to understand the drivers and barriers — and why women weren’t diagnosed and didn’t get the treatment they needed. That was the first time I experienced the gaps in women’s healthcare. There are still areas that are very neglected and underdiagnosed.
… landing in her current role. That early exposure to women’s health and when I saw firsthand how women need to be listened to — that was a big piece. Knowing about those unmet needs and the opportunity to really listen to women really inspired me. Plus, we are not necessarily transforming something; we are founders of a new company.
… Organon’s early wins. We acquired Alydia Health, which assesses postpartum hemorrhages as a cause of maternal mortality. We also acquired the global rights for a potential preterm labor treatment [ObsEva’s OBE022]. They’re both areas of high unmet need.
… the top items on her to-do list. It starts with maximizing our current portfolio in women’s health and biosimilars. There are life cycle management opportunities. We’re streamlining operations by developing new technology. We also need to develop our people and grow our people pipeline.
… the advice she’d give to other women in and around pharma. Bring better ideas and solutions to customers, and you need to learn the power of diversity. In my career, I was exposed to different cultures from my upbringing in Germany. I was in Australia. I was in charge of European marketing teams. I moved to the U.S. for some time. You want that diversity of backgrounds.