José Alberto Peña, Director General of Grupo Marzam, spoke to Mexico Health Review on the competitive advantages on shifting towards e-commerce.
Q: Grupo Marzam deals with high volumes of medicines. What management systems are in place for this?
A: That is one of our key strengths as an organization. There is continuous opportunity to improve but we are a company that has been in the market for 83 years so experience has gradually made us increasingly effective and efficient. We have 10 distribution sectors in the country, nearly 3,000 employees and 500 vehicles. That allows us to cover almost 95 percent of the country. We also have a strong focus on technology because that is how we can drive more efficiencies. We are a large-volume company in a low-margin industry, so we need to be as efficient as possible.
Q: What state-of-the-art technology is implemented throughout the company’s operations?
A: Four of our distribution centers are automated, which drives efficiency throughout the organization. Grupo Marzam differentiates itself from its competitors in that all our salespeople work off apps on smartphones. All our technology is developed internally. While pharmaceutical companies usually have limited numbers of people in the IT department, Grupo Marzam’s is over 100 strong. This demonstrates how important technology is to us and that we keep it top of mind in everything that we do. We also have a strong focus on e-commerce. We are trying to see how we can interact continuously with our customers from a 360° perspective.
Q: How has Grupo Marzam’s adapted its operations to e-commerce over the past year?
A: Our app was not fully in use 12 months ago, but today 100 percent of our sales reps use it. It is also being used by about 500 reps in the pharmaceutical industry, who use it to collect orders that come directly to us. We have undergone a massive reorganization, changing 95 percent of our executives and ensuring that we bring in the right people for the position. This is setting us apart, thinking of where we are now and where we anticipate going in the future. We will be bringing new technology to an area of the industry I believe has been static for decades.
Q: From where are you recruiting your talent? To what extent do you have to go to other sectors or abroad?
A: We have not gone abroad. Our HR director comes from outside the distribution and logistics market but has experience in many industries. Wherever possible, we would like to provide opportunities internally. I want to be in a situation where all future opportunities are filled through promotions. We are looking for the right people, not necessarily thinking about the right person for the position today but looking at this with a three to five-year perspective, bringing in those that will be able to complement our strategy going forward.
Q: To what extent do you have relationships with Mexican universities?
A: We do not have any at this moment but that is an area we are looking to develop. I want to bring in high-potential talent who could be our future leaders, bring them into our growth strategy areas to drive new models and then take them from the conceptual phase to implementation. We have planned for 2017 to bring in three high-potential MBA graduates who are ready to land in a position knowing they may not be quite ready but that we want to develop them. We are beginning to reach out to universities so we can develop this program.
Q: What are the most important skills that you will be looking for?
A: We will certainly be more focused on the commercial side. We will be looking for people with learning agility, flexibility and able to coordinate groups. I want this company to be different to others and I see it evolving into different areas, such as specialized segments, focusing more on customized models. This does not mean we are walking away from what we do today, it will be complementary. I am looking at many sectors, such as private hospitals and insurance. At the moment only 4 percent of Mexico’s population has private medical insurance. This is an opportunity.
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