Sowing the Seeds for Digital Transformation with Almirall's Francesca Wuttke

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This is a podcast episode titled, Sowing the Seeds for Digital Transformation with Almirall's Francesca Wuttke. The summary for this episode is: <p>Part of biopharma’s first wave of Chief Digital Officers, Francesca Wuttke has been tasked with developing and executing an end-to-end, companywide digital transformation at Almirall. In today’s episode, we check in with Francesca two years into her ambitious project for a behind-the-scenes progress report. Listen as she shares her tips for kicking off a major technology-driven initiative, how she’s getting critical cultural mindset shifts to take root, and why starting a “Digital Garden” was a non-negotiable part of her strategic plan. And don’t miss “Francesca in Context,” where we discuss the surprising influence on her career, the joy of TV escapism, and the eclectic guest list for her ultimate dinner party.</p>
The thorniest problems facing the life sciences industry today
00:32 MIN
How Almirall defines digital (and why agreeing on terms is mission critical for success)
00:54 MIN
An inside view into the early days of Almirall's digital transformation process
01:40 MIN
Using problem statements to focus digital innovation (what keeps you up at night?)
01:28 MIN
Almirall's Digital Garden and the growing role of technology accelerators in pharma
01:37 MIN
The lasting impact of the pandemic on commercial engagement
00:41 MIN
How to cultivate a digital mindset in your organization
01:23 MIN
Francesca's advice for selecting the right technology partner
00:41 MIN
Who makes the invite list for Francesca's ultimate dinner party
00:43 MIN

Francesca Wuttke: I really feel strongly that while technology can enable change, it's the people that transform a company and that really lead to a digital transformation.

Clay Hausmann: I'm Clay Hausmann, CMO of Aktana and host of Contextual Intelligence. Today's guest continues two of our common themes on this podcast, highly credentialed and accomplished people and world travelers. Our guest today has a PhD in pharmacology, started and ran a biotech consultancy for a number of years, and held global strategy roles at Novartis and MSD. She's a native New Yorker who finally made it to her dream destination of Barcelona, where she is the Chief Digital Officer for Almirall. Since her role was created in 2019, our guest has been busy executing an end- to- end company- wide digital transformation. Francesca Wuttke welcome to the podcast and thank you so much for joining us today.

Francesca Wuttke: Thanks so much for having me Clay.

Clay Hausmann: So Francesca as I just summarized a bit of it, you've had a really interesting career path. So you started by getting your PhD in pharmacology thinking you would go into HIV drug discovery. Today, you're now a chief digital officer of this emerging role in our industry. Can you take us through a bit of the steps that led you from the original path to your current path?

Francesca Wuttke: Yeah, it certainly hasn't been a straight path, but I would say that the red thread has always been a drive to accelerate pharmaceutical innovation to get treatments to the patients who stand to benefit from them. And I think that's the reason many of us are in Pharma and do what we do. I started actually in the clinical trial management space, and then after getting my PhD, I went right into private equity and then eventually into Big Pharma and investing in Pharma and digital health assets. But really the goal is always to get these solutions and services and medications to patients.

Clay Hausmann: Now, are there any moments along that path that stand out more than others for being very informative or influential in terms of where you've headed with your career?

Francesca Wuttke: I've always liked the really thorny problems, those that are a bit more difficult to unravel. I think that's what brought me to clinical development then to scientific investigation. The investigative piece has always been really attractive to me. When I was at Novartis, I was leading strategy and then eventually some business development for the cell and gene therapy assets. And looking at that as a new modality of healthcare was really intriguing to me. And now I've definitely gotten the digital health bug and I see there are a lot of opportunities to make digital health solutions really much more embedded in how we think about healthcare overall.

Clay Hausmann: Well, I have to go back to one of the things you said at the beginning of your answer, because I've heard you say this in other forums too, where you refer to the thornier and more difficult the problems, the more attractive they are to you to try to solve. What do you think in today's world are some of the thornier problems facing our industry?

Francesca Wuttke: I think easy is boring. There's a lot that's broken within healthcare systems globally. There's a lot that's broken within the pharmaceutical industry. I think the insights derived from a variety of data sources can help us make better business decisions. And I think that's going to drive the way we deliver care to patients. The way physicians think about care in a more holistic way. And I think there are tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs to start delivering and problem solving for healthcare and Pharma's problems.

Clay Hausmann: So the role of chief digital officer is relatively new to the Pharma industry. And I think one of the challenges as you mentioned that our industry, like a lot of industries have different things that they struggle with. One of the things that I think is symptomatic and ours is that we use terms very broadly or very generically. We grab hold of a term like Omnichannel, for example, or digital in another case. And they're used in a variety of different settings to mean different things. What does that term mean to you in context of your current role?

Francesca Wuttke: When I first started at Almirall in February 2019, it was really important to me to work with the teams to define what digital meant for our organization, because I really wanted us to be all on the same page and using the same lexicon. It actually turned out to be harder than I thought. And we went through many iterations over several months because we kept finding exceptions to the definitions that we had come up with. In the end, we decided on the use of new technologies and importantly, the insights derived from data to change how we work and innovate to create growth opportunities for Almirall. It's quite specific to us, I think we're still early on in our digital transformation journey. So a lot of what we need to do is change management. We need to think about the way we work and the way we think differently in order to really innovate and embed digital solutions into our day- to- day.

Clay Hausmann: Could you give us a little bit of the inside view into that process around the definition of digital and the definition of your charter because as you mentioned, change management it's in some cases around digital transformation not appreciated enough for how critical it is to make sure that it's in place and executed. We get very excited about the technology and the technical steps that are required but the change management in many ways is even more important. So what was that definition process like? What paths did you guys go down and then pull back from? Where did you find your biggest challenges in getting everyone on the same page? Tell us a little bit about how that happened.

Francesca Wuttke: Sure. There's a lot to unpack there. I think in the beginning I wanted to have a workshop for some of the people that had been pointed out to me as the most digitally savvy. So it started out as a workshop with about 15 to 20 people. They kept forwarding it to other people within their teams or another team that they thought might be interested. So my workshop turned out to be 60 people in the end, which is obviously not ideal for having a working workshop or working group. So what I asked everyone to do is to come prepared with a project or two that they were working on that they considered digital. So we had about 65 or so submissions. Most of them were not only not digital, but weren't even IT. I think there's a little bit of a gray zone between what's digital and what's IT. One example as an icebreaker to start off this workshop, I put up some icons of Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, assuming that I would get a chuckle from everyone I said, are these things digital? And we actually had to stop the session because I think it was like 63% of people said that they were. So we said, well, okay, let's go back. Let's rethink this. Let's highlight the differences between technology and digital. And I really feel strongly that while technology can enable change, it's the people that transform a company and that really lead to a digital transformation. So we started from some of the basics in terms of where we wanted to go as an organization, how we wanted to evolve, how we wanted to evolve the way we worked, the way we thought and ultimately our outputs and our KPIs. So we took that list of a lot of submissions, whittled it down to the few that were actually digital and incorporated those into some of our digital initiatives. So we can show some quick wins to the organization and provide them with the expertise, with the outside perspective to make those projects a success. We also worked very hard on creating the data architecture and infrastructure, because I think that without that scaffold, you can't do the advanced analytics projects that we were hoping to do. So we created a data lake, the beginnings of a data and analytics team so that we would have all of that foundational work in place by the time we were able to actually get to the data and do something with it.

Clay Hausmann: I'm curious if you ran that poll today and put up those same logos, what do you think your percentage would be of people saying that those are digital?

Francesca Wuttke: I think they would be much lower. We're certainly getting there, but I don't think we're there yet. I still think there's confusion between technology digital and digital health and then digital marketing. Our focus is implementing digital health solutions and services. IT is a separate organization within Almirall. We collaborate pretty extensively, but the advanced analytics team and the data analytics team sits within my shop. In terms of Omnichannel Marketing in my view, that's a marketing role. That should be just how we do marketing in 2021, but we're certainly there to provide guidance or to leverage our experience in other companies, other countries, and how different groups have approached it.

Clay Hausmann: And are you able to influence that marketing process? Because although I agree completely with you, that's just the way marketing should be done today given the tools we have and the behaviors of our audience and HCPs. In many ways, for both marketers, salespeople, and HCPs on the other end, they need that transformation as much or more than anybody. And so I would hope that you're able to influence that group as well. Is that somewhere where you do have influence in the way that you're running the transformation?

Francesca Wuttke: Yeah. Absolutely. And I feel very strongly that the work that an organization does with regard to digital shouldn't be siloed within one place. So while we act as the engine for innovation, our goal is to transfer it to the appropriate business areas. And in order to do that, we want to make sure that the work that we're doing is aligned with their strategic imperatives. So we always start, and my team is sick of me saying this, we always start with the same question. What keeps you up at night? What's the problem statement we're trying to help you solve for? And once we have that then we can find a solution or service or way to ingest data or to analyze data in a way that can help you best. Our organization is set up into three main buckets. We have commercial innovation, R& D innovation, and then advanced analytics which also captures innovation in manufacturing because a lot of what we're doing there is RPA or advanced analytics or matching and merging between different data sources. So my team is embedded in each of those different organizations and they work directly with whether it's the brand teams or the local teams. On the commercial side within R& D, we work with clinical development, clinical operations, and research. And then on the manufacturing side, again, we work pretty cross- functionally and in very close collaboration with IT to bring efficiencies both in terms of timing.

Clay Hausmann: So end to end digital transformation, every term in that phrase is grand in scope. And I would imagine when you're doing a program like that for the first time at a company, you're a startup within your company in a lot of ways, it can be challenging to set priorities because either you want to tackle everything at the same time or your internal stakeholders want you to tackle everything at the same time. So how do you set strategic priorities when you're doing everything for the first time?

Francesca Wuttke: Our strategic mandate at Almirall is to foster digital innovation by accepting the challenges presented to us both by the evolving landscape, but also by the different business areas with the goal to make the most of those solutions and services to grow our business. Very early on, we started the digital garden or in- house accelerator to bring startups into the fold and to create a startup ecosystem within our organization and aligned with the efforts of the digital office, we're hoping to spearhead the dermatology of the future. So we see digital transformation as a promise of comprehensive care for chronic patients that can empower them, that can facilitate their self- management, that can unburden our physicians in a meaningful way in providing them holistic care. And that's really why we're so committed to it. The mandate is again, to be the engine for innovation, transfer it to the business areas, have the business areas align with us from the beginning and always deliver ROI driven and impactful solutions to the business owners, and then just continue iterating and innovating to drive the business forward. And yes, it is a very broad mandate and it's very aspirational in a lot of ways, especially because we were starting at 0.0 with quite a traditional family owned organization. But as I said before, easy is boring, so we want to really try to make a meaningful difference here.

Clay Hausmann: So you mentioned the digital garden. That's something I definitely want to get into a little bit here. Tell me a little bit about that program. These are typically found at large technology companies. For example, Salesforce has a technology accelerator program or startup accelerator program. What motivated you to want to create that at Almirall and what are the definitions and the goals of it?

Francesca Wuttke: I think increasingly hundreds of digital health companies already exist and are partnering with Pharma. This is becoming a competitive requirement across the industry. This is our new reality. This is how Pharma now works. And Pharma organizations are evolving into knowledge organizations where even routine tasks are automated and day to day work is more inspired and allowing people more time to innovate and looking at data as a real asset. And at Almirall we understand that a lot of these solutions along with big data, obviously, and data analytics are here to stay and we need to offer these solutions to our patients, to our providers, to our internal colleagues, to better inform them but also give more control over the dermatologic conditions that we're trying to improve. So what we wanted to do is build a space for innovation, invite the startups to join us on this journey with the goal of addressing some of the present and future challenges facing us and dermatology more broadly. So the digital garden is open to startups as long as they can offer solutions or services that meet the needs of a dermatology focused company like Almirall or also provide us ways to drive efficiencies with regard to pharmaceutical processes. So whether it's clinical trial optimization or patient recruitment or a data analytics play or AI, that's something that we would consider. What's a little bit different about the digital garden versus other Pharma accelerators is that the KPIs are not limited to, or actually aren't operational at all. The goal is really that of a cultural transformation. So this year, what we've done, we have a mentorship program which this is the second year that we're running it, we call it The Digital Academy. This year, we've taken all of our high- performers across the company and globally, because we obviously couldn't co- locate because of COVID and we've paired them with the six startups that we've selected for what we call our second harvest of the digital garden with the idea that these are all the people sitting at all the important tables across the organization. We wanted to convert them into digital champions so that they can experience an entrepreneurial lifestyle in a meaningful way. They dedicate about 10% of their workweek to mentoring the startups, which is quite a big ask. We have a bunch of GM's. We have the head of marketing. These are people in very, very senior positions. And what we found is that it's really changing the way they work, the way they're empowering their teams. The adage that done is better than perfect is I think really resonating. The ability to experiment and try and fail is becoming much more of a reality. So rather than presenting beautiful PowerPoints and telling everyone we should change the way of working and the way of thinking, we're allowing them to live like a startup and their objectives are aligned with the milestones of the startups and they have to work to basically be extra hands and brains for these companies. So the startups appreciate it because they get expert consultancy in Pharma. We also try to help the startups graduate into venture capital funding using our network of investors.

Clay Hausmann: This'll be a common theme of most of the topics we talked about. What have you learned that surprised you during the course of this process? Because again, you're doing so many of these things for the first time. I would imagine you have a very clear vision at the outset. And a lot of things come to fruition the way you would expect, and a lot of things don't, and those are some of the more interesting learning opportunities. So what have you learned about how this has evolved in ways that maybe surprised you?

Francesca Wuttke: I've always known that I'm an impatient person, that boy, am I an impatient person? So the velocity of change is much slower than I would like, even though it's definitely happening. I think the ability to convince people that this is the wave of the future, particularly those that have been doing what they've been doing for 30 years is challenging. It's very fulfilling to see some of our biggest skeptics converted into digital champions and really advocating for projects within their own business areas. This idea that our digital garden and our digital academy is powered by Almirall it's because our success is driven by these collaborations and mentorships between the startups and our employees. And that's what ultimately drives the digital transformation and makes it much more sustainable over time rather than one pilot here and another pilot there and no one really has any skin in the game.

Clay Hausmann: Makes absolute sense. So, one thing I want to ask you about is the role of, and it's interesting your definition between technology and digital, but for example, our mission begins with the phrase, to inspire better patient care. And then it gets into what role we play in our case, the commercial process for BioPharma companies and life science companies. And we believe strongly that we do that and can influence that in the way that information is provided to the caregivers, but there's always the risk I find in our industry of cliche or exploitation of patient wellness if you lean too far into that, especially if maybe you're a couple of steps removed from that HCP patient relationship. But I do feel very strongly that technology and digital companies are influencing that in a major way. What is your view on that topic and how close the digital process can be to really influencing the ultimate outcome which is to provide better care.

Francesca Wuttke: That's something that I feel very strongly about. We have a noble purpose that's very much aligned with improving patients' lives. And one of the very first projects we embarked on is looking into a digital therapeutic to provide multimodal care for patients with psoriasis. In order to do that, we partnered with Happify Health and have created an offering called claro, which means clear in Spanish. So the idea is clear skin clear mind, because up to about 60% of patients with severe psoriasis suffer from mental health conditions, either a severe anxiety or depression, and while physicians want to help their patients first, what we've learned from them is they're not trained and these are serious conditions that they quite frankly don't want to mess with. And secondly, they also don't have the time to really get into the core of what's affecting their patients. So what was clear is that they really do care very, very much about their patients. They want to offer them a solution that can be helpful, but they felt that their hands were tied a little bit. So we're going to be launching this program this year in four countries and hope to expand it further next year. I think that delivering holistic care and wellness to patients in a meaningful way is something that's really important to us and we can certainly do that via digital therapeutics.

Clay Hausmann: Do you have any advice for the digital health companies or technology providers that you work with in terms of how to strike that balance to be appropriate in your role of influence between a very noble charter in improving patients' lives, but also staying true to what you realistically and frankly can do effectively?

Francesca Wuttke: I think there is a distinction between health and wellness and digital therapeutics. And I think it's a continuum. There's nothing wrong with providing a wellness offering for patients. But I think, again, going back to the lexicon topic, we need to be clear about what things are and what they aren't. I think the path for many of the startups that I've seen, you can start as a patient support program, evolve into digital medicine, eventually evolve into a digital therapeutic and so you start gathering more clinical evidence and then ultimately a prescribed digital therapeutic that can also be reimbursed in many countries. I think that the digital therapeutics they're really an emerging space and the way I see it it's really the fourth wave of medicines, small molecules, biologic cell and gene therapies and now DTX. It's becoming a reality for Pharma, although I'm not sure that we have the kind of final commercialization model yet, but if the goal is to provide patients with holistic multimodal care, including various components that previously were dispersed across different health systems, I think this is a really meaningful way to add value. And I think increasingly many of the startups were talking to see that value. The biggest differentiation factor in my view is the depth and breadth of clinical evidence.

Clay Hausmann: I'm curious as CDO, you must interact with every technology provider that your company enlists and at some organizations, and this question is going to have a little bit more of a commercial side bent to it, I would imagine, but at some organizations, there is a desire to see those technology companies interact with and integrate exceptionally well to make sure that the solution that's being provided or the experience to your end customer is as seamless as possible. Whereas in other organizations, they prefer to keep technology providers in their lane, their specialty area of focus, because they feel that's the way to maximize the most from what they provide. What is your view on that in your approach at Almirall in terms of how you'd like to see your technology partners that you work with, integrate or not, or stay in their area of specialty?

Francesca Wuttke: The easiest answer is it depends. I think there has to be a single point of contact for our customers and then whatever is on the back end of that can be whatever's on the back end of that. Whether it's our field force interacting via a single CRM, I think that's really important. I think also providing the solutions to physicians in a what I'll call a concentrated space. So we have a physician portal that we call AlmirallMED Cloud that we designed during the confinement period, essentially to provide a repository of important information for physicians to host live webinars, advisory boards. And then we have, AlmirallMED Play, which is basically Netflix for dermatologists. So video on demand. And it was important to us to have one point of contact for them, from us as a company, but also from our field force. I think that has to be very streamlined. All of the technology stack behind it can be whatever it is, but it shouldn't impact the physician or the customers in the US, obviously we can interact directly with patients. It shouldn't impact their journey and expense.

Clay Hausmann: I have to ask you the question that I know you've probably been asked dozens of times, but it is such a central one to understanding how the industry is going to either where it's going to land as it comes out of a year and a half, like none of us have ever experienced and how it's changed behaviors, but maybe many of those will stick. Maybe some of them will stick. Maybe few of them will stick. What have you noticed about HCP acceptance of digital methods for providing care, for capturing and seeking out information? Where are you expecting this to land in terms of how much is going to change in our industry based on what everyone had to learn in a very quick time period over the last year and a half?

Francesca Wuttke: I think the way we work across all industries has changed irreparably for good. What I've noticed as the biggest change even within my organization is a lack of skepticism of technology. This is a story I've told before it seems very trivial, we had a very senior leader in our organization, the first week of confinement log- on to, we were using Webex at the time, log- on to Webex by himself because in the past his assistant would log on his behalf. So he logged on himself, he shared his screen and he was able to give his presentation and it's really a silly thing. But when he and I were chatting the following week, he brought it up again. He was really proud and it actually enabled a different level of conversation. Not that we were talking about Webex technology, but it opened up his aperture for innovation and for technology enabled solutions. And so that's changed for all of us all across the world. Now, it's commonplace to speak to your family via Zoom or to interact with a physician via telemedicine. So the biggest change is that I think there's just much more familiarity with technology and with using tech enabled solutions but there's also a convenience factor. I used telemedicine for the first time during confinement with my kids and loved it. It's not easy to get three teenage boys to see a doctor and work around their social and sports schedules. And so it was great. My kid had something on his arm. I took a picture and during dinner, we got not only the diagnosis but also a prescription, which was great. I think a lot of that will stay. What's changed within the Pharma world, I think specifically is that we're now seeing our customers as people. So we're seeing physicians in the same way that we think of ourselves as consumers. So we go home from work, we watch Netflix, perhaps, that's something that they want to do. And that was the genesis of creating our physician portal to make it as similar as possible as what they're used to or how they're used to ingesting information

Clay Hausmann: During the confinement period, I had a couple of different appointments and I was probably frustrating the different physicians I would see because I would use them as a focus group of how they were changing their behaviors or whatnot. And I had some shoulder trouble and I went to see an orthopedic surgeon very early in the confinement and we had a digital health appointment, but he had me on FaceTime on his phone or whatever portal we were using. But then he needed to show me the MRI of my shoulder. And so he took the phone and then he put it up to the screen on his desk to show because he didn't have them in the same application. He didn't have it... It was very primitive and he was apologetic. He said, listen, there's one guy in our practice who is the digital enthusiast, the rest of us are just trying to figure out what's going on here. But then eight months later I saw him again and it was all in the same application. He just called it up. His picture became small, my MRI became large in the screen. And as you mentioned, he was very proud of that. He was proud of that. He had figured that out and he also recognized that it was just a better experience for his customer, me in this case. I think those things are certainly here. And some of the ones who were later to adopt were forced into a pace of adoption that they're not comfortable with. But now that they've learned that those parts are here to stay, I think for sure.

Francesca Wuttke: I think in the early days of the confinement and I'm based in Barcelona and Southern Europe was hit very hard. There was this notion that, well, this will go away soon. And I think we can clearly say that a year and a half into it, it hasn't gone away and it's not likely to go away completely. They say it takes about three weeks to form a habit. So this is a habit that is now fully embedded in all of our lives. I don't think it's going to ever revert back to the way it was, the way we detailed physicians, the way we present them with information, the way they ingest information is forever changed as it should be.

Clay Hausmann: Absolutely. So Francesca, I'm curious, you're now about two years into your work at Almirall, is that right?

Francesca Wuttke: Yeah.

Clay Hausmann: What advice would you have for your peers who might be struggling to cultivate a more digital mindset within their organization? What would you share with them that you've learned?

Francesca Wuttke: I'm going to get very hypocritical advice because I don't live at myself, but be patient it'll come.

Clay Hausmann: That's fine.

Francesca Wuttke: I think make sure that the change management piece is leading all of your efforts, because if you come in with what some people view as very radical plans, and don't bring people on board and along the journey with you, you won't be successful. I think the second piece is, understand what the pain points are for different parts of the business and try to fix them, or at least understand why they are pain points. If they're using a piece of paper and it's working, don't mess with it. The idea shouldn't be to throw cool technology at a problem because it's cool tech, make sure that there is an added value that there's a clear ROI, that you're not doing things that are frivolous or trendy, but that there's real value to the business even if it may not be immediately apparent because one of the issues with labeling anything digital is that people expect it to take a week. And I think there's a little bit of hypocrisy in that in terms of working within a pharmaceutical industry where a traditional product takes 10 years from discovery to the clinic. So we need to apply reasonable timelines, even though they can be shorter, they're not going to happen overnight and just be patient.

Clay Hausmann: And I think that's great advice. And I imagine it's very commonly faced by a lot of your peers in their organizations. I know when we get brought in or start working with a new customer, we're quite often the first AI and machine learning provider to the commercial process that they may have worked with. And so we often focus on quick wins or crawl, walk, run in terms of language, because it's important to make sure that although, as you say it takes time, the stakeholders want to see that progress is being made. They want to see that there is impact. And a lot of times it takes a long time for a digital transformation to take place. And it's hard if you're 15 months in and you don't have some wins to be able to site, then that patient starts to erode. So do you apply that approach as well where you seek out opportunities for quick wins? Or do you say no, actually, we're fully invested in this and there isn't that urgency to see that.

Francesca Wuttke: We have a little bit more flexibility in terms of time because we are a family owned business. We do need to provide value for sure. But digital has been highlighted as one of the important strategic pillars to future- proof the company going forward. So while we want to show that we're demonstrating value, we want to make sure that we're doing it in the right way. If it takes us a year that's okay. One thing I wanted to highlight what you were mentioning is in terms of the providers you choose, make sure that they're collaborative partners, that you're not going to be getting something that's a black box which is one of the reasons why we were really keen to work with Aktana because we felt we could really work together with you to get to a solution that made sense for us. So choose your vendors very carefully. I think in many cases they're really collaborative partners rather than vendors and that's really key, but I think there are also a lot of solutions that exist in the world. My advice is always don't reinvent the wheel. We have partnered with over 25 startups and ecosystem players since I joined two years ago. If you have a problem to solve for, there's probably a solution out there for it and find the best one. Don't find the one that you heard about because a colleague was at a dinner with someone's sister's boyfriend who had a really cool startup, make sure that it's solving for the problem that you have and it's not just a favor.

Clay Hausmann: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, Francesca as is often the case when we have guests on who have interesting background and great perspectives as you do, we could keep going, but we're going to pivot into a section we call, Francesca in context because we try to give the audience as broad a picture on different topics as possible so they can figure out what applies to their situation. This is where we get a little personal, but I think there's some really interesting things here. So if you're good with that, we're going to dive into that part of the process.

Francesca Wuttke: Sure. I'm an open book.

Clay Hausmann: All right. So first question, who has been an influence on your career that might surprise us?

Francesca Wuttke: I think sister Margaret Mary, my 12th grade college counselor, who told me that women can't be scientists. So of course I had to become a scientist.

Clay Hausmann: If money was not a factor, what career would you most like to pursue?

Francesca Wuttke: I don't know that people choose Pharma because of the lucrative roles within Pharma. I think if I were interested in money, Pharma would not be my first choice. I do it because it's what interests me and I'm lucky that I get paid for it. I think regardless, this is the path that I chose and would continue to be the path that I would choose. I don't know that I would change anything.

Clay Hausmann: You are our first guest to stick with their current path and say that's excellent. Very nice. Okay. Well, then let's go to the other way, because I know you're not going to pick your current path. So this one, what profession would you most not want to pursue no matter what it paid?

Francesca Wuttke: I could never be a taxi driver. I am a terrible driver. I would literally be the worst.

Clay Hausmann: Have you tried?

Francesca Wuttke: No. Thank goodness for everyone who potentially get into my car. I also get lost very easily.

Clay Hausmann: Is that right? Would your family support this as a professional should not get into?

Francesca Wuttke: Yes. 100%.

Clay Hausmann: What is the best piece of content, the best book or film or program that you've enjoyed recently and why?

Francesca Wuttke: I tend to binge really terrible TV. So Lucifer and Teenage Bounty Hunters right now are top of my list of that TV, but I highly recommend them both. I tend to read a lot about tech and startups and I have probably about 10 books going at the moment that I'm hoping to finish over the August holiday. I guess you would say they're all work- related but I find it really interesting to read other people's stories, to hear success stories of people across different industries and learn from what's worked for them, what hasn't worked for them. I find that really inspiring. This weekend I saw Luca with My Family and it was really sweet and inclusive and lovely and it was nice.

Clay Hausmann: I learned there that reading is for learning and betterment in your career and TV is for escapism, is that right?

Francesca Wuttke: Completely.

Clay Hausmann: Unless you're Teenage Bounty Hunter somehow at Almirall but I'm not sure what that-

Francesca Wuttke: I am not.

Clay Hausmann: Okay. You are at a family gathering in your eight year old niece or nephew asks you what you do for a living. What do you tell them?

Francesca Wuttke: I've had to describe this to my kids and to their friends several times. So the easiest way I can come up with it because my husband's also in Pharma, his is a lot easier cause he works on the development side. I always say, I help make drugs and treatments for patients that can be delivered digitally through an app. Then they always ask," Do you make video games?" No. I don't video games.

Clay Hausmann: But you might, we'll see.

Francesca Wuttke: Yeah. Maybe.

Clay Hausmann: It could be in the scope.

Francesca Wuttke: Yeah.

Clay Hausmann: All right. Last question. Your ultimate dinner party for four, who is in attendance and what is served?

Francesca Wuttke: If it's a mix of people who are living and deceased, I would say definitely Queen Elizabeth because I'm not a huge royalty buff, but I think that she must have just amassed incredible experiences and just met really interesting people throughout her long reign. I'd probably be a little bit self- conscious about my manners, but the second one would say Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She's always advocated for women and for underdogs, especially when it was difficult to do so. Will Ferrell because... Will Ferrell, and my grandpa because it would be great to see him again. It'd be an interesting dinner.

Clay Hausmann: That is an eclectic mix.

Francesca Wuttke: Other than that, though, I'm happy to have dinner with my family every night. That's not too bad.

Clay Hausmann: Very nice. That is great answer. Oh, what is served? What is your food of choice? What's your favorite cuisine?

That's hard. I've lived in a bunch of places and I've eaten my way through other places. I think a really eclectic mix of different foods. It would probably not make us feel great at the end of the night, but definitely taking, there's a Spanish word called "sobremesa" which is the time you have after the meal, just sitting around having a coffee or a glass of wine and just chatting. And I think regardless of what we serve during the meal, that would probably be the most interesting time for me.

Clay Hausmann: Wonderful. Francesca, thank you so much for joining us. It was very informative, very entertaining, and we really appreciate you taking the time to come on today.

Francesca Wuttke: My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.

Clay Hausmann: That's it for this episode of Contextual Intelligence. I'm your host Clay Hausmann, and you can find all our episodes on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. And please leave us a review or a comment or a question, or all the above so we can make sure that this podcast brings the proper context to your work. Thanks everybody for joining us.


Part of biopharma’s first wave of Chief Digital Officers, Francesca Wuttke has been tasked with developing and executing an end-to-end, companywide digital transformation at Almirall. In today’s episode, we check in with Francesca two years into her ambitious project for a behind-the-scenes progress report. Listen as she shares her tips for kicking off a major technology-driven initiative, how she’s getting critical cultural mindset shifts to take root, and why starting a “Digital Garden” was a non-negotiable part of her strategic plan. And don’t miss “Francesca in Context,” where we discuss the surprising influence on her career, the joy of TV escapism, and the eclectic guest list for her ultimate dinner party.

Today's Host

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Clay Hausmann

|CGO of Aktana

Today's Guests

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Francesca Domenech Wuttke

|Chief Digital Officer, Almirall