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Meet the expert: TingTing Zhou, Sales Director for Teva api Sales

TingTing Zhou has been at Teva api for over 12 years and is in charge of sales for the whole of China. Being that China is an emerging market with huge potential, this is quite the responsibility!

I was the first employee to join the Teva api sales commercial team in China. In 2009, the Teva api Beijing office was built and I was the only employee for the first 2 years. Besides normal sales activities, I also covered customer service, supply chain logistics and regulatory affairs (RA) coordination.

We now sell 10 times more products and the team has grown! I’ve built a small team of account managers, and the China office also has a local RA arm now, which makes it a well-functioning team to serve the market here. In addition, we have other functions from all over the world backing the China office, which is a huge relief comparing to where I started.

To me, Teva api is a family. I know a lot of people in all different functions and they also know me. We know how to approach each other to ultimately benefit the Chinese customers, and I really rely on this support. On the surface you see a small sales team but actually there’s a very big family behind us. This is the best part of my role and I really appreciate it.

Numbers are nice but you have to do a lot to make it happen. At the end of the day, we’re just a few people covering a large market. It would be impossible to achieve these goals without the support and backup of the wider team, such as Supply Chain who deal with the order logistics, Customer Experience who help us on order requests, and all the individual sites who we deal with directly so they know what we want and need.

China is one of the largest emerging markets due to its huge population base. Its uniqueness is twofold. First of all, regulation changes very frequently, sometimes even every quarter. China is trying to learn from the regulated markets such as the US and EU but it does take time to catch up. And all the files have to be in Chinese. Secondly, the government is trying its best to lower the costs of health expenses. There have been many healthcare reforms and negotiations with manufacturers to make medicines and healthcare accessible to everyone. This means fierce competition with API costs too.

My team is seen as the liaison between Chinese customers and Teva api. We are responsible for delivering all the updated news regarding regulation, the market, authority requirements, prices, customer requirements, and quality issues, to the related functions at the Teva api headquarters. Our updates have to be immediate so that the other functions know what we’re facing in China and how to support us to fulfil our targets.

The world of science and pharma is amazing. We do have commercial sales but the majority of the time we’re dealing with development projects. My background isn’t chemistry or pharma, but when we are talking to R&D managers from different pharmaceutical companies about technical issues, such as particle size or impurity profile, I find it very interesting. To try to find solutions and finally achieve a sale are the most rewarding moments for me.

To be a professional account manager, you have to have communications skills, both internally and externally. I’ve been building relationships over years, both with customers and with internal Teva api teams. It does take time to learn how to work with the other teams globally and to learn each other’s cultures, but we always try to find a way to work with everyone to make the sales happen. Also, since the dynamics in China are very unique, we have to make sure to convey the differences properly to all other functions, which takes time and good communication! These are skills I’ve obtained over the years at Teva api, and I’m so thankful for having all the opportunities to grow in to who I am now.

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