Meet the Expert – Yonathan Tobis, Product Manager

Product Manager, Yonathan Tobis, is responsible for 50+ commercial and pipeline products in Teva api’s portfolio. See what being a product manager is all about, which skills are most valuable, and what Yonathan finds most satisfying about the role.

I’m an industrial engineer by profession. I first worked as a project controller for a homeland security company and then joined the world of pharma, at Teva, in 2015. I was in a planning and control function in R&D, and then in the global Regulatory Affairs team. Both these roles involved a lot of activities relating to workplans, systems, reports, setting KPIs and measuring them, which is classic planning and control.

At one point I felt like I needed a change, so two years ago I joined the commercial team as product manager. I’m very glad I made this switch. It’s very interesting here. I love the energy, and the fast pace. You can’t miss an opportunity. You need to act fast by working on the offering, building the business case, getting the approvals. You get things going.

There’s the external and internal side of product management. On the one hand, I need to have a deep understanding of the market, the specific therapeutic area, market prices, the patent landscape, and the limits of manufacturing. On the other hand, I need to work internally within the organization to understand the added value of our product, and push to be on time with a competitive cost, to be ready for launch. Once we connect the readiness of the organization and the right timing to promote the product, we can then try to leverage it to bring in customers and revenues.

A great case study is Edoxaban. We knew we had a great product and had a high-quality offering, and we started development on time. As we started analyzing market prices and talking to interested customers, we understood that to be prepared for the commercial phase, we’d have to work on our pricing point. We built a product strategy and started putting feelers out within the organization. Timing was crucial as customers make their decisions now based on your future estimations of cost. To support timely launch, where permissible under and in accordance with applicable law, we had to know in advance what future costs would be. This is an excellent example of how we were able to start redevelopment on time with a more cost-effective approach.

We create the high level direction for hundreds of products. We work with sales, marketing, patent and legal. We work with R&D for estimations for new developments, MS&T for cost reduction evaluations, and the sites for capacity and manufacturing timelines. Of course, once we create these high-level strategies, they need to be evaluated periodically. The environment is very dynamic and there are constant changes — competitors going in and out, changing costs, raw material prices changing.

Each product manager has around 60 products. This includes commercial and pipeline products. Some commercial products are stable so need less attention; some are blockbuster products that sell at $20 or $30 million a year. If there’s a cost gap or a raw materials issue for a big product like this, it would take a lot of my focus. Pipeline products with a high potential can also be extremely interesting – how do we carry this product to become a future blockbuster? I took on Sugammadex close to its European launch. Sugammadex is an important growth engine for us so it was a really eye-opening experience for me.

I find the work very satisfying. If I’m working with an account manager on the details of a deal, and then they succeed in closing that deal, it’s a good feeling.

Our project management team is very diverse—each team member brings a different perspective. One of my colleagues came from pharma, so she understands customer needs for development at a top level; one came from marketing so gets the marketing angle; one came from project management so has great skills in pushing everyone. I think it’s very important for the team to have people from different backgrounds and we all help each other.

At the end of the day, it’s all people. You need that soft skill of being able to build good relationships. In this position, you need so much information from different people to help you build a product’s strategy, so you need to keep these people on side so that they want to help you.

I’m a big sports fan and avidly follow basketball and football. I also set myself the goal of doing CrossFit three times a week.

*Pipeline API’s are currently developed and produced for R&D purposes and regulatory submissions only. The sale is excluded except for the purposes of obtaining one or more marketing authorizations and only if the latter sale is permissible under and in accordance with applicable law.