Wednesday 16 July 2014

ESSEC Chair # 3 - Therapeutic Innovation Chair's field trip to GSK Global Vaccine Headquarters in Wavre, Belgium

By Rafaela Echterdiek, 1st year MSc in Management student, Germany

Between January and March 2014 I participated in the Therapeutic Innovation Chair at ESSEC Business School. The Chair is aimed to deepen students understanding of the medical industry and everything which might be influenced by it or which might influence this industry. I did not have any prior knowledge about medicine of the pharmaceutical industry beforehand but I got told that this was not necessary. After the three months I have to say that I actually enjoyed the fact that within the 24 students who participated in the chair a lot of us had very diverse backgrounds. I felt that it often enriched the discussions and allowed us to look at problems from various different angles.

Towards the end of the Chair we visited the GSK vaccine headquarters in Wavre, Belgium. GSK was one of the sponsors of the chair which is why we had the opportunity to work on group projects in cooperation with the company. When we arrived in Wavre, we started with a factory visit. It was very interesting to see how vaccines get actually produced and to asked questions about the production and supply chain which we had talked about in class on a theoretical basis beforehand.

The site visit was followed by a lecture by Luc Debruyne, current president of GSK vaccine and Pascal Lizin, Director of External and Public Affairs at GSK Vaccine. I was quite surprised how openly and willingly both answered also critical questions about their company and the pharma industry in general. GSK provided us with lunch after the presentations at which the project managers of our group works (from the company side) also joined. In a very relaxed and uncomplicated atmosphere we could ask questions about our project as well as work and career prospective at the company. During lunch two former ESSEC students who are now working at GSK also joined and told their story and career.

After lunch we headed straight back to the conference room to start working on our group works. The aim of the session was mainly to talk in person with the responsible person for our project at the company, to present him the current state of work and to discuss the direction of the project. Before this visit I thought that the given projects were not really relevant for the company and that they rather tried to create topics for us to work on. However, during the workshop I realized that our project manager was actually really interested in our findings and that the results would be used within the department to build new projects on. The day ended with a short presentation of each group in front of our students and the GSK employees who were involved in our projects. 

If you want to get more information on the ESSEC Therapeutic Innovation Chair, check out its website at: 

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