‘Let’s keep the desire to excel’
Walid Abi-Saab has just begun at Galapagos as the Chief Medical Officer. He brings decades of experience in medicine, psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry.
‘Having worked across several different departments, I’ve been able to explore the gaps between them and facilitate very open, interdepartmental exchanges of ideas, which is vital. Functioning with open communication, a shared understanding, and cross functional fertilization is a winning recipe for overcoming major challenges and advancing rapidly in development.’
Role at Galapagos
‘For the next few years, my primary responsibility will be the improvement of our late-stage development capabilities: help the company grow, in other words. But this has to be done while keeping in mind the history of the company. If we keep the freedom, the desire to excel and the low hierarchy that have made Galapagos the company it is, we could grow and maintain our identity.’
We have to keep moving forward. What’s the point otherwise?
‘We have to keep moving forward. What’s the point otherwise? Drug development is undeniably difficult, but it’s also inspiring: what we produce helps people, leaves them feeling better and living longer. We never lose sight of that, no matter how big the difficulties or how hard the work becomes. Any product we develop will benefit someone who is suffering. And there are not a lot of people who can say that about their jobs. Knowing this gets me up in the morning. It encourages me to do better.’
Pushing the limits
‘You have to ask yourself: do things that don’t require any thinking or challenge actually bring anything to the table? We have a commitment to push harder and advance, especially in medicine and drug development. The line of work is not easy, but that’s not a reason for giving up. If I reach a limit, I’ll take a step back and ask why. I’ll try again from a different angle, I’ll persevere. I won’t give up.’