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Dominique Jordan: Modernising through trust, pragmatism and action

On 7 September, Dominique Jordan took office as FIP president. We offered people in the FIP network around the world the chance to ask questions for this interview.

What influenced your career choice to become a pharmacist?

The pharmacy profession always fascinated me. Towards the end of grammar school, we had the opportunity to visit the university. I chose to visit the medicine and the pharmacy faculties. I got information about the curricula and the possibilities in the respective professional fields. I quickly realised that the possibilities for pharmacists are much broader and more versatile than for medical doctors. The range of acquired competencies through my studies was exactly what I expected as an impatient, restless and curious person!

You’ve been a member of FIP for 15 years. Why was it important for you to join?

If you want to open your mind, to grow, to understand your neighbour and to keep motivated, it’s important to meet people from different backgrounds, sharing their thoughts, experiences, fears and solutions. Having contact with pharmacists from all over the world is the best way to get an overview of the profession, to learn other ways of thinking, to try to understand different cultural approaches and to know the different challenges and trends existing around the world. It’s exciting to see a variety of specific solutions to a problem, depending on which part of the world you are looking at. Being active in FIP during my presidency of pharmaSuisse [the Swiss Pharmacists Association] helped me a lot. From the FIP congress, I often brought back parts of a solution, ideas and projects that I could adapt and propose to my members in order to advance Swiss pharmacy. Being part of a global network — FIP — helps us to think big.

You’ve served FIP as an officer for over a decade, including as chair of the Board of Pharmaceutical Practice since 2014. Why did you run for president?

I realised, during my time in FIP, that colleagues working with me on different levels appreciated my skills and my leadership. When they asked whether I would run for president, I thought, with their support, I really stood the chance to be elected. I’m a man of action. I’m convinced that it’s the right time to modernise FIP and, building on the work of previous presidents, to move our federation towards the future. During the past few years, and especially during the last congress, I could feel a new energy and a sincere desire coming from members and member organisations to be more active and collaborate more closely to shape FIP according to future needs. FIP is unique. Our federation combines science, education and practice under one roof. Its potential to help and support the different countries, to meet the specific challenges they are facing, is huge.

All these considerations motivated me to run for president but I also had personal motivations. First of all, I like to be the one who takes the responsibility. I like challenges, and FIP is a big challenge. I enjoy developing strategies, trying to find the adequate solutions to specific problems, developing a tactic to reach defined goals. My second personal motivation is that I like to work with competent people; I know this is the case for those working at our headquarters, and it will be a pleasure to collaborate with them. A third motivation is that within FIP we have an impressive pool of competencies; leaders and the best from all professional fields, as well as the most motivated pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists who volunteer their knowledge and time. With such an excellent community, I have no doubt that together we will move mountains. Last, but not least, I love pharmacy and I truly believe in its possibilities. In the past 30-plus years, pharmacy has brought me satisfaction, big moments of happiness, exciting experiences and opportunities to grow. Being president, with all that it entails, is a way for me to give back to the profession.

What motivated you to become active in professional politics and of what are you most proud during your time as president of pharmaSuisse?

In my life, I always had a problem being dependent on decisions taken by others and being unable to be actively involved in decision-making. This is why, when I got the opportunity, I did not hesitate to become active in professional politics and to join the decision-makers. I became president of the regional pharmacists association, then member of the executive committee of pharmaSuisse. A few years later, I was elected president of pharmaSuisse, serving for 12 years. In my time as president and CEO of pharmaSuisse, I gained the experience to lead people, bringing the best out of everybody so that we could manage changes together. To reach my goals, I also learned how to find the best consensus among 26 independent cantonal health legislations, in four languages, dealing with different cultural specificities and big differences in economic issues that exist in my country. I’m proud to say that I managed to keep the emotional issues of our different partners and members in check during my entire tenure.

I’m proud of the evolution of our profession in Switzerland. Successes include the consolidation of a remuneration system based on services, a new university curriculum with pharmacy practice and clinical pharmacy, specialists’ titles in hospital and community pharmacy that are acknowledged and accredited by the federal government, postgraduate certificates in vaccination and for prescribing pharmacists, as well as a new legislation defining the mission of pharmacists. Last but not least, I want to mention a fact of which I’m most proud: I had the opportunity and great honour to have 50 excellent, very competent and highly motivated people in my office, working day after day for the Swiss pharmacy profession, helping to translate my strategy into projects. Without their support and engagement, we would not have stood a chance of being successful. I am happy say that I was able to keep most of them highly motivated and proud to be part of advancing pharmacy in Switzerland.

What are your top priorities for your presidency?

  • To increase added value for members and member organisations, supporting them to drive the necessary reforms they choose for their respective countries.
  • To reinforce the collaboration with members and member organisations, involving them more closely in the work of FIP. Our members are FIP and through their work, their decisions in the council and their participation in future projects, they will have a predominant impact on the evolution of our federation.
  • To develop the political power of FIP, acting as a catalyst to drive necessary reforms in collaboration with the respective national organisations, and developing an adequate framework to allow pharmacists to be a recognised and important partner in health systems.
  • To consolidate and extend the collaboration with partner organisations like the World Health Organization, the United Nations and others, finding the right balance to make our members successful in their respective developments. Implementation is a priority. We have a lot of excellent reports with many suggestions in them. It’s important to go one step further now, to propose concrete and pragmatic projects to our members.
  • To propose changes in the procedures within FIP as well as organisational adaptations in order to act faster and more effectively.

What is the biggest challenge facing leaders today and what do you do to ensure you continue to grow as a leader?

Trust. My experience has shown me that it can be difficult to maintain members’ trust over a long period of time. Emotions, deceptions concerning certain decisions, frustrations due to failures, different strategic objectives and particular interests of certain groups within the profession are part of the life of a leader. It is important to anticipate, to be transparent, to have good communication, to deliver on promises, and to be realistic. Without trust you cannot work. This is why we must collaborate closely with our member organisations and involve them in our decision-making. To grow as a leader, I chose to stand for president of FIP. I’m sure that pharmacists and our partner organisations all over the world will give me the necessary impetus to do my job, the possibility to make new experiences, learn, discover new fields, and to continue to grow as a leader.

How do you keep your team motivated?

It’s crucial to recognise that each person in a team is a human being, with strengths and weaknesses, emotions and problems, competencies and needs. It’s important for a leader to recognise their work, give compliments when deserved, but also to be able to make negative comments if needed. Taking time to explain your expectations, being transparent, leading in a way that gives each person space to express their competencies, letting them feel they are part of the success, considering them for what they are and they do — these are, for me, the keys to keeping the team motivated.

Considering the large numbers of black African and black Caribbean pharmacists and scientists that attend FIP congresses annually, how do you propose to ensure that they are represented at every level, from the smallest committees right up to the FIP Bureau and Council?

I cannot assure any positions because every election is a democratic process. The advice I can give my African and Caribbean colleagues is to get involved in working groups, to make the African Pharmaceutical Forum successful and more visible, to grow within FIP and be more recognised as leaders by voters. But, in fact, it is crucial that colleagues from every region of the world feel they are part of FIP. I consider this issue as very important and I will make sure that we take time to work on it with the representatives of these regions. The same goes for any other groups who feel they are under-represented. You can increase diversity by getting involved. We welcome any member with energy and enthusiasm to chair sessions or be speakers at our congresses and be leaders.

So many of FIP's presidents have come from Europe and the majority of FIP congresses have been held in the western world. Some might say this detracts from the perception of FIP as a truly global organisation. What can be done to remedy this?

In recent years, our annual congresses have been in Glasgow, Seoul, Buenos Aires, Düsseldorf and Bangkok. Next year it will be Abu Dhabi, then Seville and, in 2021, Brisbane. Of these eight congresses, only three took place or will take place in Europe. I think this shows we have a good global spread. In general, it is the country of a member organisation that applies to organise a congress. FIP has a procedure to accept the candidature. We’re currently revising this procedure in order to be fully transparent.

Regarding the presidency, it is the Council that elects the president from the available candidates proposed by their member organisations. The Council members decide democratically, considering the competencies and vision of the candidates with regards to the needs of the federation.

What role do you think FIP should have in supporting the advancement of pharmacy in developing countries?

It is a priority for FIP to support its members. We want to answer the needs of different countries in a concrete and pragmatic way and, therefore, we must focus on implementation. Increasing our collaboration with international partner organisations will allow FIP to be more active in developing countries. Key to a successful collaboration will be the partnership, active participation and involvement of the respective countries. In the near future, FIP will propose pragmatic projects to be implemented in different regions of the world. One of the priorities will be to focus on developing countries. The first step of this strategy is to make a global map with the needs and priorities of our member organisations.

How will you engage with young pharmacists and students to ensure they are invited to the table, aligning with the recently launched UN Youth2030 strategy?

I consider FIP’s Young Pharmacists Group (YPG) very important because they represent the future. It is a strong mission of FIP to make leaders and support young pharmacists on their way to becoming leaders. It is essential that young pharmacists actively take part in the life of our federation, having the opportunity to grow in different fields of pharmacy and to work beside recognised leaders. I will ensure that the YPG will be invited to delegate a representative to participate in different working groups, meetings and commissions, collaborating closer with FIP on different issues. The work, strategies and projects done today form the profession of the future and, consequently, the YPG needs to be involved in the processes and have their voice heard.

FIP's recent pharmacy workforce intelligence report predicts that the female proportion of our workforce will increase to 72% by 2030. How will you address gender inequities in this workforce?

In the pharmacy workforce, women are already now the majority. And yet we are still to see reflective gender proportions in the more senior positions in our profession. One of our objectives, thanks to the initiative of my predecessor and first female president of FIP, Carmen Peña, is expressed in one of FIP’s 13 Pharmaceutical Workforce Development Goals: Gender and diversity balances. We were one of the first non-governmental organisations to become a member of the WHO’s Global Health Workforce Network Gender Equity Hub when it was set up in 2017 and, at our recent congress in Glasgow, we held our inaugural Women in Global Health Forum [see Report on p53], to begin a wider conversation on gender equity. Our work on this issue will continue.

FIP’s vision is to improve global health through advancing pharmacy, but the profession is often tainted with stories such as the recent refusal of a cystic fibrosis drug manufacturer to submit data for cost-effectiveness assessment or the stance of a pharma executive that a 400% drug price rise was a “moral requirement”. What is your view?

This trend that the industry asks for exorbitant prices for new molecules or new treatments is problematic and we will have a discussion on this topic with partner organisations to see what FIP can contribute to assure the access to medicines for all.

What is happening in terms of FIP’s new strategic plan?

The strategic plan was approved, in principle, by the FIP Council in September 2018. It is essential we use the strategy as a democratic tool to enable members and member organisations to feel part of FIP, current and future. So we will ensure any comments and opinions from the Council are reflected in the final version to be signed off by the Bureau in March. At the same time, to ensure the strategy is expedited, the FIP team will be aligning FIP’s 2019 business plans with the strategic objectives. That way, we already start on the journey to delivery over the next three to five years.

Hotel Bellevue terras

Quick Fire Round

Significant milestones: My election as president of FIP.

Inspiration/role models: Never had one. Everyone is unique and has to find in themselves their own way.

Best book this year: No holidays this year, no time for books :-(

Perfect weekend: With my partner Astrid in my little house in the mountains.

Early bird or night owl? Early bird

Chocolate or cheese? Cheese

Skiing or mountaineering? Both

Musk or Zuckerberg? Musk


Last update 14 May 2019

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