“As team leader, you have to be involved and approachable in times of crisis”

Natalie Danti studied Commercial Engineering at the University of Antwerp (former RUCA) and graduated in 1996. Since then, she worked and studied in 6 different countries. Currently, she is Commercial Lead at Pfizer in Italy.

“I currently manage a marketing and sales team. The marketing team mainly focusses on brand marketing, customer marketing and digital marketing. The sales team informs doctors on the medication we have on offer, and maintains the relationships with large hospitals.

International journey

Natalie has had an impressive career path at Pfizer. “After working at Pfizer Italy for 8 years, where I focused mainly on internal consulting, market research, business development, and then 2 years on Business Operations on a regional EU level and marketing on a NY global level, I became Business Unit Leader in 2012 in Switzerland where I managed a team of 50 people. Together we managed a portfolio of a hundred medicines that had lost their certification or came close to losing it.

“At a certain point, my partner and I both got an offer to go back to Rome, so we decided to take the plunge. I was asked to prepare the commercial-strategic launch of a new medicine within the Internal Medicine Unit of Pfizer. After that, I was asked to manage a marketing and sales team of 100 people within that same unit, more specifically on a product for stroke prevention.”

One of the best things about my job is that I can help to further develop the talents and qualities of my team, while also developing close working relationships. Each time I leave a team, we try to keep in touch. Some of them still come to me for advice years later. This to me is really the foundation of my leadership style. I am passionate about people development. I find the balance between business and people very interesting: one cannot exist without the other.”

Technical processes in a corporate context

“The Commercial Engineering study really teaches you to connect the technical industry with economics. Just think of micro and macro economics, sales, marketing, accounting, etc. You learn to understand technical processes and to apply them in a business context. That has proven to be essential in my current position, because I have to be able to move from Research & Development and Production & Regulation to Commercialization.

After my academic study in Antwerp, I started working as a Change Management Consultant at Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) in Brussels. After that, I obtained an MBA at the IESE Business School in Barcelona. This intense, international experience helped me gain a better understanding of the dynamic business world on a personal and professional level.”

Student days at AIESEC

“I have fantastic memories of my student days. I was a member of AIESEC, an international student organisation active in over 1700 universities in 124 countries. During my last year, I was chairman for RUCA. This put me in direct contact with international universities and students and gave me the chance to work on my leadership skills. The extensive social life, the people I met, the many events and activities we organised, … I still consider a lot of those people my friends.”

Resilient leadership during corona

The pandemic hit hard in Italy. “Luckily, In Rome we never really experienced that same state of emergency as they did in Lombardy and the general northern areas. The central and southern regions had a little more time to prepare and to work on prevention.

On a professional level, suddenly a hundred marketing and sales people had to work from home. Normally my team is in direct contact with external stakeholders on a daily basis. How do you keep those people motivated? And how do you prepare for the reopening? That was a serious challenge.”

People have to reorganize their work life balance, many of them suddenly had to combine work with the 24/7 care of (young) children. The workload increased. As team leader you have to be present and approachable during times of crisis, you have to be in constant communication with your employees and you have to be involved in professional and personal challenges related to smart working, flexibility and resilience.

On the other hand, we quickly learned that digital conversations can be an add-on to our existing customer relationships. We now see, for instance, that some doctors are proactively asking us to further maintain contact in a digital way. The experience of the recent months has taught us that everything is possible if you just have the right mindset.”

Discover the Commercial Engineering programme at the UAntwerp. 

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