As a head hunter in the US, I spend my days talking to interesting people across digital.

These people always have interesting stories to tell about their careers, the lessons they've learned, and their thoughts on the future. We wanted to capture some of these thoughts – and so Stateside Stories was born.

For our latest edition of Stateside Stories, we're delighted to be joined by VP of Digital, Data / Analytics and Innovation Technology for Consumer Healthcare at GSK, Rajvir Madan.

What’s your elevator pitch?

I am responsible for driving digital, data / analytics and innovation technology transformation within GSK’s Consumer Healthcare business unit. This is a broad remit, which I’d break down into a few key components.

Culture

Successful transformation requires a cultural shift to enable innovation. GSK is a powerful brand and has historically been associated with longer-term, structured initiatives, rather than agile, innovative developments. That’s why we established an innovation fund. Thich enables us to explore new approaches to solving business challenges through experimentation in areas like chatbots, machine learning and AI, and AR and VR. This experimentation is driving a culture of innovation that solves real consumer needs – and we’ve already been able to deliver value. We’ve launched an internal chatbot, and we’re using AI to build an allergy forecasting model for our consumers – and there’s a lot of other exciting advancements on our roadmap.

Talent

People are at the heart of any transformation piece, and a big focus of mine has been building out teams. We have brought on a lot of great technical talent – from cloud architects to product managers, who enable us to operate in a truly agile way.

We’re also investing in learning and development and have partnered with General Assembly to upskill and empower our workforce to be truly digital and data-centric.

Technology

Balancing core tech and new capabilities can be a challenging part of a digital transformation, but through a clear business value driven approach that focuses on the duality of building out foundational platforms with introducing and advancing new tools and capabilities, we’ve been able to make some great strides in our technology offerings.

We’ve also adopted a multi-cloud strategy, allowing us to offer custom solutions for different business requirements across internal reporting, marketing and consumer analytics.

Probably the biggest change has been moving to a more agile approach. We’ve moved away from structured annual planning, to make sure everything we work on delivers value in a relatively short time frame. We’ve also reframed how we look at our work – we talk less about finished projects and more about products that can continue to evolve and improve.

What are your top career highlights?

Building the team we have today at GSK has been an amazing journey. Getting the right talent in place is so critical, and it’s very difficult to do! I’ve been closely focused on developing talent, and we have a very reflective practice, with lots of after-action reviews, and we encourage feedback on everything– we’re always in learning mode.

What are your three biggest lessons from the course of your career?

If you can tap into what people are passionate about, and give them the fuel to chase that passion – I think magic happens.

The world has changed, and forward-thinking organisations can no longer operate a command and control structure. Instead, leaders need to think about how they can empower their teams with the skills, tools and support they need to be successful.

What do you love most about your work?

I love the culture at GSK – it is powerfully collaborative and has a real spirit of teamwork. We’re at the forefront of making a difference in the lives of our consumers.

GSK was traditionally focused on delivering solutions for sick people, but technological innovation is enabling us to really solve for health and wellness needs in a holistic and end-to-end way. That transformation is really exciting to be a part of.

What’s your advice for anyone starting their career in digital?

Show up curious. Show up inquisitive. Show up with the mindset that you’re here to make a difference in the business context you operate in.

Be a sponge, keep learning, and looking for more responsibilities. And keep questioning. Question the value you provide to the consumer, and to your organisation. Question what makes you unique. Ask yourself, what is your X factor?

What do you think is going to be the biggest disruptor to your industry over the next 12 months?

I’m very interested in the way that non-healthcare organisations – specifically tech organisations are reaching into the digital health space. This is going to be disruptive, but I think there’s a big opportunity for our industry to partner. How can we work with the likes of Google and Facebook to do the best thing for our consumers?

You can connect with Rajvir on LinkedIn.

If you'd like to participate in our Stateside Stories series, get in touch at riana@wearefutureheads.com.

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