Magazine article New Zealand Management

Healthcare's Kim Campbell: He's a Tonic for the Aussie Industry's Ills

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Healthcare's Kim Campbell: He's a Tonic for the Aussie Industry's Ills

Article excerpt

Healthcare Manufacturing Group's (HMG) chief executive Kim Campbell insists on a positive "even sunny" outlook on life. He doesn't, he confesses, "really tolerate sad sacks". But even his up-beat approach to leadership has been tested since he took over the newly formed Australasian pharmaceutical manufacturing business.

The former South Auckland-based CEO of PSM Healthcare landed his new job and relocation across the Tasman around 18 months ago when, through a complex series of buy-ups and mergers, Australian-listed healthcare products distributor Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (API), bought PSM and merged it with existing API subsidiary and Australian pharmaceutical manufacturing icon Soul Pattinson to form the new HMG company.

Soon after the acquisitions and Campbell's appointment to the top slot, life in the Australian pharmaceutical world changed "forever". It began with Pan Pharmaceuticals which, in addition to now facing an array of fraud charges, starkly revealed just how far the Australian pharmaceutical healthcare products industry had slipped in applying prescribed manufacturing standards. Now, the Australian industry is grappling with a radically different and significantly more onerous regulatory regime. "The landscape has changed profoundly and for good" says Campbell.

The downside for API from this turn of events is some significant initial financial pain and a slower track to the profitability it expected from the PSM Healthcare purchase and the creation of HMG. The upside was the appointment of Campbell and the ability to wheel in his New Zealand management support team to help fix the problems in Australia.

The Pan Pharmaceuticals' scandal had not broken when Campbell was offered the leadership of HMG. He had, however, already discovered that Australian healthcare and pharmaceutical manufacturers were less conscientious about complying with existing manufacturing regulations and disbelieving of their government's intentions to enforce even stricter controls from August 2002. "Most of the industry simply did not believe the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) would enforce the new convention for manufacturing pharmaceutical products because it was too onerous," conceded Campbell.

New Zealand pharmaceutical companies, like PSM Healthcare, and Douglas and Pacific Pharmaceuticals, had, on the other hand, traditionally complied with New Zealand's more rigorously enforced and Med-Safe audited manufacturing rules. And besides, Campbell is a quality-management devotee and has been since his days at Trigon Packaging, Masport, and a meeting with international quality guru W. Edwards Deming back in the 1980s.

Campbell and his team at PSM had, prior to the API purchase, always found it difficult to export drugs to Australia. "We found it hard to compete on price and when we started looking at buying businesses over there, we realised that they were complying with a different [less rigid] standard than we were even though it was supposed to be a common [international] standard" he says. "Our plant here was much more compliant [with TGA standards] than most plants in Australia" So today the New Zealand pharmaceutical manufacturing industry is well ahead of most plants in Australia.

Now Campbell heads a business with almost 500 employees, with operations in New Zealand and Australia and with assets of around $30 million, producing annual sales of about $80 million. One half of that business, however, must be remodelled and refocused. That means a new culture, better processes and a commitment to quality. "But I'm impressed with the speed with which we have been able to get the things happening in Australia;' he says engaging one of his every-ready smiles.

Campbell's approach to management is people-focused. He has, he says, slipped easily into his leadership role in Australia. "People are much the same everywhere. I take them at face value and, until they prove otherwise, accept that they will be an effective and contributing member of the team. …

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