January / February 2022

Message from the Chair: COVID-19 - A Catalyst for Change & Progress

Jörg Zimmermann
Message from the Chair - Jörg Zimmermann

Who would have thought at the beginning of the pandemic that we would have several highly effective vaccines against the coronavirus and billions of doses administered by the end of 2021? I am still amazed what we as the pharmaceutical industry have achieved.

Novel approaches to vaccination via mRNA technology? Unheard of. Remote inspections, rolling review of submissions by regulatory authorities? Are you kidding? But that’s what happened! Imagine the progress humanity has made since the influenza pandemics of 1889–1895 and 1918–1920, and how many lives have been saved.

The world was forced into change and progress with the COVID-19 pandemic: meetings needed to be done online, as were conferences. Digitalization and remote work took a big step forward, with all the advantages and disadvantages: we were able to participate in a webinar in Australia in the morning and another one in the US in the evening, while doing the laundry on the side and taking care of the kids. Coming back into the office, I realized how much had been missing: the small talk over coffee, catching up with colleagues that I had not seen in months, going for a lunchtime run with like-minded friends. The world has changed over the last two years, and we should carry forward the good things that developed.

The challenges are the same for everyone, and by sharing experiences, we can all profit.

Conferences Continue

I recently addressed the Emerging Leaders (ELs) of ISPE at their virtual event in October 2021. It was fascinating to see how Emerging Leaders from around the world work together in our organization and benefit from networking, both in technical areas as well as in leadership questions and career planning. The challenges are the same for everyone, and by sharing experiences, we can all profit. My talk was on “Intercultural Intelligence: Navigating the Global Workplace” and I reported on the things I learned in dealing with different cultures. I am still learning every day and I am grateful for that.

ISPE is moving ahead with hybrid events for 2022. Nothing can replace the in-person experience, but a good portion of our conferences will be available both remotely and in person. We hope that we can reach as many participants as possible in our core strategic areas: manufacturing, supply chain and operational excellence, innovation, and regulatory and compliance.

The 2022 ISPE Aseptic Conference is close to my heart, and it is just around the corner. The program committee has put together up-to-date content on robotics, containment, components, ATMPs and cell and gene therapy, and more. You will hear about recent case studies and executed projects, and as always, the regulatory panel with FDA representatives will be a highlight for discussing your questions in an informal setting. Please join us in person or remotely.

The Year Ahead

2022 will see two important ISPE projects: first, our strategic plan will be updated and revised to reflect current thinking and pave the way for future growth of our organization. The second project is redefining the structure and relationships between ISPE international and the Chapters and Affiliates. The One ISPE initiative is geared toward better collaboration while respecting the needs of individual local groups. We can only achieve our goal of 25,000 members by the year 2025 if we work together.

As International Board Chair, I want to best serve our organization by listening to the viewpoints of all stakeholders and trying to reconcile different positions. I encourage you to invite me to your local meetings, in person or virtual, and I will do my best to attend as many as possible. Bringing together our different cultures, motivations, and perspectives, we are united at ISPE in our mission: to reliably deliver quality medicines to patients.