November / December 2020

ISPE D/A/CH Affiliate: Striving to Lead

Mike McGrath
ISPE D/A/CH Affiliate: Striving to Lead

The ISPE D/A/CH affiliate Is a Leader in Many Respects, from Its Ever-Increasing Size to the Invaluable Engagement of Its Members, Who Contribute to Ispe’s Growth around the World. Grouping Together Europe’s German-Speaking Countries—Germany (D), Austria (a), and Switzerland (Ch)—It Is Currently the Second Largest Ispe affiliate or Chapter.

The D/A/CH Affiliate has more than 1,100 members, with approximately 60% of its membership coming from Germany, 30% from Switzerland, and 10% from Austria. “We have been providing good services through conferences and workshops for members in the D/A/CH region,” said D/A/CH Affiliate President Gunter Baumgartner. “Over the years, we have always increased membership and have maintained a high retention rate.”

Balanced Leadership

With ongoing growth as an objective, the D/A/CH Affiliate has elected to organize its board to have representation from the various types of members. “We have a 15-member board with approximately 30% from industry, 30% from suppliers, 30% from engineering companies, and about 10% from academia,” said Baumgartner. “It’s important for us to maintain this balance so that the Affiliate is not misused by a marketing company or an equipment supplier to sell their products. This is something that is appreciated by our members.”

Baumgartner also noted that all three members of the Affiliate’s executive board (the President, Vice President, and Finance Officer) must come from the pharmaceutical industry. The term for the President is a minimum of two years, with no maximum. “With a term of less than two years, it would be difficult to be consistent,” he explained. “You have the onboarding process and by the time you start on your initiatives, half a year is gone and then you only have a few months before the next election. Our strategy is for a longer term. I’m currently in my fifth year, and the previous President served for five years. Ideally, I’d say a five-year term would be best because then the presidency is not always focused on one person.”

Each of the 15 members of the Advisory Board is responsible for a specific aspect of ISPE activities, such as Communities of Practice (CoPs), students, Young Professionals (YPs), workshops, or conferences and events.

Gunter Baumgartner
Gunter Baumgartner

An Active Schedule

Although all in-person events have been canceled for 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic, Baumgartner outlined the activities that would normally be included in the Affiliate’s calendar. “Typically, we hold about 10 conferences and workshops per year, plus one bigger event where we generally get 100 to 150 participants,” he said. “This year, we adapted to virtual conferences. A key highlight was the digital conference, Pharma’s Journey to Digital Manufacturing: OWN It—DRIVE It—WIN It!, with more than 120 participants.”

The larger event, he said, is normally held at a manufacturing location, which provides members the opportunity to tour the site. “We try to select a site where there has been a recent investment project so that our members can see a modern facility or a new state-of-the-art process. From the feedback we received, this strategy is attracting many of our members to participate in such a conference.”

The various events are held in major cities throughout the Affiliate’s region, with a certain percentage in each of its three member countries. Baumgartner said that quick and efficient travel by train, plane, or car to Vienna, Zurich, Hamburg, or Berlin makes attendance relatively easy for members.

The Affiliate has launched a new initiative to pair Young Professionals with experienced members from the pharmaceutical industry at all conferences. Baumgartner explained that this arrangement is popular with the Young Professionals. “It gives them an opportunity to discuss matters with experienced industry leaders, which they would not have in their normal lives as young engineers. This is a good platform for the Young Professionals to develop their own networks, and we have a very active Young Professional team.”

In addition, the Affiliate has a committee dedicated to student outreach. Each year, the D/A/CH Affiliate awards a prize for the year’s best master’s thesis. “The professors at the universities do an internal evaluation and nominate the best thesis at their university,” Baumgartner said. “We then do a short evaluation and select 5 to 10 awards. This year, we awarded students €1,000 and a free one-year ISPE membership.”

International Contributions

In 2018, while celebrating its 25th anniversary, the D/A/CH Affiliate received the ISPE Affiliate and Chapter Excellence Award in recognition of its success in membership growth and engagement, as well as its contributions within Europe and around the world. Several members are active in international committees and conferences. “We have been a leader in Europe and have contributed a lot to conferences and events like the Hackathon, and members of our team were the first to introduce the Pharma 4.0™ initiative. We are proud of all of these contributions and, as a result of all the activities, receiving the Affiliate Excellence Award,” said Baumgartner.

The Pharma 4.0™ initiative, a framework for establishing digital strategies in a pharmaceutical context, was the brainchild of ISPE D/A/CH board members Christian Wölbeling and Marcel Staudt. Wölbeling in particular has been very active in promoting Pharma 4.0™ around the world.

Baumgartner, who has been an ISPE member for 15 years, is serving his second term as a member of the ISPE International Board of Directors and is part of the judging committee for the Facility of the Year Awards (FOYA) and other program committees. “The experience of serving on the International Board has been a great experience, which has also enhanced the work in the D/A/CH Affiliate,” he said. “Additionally, it has supported providing a broader knowledge about ISPE operations around the world, especially understanding the different needs of the Affiliates.”

He expects, however, to diminish his role in international committees in the coming year so that he can focus on the D/A/CH Affiliate while balancing his day-to-day activities as Head of Global Engineering at Takeda Pharmaceuticals International and as a father of two young children.

Quick facts about the ISPE D/A/CH Affiliate

Founded: 1993
Region: Germany, Austria, Switzerland
Membership: 1,100+

Executive Board

Gunter Baumgartner
SVP Head of Global Engineering
Takeda Pharmaceuticals International AG
Marcel Staudt
VP Engineering Bayer Consumer Health
Bayer Consumer Care AG - Basel
Michael A.M. Atzor, PhD
Senior Consultant&Expert Pharmaceutical Eng&PM

Advisory Board

  • Secretariat: Rolf Sopp, Retired, formerly Sanofi Aventis
  • Strategy/Cash Audit: Thomas Waldleben, Geistlich Pharma AG
  • Workshop Coordination: Josef Kriegl, Chemgineering International
  • Aseptic Community of Practice (CoP): Volker Storn, F. Hoffmann–La Roche AG
  • Containment CoP, Robotic/Cobotic Special Interest Group (SIG): Richard Denk, SKAN AG
  • GAMP® CoP: Hartmut Hensel, formerly Harz University of Applied Sciences
  • Water and Steam CoP: Marcel Zehnder, BWT Pharma & Biotech AG
  • Pharma 4.0™ SIG: Christian Wölbeling, Werum IT Solutions
  • Project Management: Michael Atzor, PhD, Retired, formerly Bayer AG
  • Regulatory: Viktor Mettler, Novartis Pharma AG
  • Student Advisor and Training: Frank Scholl, Syntegon (formerly BOSCH GmbH)
  • Women in Pharma® Chair: Zen-Zen Yen, Bayer AG
  • Young Professionals Chair: Robin Schiemer, Student
  • Young Professionals Advisor: Christian Wölbeling, Werum IT Solutions