On June 3rd, MSD (known as Merck inside the United States and Canada) celebrated the launch of Organon & Co. – a spinoff global healthcare company primarily focused on the Women’s Health market. Heading up this spinoff is Simon Nicholson, Managing Director of Organon’s UK & ENI cluster which covers markets in the UK, Ireland, Israel, the Nordics, and the Baltics.
After completing a Geography degree at Loughborough University, Simon wasn’t sure which direction he wanted his career to go in. Rather than having a long-term plan, he tells us “I’ve always tended to follow the things that I really enjoy, and laterally where I feel like I can make a difference.” A few weeks after graduating, Simon found his first job at Enterprise rent-a-car in a graduate scheme that had him involved in everything from washing and servicing cars, to handling customer service and marketing. This is also where he met his wife-to-be Olivia, who he now has three children with.
After being contacted by an ex-colleague about a Medical Sales Representative role at Searle Pharmaceuticals, Simon later found himself in the pharmaceutical industry, and was given the title of Women’s Health Specialist. He has now worked in the industry for over two decades, working in numerous leadership roles across Primary Care, Market Access, Healthcare Services and Strategy & Commercial Operations, with companies including Schering-Plough, Pfizer, and MSD.
He has also worked through a series of mergers and acquisitions in the industry which he has always enjoyed. “I loved the change element of the mergers, and the uncertainty,” Simon tells us. “I’ve always been attracted towards something new that hasn’t necessarily been done before.” This drive to do something new is at the forefront of what the new Organon spinoff stands for. The organisation will be the first global pharmaceutical company to make a commitment to becoming a leader in Women’s Health, and with 20 years in and around the women’s health space, Simon is ready to make a difference. “Our strength will come not only from our medicines and solutions but from the diverse team of Organon Founders we have gathered to launch this unique company. We are all personally invested in this opportunity and what we do really matters.”
He is especially proud of how much progress has been made on the Organon project during the COVID-19 pandemic. After being admitted to hospital with COVID at the beginning of the year and seeing first-hand just how incredible our NHS is, Simon’s passion for supporting healthcare services has grown hugely. “When I was awake in hospital, I remember thinking, ‘’If I’m lucky enough to be able to make it through this, I’ll leave no stone unturned in terms of the difference we can make to support health systems,” he tells us. Organon is to work with the NHS to get our healthcare services back up and running, and to help redesign them with the knowledge that has been gained since the pandemic began. In particular, the company aims to rebuild Women’s Health services, many of which were decimated during the pandemic due to the face-to-face nature of them.
New acquisitions and partnerships will help Organon expand beyond its core strengths in contraceptives and fertility to meet the health needs of women at all stages of her life. “This will be fuelled by a refreshed focus on our women’s health portfolio, further biosimilar launches, and a renewed energy put behind our trusted dermatology, pain, respiratory and cardiovascular brands,” said Simon. The new spinoff also hopes to encourage women to continue to seek help. “Women often think about others in that caring responsibility, and therefore, even if it’s subconsciously, perhaps neglect themselves [in seeking treatment],” he explains. Organon is therefore not only rebuilding Women’s Health services, but also aiming to make them more accessible for every woman.
When asked what advice he has for people hoping to join the pharmaceutical industry, Simon expressed just how important it is for people to spend time on the frontline where pharmaceutical products are prescribed and used, as there is so much to be learnt from healthcare professionals. He also advises people looking to join the industry to take every opportunity to gain experience in as many roles as possible, and to be genuinely curious about how the company and industry works. If possible, Simon also recommends working in multiple countries to experience different cultures, health systems, and markets, as this will all build up your capability set and open up your options for the future.
Find out more about Organon here: https://www.organon.com/.