Interviews

Direction: innovation and continuous improvement

Direction: innovation and continuous improvement

Interview with leaders of financial divisions: Natalia Brzostowska – RTR Director, Sylwia Kozioł – PTP Director, Agata Piotrowska – Order to Bill Director and Anna Szawluk – B2C Director at Elanco Solution Center.

FOCUS ON Business: Elanco Animal Health is a global leader in pet and farm animal health. You provide products, services, and innovations in the field of animal disease prevention and treatment. In Poland, you have a Shared Services Centre – Elanco Solution Center. What kinds of business processes do you manage?

Natalia Brzostowska, RTR Director: Elanco Solution Centers are located in Warsaw and Kuala Lumpur and provide global support for North America, LATAM, EMEA, and APAC regions. In addition to financial operations (PTP – Purchase To Pay, OTC – Order To Cash, RTR – Record To Report), ESC has teams of specialists in the areas of HR Services, Internal Audit, Treasury, Tax, Procurement, IT, Supply Chain, Master Data, Quality, and Financial Controls, among others. Projects to establish shared services organizations most often begin with the formation of OTC, PTP, and RTR financial towers first. In our case, a much wider portfolio of services was included from the very beginning, which proves a high level of trust placed in our organization and recognition of Poland and Malaysia's potential as locations with high quality of work. Thanks to that approach, the ESC center runs such comprehensive services.

At the beginning of this year, we started the next phase of expanding our organization, a long-planned integration of ERP systems of Bayer Animal Health business, which in August 2020 became a part of Elanco. That means a significant expansion of the scope of activities both in Warsaw and Kuala Lumpur, but I am sure that thanks to the great commitment of our teams, we will quickly achieve the stabilization of processes for the integrated units.

How important is innovation and technological development for the Elanco Solution Center and for the entire Elanco company?

Anna Szawluk, B2C Director: Innovation and development are the pillars of company’s values expressed in the IPP strategy that stands for Innovation, Portfolio, and Productivity, the signposts of our company for over 50 years. Elanco aims to create the most effective products as parts of the comprehensive offer. This creates a portfolio that, together with technological developments, offers products for our pets, as well as for poultry, livestock, and even fish farmers, this are future of nutrition. The merger with Bayer Animal Health has opened up markets and areas previously inaccessible to us and strengthened our ability to explore new solutions allowing us to better support customers in their animal care. What’s more, thanks to the acquisition, we have expanded our global reach, and we are advancing our omnichannel strategy.

For our shared services center, Innovation and Productivity is all about implementing the latest systems, automating processes, and attracting the best people, guided by a philosophy of continuous improvement.

Polish Elanco SSC employs nearly 380 people. Why is it worth working for you? There is lot of flattering opinions of employees about the company that can be found online...

Sylwia Kozioł, PTP Director: We are a company that offers employees the opportunity for harmonious development. There have been as many as 27 promotions at ESC in 2021. We have training programs and complementary e-learning platforms, including a micro-learning platform, the implementation of which coincided with the pandemic period and the transition to remote working. We work in a dynamic environment; therefore, quick and short course modules make development processes more efficient.

We listen to the voice of the youth generation and respond with tailored benefits. Today the most desired one is the flexibility of place and time of work. Our employees also appreciate the extra days off. We use the Inspire platform, where employees can appreciate the work and help of other colleagues and exchange collected points for material things in a platform store. We also have a super-modern and safe office adapted to hybrid work. We are pleased with good feedback. We did a challenging project in a very unpredictable environment, and it really cemented us as a team. The pandemic taught us that even working from home, we are still a community, so we focus our efforts on building a great place to work. That’s why we have a lot of attention and understanding for our employees and their well-being. We organize competitions and skills sharing festivals, participate in tournaments and celebrate diversity by organizing meetings with the team from Kuala Lumpur. It's amazing how curious people are about each other and how hungry they are for a different perspective.

The pandemic has changed the nature of work and the rules of cooperation in teams. How has this affected the hiring of new specialists for your growing financial teams?

A.S.: Shared service center environments, due to the global reach of their processes, have for years offered their employees flexibility in both working hours and location. Many teams are dispersed all over the world. The last two years have only strengthened this model of work and extended it to teams previously working from a local office. Of course, this has forced the change of communication channels and tools to virtual ones, not only in the process of everyday work but also in recruitment processes. The majority of the current ESC team are people hired through remote recruitment. This experience is proof that the Future of Work is inextricably linked to hybrid work or even, in some areas, entirely remote work. We are currently preparing to create new positions as part of our process integration with Bayer Animal Health, and one of the key things we consider when planning teams is flexibility, engagement, and efficiency.

What is the Elanco Solution Center's Diversity & Inclusion policy? How do you perceive the role of women in your organization?

Agata Piotrowska, Order to Bill Director: In ESC, the majority of the team are women, which is reflected in the managerial structures. Right now, sixty-six percent of ESC's leaders are women, including the leader of our branch in Malaysia. And they are not only very competent employees but also promote a work culture and ethics that coincide with the company's values.

We care about Integration. Our team members must know and feel that they are co-creators of the company atmosphere, and their opinion is valid. We have a thriving team of local ambassadors who cascade engagement through their teams. We often ask employees to share their opinions in surveys, making decisions or choices together. Recently, we organized the skills sharing festival. Our employees from Warsaw and Kuala Lumpur conducted workshops for other colleagues. They could tell others about their passions, present themselves from a different side than the professional one. Some even involve their families in the workshops and presentations. We especially enjoy such events as it is a chance to draw from diversity and multiculturalism, to tell stories about our traditions. Malaysia itself is multicultural. Our colleagues from Kuala Lumpur tell us how they spend their free time, how to cook Korean dishes or how to take care of their skin according to Asian rituals. In return, we present to them how Polish winter looks like, how to weave macramé, and how we travel. In total, both  locations employ about 11% foreigners, and we speak a total of 14 languages.

At our company, we celebrate PRIDE month every year to not only promote the inclusion of all employees but also to celebrate the diversity of individuals. We unequivocally condemn hate-based violence that targets people because of their difference, disability, race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. It has no place at Elanco.

How do you see the role of leadership in your company? What are the leaders at Elanco?

A.P.: Just like people, leaders in Elanco are different from each other. Some are very charismatic, while others are more balanced in their actions. For us, the key is authenticity. Our center is developing rapidly, and so are our leaders, whose bar is set very high. What counts is not only expert knowledge, work ethic, and persistence in pursuing a goal, but also the ability to support and inspire others and openness to change. ESC was established during a difficult time of the pandemic, which proves that our leaders can build teams and manage them effectively remotely. A leader in Elanco is a person who gets new challenges all the time, therefore the ability to think innovatively and agilely really matters. I personally believe that a good leader creates a friendly environment to show initiative and continuous improvement. They focus on opportunities, not adversities. They should have an individual approach to their employees and be a partner they can trust.

Does the fact that you are involved in animal health inspire you to take pro-animal activities? Can an employee bring a dog to work?

N.B.: In line with the company's vision of 'Food and Companionship Enriching Life' animals and their health are at the very center of our activities. We have become friends with the Guide Dog Foundation, which we support with fundraising events, and we are 'godparents' to two guide dogs in training: Bruno and Mars. We also run an Adoption Corner on our internal communication platform, where anyone can help find new homes for dogs and cats from shelters. Besides the ESC actions, we encourage employees to volunteer for local organizations on their own. Volunteers are even eligible for extra days off for this purpose. Additionally, every year during the Global Day of Purpose, all Elanco employees have the opportunity to participate in numerous CSR initiatives, both globally and locally.

The pandemic has changed our work lives, and our pets are certainly winners in this situation, as we work from home and spend much more time with them. Little friends often show up at our meetings – they sit on our laps, walk on the backs of our chairs, and sometimes on our computer keyboards. They make us laugh and put us in a positive mood, which is why we decided that the dogs would be able to accompany us on some days when we started going back to the offices in a hybrid model.

Thank you for the interview.