Weeks 5 and 6
Monday was my first fasting day. In order to better accommodate myself with the local way of life which has a strong impact on the work environment, I decided to experience a proper day of Ramadan. It was very difficult to keep away from the water and the hunger was not very easy to bear either. Thus I realized how determined and patient the Moroccan people are in order to defend what they believe in, which I consider highly admirable. During the evening I was invited to have dinner with the family of Munia, my colleague from GSK and a very close friend. It was a very enriching experience: I joined her to do the groceries, we shopped around for all traditional ingredients needed, and then I helped her and her daughter prepare the food. Not only did I gain some precious insights into the Moroccan cuisine, but I also spent a great time with her two lovely kids. The ftor (first meal of the day during Ramadan) was delicious and they all made me feel at home.
This week I had a meeting with Lamia Essaket, the Regulatory Affairs Coordinator for Morocco. As I was already familiar with the importance of the Regulatory Department in industries like the pharmaceutical one, Lamia delivered a short presentation on the main responsibilities of this department, such as ensuring that GSK complies with the regulations and laws in the Moroccan pharmaceutical sector, providing advice on the regulatory aspects that affect GSK’s operations, and maintaining a close relationship with the government and local regulatory agencies. She introduced me to the Moroccan regulatory agency for pharmaceutical companies, namely the ‘Direction of medicine and Pharmacy’ and I came to understand the role and purpose of its two divisions: the Division of the Pharmacy (DP) and the National Laboratory of Medicine Control (LNCM). Apart from having an impressive educational and professional background, Lamia is very friendly and sociable. She provided me with valuable advice regarding my career prospects and she proved to be willing to help with any issue I have at work at any time. Furthermore, she advised me to make a last visit the medical department in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the operations of GSK Morocco.
Finally, I had my last meeting which was with Dr. Nawal Alila, the Medical Manager for Primary Care North Africa. Our discussion was very interesting as my knowledge about the medical department and its functions were quite narrow at that time. Thus I managed to understand the importance of this department for a pharmaceutical company as its provides technical support to the marketing department in terms of educating and training medical representatives, provides the scientific expertise in designating and reviewing of promotional materials and events. Moreover Nawal explained the need for a close collaboration between the Medical and Regulatory Departments to ensure that educational, technical and promotion materials are accurate and adhere to the guidelines mandated by the FDA. After the meeting she provided me with a very interesting presentation on the department which rounded up my understanding of the medical affairs.
Thus I managed to finish the ‘tour’ of the company! In almost two weeks I visited the Marketing, Human Resources, Supply Chain, Commercial, Accounting, Regulatory, and Medical Departments. I spent the rest of the week organizing and scrutinizing all the knowledge and insights I gained until now. These represent a valuable input for my forthcoming activities in the finance department. Having a comprehensive understanding of the activities and business model of GSK Morocco and North Africa, I gained a clear picture of the company’s structure, inter-departmental collaboration and reporting, and I have met all the key people that I will work with from now on. Last but not least, I made some great friends as well.
I spent the end of the week with my friends, enjoying the sun, having tea, and learning to write my name in Arabic 😀
I finally managed to visit the Grande Mosquée Hassan II, which is the biggest mosque in Africa and the tallest in the world. Its impressive size and design along with its picturesque location make Hassan II a place one must not miss while visiting Casablanca.
The following week was very challenging as I began working on different reports. Firstly, I received a task from the accounting department which is closely related to the budgeting process. I had the opportunity to reconcile a list of expired stock to be destroyed. Working with the large SUN database helped me improve my attention to detail, accuracy, and Excel skills. Moreover, I managed to better understand the impact of the price reduction on our stock of products and to get familiar with GSK’s products in Morocco.
Further, I was engaged in delivering two reports on the net to market sales for Libya and Tunis for June, under the supervision of my mentor, Mohammed. Thus, I conducted different analyses of the actual sales versus the forecast (RFC – rolling forecast) for June, actual sales versus plan (budgeted sales) for June and for year to date (YTD), and actual sales versus last year’s sales for June and for YTD. I also compared the actual sales for the year to date as a percentage of the plan for the full year in order to figure out how much sales should the company have in the two countries until the end of the year in order to meet the plan. These analyses were very interesting as I managed to figure out the most striking issues in terms of sales for different categories of products in Libya and Tunisia. Maintaining a close collaboration with the marketing and Business Planning departments helped me understand the reasoning behind these problems and the course of action that needs to be taken to overcome these issues until the end of the year.