Fond farewell for Novartis head as she hands over helm

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 14 Dec 2016

A NEW year will bring a new managing director to Grimsby's Novartis site.

Cynthia Chiaramitara will take over from Anne Wirtz at the helm, and the fond farewells are now beginning for her predecessor, who returns to the pharmaceutical giant's head office in Basel, Switzerland.

The Belgian national is delighted at the progress made in her 33 month tenure, a time in which new products, better standards and increased efficiencies have been witnessed, as well as the grand double celebration for 20 years of the entity Novartis and 65 years of production in the town.

She was the first female site head in that period, and now welcomes the second.

"It has been absolutely fantastic," Anne said. "I have met so many great people, not only on site but outside of work. It is a very nice area, with very warm, welcoming people."

At the Moody Lane plant, she was delighted with the response to new methods, and the reaction to what she brought to the South Bank, having arrived with a belief it may be a challenge.

"You do come with some bias about a country – maybe because of the long standing traditions – you get the impression it is difficult to implement change, or there will be some reluctance to change, but I didn't encounter that at all. All I noticed was, that if you explain why, people say 'okay, we'll give that a go'. That was really nice."

And results have flowed, including ensuring vital drugs get to patients quicker, as well as entering the fight against cancer for the first time, which requires a heightened level of operation.

"If we look at our safety record, our quality records, our supply chain excellence, we have seen real improvements," she said.

"We have improved cost efficiency of this site, and we constantly need to review that, which is important for our place in the network.

"As we are at the end of the year we have also been reflecting across other aspects, and for the first time we are producing products for the oncology market.

"That is something quite new for this site, because the requirement is different, the level of containment is different and the site team adapted to this type of new production immediately."

Anne will take up a role in health, safety, environment and business continuity management, in the next step of the production cycle, taking the active ingredient to solid pill form.

She is very familiar with Cynthia, who is spending the festive period in her native Brazil, where she first joined Novartis before moving to Switzerland.

"I know her, we are part of the same chemical operations leadership team and we have always had an excellent relationship," Anne said. "I am absolutely delighted that she is the one to take over the site. It was very important for me to handover to a person I would trust, someone who will continue to build. She will also bring a fresh pair of eyes, look at things from a different angle, and I am sure with her personality she will bring new improvements."

Away from work her time in the UK will also be remembered for equine pursuits.

Living in The Wolds, she said: "For horse riders to come in to this area there is no better place in the world.

"To have all the different types of disciplines, I started to do cross country here, I have now tried and loved showjumping and there is the flat hacking too. I am going to miss all of that!"

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