INSEAD Participant Interview

Start small, think big: The Leading Digital Transformation and Innovation Programme

Hadj Latreche

Distribution Technologies and Manufacturing Digital Transformation Senior leader
Roche, Switzerland

Hadj Latreche is Digital Manufacturing Advanced Analytics Program Lead with pharma giant, Roche. He came to INSEAD looking for insights into driving digital change at his organisation. He came away with a fundamental shift in mindset.

Leading Digital Transformation and Innovation Past Participant

Driving digital transformation, there is sometimes a tendency to bite off more than can chew, says Hadj Latreche.

Digital Manufacturing Advanced Analytics Program Lead with multinational pharmaceutical giant, Roche, Latreche is no stranger to change. But his leadership approach has not been without its challenges, he says.

“In my career, I have typically thought about change from a macro-level with my eyes focused on the top. But at this time of great uncertainty, with the need to keep ahead of constant innovation and the need to restructure, you need real certainty about your approach. When you are grappling with digital transformation in your supply chain and production, you need absolute clarity that you are on the right track.”

This need brought Latreche to INSEAD’s Leading Digital Transformation and Innovation programme in 2020.

“Roche is a company that is very fixated on innovation, and with the pandemic there was a greater need to really shore up knowledge and expertise in digital transformation to safeguard business continuity and productivity. I was looking for a programme that would empower me to rethink change, review my own change leadership mindset and equip me with insights and knowledge to drive innovation further. INSEAD had the reputation and the faculty expertise to deliver that kind of learning.”

Taking a programme during the Covid-19 pandemic meant pursuing the learning online – an experience that was not without its challenges, but which was still “incredibly powerful,” says Latreche.

“One of the things you want from a top school like INSEAD is the networking element, and that’s going to be a little more difficult without the physical contact. But the programme was nonetheless the most incredibly powerful learning experience. One of the huge advantages is the chance to interact with peers from a really broad diversity of sectors and geographies. You learn very quickly, that though you might be very different, you facing really similar problems and challenges. We might not be in the same company, but in a sense, we are all in the same boat.”

The richness of this diversity, says Latreche, gave him unique insights into how others tackle shared challenges.

“I work in pharma, so hearing from colleagues in e-commerce, travel or technology is a unique opportunity. You have a chance to look at how different players and sectors are solving their digital transformation needs; how they are deploying things like AI and machine learning. So you glean extraordinary lessons from others whose pain is, in fact, quite similar to your own.”

The other great richness of the programme has been the shift it has enacted in Latreche’s mindset. His approach to change, he says, has been totally revolutionised.

"I came to INSEAD thinking that change is something that you address at a macro level; that it’s best to tackle everything at once. But this programme has taught me to start small and think big."

“Positive and lasting change happen when you tackle one dimension, or experiment, optimise your results and secure the buy-in, before you multiply it exponentially. I have learnt that by starting small and optimising as you go, you can build on the kinds of successes that you can then sell to the rest of the organisation. And that has been transformational.”

Another interesting insight has centred on “helpful redundancy” says Latreche.

“We tend to think of silos or small groups working independently as bad things in business. But when you’re looking to innovate, sometimes there is a lot to be gained in encouraging diverse teams to pursue solutions in different streams – and then bring those streams together to discuss and share the experiences and the learning. And this has been another major takeaway for me.”

Latreche would recommend Leading Digital Transformation and Innovation as a programme “500%”, he says.

“The programme gives you access to really great profiles, both in peers and in faculty. You gain extraordinary insights and real-world examples that you can immediately translate for your own business needs and processes. So you end up applying what you learn very much in a day-to-day dynamic. To put it very simply: with INSEAD, you come in and get what you need.”

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