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Executive Education

Artificial Intelligence (A.I) for Business

Planning for future AI potentialities

Rudi Sheerlinck

Global Head Pharmacovigilance Risk Management Nestle Skin Health S.A.

Overall, I found that the participants were also at a senior level and were interested in the high-level view of AI. The fact that we all came from different organisations an industries really complimented the programme.

Can you please begin by introducing yourself?

I graduated as a physician in Belgium and completed an Executive MBA, and now my career has led me to currently work at Nestle Skin Health. I am Global Head of Pharmacovigilance Risk Management, which when put simply means that I am working on investigation into the adverse effect of products, at both the development and in-market stages.

What were your main reasons for choosing this programme at INSEAD?

There were multiple reasons for choosing AI for Business at INSEAD. First and foremost, I am a person always interested in new things and so I am naturally curious about AI. I was very attracted by the title and the subject matter of how to implement AI internally. Personally, it was most important to understand the impact it could have on the business – the staff, the skills required, and new ways of working. It is not really for me to be hands on with AI on a day-to-day basis but more so to have the confidence that if tomorrow you put me in a team and that asked me to think about how to implement AI into my field, I could understand and participate in discussions and share ideas.

Also, in my area of expertise I can see that artificial intelligence is already cropping up, for example, there are now many vendors who offer AI services and most pharmaceutical companies are thinking about how to utilise AI, both internally and with vendors. It is prominently being utilised in the area of data analysis, as we have numerous documentation that needs to be carefully reviewed in order to highlight any adverse side effects reported. In the future I think it may be used more so for predictive purposes, but it is hard to tell where it will take us.

Did you hold specific expectations before starting? Were your expectations met?

Overall, my expectations were met. In particular, I liked the last day during which we interacted with people who are in the AI field having set up their business and implemented big changes. In addition, the professors were great at explaining what type of changes would be needed on the work floor.

Indeed, my main expectation was to understand AI at a high level so as a manager I would be able to understand the future potential needs. I do not see myself leading AI projects from a technical point of view but I can see myself involved in managing such a project together with IT or other departments. I would also like  to think about future vacancies at the company, and if there would be an opportunity to add certain AI skills.

Did you learn from the other participants, as well as from the lecturers?

Yes, indeed. Overall, I found that the participants were also at a senior level and were interested in the high-level view of AI. The fact that we all came from different organisations an industries really complimented the programme. The diversity of students gave me more freedom to speak openly and ask questions. You also get the sense that everyone has the same fears but are open to learn from the experience of others too.

How prominent is AI within the pharmaceutical industry at the moment?

It is definitely already on the radar in the industry, including outsourcing work to vendors with strong technological and AI expertise. For instance, one thing that a pharmaceutical company needs to do according to regulations is to periodically monitor the literature to see there are no adverse effects mentioned against your products, and with AI this could be done in a very smart way, so we need to look to build upon efficiencies like this. The top pharmaceutical companies are most definitely working on AI advancements.  

Would you recommend the programme to others?

Yes, I think it is a very useful programme. I found that it was nicely condensed in to three long but equally valuable days. The structure is well designed and I found the information given and preparation before the course very beneficial. The staff were very supportive, from the administrative preparation to the discussions in class, and even after the programme. You can see that INSEAD is a top educational institution.