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Akram Youssef

Commercial - Strategic Planning - Marketing - Market Access - Business Development

Akram Youssef
42 years old
United Arab Emirates
Professional Status
Open to opportunities
About Me
Accomplished global executive led and developed a range of diverse and complex pharma sector businesses with proven sales, marketing, market access, commercial operations, strategic planning, portfolio strategy and business development track record of success on both inline and pipeline assets for large, complex organizations globally.
Courageous and decisive P&L business leader with proven track record of achieving aspirational organizational objectives having profitably turned around an under-performing businesses exceeding goals consistently.
Influential business leader having led and contributed to executive committees, strategic initiatives and global programs shaping and driving strategy for multinational organizations.
Insightful strategist and change agent having overcome resistance and gained buy-in to successfully execute key strategic initiatives.
Passionate customer advocate skilled at balancing both internal and external priorities having eliminated barriers to access in various markets around the globe.
Strategic partner skilled at influencing and collaborating with global, region and local networks across a complex, matrix structure capable of establishing sponsorship and consensus under highly resistant and challenging conditions.
Authentic leader with a proven track record of building, investing in and empowering teams.
  • Drove top and bottom line of EEMEA MSD Oncology throughout 20 markets including Russia, Israel, Turkey, GCC, Levant, Sub Sahara Africa, North West Africa, Egypt and others, as part of growing the business from 170M USD to become a 0.5B USD business and 190 FTEs organization.
  • Developed local marketing and sales strategies and plans, building on the corporate strategic priorities; While focusing on superior local execution across all functions both internally as well as through external distribution partners.
  • Developed geographic expansion opportunities across CIS markets (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) as well as SSA (Kenya, Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania) ensuring profitable growth leveraging the expanded MSD Oncology portfolio through AZ and Eisai strategic alliances as well as Samsung Bioepis biosimilars.
  • Led continuous improvement in sales management including stock optimization, sales incentive plans, sales force effectiveness and digitalization.
  • Proactively led pricing decisions and analysis to maximize volume growth while maintaining price premium vs. competition that resulted in MSD key asset (Keytruda) becoming the IO market leader across the region.
  • Built dedicated Policy capabilities within EEMEA team to partner with key internal and external stakeholders to share policies that focus on access to innovation, affordability and budget headroom creation.
  • Enabling the President of Merck Oncology to work most effectively with internal and external stakeholders and fulfill his commitments to patients, shareholders, and Board of Directors building Merck Oncology division to become IO leader globally and with Keytruda becoming 3rd largest Pharma brand with 20+ launches across the world
  • Working as a right hand to the President of Merck Oncology, leading multiple strategic and operational analyses as well as take a lead role in driving large projects within the business shaping the organizational strategy, structure and direction including external strategic alliances with Astra Zeneca, Eisai and Samsung Bioepis
  • Focusing on formulating and implementing strategies to create potential future revenue streams and maximize shareholder value including GTM for Japan, China and LATAM / AP markets, co-formulation strategy, multiple dosing schedules, co-development plans with other pipeline assets including TIGIT and LAG3 and development of specific tumor strategy across 25 tumor types
  • Reviewing and analyzing the division’s financial forecasting / performance reports, flagging issues to the President of Merck Oncology and leading top 10 markets performance overview metrics analysis
  • Undertaking research on potential portfolio transformation opportunities including financial and marketing research and willingness to provide opinions and insight based on this research based on a basic modeling of companies in competitive industry
  • Working closely with the President of Merck Oncology to identify and prepare for critical thought leadership engagements
  • Compiling reports for the President of Merck Oncology and Board of Directors, in a succinct format, enabling a quick understanding of where the business is and the issues it faces, giving opinions on such findings and frequently given the task of designing and rolling out action/project plans
  • Preparing critical meeting agendas and sending out pre meeting documentation, Participating in meetings and responsible for tracking outcomes and deliverables
  • Lead a pan-Middle East best in class “Go to Market” commercialization of MSD Oncology 1st Immuno-Oncology asset Keytruda as well as other In-Line oncology portfolio brands including Emend, Temodal, Intron-A and OncoTICE
    Build the Middle East MSD Oncology CBL Cross-Functional Organization across 14 countries
  • Roll-Out the regional Disease Area Strategy for Melanoma and Lung Cancer Indications
  • Support launch maximization by drive acceleration of projects (EAP, Registries, CUP) and RW evidence generation
  • Develop innovative solutions that will differentiate Keytruda adding value to our brand offering through optimal patient selection and management
  • Further improve cross-functional collaboration, being inclusive of all critical functions incl. regulatory, supply chain, pricing and tender management
  • Reach a 50+m USD for MSD Oncology across ME region
  • Strengthen team spirit, engagement and empowerment, contributing to ME talent pipeline optimization
  • Continue to foster sharing best practice opportunities and innovation across the organization
  • Fully leverage digital strategy from the marketing side by implementing tactics that act as a technology enabler for our customer facing approach
  • Review and optimize prioritization process and Risks / Ops management across the portfolio, implementing a systematic dynamic resource allocation process in a close collaboration with finance
  • Develop ongoing liaison with key opinion leaders, patient support groups and other healthcare organizations to ensure that significant developments in the field are identified and monitored
  • Monitor and control brand budgets, forecasts and expenses and assesses the marketing mix of assigned products to evaluate cost effectiveness and results
  • Identify trends, opportunities and threats for all products groups and propose corresponding measures
  • Provide accurate and timely global forecasts for operations planning
  • Led Novartis Oncology portfolio regional strategy both in solid tumors as well as hematological malignancies
  • Created MENA Brand Sub-Teams who led synergestic, high-added value, cross-country solutions like Molecular Monitoring Report Standardization, CgA Suspect - Detect Campaign and NavigaTOR
  • Accelerated Zykadia Launch Planning for example the submission in KSA prior to the availability of Swiss CPP on a Fast-Track basis
  • Led the feasibility study of including KSA as a key market in CAR-T launch planning globally
  • Led the marketing capabilities' program across the region by establishing MENA Brand Manager Development Center BMDC
  • Introduced KPIs measurement to MENA through message recall and FF effectiveness market research
  • First Digitally Organized MENA Summit in 2015
  • First Assessment Center for Brand Managers' Selection and Recruitment
  • First Peer-Coaching Program
  • Led GSK Oncology business integration achieving accelerated Go Live for GSK acquired assets in a flawless integration planning / execution
  • Led the new product planning team responsible for early oncology assets' development strategies to maximize probability of technical and commercial success
  • Developed Region Europe registration strategy for LDK378 lead indication (ALK+ NSCLC), in collaboration with Global, and conducted commercial assessment for corporate strategic investment decisions to go to registration directly based on phase I leading Pan-European Go to Market Commercialization Platform with a special focus on CDx
  • Leading the creation of a European biotech business of personalized cell therapies (CAR-T) within Novartis Oncology. The first launch will be an Antigen Specific Hunter Cell comprised of autologous T-cells that have been reprogrammed to attack cells expressing the protein CD19. The goal is to permanently eradicate b-cell based leukemias (ALL, CLL and several types of lymphomas)
  • Led trial recruitment accelration task forces for key pivotal trials including GOLD, BALLET, PANORAMA, BOLT, etc..
  • Created EU competitive pipeline framework, to provide actionable insights into commercialization strategy of new compounds
  • Led the SSC “Strategic Scientific Committee” initiative and organized 4 meetings over 18 months to obtain external expert advice on key development issues of NVS portfolio
  • Led the Breast Cancer, Renal Carcinoma, Hepatocellular Carcinoma, Lung Cancer, Basal Cell Carcinoma, Melanoma disease area strategy groups in preparation of the various NVS pipeline launches and strategic positioning with post launch clinical development programs
  • Led and participated in half a dozen in-licensing and out-licensing projects, including both assets as well as small to medium biotech companies
  • Conducted a pipeline competitive analysis in 40 targeted disease areas deemed most profitable to achieved a breakthrough in methodology to make it possible for cross disease area comparison and hence strategic guidance NVS R&D and in-licensing efforts
  • Led the pan-European launch readiness strategy for Jakavi in MF
  • Led the pan-European launch readiness strategy for Afinitor in HR+ advanced breast cancer
  • Developed a tiered KOL communication plan upon pivotal locally advanced HR+ breast cancer data release/NEJM publication, and supported NVS medical leadership to implement via mostly field based medical team.
  • Led NVS Zometa brand through LOE, planned and executed robust revenue maximization plan and patent protection initatives
  • Supported NVS oncology global pipeline compounds' development strategies incl. TPP, new trial design, accelerated registration, go to market strategy, etc. representing Region Europe
  • Structured and Led Europe Pipeline Team "EPT" as a cross functional local and regional strategic forum acting as a decisive body that can give recommendations and strategic considerations regarding the commercial viability of developmental, launch readiness and in licensing candidates
  • Developed in a timely fashion robust strategic / tactical plans for each pipeline compound
  • Led planning and execution of the pandemic procurement activities in Western and Eastern Europe for both public and private segments and also with international associations including UNICEF and EU Commission
  • Managed both the under-supply as well as the over-supply emergencies ensured long term partnership with governments as well as NVD long term commercial interests are fully synergized
  • Led registration, pricing, reimbursement, funding and market adoption activities to expand Novartis Vaccines' presence into 12 EU markets and 8 Non-EU markets
  • Planned and executed matrix of business models and collaboration frameworks with internal and external business partners across those markets
  • Led cross functional projects involving legal, finance, RA, Manufacturing, Packaging, Filling and Supply Chain ensuring operational excellence across those markets
  • Supported European commercial strategy formulation and 5-year business plan
  • Led due diligence and contract negotiations with distribution partners and agents within Europe
  • Led sales and marketing development of Roche's Anemia, Transplantation and Rheumatoid Arthritis businesses in Egypt
  • Structured the RA, Anemia and Transplantation business unit as a complete turn around business process
  • Re-launched the Neo Recormon® brand locally and helped make the anemia franchise representing more than 15% of the total affiliate sales with the launch of Mircera® in the very competitive EPO therapy market as the last entrant with no clear clinical differentiation and potential risk of cannibalization
  • Launched MabTheRA in Rheumatoid Arthritis as a product life cycle extension strategy
  • Grew product sales by fourfold over six years via effective HCP inline marketing, direct to patient marketing, managed care marketing, and pricing strategy based on strategic payer landscape analysis
  • Led work stream in Actemra Launch Readiness Project "ALR" within CEMAI region leading affiliates in launching this brand
  • Led commercial strategy of "Transplantation Franchise" and managed the product life cycle of the main brand CellCept
  • Led and developed people directly (2 product managers & 1 team sales manager) and indirectly ( 15 medical reps.)
  • Led sales and marketing development of Roche's Oncology Portfolio
  • Led related processes' improvement initiatives including shortage risk minimization, expiry risk optimization, ROI and KPIs measures development and integration into business practices
  • Presented Oncology Business Review to senior management for example: CEMAI Head and Chief Operating Officer Pharma Division "Pascal Soriot"
  • Managed external stakeholders' programs including MoH partnering initiatives, patients' groups partnering and funding bodies
  • Engaged in the implementation of the In-Field Effectiveness "IFE"
  • Structured Oncology franchise into "Business Unit" in 2004 and "Sales and Marketing Line" in 2005 with underlying recruitment and performance management of direct reports as well as sales force
  • Recruited and managed sales force's performance, target's setting, territory planning
  • Contributed to strategic planning exercises including Zero Budget, Annual Business Review, Forecasting and Affiliate Planning
  • Managed the product life cycle of 8 Oncology brands doubling their sales twice in 2004 and 2005 and 3 of which were first in Roche Egypt top 10 performing brands
  • Developed annual marketing plans, launch plans, competitive strategy, counter messaging, objections' handler, core slide kits for all Roche's Oncology brands
  • Planned and owned brand promotion budget, ensured improved ROI and KPIs fulfillment
  • Launched Avastin locally in Egypt in 2006 to be among top 3 selling brands within the portfolio
  • Launched Tarceva locally in Egypt 2007
  • Led the planning and execution of local and regional events including round table discussions, group meetings, launch symposia, stand alone events "Roche 6th Middle East Oncology Event - Omman 4th-8th Feb 2008"
  • Planned and executed market research projects
  • Analyzed long term brand potential, and anticipated upsides and downsides' impact
  • Led reimbursement activities of Xeloda, MabThera and Herceptin to a +60% sales growth
  • Managed KoL profiling, advocacy and development for Breast, Colorectal, Pancreatic, Lung, Renal Cancers and Lymphoma for market research and clinical program engagement
  • Planned and executed communications Programs with physicians, nurses and government officials
  • Planned and executed various local public awareness campaigns
  • Qualified and managed various agencies for maximum impact and long term partnership in the fields of PR, Market Research, Fund Raising Advertising and Event Management
  • Support the initiation and conduct of Phase IV local clinical programs
  • Audited marketing performance for both effectiveness and efficiency utilizing Roche's tools including pH value, Implementor and Allocator
  • Designed creative tools to support the market adoption of brands like Xeloda (Xeloda Dose Modification Tool DMT" to ensure optimal dosing and "Roche Egypt Market Information System REMIS" as an interactive market mapping and scenario planning tool
  • Created local promotional materials in accordance with global branding guidelines including slide kits, detail aids, banners and other branding elements
  • Awarded from Xeloda Global Team for planning and executing "Patients' Support Program" and "Awareness Campaign" in Middle East in 2005


The Academy for Science and Technology Graduate School of Business

April 2004 to April 2006
Major: Marketing
Cumulative Grade: 3.90

Salesmanship and Marketing Post Graduate Diploma

The American University of Cairo

July 2000 to July 2002
Cumulative Grade: A+

Bachelor of Pharmacy

Cairo University

September 1995 to June 2000

Additional Trainings

  • Leading Global Teams, Switzerland - 2011
  • Introduction to Vaccines Seminar, Boston - 2009
  • Energy and Productivity Project, Switzerland - 2009
  • Marketing Champions, INSEAD - 2006
  • Creative Problem Solving, Egypt - 2006
  • Advanced Marketing Planning Seminar, Basel - 2005
  • Time Management Skills, Egypt - 2005
  • Towards Better Communication in our Office, Egypt - 2005
  • Marketing Planning Seminar, Basel - 2004
  • Basic Marketing Skills, Egypt - 2003
  • Basic Communication Skills, Egypt - 2002


  • English - Fluent "spoken and written"
  • Arabic - Fluent "spoken and written"
  • French - Started
  • German - Started

Extra Curricular

  • Other
  • Vice President of Rotaract Club, Egypt - 2004
  • Head of Community Service Committee of Rotaract Cub, Egypt - 2003
  • Head of Fund Raising Activities of Rotaract Club, Egypt - 2003