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Travel buyer Q&A: Dominic Short, Takeda Pharmaceuticals

Switzerland-based Dominic Short, global category manager travel for Takeda Pharmaceuticals, talks to Bob Papworth

Takeda’s Zurich base is responsible for all company activities outside Japan and the US – three widely-different time-zones, three very different cultures. Is that a travel management challenge?

We are responsible for all global activities; we have a regional manager for EMEA, one for the Americas and one for APAC. Takeda is present in more than 70 countries, so of course it is a challenge. Furthermore, we are 235 years old – and turning from a Japanese company with a global presence into a global company with a strong Japa­nese heritage. The transformation going on right now is massive, and the procurement organisation with a global focus is only one year old – it’s a huge challenge to achieve global targets in a previously very locally-organised company.

Do you have a global travel policy and a global travel management company (TMC)?

Our global travel policy is actually one year old today. We are currently preparing to consolidate globally with CWT [Carlson Wagonlit Travel] and Egencia. We have CWT in our biggest market today, the US, and Egencia in 18 countries. And currently we have a further 60 or so additional local agencies – and these need to go.

What are the key elements of your policy? How do you communicate with your travellers?

We have a six-hour time limit for business class travel. Executive team members and board members are entitled to first class travel. We are implementing OBTs [online booking tools] wherever possible so that we can do channel management and content management to ensure compliance.

What emphasis do you place on reducing the need for travel – for example, by using virtual meetings?

We have invested heavily in virtual com­munications systems and we are pushing the use of these very much. We have just launched a new programme to make sure that they are being used and that we can maximise on savings.

How are you doing when it comes to controlling costs?

We need to focus on demand management, and when travel has to happen we need to make sure we have the deals in place that let us travel for less. At the same time, we need to understand that while our business is growing we will see volumes rise – but they need to rise dif­ferently, and in a better ratio to our sales volume. Furthermore, we need to make sure productivity per trip is a main focus of our community when they plan trips. We are reporting on long-haul trips under three days – this is bad planning and unacceptable.

Please outline your career path to date and tell us about your professional ambitions.

I started to work for Swissair in 1989 and have been in travel, marketing, and meetings and events [M&E] ever since. So to be in the cluster that is in charge of procurement for marketing, travel, and M&E probably makes sense. I have been in this role since October last year. My professional ambitions right now are to be the best I can be for Takeda and help achieve the ambitious goals of making savings by changing behaviour among the travelling community.

You have recently been appointed to ACTE’s European Regional Council. What do you hope to contribute?

The reason I wanted to offer time to ACTE is that I have been extremely happy and lucky in this sector for 27 years, and I believe in giving back to society and to our community. I do the same on the parents’ committee of the school that three of my five kids go to. It is our responsibility to give if we can. In this context I’m inspired by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates… but I ain’t got no cash, so I give what I can!

On the same theme, what do you hope to learn from your peers?

How to achieve more by doing less – I am basically a lazy workaholic.

What advice would you give to someone new to the travel sector and what qualities does the successful travel manager need?

I have done a bunch of different things in my life and ‘work hard, play hard’ works pretty much everywhere – but the ‘work hard’ bit is the more important. Without that you don’t get to play...

THE TAKEDA PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY spans more than 70 countries and regions worldwide, and its pharmaceutical products are marketed in around 100 countries. Its corporate philosophy of ‘Takeda-ism’ – integrity, fairness, honesty and perseverance – has been developed over its corporate history of more than 235 years. Takeda conducts activities according to the corporate mission to ‘strive towards better health and a brighter future for people worldwide through leading innovation in medicine’. Revenues for the fiscal year ending March 2016 totalled nearly £12.9 billion

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