Specialised Therapeutics Australia (STA) has emerged as the country’s largest independent pharmaceutical company, after being privately founded by a Melbourne husband and wife team, Carlo Montagner and Bozena Zembrzuski, 11 years ago. STA began with exclusive rights to market a single oncology product in Australia and New Zealand. It has rapidly expanded and now markets a range of specialist medicines and diagnostics spanning oncology, haematology, ophthalmology and neurology. Its efforts ensure patients in Australia, New Zealand and across South-East Asia are afforded critical access to innovative and potentially life-changing therapies and technologies for devastating diseases including breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, multiple myeloma, leukaemia and brain cancer.
Since 2008, staff numbers have risen from two to more than 40, with STA now employing specialist medical staff, high-performing sales and marketing teams, regulatory, communications, finance, business development, supply chain and HR personnel.
STA is a family-owned and operated pharmaceutical company and this focus on family is firmly entrenched in the company’s corporate values. STA prides itself on a friendly, collaborative, open, dynamic and inclusive team, with a permanent focus on the ‘why’. As a business, STA is entrepreneurial, innovative and more agile than traditional pharmaceutical companies. An open-door policy is apparent and all teams contribute to what is a nimble and agile environment, making rapid decisions as required. STA emphasises the importance of team members owning their roles and taking accountability, so true leadership is demonstrated.
STA has developed and maintained a unique and inclusive corporate culture by having an accessible, innovative and inclusive CEO with an open-door policy and a commitment to truly knowing all staff members, from customer service to senior managers. All business milestones and changes are communicated swiftly by the CEO to all staff, in person, via email and also via regular internal video newsletters. These communications also feature a ‘get to know you’ staff segment, providing a light-hearted insight into colleagues’ lives. STA celebrates diversity, welcoming employees from a wide variety of personal and professional backgrounds to provide alternate perspectives. STA believes the ability of these individuals to successfully collaborate enables optimal decision making and true innovation.
STA consistently aims to foster a thriving learning culture, where employees are empowered to further existing skills and build individual careers. To this end, it has created a learning and development environment best suited to a SME. Line managers and established systems facilitate growth discussions, but individuals are also strongly encouraged to be self-driven. Development discussions have enabled employees to nominate projects and business areas of personal interest. To date, this has proved extremely effective, fostering career progression and encouraging idea-sharing. STA staff have built on their skills, moving from representative roles through marketing channels and on to senior managerial roles in business development.
To support its management team, STA developed a 12 -month Leadership Training Program. The purpose of the program was to provide managers with an opportunity to further develop their management and leadership skills, alongside relevant communication and emotional/intellectual intelligence strategies to serve personal career development. This program was an opportunity for personal leadership development in a collegiate environment.
STA aims to foster strong, open and ongoing communications. Prior to 2019, STA’s employee evaluation system included standard mid-year and end-of-year performance appraisals. It was noted however, that this system did not allow for genuine wellbeing discussions, where individual needs and training could be optimally addressed. It was also felt that performance discussions were not as ‘personal’ or as revealing and as they could be, because results from these discussions fed directly into performance bonuses. With this in mind, STA introduced a new performance appraisal process in 2019 to encourage high performance, genuine conversations and maximum potential. The framework for the new system was a Performance and Well-being Conversation. These were strategically designed to motivate and acknowledge individual efforts and results, as well as identify strengths and growth opportunities. In an annual review of the new process, it was found that the introduction of this new performance review structure has enhanced discussions and facilitated real-time feedback and recognition. It has also been revealed as a valuable platform to encourage employees to strive for more.
STA cares about employees’ health and well-being and wants their families to remain healthy. STA demonstrates this by providing all staff with a generous Health Insurance Allowance, specifically for private health cover. Under this plan, employees have the flexibility to purchase their preferred insurer suiting their personal family needs. This benefit is highly regarded by the team and has been regularly identified by staff members as a key employment benefit. STA continually strives to develop a culture supporting health and safety by encouraging behaviours and implementing relevant processes for employees, contractors, customers and communities associated with its operations.
STA believes relationships are integral to business success, both internally and externally. As such, it strategically creates opportunities for informal team engagement to strengthen bonds between individuals and departments.