"I currently work as a Product Manager in Orion's self-care marketing team in Finland.
Our team of ten includes seven product managers, a marketing coordinator, a marketing assistant and a marketing director," says Pirjo Rajala.
Applying pharmacy in a multidisciplinary team
Orion's self-care products marketing team has a diverse educational and professional background.
"The mix of different skills among the team members is an absolute asset. We can draw on each other's expertise in all kinds of situations. As an example, I just finished finalising the details of medicine marketing with a colleague," says Rajala.
The head of the marketing team holds a master’s degree in pharmacy. n osaamista markkinointiin, jossa on omat sääntönsä ja ohjeensa. Työ on samaan aikaan luovaa ja tarkkaa.”
"My boss and I are both pharmacists and are probably the ones to pay the most attention to detail in our team because even the placing of a comma matters in pharmacy. It's interesting to use your pharmaceutical knowledge for marketing, which also has its own rules and guidelines. The work requires both creativity and precision at the same time."
A fresh pharmacist was drawn to the pharmaceutical industry
Pirjo Rajala has always felt a calling to the health sector. "After finishing school, I applied to study nursing as well as pharmacy. I was accepted in both, but my mother, who was working in a hospital at the time, encouraged me to study pharmacy."
Rajala graduated as a pharmacist from the University of Helsinki in 1989. She did her work placement at a pharmacy and had summer jobs at a pharmaceutical factory.
"I was immediately more attracted to the pharmaceutical industry. I felt at the time that pharmacies were quite hierarchical organisations whereas the pharmaceutical industry offered more opportunities and career options."
Career trajectory from Oriola to Orion
Rajala's first permanent job in the pharmaceutical industry was at the pharmaceutical wholesaler Oriola, which was then part of the Orion Group.
"I started out on telephone sales for pharmacies, hospitals and vets. My next job was as a pharmaceutical sales representative in the early 1990s."
A few years later, Rajala moved to Orion. By coincidence, she had heard about a vacancy in the company while serving on the board of Fateka, a member association of the Pharmaceutical Association. The new job was in Orion's registration department, where applications for marketing authorisations for medicines were processed.
Through the projects she was involved in, Rajala became increasingly interested in marketing.
"We would have joint meetings with the marketing department. This opened up the interesting world of sales and marketing for me. The collaboration was always smooth and when I heard that they were looking for maternity cover for a Product Manager in marketing, I decided to apply and got the job. And here I still am."
Always keeping the consumer perspective in mind
Pirjo Rajala emphasises the importance of the consumer perspective in everything to do with self-care product marketing.
Alongside consumers, the professionals at pharmacies are an another key target group. "We aim to give them the best information about Orion products. However, it is the pharmacy professionals who provide customers with up-to-date information on all Orion products at the point of service, be it medicines, cosmetics, food supplements or medical devices."
The marketing of medicines is governed by specific legislation and guidelines that regulate how products can be promoted, for example, in advertisements. For OTC products, the regulations on user guidance are slightly less stringent.
"We do a lot of digital marketing, but the traditional media, such as newspapers, radio and TV, are also still essential. Our digital team ensures that our products are highly visible to consumers in Google searches, various online publications and social media."
A wide network of cooperation is key
Rajala draws on an her extensive network of collaborators both inside and outside Orion.
Internal contacts include Orion’s experts in production planning, quality assurance, medical research, registration and sourcing. Of course, most of the contacts are with close colleagues in sales and marketing. We also work closely with the digital team.
"Outside Orion, we work with a media agency, with whom we plan how our products will appear in different media. And of course advertising agencies are also important partners. We also meet with the main media contacts, especially on programme sponsorship and future programming," says Rajala.
Part of the Finnish pharmaceutical chain
Orion is a strong Finnish brand, which, according to Rajala, forms a strong basis for marketing of all the company's products.
"Building well-being is not just a slogan, it's what we actually do at Orion. It is important that we have our own domestic pharmaceutical production and that the factories remain in Finland."
My role is to be part of the Finnish pharmaceutical chain by ensuring that Orion's high-quality products are widely known and appropriately marketed and advertised."
Orion offers a variety of roles for pharmacists
Orion employs a large number of bachelor’s and master’s degree holders in pharmacy who work in very different roles in different departments. In pharmaceutical manufacturing, pharmacists usually work in managerial roles.
Pharmaceutical work at Orion is mostly related to the manufacture and quality assurance of medicines, batch release, processing of applications for marketing authorisations, pharmacovigilance, marketing and sales of pharmaceutical products.
Pirjo Rajala's motto: Never come or go empty handed
Being efficient saves you many extra steps. By organising and simplifying the way you do things, you can double the outcome with half the effort.