“Change is the key element of career success”

Peng Sun is Head of Regulatory Affairs at Teva China, leading the regulatory team and responsible for all regulatory affairs activities, including strategy, new medicine registration, portfolio development and department management. He talks to us about the rise of pharmaceutical innovation in China and shares the lessons he has learned throughout his career, as well as the piece of advice he most treasures.

When I was growing up, I always imagined I would be a mechanic. I dreamed about fixing cars because my father owned an auto repair shop.

Every summer holiday, I travelled to the city where my aunt lived and stayed with her family for weeks, playing with my cousins in the fields, with no parents around and no homework to worry about. It was pure and simple happiness every day.

I live in Beijing, which is a great city, faultlessly blending the traditional and modern. As the capital and one of the biggest cities in China, it’s a big stage, full of opportunities. Most of our central government agencies are in Beijing, so this is a gathering place for regulatory people. 

My regulatory journey started in a local pharmaceutical company in Beijing and I worked there for 6 years before moving into multi-national pharmaceuticals and on to Teva in 2019. I have now been working in the sector for 22 years. My experience covers new medicine registration, post-market maintenance and regulatory Chemistry, Manufacturing and Controls (CMC) of both small molecules and biological products for multiple treatment areas. More recently, I’ve been focusing on new drug development and registration of oncology, immunology, cardiovascular and rare disease products in China. As an experienced head of RA, I have been able to build and manage a creative and efficient RA team.

Teva in China is growing rapidly. At beginning of 2019, there were 8 people in the organization. Now Teva China has 55 employees in 15 functions and by the end of 2021, we will employ almost 100 people.

My typical day starts at 5:50am, when I get up to prepare breakfast for my son. After he goes to school, I travel to the office by subway and check emails and plans for the day as soon as I arrive. I like to reply to emails on the same day I receive them. We normally have our meetings in the afternoon Beijing time, when it’s morning in Europe. Our team loves to have lunch regularly and it’s a fun get-together so I join them as often as I can. I usually get home at 6.30pm and help to cook dinner. I may have meetings in the evening with US colleagues and usually get to bed around 10 or 11pm.

Teva is quite a newcomer to the innovative drug market in China and we are still working on integrating the local team with the global business and building consensus and understanding. One of the things I am most looking forward to is bringing new and innovative medicines into China.

The last book I read was The Money Game by Adam Smith to expand my knowledge of capital investment. With the active investment of capital in recent years, drug innovation has entered a state of rapid development in China, with new biotech and pharma start-ups on the rise.

I enjoy leading people and managing projects and I always ensure that I find the right person for the job. I like coaching people and encourage my teams to be confident, strategic and enterprising.

I like my job, it is meaningful and I am very motivated by it. I particularly like the mix of pride and balance it offers. Pride that we are the starting point of a medicine on its way to market and the keeper of the medicine’s life cycle - and balance in the balance of science and regulation it calls for.

My career path has been full of challenges and changes. A few times the changes have been outside my control, but mostly I made them happen. Challenges and changes make people strong, even though they may also bring difficulties.

I would say to others, don’t be afraid of change, it is the key element of career success.

When I’m not working, I enjoy reading. I also love sports and music, even though I’m not a good player and never was. I used to play soccer, basketball, table tennis and badminton when I was younger. Now I’m learning boxing and Sanshou. I also love playing the guitar and I can play some simple songs, but can only dream of playing “Hotel California” one day.

When I was younger, my elders gave me quite conservative advice such as remain humble and avoid risks, advice that was always given with love. But the best advice I was ever given came from a close friend who always encouraged and believed in me: “Take advantage of uncomfortable opportunities that may lead you to greater things and show that you are more than you thought you were”.


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NPS-ALL-NP-00398 AUGUST 2021

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