Planning for Future Patient Needs: Designing a New Production Facility in Bulgaria is a Team Effort

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Meet the team of experts overseeing the expansion of a Teva facility to increase global access to key medicines.

In order to meet the growing global need for essential medicines, Teva’s Dupnitsa manufacturing facility in Bulgaria is undergoing expansion to facilitate the commercial production and testing of treatments to meet current demand levels. The facility has been awarded Bulgaria’s prestigious Investor of the Year 2021 award, organized by the Bulgarian Investment Agency to highlight the country’s most significant investment projects. Read more about it here.

The project involved the collaboration of several teams, including the Design Team of Teva's Global Engineering unit, based in India. Read on to meet Prakash from the global engineering team which designs major strategic projects around the world, Kamen from segment engineering which manages strategic projects in Solid Manufacturing and Supply Operation and Gadi from the Dupnitsa site in Bulgaria.

Prakash Abhale from India is the design manager of the project and leads major capital Oral Solid Dose (OSD) and sterile projects for Teva. He has been with Teva for over five years. 

Kamen Mladenov is project manager in the Global Engineering team and has been with Teva for two years.

Gadi Mukomolov is site general manager in Dupnitsa, Bulgaria. He relocated from Israel to Bulgaria to lead the site and work on this and other projects. He has been with Teva for eight years.

Together, the three ensured that, notwithstanding the obstacles posed by the pandemic and remote working, the project is being delivered on time.

We talked to the three team leaders about working together to overcome the challenges posed by the project and how remote working has impacted their work.

Kamen: The project in Dupnitsa expands the site's manufacturing capabilities. This is an important project for Teva and managing it within budget and deadlines is crucial.

Prakash: Our team designs everything concerning the project. We are involved from the design's inception, then throughout several project life cycles until it's handed over.

Gadi: The expansion makes the manufacturing processes more efficient, which should drive down production costs and make medicines more affordable. This is entirely aligned with our mission at Teva – to improve the lives of patients. At the end of the day, our work is all about providing high quality medicines to the people in need at affordable costs.

The challenges of working remotely and communicating well

Prakash: The pandemic caused limitations which impacted the beginning of the project. However, after a couple of months, we were able to streamline the work. We couldn't visit the site - nevertheless, the project progressed as planned.

It was fantastic working with the Bulgaria team. Our collaboration included being aware of and understanding cultural differences and yet remaining united around a common purpose. Our regular interaction between the teams ensured the design was finished on time and on budget.

One significant benefit of working with international teams is how much you can get done once the communication is sorted. Teams can come from all different time zones, so we're essentially working around the clock.

Gadi: Working with international teams is our standard operating procedure. There are differences across countries – and even people working in the same area also have different ways of thinking, understanding, and working.

The biggest hurdle is virtual interaction. Yet, good communication doesn't simply depend on geography or proximity. Even within our team, we must always make an effort to understand different people, their opinions, and their approaches.

I can relate to this, as I was born in Ukraine and then immigrated to Israel. Now, I'm an Israeli working in Bulgaria. Throughout my life, I've learned to appreciate diversity and being a foreigner.

Kamen: Working with international teams is very different from working with your local peers. There are quite a few challenges, such as time differences, language barriers, physical distance and cultural differences.

On one side, this can make the work more difficult. But, on the other, it's a very interesting experience.

At first, it was challenging working with the Indian team. I had met some of the team face-to-face once, and then the pandemic hit. That made the work significantly harder for everyone. We needed time to get used to the way we communicate and approach tasks.

Despite these constraints, I believe that we built a very good relationship with trust and cooperation.

One Teva and Me 

Kamen: I hope that my contribution makes Teva’s work easier through the constructive and structured way of working I provide. Especially when decisions are to be made on the highest level, information must be shared in a structured and simplified way to enable efficient decision making. I'm motivated to get things done in the best way possible. It is always inspiring to see how the plans are becoming reality, how the drawing becomes a real building, machine or installation and how it starts producing.

Gadi: We want the operations to be very predictable in terms of quality of the product, the safety of operations, in terms of output that we provide. If we can do that, it is easier to deliver in an efficient manner. The project extends our capacity for manufacturing and brings Teva’s high standards and expertise to the new production facility.

I'm inspired by the people of Teva - the spark in their eyes. When there are huge challenges people step up. I think it's in the DNA of the company.

Prakash: I chose to pursue a career in pharmaceuticals because the medical field has always interested me as it is keeping me involved in community.

I enjoy working at Teva where the members of the team have a strong sense of camaraderie and a good work ethic. I like working with competent, kind, funny people who like to get things done. It's important to me to feel that I can trust my team members to always do their best because I do.

The advice I still heed that helped meet the challenges of this project

Prakash: My belief is, "There is no shortcut to success. If you're looking for success, use the stairs." I would add: Venture outside your comfort zone and view every person you meet as a door that could lead you to a new opportunity. Show up early and think of yourself as a lifelong learner.

Kamen: Luckily, I've always had the chance to work with excellent professionals throughout my working life. I always try to learn from them. Focus on your goals. Learn all the time and carry on developing your skills. Expend the effort needed to do this. And never give up, even if making it to that next career step looks difficult at times.

I also studied emotional intelligence since controlling emotions is imperative when you work with people. When you work in an intense, often stressful, environment, it's easy to lose your balance. As a result, it's crucial to manage your personal feelings and not create tension within the team.

Gadi: I've always had opportunities to work with many different people. When I was first promoted to a manager level, my General Manager told me: "Don't forget - whatever you choose to do, do it in such a way you feel comfortable looking people in the eye. Treat people the way you want to be treated."

I've always tried and continue to live up to this standard. I think it's a really important model of leadership.

I also think that we all need to be adaptable and flexible. Life is complex! Enjoy the process and be resilient. For me, like with many things, my career began as something temporary. I took a temp job, but I found my true passion. And I'm still learning every day. 

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