Mon, 02/24/2020 - 10:14

Good managers care not only about their company's success and profits, but also about its positive impact on society and employees. Zoya Paunova, Marketing Company President of AstraZeneca Bulgaria, is a case in point.

Zoya Paunova.jpg

A graduate in pharmacy from Sofia Medical Academy and a professional with over 25 years of experience in the field, she is the gentle leader of one of Bulgaria's most innovative and successful pharmaceutical companies. Zoya Paunova is also an honorable consul of Sweden to Bulgaria, former Chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of the Research-Based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers in Bulgaria and of the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum, and a member of the board of experts of Teach for Bulgaria Foundation.

AstraZeneca has been on the Bulgarian market for more than 45 years. How did the company evolve in this period?

The company stepped initially in Bulgaria almost 50 years ago as Imperial Chemical industry (ICI). Following a number of global transformations, AstraZeneca was founded in 1999 through the merger of the Swedish Astra AB and the British Zeneca Group (former pharmaceutical operations of ICI). AstraZeneca opened its own representative office in Bulgaria in 1999 with a portfolio that was mainly focused on hospital care and cancer hormonal therapy and rated behind the top 20 companies in the country. Through significant investments in research and development, especially in the last 7 years after Pascal Soriot took the helm as CEO, AstraZeneca revitalized its portfolio of products for major disease areas including cancer, cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory and inflammation. We have done our best to ensure that Bulgarian patients have access to our innovative medicines. The Bulgarian organization evolved and matured as our portfolio did. А number of launches of innovative products rated AstraZeneca 7th amongst pharma corporations in Bulgaria and the good organizational health confirmed its place amongst preferred employers.

What is AstraZeneca mission in modern Bulgaria? What do you strive to achieve?

Our mission is to improve the quality and prolong the life of 500,000 patients through bringing our innovative solutions to those suffering of cardiometabolic, renal, respiratory and oncological diseases and our dream is to eliminate cancer as a cause of death. Our best efforts are directed towards foundation of a long expected and well-deserved patient-centric healthcare ecosystem. It gives us a reason to come to work every day. It reminds us why we are part of that company.

In what current fields of pharmaceutics focuses AstraZeneca? What to expect from the company in the near future?

We have an exciting and balanced pipeline underpinned by innovation and great science. AstraZeneca partnerships with academic groups and institutions helped us to build bridges and to work collectively toward a goal that no single organization can achieve alone. Advancement in implementation of artificial intelligence, optimization and automatization of analysis interpretation of big data improved our understanding of pathophysiological processes that precede development of cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis, renal and heart failure, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We believe the best way to help patients is to focus on breakthrough science to discover these mechanisms and develop novel, targeted therapies that interact with them. This is a critical step towards improved disease prevention, management and even cure. We believe that our breakthrough solutions will make the patients experience real turnaround in their health. Further developments of precision medicine will soon enable administering of specific treatments to subgroups of patients with particular biological signatures and will transform their diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.

The future of treatment for many of today's diseases lies in uncovering mechanisms that are newly emerging or are yet to be discovered. Our focus is on the following: Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolism; Oncology; Respiratory, Inflammation and Autoimmunity; Infection and Neuroscience.

What is the target of the company's social initiatives?

We believe there is a strong connection between the health of our business, people and the planet; each of these components impacts the others. We have built our social responsibility strategy around the three pillars at the heart of our work – Access to Healthcare, Better Education and Environmental Protection. We promote disease prevention in our community and support our patients regardless of the barriers they may face. Our approach to environment is directed to prevent the onset of or detect as early as possible certain diseases and improve health outcomes. If I have to define our social responsibility program in one word, it is sustainability: investment in a screening program for breast cancer started more than 20 years ago and recently we committed to support lung cancer screening in Bulgaria, partnering with Bulgarian scientific societies and patient organizations in educational initiatives toward society and patients, compassionate disease management programs, support for Onconavigator project (a manual that supports cancer sufferers and their families), partnership with Teach For All, Teach For Bulgaria to promote equal access to quality education. AstraZeneca's forest initiative started from Bulgaria and scaled up to global level with commitment to plant 50 million trees worldwide in the next 5 years. And this is just a short list of AstraZeneca Bulgaria deliverables to our society.

What is being the CEO of a company of such a scale and importance? What is your advantage of being a woman?

The position sets clear expectations and responsibilities that you have to embrace, namely: Be a bold leader who establishes impact-driven, clearly framed, targeted, measurable and time-bound goals and inspires your team to deliver and go beyond the commitment. The passion, intrinsic to woman's nature, empowers me to foster my team to convert the challenges of the environment we are operating in into opportunities that create sustainable positive approach uniting winning spirit.


Sofia, 36 Dragan Tsankov Blvd, office 801

phone: 02 44 55 000


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