Friday, May 24, 2024

Executive Q&A: Unveiling the Insights Behind the Expansion into Costa Rica with Donnelle LaDouceur

Intego Clinical’s recent expansion into Costa Rica marks a pivotal moment in the company’s growth trajectory, underscoring a strategic shift in the pharmaceutical industry’s approach to global operations. In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Donnelle LaDouceur, Director of Operational Excellence at Intego Clinical, sheds light on the key factors driving the expansion, the meticulous planning behind the transition process, and the broader implications for the company’s future growth trajectory.  

Question: What key factors influenced you opening a new location in Costa Rica when so many organizations are going to work-from-home environments?  

Answer: Costa Rica is the perfect location for our expansion, with factors that included a strategic blend of time zone synchronization and cost-effectiveness that directly benefits our pharmaceutical clients. Unlike traditional lower-cost regions, Costa Rica has better alignment with US-based client teams, particularly those situated on the West Coast—an area historically challenging to support internationally.  

Costa Rica’s life sciences hub is slowly starting to grow, but with few local existing resources to tap into, a work-from-home scenario proved to be less than ideal. Intego Clinical is known for its proven expertise in training and mentoring talent, and we love nurturing new professionals. In fact, 65 percent of our current team came from one of our global training programs.  

Additionally, we have a supportive environment where senior-level resources actively mentor and guide newer colleagues on a daily basis. This necessitates a “boots on the ground” approach to ensure that our quality, culture, and communication standards remain at peak levels. 

Question: What steps have been taken to ensure a smooth transition and integration of the new office into Intego Clinical’s operations? 

Answer: The seamless integration of our new Costa Rican office into Intego Clinical’s operations is a testament to our meticulous planning, leadership, and strategic foresight. I helped spearhead this endeavor alongside our Director of Biometrics, Iryna Kotenko. Drawing upon our shared experience in establishing our Ukraine statistical programming team many years ago, we knew what it took to navigate the challenges of creating a new team in a new country.  

Luckily, our training programs are known for being easily transferable across regions. This combined with guidance from local Costa Rican attorneys, CINDE, and our newly appointed Costa Rica Branch Manager and Associate Director of Client Engagements, Isaac Solis, gives us a solid foundation for success.  

For strong hands-on technical support, one of our Principal Programmers from our Ukraine offices has relocated to Costa Rica to provide technical guidance and help grow our local Costa Rican team members to roles of increasing responsibility and leadership.  

Question: What impact does the opening of this office have on the local economy or community? 

Answer: This presents a significant opportunity for the local economy and community, as many graduates with technical and analytic backgrounds have not had many options other than lower complexity shared services. Intego Clinical’s presence introduces a new avenue for them. By offering roles that allow individuals to apply their skills towards patient care and the development of innovative therapies, we provide a motivating prospect for both our current team and prospective candidates, irrespective of their location. 

Strategically situated just a few blocks away from a major university, our office location facilitates seamless access for students. This proximity enables them to fulfill their academic requirements while also easily engaging with our office, fostering new collaboration and knowledge exchange between local academia and industry. 

Question: What feedback have you received so far from pharmaceutical companies (clients) that this region will support?  

Answer: Everyone is excited! Our pharmaceutical clients have expressed a great amount of enthusiasm towards the addition of our team in Costa Rica to our global network of statistical programming, data management, biostatistics, and CDISC migration experts. By expanding our global footprint, Intego is better positioned to optimize support for their global project teams, and this has garnered numerous positive reactions as of late.  

The initial cohort of hires in Costa Rica has already begun working and are making meaningful contributions to client project work as we speak. Regular communication and check-ins have yielded exclusively positive feedback thus far, with clients particularly excited about the enhanced capabilities and opportunities this expansion brings to our partnership. 

Question: Are there any specific partnerships or collaborations planned with local organizations or institutions? 

Answer: Building strong partnerships with academic institutions has always been a cornerstone of Intego’s growth and talent development initiatives. This tradition began with our collaboration with Karazin University in Kharkiv, Ukraine, followed by partnerships with UCF in the Orlando, Florida area. In Costa Rica, we’ve begun establishing key relationships, primarily within mathematics, statistics, and actuarial departments at various universities and hope to announce those soon. 

This year, the University of Costa Rica is hosting the 8th annual Latin American Conference on Statistical Computing, and Intego will proudly support the event as a sponsor for the first time. For us, this marks a significant milestone in our commitment to fostering collaboration within the local academic and professional community. 

Question: How does the new office fit into the company’s broader expansion plans or growth trajectory? 

Answer: We have proactively adapted to market dynamics, leveraging client feedback, industry trends, and global events such as the pandemic and geopolitical shifts like the war in Ukraine. This adaptive approach has guided our strategic expansion efforts and kept our growth at strong levels.

Note: Costa Rica does not recognize Daylight Savings Time (from mid-March to October, the time is the same as Mountain Standard Time). 

As I’ve said prior, Latin America represents a largely untapped market for biometrics support, which prompted thorough research into our expansion. Among several options, Costa Rica emerged as the optimal choice, and as we look to future growth prospects, no market is out of the realm of possibility as long as it is helpful to the evolving needs of our biometrics clients.

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