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ASEAN youth leaders learn to solve real-world healthcare challenges with MSD

December 8, 2022

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MSD ASEAN youth leaders

ASEAN Youth Leaders from Singapore Polytechnic, National University Management of Cambodia, Muhammadiyah University of Makassar, Politeknik Negeri Ujung Pandang, King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok experienced a two-week special learning journey curated by the Experience Design team, Human Health’s External Affairs, Policy & Communication team, and the Asia Pacific Regional Office’s Policy Team, as part of the One MSD efforts to nurture the next generation of youth leaders to solve real-world healthcare challenges.

Molding the leaders of tomorrow

MSD was the anchor industry partner to an ASEAN youth leadership exchange called the Temasek Foundation Specialist Community Action Leadership Exchange (TF-SCALE), organized by Singapore Polytechnic and funded by Temasek Foundation. The TF SCALE is a four-week leadership exchange program for students from polytechnics, technical and vocational education as well as training colleges within the ASEAN region.

The first two weeks were hosted by Singapore while the respective ASEAN countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand) will play host for the other two weeks. This program aims to provide a unique cross-cultural learning opportunity to some 120 student-leaders aged between 17 and 25 years old.  Also, through this program participants are given exposure to regional economic and community issues, and they are invited to be part of various projects to apply their practical, technological, and research skills in the community’s social innovation projects.

This industry partnership is made possible through ONE MSD Team effort that is made up of members from the MSD Human Health, IT hub, and the Asia Pacific Regional Office. The MSD Human Health initiated this partnership and was the owner of the industry problem statement. IT Hub’s Experience Design Team was instrumental in integrating Singapore Polytechnic TF SCALE program team and MSD’s Eagle Framework into Singapore Polytechnic’s existing design thinking to help with the industry problem statement.  IT hub’s partnership team supported the facilitation of the special learning journey in the MYP Centre. Together as ONE MSD, more than 20 colleagues across the three divisions, including leaders such as Julie Olszewski, Singapore IT hub Executive Director, and Pang Lai-Li, Managing Director, were involved in hosting the students at MYP Centre, giving them a better understanding of MSD as a company dedicated to patients and sharing career advice in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Solving real-world problems using design thinking

Through this meaningful collaboration and partnership, the youth were put to test as they were asked to tackle real-world healthcare issues in a group assignment. The session started with an introduction to MSD, its vision and purpose, and its ongoing mission, as this was the first time these participants heard about the company. A key highlight in this segment was the full-day workshop that was led by Pranav Joshi, Experience Design Strategy Lead. This session aimed to guide the participants to use a design thinking journey that enables influential approaches to increase awareness of preventable diseases and vaccines. This approach had to be targeted to the vulnerable groups in Singapore and participants also had to address potential barriers that may deter vaccination access to these vulnerable groups. The session inspired the teams to create an impact on their communities and societies using design thinking journeys and real-life stories. The youth also got to experience play in this program. They underwent a hands-on exercise to test out a preventive health card game, which was an outcome of the design thinking journey they went through.

The final day was memorable for all participants including the ONE MSD team as everyone got to see the fruits of their labor. All participants had the opportunity to share their outcomes. It was an amazing showcase of concepts and solutions to create awareness of preventable diseases and vaccines among vulnerable groups in Singapore. The session was also graced by Joyce Tan, Community Health Team from the Singapore Cancer Society who was very impressed by the passion demonstrated by these changemakers through their presentations. The groups also pushed their boundaries despite cultural differences to tap into each other’s strengths and creativity with the aim to showcase their respective prototypes that best work within the community and society. They used cardboard to mock up their phone applications, YouTube campaigns, carnival games, in-bus advertisements, and more.

 Learning journey to MYP Centre

The learning journey at MYP Centre was another enriching experience gained by the students. IT Hub’s Partnership Team designed a special amazing race for them to explore MSD offices across the different floors of MYP Centre, as they tried to solve puzzles and clues that lead to a better understanding of the company. Special thanks to Pranav – UX / IT Hub, Khoo Yivonn – Medical Affairs / GMSA, Tabitha Ang – Communications / HH, Eileen Goh – Vaccines Customer Value Manager / HH, Winnie Ng – Vaccines Product Manager / HH, Shanisca Yee – Tender Manager cum Pricing Lead / HH, Owen Tan – Market Access & Policy Manager / HH, Ling Jia Ying – Oncology Product Manager to make this amazing race a success. The students also got the opportunity to meet in person and chat with the company’s senior leaders and community partners such as RSVP Singapore and Singapore Cancer Society and gain deeper insights into the needs of the identified vulnerable group to solve the problem statement.

What the participants had to say

“I originally thought that as a pharmaceutical company, I expected everyone to be in lab coats, but it turns out that there are so many different functions that go behind the scenes of a pharmaceutical product. One of which was interesting to me was the User Experience where the team showed us how to empathize with the users and how to observe them while they are using an interface.”                                                                        Shaik Umar Farook, Singapore Polytechnic 

“MSD offered so much more than we could ever imagine from an industry partner. We are truly grateful for MSD’s passion to provide such a wonderful learning opportunity to our youths. The desire to engage and create meaningful exposure to the next generation in the industry is truly felt by our team and the students. We can really see the extra effort that MSD’s team across divisions has put in to ensure a meaningful experience and the support shown by the senior leaders whom we met. We value this great partnership to bring such real and relevant learning to our students. We look forward to working with the regional team to continue the 2nd leg of this partnership as the students travel out to the ASEAN countries in 2023.” Wee Eng Soon, Chief Program Coordinator from Singapore Polytechnic International

“I was really encouraged by our colleagues for dedicating their time to share their valuable experiences with the youths, spending close to 4 hours across many sessions to meet all 120 students in small groups. It was my first time listening to many of them sharing about what drives them in what they do in MSD. I am equally inspired by the students who became fanboys and girls with many of our colleagues. It strengthens my belief in our company’s mission and so proud to be part of the one MSD team that consists of many amazing individuals that share the same passion to save and improve lives for our patients.”            Cindy Chng, Associate Director, Market Access

Weaving our purpose into the next generation

MSD places great importance on engaging and inspiring youths as our investment into the future. It is critical to help the leaders of tomorrow understand what the biopharmaceutical industry is about, giving them information on the expertise within the industry through interactive activities and sharing our approach to solving complex real-life pharmaceutical challenges. Therefore, imparting our knowledge and experience to youths is one of our key priorities – demonstrating value to our stakeholders and extending access to solutions that address unmet medical needs. As one MSD, we continue to explore more similar partnerships and opportunities in the future. MSD believes in giving today’s youths the impetus to make a difference in the community.

SG-HPV-00342 Dec/2022