Digital at STADA

Digital at STADA

Three forward-looking examples at STADA

The positive cultural change that took place at STADA last year is closely linked to developments in the context of increasing digitalization. STADA is regularly challenged by new customer requirements and demographic developments. In addition, technological innovations and changed working environments offer countless new opportunities. As a company, STADA needs an open and flexible perspective on the tasks ahead.

The available knowledge is already expanding astonishingly quickly and new information can be called up within a very short time. This trend will intensify in the coming years. In order to secure a successful future, it is particularly important that the STADA employees exchange their knowledge and experience within the Group and learn from each other.

Operational Excellence

Operational Excellence is the continuous and dynamic optimization of all processes and systems as a means of increasing efficiency in the company. We spoke with Jessica Schönborn, a member of the core international Operational Excellence team at STADA, about her work optimizing the efficiency of the STADA Group, conducting international webinars and the changes in the corporate culture.

The core Operational Excellence team at STADA is an international one (left to right): Alla Timoshkova (Russia), Lucie Kucerova (UK), Sean Bowler (Albrecht, Prock and Partner), Marina Radulovic (Serbia) and Jessica Schönborn (Germany).

What are you doing together with the core Operational Excellence team at STADA, Ms. Schönborn?

Operational Excellence (OpEx) has become increasingly important for many successful companies in recent years. There is a reason for this; the goal of Operational Excellence is to ensure the highest level of business performance. It can also be said that "what counts is being able to do something really well" and being able, "on your own" to ensure competitiveness and increase yields. What defines maximum performance is determined by the customers. In order to remain competitive, companies must constantly align all service areas with Operational Excellence in the interests of customer success. This means the constant and sustainable improvement of all processes and systems along the value chain from the point of view of efficiency and effectiveness.

Operational Excellence provides a comprehensive set of methods that is filled with a variety of options, such as Lean Management and Six Sigma. The decisive factors here are not which tools and methods are used, but rather the most important point is in the disciplined application of those tools and methods. This brings us to another important factor in Operational Excellence: the employees.

On the one hand, Operational Excellence can only be successfully implemented if the employees feel respected and motivated. On the other hand, the implementation of Operational Excellence provides a boost in staff motivation because nodes within the organization are removed. Decrepit processes and structures are smashed, and a dynamic process of continuous improvement is set in motion.

We on the STADA OpEx core team ensure that the concept of Operational Excellence is implemented. The focus of every one of us is to realize the transformation in the spirit of Operational Excellence at each respective site.

For example, my colleague Marina Radulovic started to transform the Hemofarm production site in Vrsac Serbia earlier this year and, together with the local team, is already in the implementation phase of various OpEx initiatives.

Lucie Kucerova, my colleague from Thornton & Ross in England, has already started the assessment phase for the Operational Excellence Transformation and will continue the process according to our OpEx structure,

which means that all of the organization's locations will gradually be transformed. I will take care of the transformation of the R&D division and support cultural change within the organization.

"STADA's culture should be based on four guiding principles in the future:
foresight, courage, perseverance and the idea of 'all for one and one for all."

It is particularly important to mention here that we want to set a good example as a team. We cannot expect anything from our colleagues that we do not implement ourselves. This is what we try to exemplify in our daily interactions, because in order to successfully initiate a cultural change it is important to not only talk about it but also do it. This is one of the guiding principles of Operational Excellence.

The foundation for successful implementation of the Operational Excellence method is the understanding and support of employees throughout the organization. How do you want to create the necessary conditions for this?

Operational Excellence is generally aligned with the overall strategy of a company, which not only concerns future products and markets, but also the definition of its employees' common values ​. STADA's culture is based on four guiding principles: foresight, courage, perseverance and the idea of 'all for one and one for all.'

I think that these four guiding principles complement the approach of Operational Excellence perfectly. On the one hand, Operational Excellence supports these cultural guidelines with philosophy and methods, and on the other, Operational Excellence needs the right mindset and right behavior of the employees to be successfully implemented.

Different techniques and principles of Operational Excellence substantiate the cultural change at STADA that is already underway. Special attention is also given (also for the core OpEx team) to good communication, a steady transfer of knowledge, good team work and the will to continuously improve. The creation of transparency is fundamental.

The core STADA OpEx team supports the culture change through various measures, which include, among other things, extensive interaction with Martina Hientz from Corporate Communications. She supports the improvement of internal communication not only with regard to Operational Excellence; some other important issues are the establishment of a global intranet and the implementation of an OpEx webinar series.

In this webinar series, we will also be supported by Mischa Dillmann from IT, who ensures that all employees in the group can watch the webinars live and actively participate in the chat window.

Our cross-departmental and cross-border cooperation is a great example of how a team pulls together to achieve something good for the company. Doing something and participating positively is an immense motivator. When that good work is then also rewarded with praise from colleagues and supervisors, that is often enough to keep people enthusiastic for the long term. That is why we propose a good example of Operational Excellence at each location every month, which will then be presented to the Executive Board and, hopefully, to the entire STADA Group.


What opportunities do you see in the increasing use of digitalization for the continuous improvement of existing processes through Operational Excellence?

I see the increasing use of digitalization as the foundation for continuous improvement of processes, because all decisions in this area are driven by numbers, data and facts. Each process is measured against an improvement and the current performance is determined and evaluated. This would not be possible without the support of digital tools.

Digitalization offers new opportunities to increase the efficiency and effectiveness as well as the transparency of value-added processes, and that's exactly what we need for the implementation of Operational Excellence.


How does digitalization affect your daily work today and what do you imagine the working environment will be like in the future?

I can no longer imagine my professional life without the benefits of digitalization. Everything is faster. Communication channels (no matter with whom) are simple and straightforward even across national borders. This, of course, also supports stronger international cooperation at STADA. In our core STADA OpEx team, this kind of international cooperation would not be possible without digitalization.

Even holding webinars would not be possible without company-wide digitalization. A few years ago I could have only dreamed of this kind of transfer of knowledge, but today it is reality. I also think that digitalization has positive aspects for the environment, for example when we think about a paperless workplace.

However, I think one negative of increasing digitalization is that people tend to have less personal contact with each other. People can often reach a decision more quickly in personal discussions than, for example, in a drawn-out exchange of emails.

I think we will find the right mix in the future: digitalization where it creates benefits, but personal exchanges should not be wholly replaced.

"I see the increasing use of digitalization as the foundation for continuous improvement of processes."

What experiences do you personally have with the rapid digital development?

Digitalization has of course also become an integral part of my private life. It does not matter if it's reading the daily newspaper on my tablet at breakfast or ordering everyday items on the Internet. In general, we are informed much better and faster than before,

but I also see the dangers. People always have their smartphones in their hands, are too preoccupied with them, and quickly forget everything else around them. Especially when it comes to children, I think a very disciplined and responsible use of digital media is important in order to be a role model. For this reason, I keep my smartphone in the kitchen in the evenings and on the weekends and only turn it on from time to time. It is not always easy, but it is also a very liberating feeling.

I think if excessive use of the smartphone leads to social impoverishment, then there is an urgent need to make a difference because digital media cannot replace social contact. I personally prefer to meet my friends in a café instead of chatting with and writing them. An emoji cannot convey a person's laughter as well as personal contact can – even though emojis are certainly the highest form of emotion expression in digitalization.

Digitalization of pharmacies

Apotheken Fachkreis is a digital initiative of STADA subsidiary ALIUD PHARMA® GmbH. This project is led by Digital Marketing Manager Steffen Nold. We talked to him about this pioneering project to help pharmacists with digitalization.

Steffen Nold (right), Digital Marketing Manager ALIUD PHARMA, at the presentation of the new digitalization concept for pharmacies.

Under Apotheken Fachkreis, you help pharmacists master the challenges of digitalization. What is the background of this initiative and what are the goals of ALIUD PHARMA, Mr. Nold?

ALIUD PHARMA published the first pharmacy report, which focuses in particular on the question of where German pharmacies are on the path to digitalization, in 2017.

The key findings show that digitalization offers many opportunities to pharmacies, but currently only one-third of the pharmacies actually use these advantages. Although digitalization is considered by almost all pharmacists to be an important driver, there is a clear discrepancy between private and professional use of the medium.

Pharmacists still feel lost in the jungle of digital opportunities. There are countless offers from many different providers, but they are very expensive, often require knowledge that is lacking, and take a lot of time. Online mail order pharmacies are also becoming increasingly important in the context of digitalization. Local pharmacies have important advantages, such as high level consulting skills and personal contact. Pharmacists must be open to digitalization in order to be able to offer these advantages to the customer in the future and continue to be successful. With the establishment of Apotheken Fachkreis, ALIUD PHARMA aims to support pharmacists in overcoming the challenges of digitalization and procuring good locations for pharmacists.


What concrete measures do you offer pharmacists?

With the Apotheken Fachkreis initiative, we are there to prepare local pharmacies for digitalization, make their expertise with customers also apparent outside the pharmacy walls and to develop a clear competitive advantage over the competition. We offer an app for service and advice, individualized websites, newsletters and know-how for this.

The service and advice app contains up-to-date health information and lifestyle topics as well as multilingual application videos and checklists that provide fresh and informative advice in the pharmacy. The app can also showcase a pharmacy's services and offers, and there is a location-based search function for pharmacies that customers can contact in an emergency. The app helps pharmacists visually and interactively by assisting patient consultations with digital media. This allows the pharmacy to offer a special service experience and positions it in a contemporary way.

ALIUD PHARMA also offers the creation of an individual website for pharmacies within the scope of the Apotheken Fachkreis, enabling pharmacies to reach their customers outside of its walls and strengthen customer relationships. It can also help create newsletters quickly and easily to email customers with information about promotions, events and news. Another important measure to avoid overburdening many pharmacists with the challenges of digitalization is the provision of the necessary know-how. Apotheken Fachkreis teaches skills for digital communication in its own workshop series "APOTHEKEN.ZUKUNFT – Stärken sichtbar machen" [FUTURE PHARMACY - Making strengths visible]. Steffen Kuhnert, pharmacist and health entrepreneur, talks about, among other things, the possibilities of using social media and building strong and lasting customer relationships.

There is also the Digital Marketing Campus training program, which trains PTAs (pharmaceutical technical assistants) and PCAs (pharmaceutical commercial assistants) to be digital pharmacy marketing managers. Further information can be found at


What are the opportunities for local pharmacies?

Pharmacies can demonstrate their core skills outside the pharmacy as well and, for example, stay in contact with their customers through their own website or interesting newsletters using digital media. Setting up online shops and the ability to communicate with customers in chat forums or online office hours create clear advantages for brick and mortar pharmacies compared with their competitors on the Internet.


How does digitalization affect your daily work and what do you imagine your future working environment will be like?

Digitalization does not just mean the use of digital processes and tools, but also an open and modern corporate culture. Open doors, regular management updates and marketing newsletters, cross-departmental projects with the use of digital project management tools and a blog by CEO Ingrid Blumenthal about her social commitment in Nepal are just a few examples. One goal for the future should be that all employees can work in an atmosphere that allows creativity and innovation. I also think that sooner or later the work will not necessarily have to be performed in a fixed location at given times, but will be increasingly flexible. The company needs to be developed into a multifunctional environment with a range of health, entertainment and creative offers.


What experiences do you personally have with the rapid digital development?

Unfortunately, I devote too much time to my smartphone – in the morning the first glimpse at my phone is to view the status updates on Instagram and Twitter. Then Alexa tells me about today's weather and the latest news. I use my smartwatch to always stay informed during the day. I also work on my own blog ( on digitalization in healthcare. Unfortunately, it's been a while since I have managed to write a new post. Permanent accessibility seems to almost be a "must" these days in to keep in touch with the outside world and stay informed.

#HealthChecker digital campaign

The #HealthChecker campaign, which was part of STADA's "Alles Gute" initiative, was extremely successful. We discussed the campaign with Stefanie Dölz, who works in the Corporate Communications department of STADA Arzneimittel AG and is responsible, among other things, for strategic online communication, social media channels and the STADA website.

The award-winning #HealthChecker online campaign provides young people with health information in an entertaining way, such as with this test: "Schlank trotz Schoki! Aber wie?" [Slim despite chocolate! But how?].STADA started the "Alles Gute" initiative back in 2014. What were its goals?

The goal of the "Alles Gute" initiative, which is headed by Christian Goertz, is to promote people's health and well-being. We as a healthcare company want to offer helpful information and tips to help people master everyday needs and deal responsibly with their most important asset, their health. The heart of the "Alles Gute" initiative is the annual health report, which is based on representative studies.

Which results of the health report from 2017 are particularly significant?

In 2017, the study focused on the health literacy of young adults. Two thousand 18 to 24 year-olds were asked about their health knowledge in Germany. What happens to the body when there is a lack of sleep?? How long do you have to walk to burn off the calories from a bar of chocolate? What are some sexually transmitted diseases?

We wanted to know all of these answers from the 18 to 24 year olds. The result was concerning, because around two-thirds of young adults have insufficient health literacy. They are in the dark when it comes to basic health issues.

The reaction to these results is the #HealthChecker. What are the specifics of this campaign?

Once we had the results of the study, we teamed up to confront the young adults directly with this subject and therefore make a contribution to communicating health knowledge to young adults. The #HealthChecker digital campaign emerged from this idea, and the website is a central element of the campaign. The users can click through numerous questions about the topic of health and test their knowledge there in a fun way. With useful background information after each question, the campaign has not only tapped into the target group's enthusiasm for quizzes, but it has also conveyed interesting facts and subtly interwoven them into the general questions. In addition, we have also roused the 18-24-year-olds' interest in the subject matter on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. It was important to have a healthy dose of humor and appealing imagery. We reached around 4 million adolescents and young adults with the knowledge test and the social media campaign.

The campaign also received a Silver Award at the German Award for Online Communication, which we were of course very happy about.

What opportunities do you see in digitalization for health education?

The digital health developments in recent years are absolutely incredible. Digitalization is a term that I know is a lot more than just the googling of diseases or treatment by a doctor through the Internet. For example, digitalization to me also means collecting and merging health data in order to make diagnoses much more accurate, customized and timely in the future. In fact, I consider the whole field of artificial intelligence to be part of digitalization. Being operated on by robots or scanned for cysts while lying in the bathtub is not an idea from a science fiction novel, it's already a reality.

I am convinced that technological innovation and digitalization will improve health worldwide. On the other hand, this also means a high level of personal responsibility and good health literacy of the patients so that they can deal with the new possibilities and information. As a healthcare company, we would like to make our contribution here and communicate knowledge.

How does digitalization affect your daily work and what do you imagine the working environment will be like in the future?

We already work in a team with many digital tools that make our work much easier, be it Skype calls with international colleagues or digital to-do lists in which we work together as a group on projects. However, a paperless workplace is still not a reality for us yet. For me, digitalization in the working environment also means new thinking based on flat hierarchies, collaboration and the transfer of knowledge.

What experiences do you personally have with the rapid digital development?

I see clear advantages and conveniences through digitalization in my everyday life. It starts with the Whats App group with my family, which we use to participate in each other's everyday life. I do, however, make an exception with my two-year-old son. When we spend time together, I put the smartphone aside and devote all my attention to him.


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