In the twelfth of our series of interviews with healthcare industry professionals, Gill Davies, General Manager of biosurgical company ZooBiotic, talks to On Target about her working life.
Who are your target customers? How do you reach them?
Our target customers are predominantly specialist nurses who deal with wound care. That varies from area to area, but primarily it’s the tissue viability nurse, whether in the hospital or in the community.
Podiatry is probably the next target customer. As diabetes increases at a rate of 7–10% per year, there is a greater occurrence of diabetic foot ulcers that may go on to require amputation. This has a massive impact on the patient’s life as well as on NHS costs, and the application of our products may reduce this requirement.
We do not have a sales force: we have nurse advisors. In our three-year commercial history, we have gone from having three clinical nurse advisors for the UK and Northern Ireland to having nine.
More and more, we are contacted by GPs who are treating patients with long-term wound care needs. They have read about us and would like us to send a nurse advisor to help. So our business is driving into the community, which is clearly a crucial role for us: to stop wounds deteriorating before referral to secondary care becomes inevitable.
That is how we reach our customers, and it’s always requested by them: our customer base dictates our activity. The nurse team run large and small workshops on the request of customers, and attend both national and international wound care conferences where they meet new customers and network with our existing customer base.
“Wound care specialists worldwide are looking for a rapid method of debridement (wound cleaning) that keeps the patient out of hospital. That’s where maggots come into their own.”
What happens in your typical working week? What challenges do you face?
I’m generally split between Head Office and visiting key customers, which is crucial for me to keep a handle on what the market is doing and what our customer base needs. When I’m at Head Office, I manage the team there and oversee a multitude of projects. My biggest challenge is a balancing act: prioritising what I’m going to do and when I need to do it, bringing people who are at number 5 on my priority list to number 1.
Then there’s the routine of dealing with e-mails and phone calls. As we are one of very few companies worldwide that produce maggots of medicinal quality, we draw a lot of attention. The BioFOAM dressing that we produce has been recognised on a worldwide scale as probably the best method of delivery. Wound care specialists worldwide are looking for a rapid method of debridement (wound cleaning) that keeps the patient out of hospital. That’s where maggots come into their own.
I also manage the sales and marketing function and have a very good office-based team who support me. We develop new literature and deal with creative agencies. I attend wound-focused study days and conferences, which give me opportunities to network and look at what the competition is doing as well as seek collaboration opportunities. We’ve had a number of large wound care companies approach us to form partnerships, but it’s very important for us at the moment to remain focused on what we’re doing as a small company and get that absolutely right.
Since we’re an SME, I liaise with the Welsh Assembly Government as well as International Business Wales, who are affiliated to the WAG and are a tremendous support for us. We are a flagship company as far as they are concerned, as we are a spinout from the local NHS and have a unique product. I also spend a lot of time working with our R&D Director and our Regulatory Quality Decisions Manager to explore new product opportunities as they are presented to us.
Although we’re a small team of 26 and growing, all ZooBiotic staff are very dedicated to the business. We have what is perceived to be this scrawny little product, but everybody loves working with larvae and is passionate about the company growing and continuing to move forward.
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