The Jan Twomey story — Empowering and connecting

Up Close and Personal with Jan Twomey, MD, Medical Director, Takeda Oceania



Earlier this year Jan had a big decision to make. In her early 60s, she could leave pharma and pursue her dream to join the crew on the Mercy ship – serving patients in need around Africa - or stay with Takeda through their transition and lead the Medical team for Oceania. She chose to stay and here’s why. 
 
“It gives me a lot of pleasure helping my team to be happy and thrive,” says Jan.  Jan was raised to really think about society and people. Her father encouraged vigorous debate, pushing Jan to defend her beliefs and statements. As a child of the 70’s, Jan was on a mission to change the world and started by fighting for women’s rights.  
 
When she left school, she auditioned for drama school. When they “failed to see her potential,” as Jan puts it, she pursued an arts degree in Drama, English and Philosophy. When it became clear to her that she would be washing a lot of dishes and waiting on a lot of tables while pursuing her dream to be an actor, she became a teacher, but found it wasn’t for her.
 
Teaching Drama to grade nine students was less than rewarding, it was downright frustrating. She found a more attentive audience when she moved to a role with Family Planning Australia teaching sex education/relationships/contraception. She loved writing and took over editing their pamphlets, which meant she had to learn about the science. This is when she discovered she loved science!  
 
She went back to school to do her high school science courses and applied to a hospital for a role of Peer Review Coordinator. She sensed the interview was going nowhere fast until the last question. “What do you do in your spare time?” he asked. “Sing,” she replied. And the interviewer leaned in. He was a musician and she got the job! Who knew that thanks to her singing she was one step closer to becoming a doctor!  
 
After watching the doctors in the hospital, Jan decided she wanted to do that too! That interviewer became her mentor and was her referee for her successful application to Medicine as a mature age student.  She trained in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, coming full circle back to the role teaching sexual health that first piqued her interest in science! 
 
Jan never got over the joy of seeing babies born. But once her third and fourth children entered the picture, she couldn’t handle the hours. Through a friend, she discovered a role in clinical trials and realised what fun clinical research was. This led to a job in pharma as a medical director. She served 13 years in various senior roles in Medical Affairs, before she retired – for the first time. She had a lovely break; singing, walking and blogging about her walking.  
 
And then the phone rang. A colleague called her. He was now GM for Takeda Australia. He asked her to come back to work as Medical Director and she couldn’t resist. She loves the PTRB (Patient, Trust, Reputation, Business) decision-making priorities of Takeda and is excited about nurturing this culture in her team. 
 
She knows that the role in medical is far beyond simply being an expert in the science. That is just the price of admission. Her role is to empower her team to connect with the difference they can make in the world for patients. When they are driven by their purpose, she knows that they will be happier and do better work. They will thrive! Patients win, the employees win, the doctors win and Takeda wins. Jan wanted to be a part of that equation. She constantly challenges her team to think ‘what does it mean for the patient’.  
 
Jan’s children are now 41, 39 and 23 and 21. She has 4 grandchildren. As her LinkedIn profile says, she is “Working in an area I love, for a great company. Who could ask for more?” We want her fire of purpose to rub off onto others! And are grateful that Jan is sharing her wisdom and skills to help propel our movement to patient centricity through her purpose-driven work at Takeda.  
 
 

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