Thermo Fisher: Supplying a Healthier, Cleaner, Safer World

By Rhys Thomas
Thermo Fisher has transformed its supply chain to emerge more agile, resilient and collaborative from a period of acute industry-wide disruption

With a mission to “make the world healthier, cleaner and safer”, Thermo Fisher is a key supplier to the life sciences industry and a close collaborator with the field’s leading organisations. Christine Callahan, Vice President of Global Supply Chain, Life Science Solutions, who joined Thermo Fisher amid the early waves of COVID-19, is spearheading a transformation of the firm’s supply chain to be more resilient, agile and proactive in supporting its clients’ needs during a period of unprecedented growth and turbulence. 

“We are moving away from PO-based and transactional relationships to true partnerships, true collaboration with more transparency,” says Callahan. “We've had to think more about optionality and resiliency than ever. Instead of having one supplier, we might have three or four on a particular component so that we can have optionality for every customer and, frankly, to give the suppliers a chance to catch up with demand.”

Pharmaceutical innovator Alvotech is a key customer and close partner that epitomises this new mindset for Thermo Fisher, says Callahan: “Alvotech is a very key customer and partner for us, and we want to continue to earn their business and grow with them as they grow.”

During the turbulence caused not just by COVID-19, but by extreme weather and geopolitical uncertainty, “there have been some real challenges,” Callahan adds. “It has not been simple and straightforward, so we've been working extremely collaboratively with Alvotech. I’m really proud of our teams’ commitment to them, and our urgency with solving their problems,” she says. “And given that they’re such a great partner, innovating and collaborating with someone so receptive and supportive helps the overall synergy in the solution.”

Lessons learned and innovation borne out of the pandemic have galvanised a more resilient and agile Thermo Fisher. It is an organisation that has been strengthened by solving problems during this period of acute demand, and which will emerge stronger for it. Callahan says it has been the “silver lining” of the past two years.

“We certainly weren’t prepared in the way that we've now learned that we can and should be, and going forward will be,” says Callahan. “I think the pandemic has certainly had a silver lining in all that it has really driven us to different levels of resiliency and robustness. Our biggest challenge truly is transforming our supply chain. We have lots of great plans in place, we’re expanding our factories, we've been hiring more colleagues, and we've been improving our processes, really leaning in digital to be more effective and efficient and enable that transparency and that collaboration that we need.”

Thermo Fisher will continue to innovate to meet the growing demands of its partners. 

“We’re undergoing a real paradigm shift in the thinking, and we’ve always been conscious of supply chain continuity and resiliency,” Callahan says. “In this space, you have to be caring about that in a growth environment, but most importantly, our end customers are patients and we need to be there for them. We can't ever let our customers down.”

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