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Keeping a Positive Spirit During the Ultimate Disruption

A Message from Takeda CEO Christophe Weber

March 30, 2020


Dear Takeda Colleagues,

Just 12 weeks after the first reports of COVID-19, the coronavirus is changing how we work, live and learn: schools are closing, travels and events have been canceled, and many of us are working from home. There is also uncertainty about the health and safety of our families, friends, and loved ones; about the impact on the livelihood of many people. I hope you and your families are keeping well and safe.

During these unprecedented times, I want to thank everyone for their dedication and commitment. I’m so proud of how we’ve come together and shown resilience in every part of the organization.

I’d also like to give special thanks to our Global Crisis Management Committee. They’ve done a fantastic job helping us navigate through this situation and keeping everyone informed with timely updates. Please read the most recent guidance, which gives a comprehensive overview of today’s situation.

While I know everyone at Takeda is working very hard to ensure there is no disruption to patients who rely on our medicine, a special mention must go to our colleagues in our manufacturing, plasma collections sites and labs. Your commitment means we can continue supplying patients with our life-saving medicines, which is our obligation and moral duty as a health care company. We’re making sure these colleagues have the safest possible working environment and every support they need during these challenging times.

One of the potentially life-saving medicines we’re working on is TAK-888, an anti-SARS-CoV-2 polyclonal hyperimmune globulin (H-IG) candidate that could be a new treatment for high-risk individuals with COVID-19. And I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish so far with this effort in these extraordinary circumstances.

Life has changed significantly for most of us over the past two months – including me. I was already doing partial teleworking and social distancing in Tokyo when I went to Boston in early March. As the COVID-19 situation suddenly accelerated, my wife and I were abroad, my two children’s boarding school and university closed, borders were shut down, and quarantines were imposed. For me, this prompted an earlier-than-planned trip back to Japan in a flight full of Japanese students returning home. Since then, I have self-quarantined for 14 days (eleven days done…yes!). My wife and son joined me soon after, while my daughter is happy to remain in Boston continuing her studies online.

Like many of you, this is a “new normal” for me. But frankly, I’m feeling upbeat, positive and have a lot of energy. I’m embracing the challenge to lead Takeda to success in this new environment. And I can assure you the entire TET1 feels the same way.

I completely understand, however, that changing daily lives and routines can be overwhelming. I want you to know that you can count on Takeda to be here for you and your family whenever you need support.

Many of you are already connecting with colleagues virtually to share coping strategies. Socializing like this is good for our emotional well-being, so please keep it up. It’s this spirit of one Takeda that will help make us stronger and more resilient in the weeks and months ahead.

I wanted to share with you some of the “defensive” measures that have helped me adjust. You surely have developed your own:

  • Don’t spend hours reading or listening to the news. Only consult reliable sources. You’ve received guidance on what we consider as reliable in our latest update.
  • Find a new work-life balance routine. It took me a few days. After 20 hours of consecutive WebEx sessions, I had to step back and impose a few rules – regular breaks and exercise, helping with chores at home, calling colleagues more often on FaceTime.
  • Find ways to maintain our business momentum. Instead of postponing or cancelling, keep reinventing. We’re holding our Takeda Leadership Conference2 virtually, for example. Being creative will help build new skills that will serve us well after the crisis has passed. The TET is also finding new ways to communicate – our TET meeting next week will be done over WebEx. And all of us have gone through training on how to engage in a virtual setting using emojis – an exercise where everyone got quite creative!
  • Enjoy the little pleasures. Yesterday, we transformed our kitchen table into a mini ping pong table. We haven’t played for over four years – it was great to switch off for a bit.
  • Avoid spiraling into negative thinking. It’s my job to think about Takeda 24/7 – and I do. In times of disruption, however, we shouldn’t dwell on potential “doomsday” scenarios. Let’s be realistic and focus on what we can control. Stress can be a good thing if you use it well. Think about a time when you experienced substantial personal or professional growth - those times invariably involved some stress or struggle.
  • Consider how you can help your local community. We have seen some amazing sights around the world of nations coming together to applaud frontline workers and light up their buildings to show support. Takeda is doing what we can to support the health care system with much needed medical supplies, and donations to relief agencies.

Takeda is a strong company with a bright future and I’m looking forward to disclosing our 2019 results and 2020 guidance on May 13. Because of the current economic situation, we don’t believe our share price reflects our business fundamentals, so please take a few moments to listen to Costa’s podcast3 to learn more about our financial situation.

This crisis will be remembered as happening once in a hundred years and I’m convinced we’ll look back and say: we were there and we prevailed! The resilience we show now will serve us well in the future too.

Thanks again to everyone. I’ll see you during the TET webcast4 on April 1, when I look forward to taking your questions. In the meantime, please feel free to write to me and let me know how you’re doing.

With my best wishes,
Christophe

1 TET: Takeda Executive Team

2 Takeda Leadership Conference: Takeda’s annual meeting when we bring our top 300 leaders across the world together

3 Costa Saroukos, Takeda’s Chief Financial Officer

4 TET webcast: an all employee global webcast