A pharmacist by training and an MBA graduate, Charles Milliard joined the Professional Services team of the Uniprix Group in 2002. Today as executive vice-president of the company, which has more than 100 head office employees, four banners, and 375 stores across Quebec, Charles oversees professional affairs, IT, merchandising and more.
Education: Laval University (Pharmacy), HEC Montréal (MBA)
Current role: Executive Vice-President, Uniprix Inc., Montréal
What legacy would you like to leave to the pharmacy profession? What is most important to you as a pharmacist?
The expanded role of pharmacists is offering exciting opportunities for our profession across the country. In Quebec, however, we are somewhat lagging behind other provinces. We need to strengthen our position, and I want to be part of that advancement. Three years ago, for example, expanded scope was approved in the province, but it is only just now being implemented. The resulting new landscape will completely change the face of pharmacy in Quebec. The change we experience will be exponential.
What tips do you have for pharmacists in Quebec looking to provide the best quality service to their patients?
Get interested in how things are done outside our borders. We can sometimes be insular as a profession in Quebec. Other provinces have insight to offer, as do other countries, but we’re often too busy to explore what they are doing. I’d also recommend pharmacists seek out training outside of science. The soft skills, including effective communication, are essential. As the scope of practice evolves, these will be the core capabilities on which our new profession is built.
How critical are strong partnerships in shaping and redefining the pharmacy profession especially in these changing times?
Partnerships are critical. At the same time, we need to be as independent in our judgment as possible. At the end of the day, that is what is important to the patient – that we speak on their behalf. Our voices reverberate more widely and more profoundly, however, when we speak as one with others. Today, partnerships are inevitable; the business and the profession both demand this.
What do you do to promote partnership-building in this climate of change?
We are in the process of implementing our new strategic plan. A significant part of that strategy calls for us to reach out to other healthcare professionals and be part of the overall pharmacy experience. We want to refocus our attention on pharmacy service and expertise, instead of potato chips and detergent. Customers in Quebec want a pharmacist who is accessible and visible, not hidden behind shelves. Partnerships are central to this visibility. We are looking to be creative about how we can make a visit to Uniprix exceptional. We want to be a springboard for new ideas.
Is there one type of partnership that is closest to your heart? Is there an evolving issue you feel needs even stronger collaborative partnerships?
Private payers, government, and local organizations are all key players. Our strategy at Uniprix is to be as close to the community as possible and to be attuned to what is happening on the local level. That means having a relationship with government, with local MPs and MLAs. We want to be part of the daily lives of our customers. This requires us to have a relationship with them and a true partnership with other members of their healthcare team.
Leaders in Pharmacy, including this independently written article, is supported by Pfizer Canada.