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William Chung. Refusing to “swim in a sea of sameness”

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“Diverse” defines William Chung’s career in pharmacy. The Senior Vice President of Payor Partnerships and Pricing with Shoppers Drug Mart began his career as a community pharmacist, then went on to help Jean Coutu set up operations in Ontario. After building a start-up and taking MediSystem Pharmacy public, his career shifted to leading mergers and acquisitions at a multi-national health and life sciences company before assuming senior management positions with a national pharmacy chain. Along the way, William completed his MBA and received his Chartered Business Valuator designation.

Snapshot

Education: University of Toronto (Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy), Queen’s University (Masters of Business Administration), Chartered Business Valuator

Current role: Senior Vice President, Payor Partnerships and Pricing, Shoppers Drug Mart, Toronto

 

Why did you want to be a pharmacist? Has the profession lived up to your expectations?

I knew I wanted to study in a science-based profession. My uncle, an important mentor of mine, was a chartered accountant, and he had several clients in the pharmacy sector, so I learned about their business and profession. Frankly, the thought of working in pharmacy gave me a sense of challenge and stability – and the profession has surpassed my expectations. Pharmacy is a unique profession. It gives you a great foundation for life sciences. I’ve used the knowledge and insight I gained as a trained pharmacist to expand into other areas of business, healthcare, and leadership.

What are some of the key insights you’ve gained as a pharmacy and business professional?

Early on at MediSystem, which broke new ground by offering multi-dose strip packaging more than 25 years ago, I learned that for a business to thrive, it has to differentiate itself. That is true no matter the size or the nature of the business. A lot of businesses are “swimming in a sea of sameness”. Our customers have choice, and we need to stand out. Learning how to be innovative and take full advantage of technology is one part of that.

Is giving back to the profession important to you? How do you do this?

Giving back means different things to different people, but no matter what it means to you, there are many, many ways to contribute to the profession and the community you practise in. I believe it is important to share what I have learned with future graduates. I try to share my experience during campus recruitment events and serve as a preceptor for interns in my early years. I’m involved in raising funds for charitable campaigns, especially those that are in my community. Recently, Shoppers Drug Mart has developed a structured mentorship program and I’m a mentor to nurture the next generation of leaders in pharmacy.

Do you have any tips for pharmacists looking to build better partnerships?

I have a partnership philosophy that is built on three fundamental pillars. First, we need to create win-win solutions. It’s not about the deal; it’s about the people involved in the partnership. Everyone has to benefit and be treated with integrity and respect. Second, we must take a long-term view. We have to be visionary. Partnerships are productive over time, perhaps five to 10 years. Finally, while formal, signed agreements are important, they cannot dictate the relationship. There has to be give and take. For me, a partnership is not about a piece of paper. It’s about coming together, building trust, and creating greater value than what each could have achieved by themselves.

 

Leaders in Pharmacy, including this independently written article, is supported by Pfizer Canada.