How Takeda Leaders are ‘Turning Ordinary Activities Into Extraordinary Outcomes’

Sanjay Patel shares how building an innovation culture shapes Takeda’s digital transformation.

Written by Taylor Rose
Published on Feb. 15, 2024
How Takeda Leaders are ‘Turning Ordinary Activities Into Extraordinary Outcomes’
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Ever since Sanjay Patel first stepped into his role at Takeda, he has had a vision for the future of the organization. Although his role is SVP and global head of innovation capability solutions, data, digital and technology, his vision is not just about technology — it’s about cultivating a culture of relentless innovation and solutions-oriented thinking. 

Patel knows that fostering this culture is critical for employees to take on new challenges and drive digital transformation.

“We are dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment for collaboration and continuous learning,” he said. “This culture is the essence of our identity and the driving force behind our ability to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve.”

At Takeda, a company at the forefront of digital biopharmaceutical innovation, the efforts of Patel’s digital team has a direct impact on patients. Patel believes that the company's culture serves as the vital link between its diverse teams and their ability to meet patient needs. 

“I take pride in sponsoring our data, digital and technology ‘culture working group,’ comprising passionate volunteers dedicated to driving initiatives that empower our employees to overcome challenges and flourish,” he added. 

For Patel, the culture of his teams is a pivotal aspect of his leadership, and the culture working group is a reflection of the collaborative spirit and diversity that forms the core of Takeda's identity. 

Built In spoke with Patel about how he fosters a culture of innovation and nurtures opportunities for continuous learning within his team, as well as the impact of this culture on Takeda’s digital evolution.


What’s your vision for leading your team and Takeda’s digital future?

Sanjay Patel
SVP and Global Head of Innovation Capability Solutions, Data, Digital and Technology • Takeda

My vision for leading my team — within Takeda’s DD&T ICS function — is to cultivate a culture of relentless innovation and solutions-oriented thinking that will accelerate Takeda’s digital transformation and create tangible value for the business and patients.

I believe that every team member has the potential to identify better ways of working and should feel empowered to challenge the status quo. My role as a leader is to foster the kind of environment where our diverse talent can flourish, and where open-mindedness and divergent thinking are not only encouraged but essential to our operations. 

Innovation doesn’t just happen, it stems from a culture that values listening and in which there is a constant flow of ideating, socializing and embedding ideas. This has been my lifelong passion and the cornerstone of our success. True innovation involves transforming even the most ordinary activities into extraordinary outcomes. I am dedicated to inspiring our team to consistently rethink, reimagine and redesign our approaches to delivering data and technology solutions. 

“True innovation involves transforming even the most ordinary activities into extraordinary outcomes.” 


When we take the time to understand everyday challenges and dissect them to identify creative solutions, we can supercharge our agility and the value we create. In doing so, we transition from a traditional “back-office” role to that of a true innovation hub that propels our company’s mission forward.


How do you build team culture at Takeda?

At Takeda, we appreciate the critical role that a positive team culture plays in driving organizational success. And we are committed to fostering an environment where innovation, collaboration and purposeful engagement can flourish.

In a strategic move away from a conventional service delivery model, we have consciously embraced a solutions-focused approach that underscores our active involvement and partnerships with stakeholders. This transition signifies more than a mere change in nomenclature — it represents a profound transformation in our organizational philosophy and culture, shifting from passive fulfillment to proactive problem-solving and anticipating future challenges.

Crucially, we ensure that every team member comprehends the profound impact of their work on patient outcomes. The significance of this cultural transformation cannot be overstated. It empowers our team to meet present challenges and foresee future changes — integral to Takeda’s mission of delivering better health and a brighter future. 



To create “intelligent operating models that bolster innovation and collaboration,” Patel outlined an approach that manifests across four key areas: 

  1. Purpose: Embedding ‘purpose-driven initiatives’ to align all efforts with the overarching mission and contribute to meaningful end goals.
  2. Psychological safety: Creating a secure space for ideation and open communication.
  3. Mindset: Cultivating a diverse team with the right mindset of lifelong learning and curiosity.
  4. Operating model: Infusing vitality into the workplace through strategic team structures, location choices, engaging activities and collaborative models.


“Together, these elements create a supportive and inspiring atmosphere where open-mindedness and divergent thinking are not only encouraged but are standard practice,” he explained.  


How do you help your team look to the future? 

We deeply value the individuals who make up the Takeda team, recognizing that they are the heart and soul of our success. We believe that every member of the team is a leader and we are committed to helping them develop leadership behaviors from day one. We strive to nurture our people’s career journeys at every stage and to provide them with the tools and support needed to reach their full potential.

It is a dynamic working environment, and we empower our people to develop the next-generation capabilities needed to stay ahead of the curve. We foster a mindset of lifelong learning and offer regular opportunities for our team members to expand their skill sets. By providing exposure to cutting-edge tools and platforms, we positively challenge them and ensure they are future ready.

Our goal is to create careers that are fulfilling, exciting and crucially aligned with Takeda’s mission and values. Together, we are creating an environment where every individual has the opportunity to thrive, lead and contribute meaningfully to our shared mission.


What is something exciting that you are currently working on with your team? 

One of the most thrilling ICS initiatives currently underway is the expansion of our network of Innovation Capability Centers using the build-operate-transform-transfer model.

Our ICCs are central to our insourcing strategy and are a clear testament to how we are cultivating in-house digital capabilities, enhancing operational excellence and cultivating innovation in line with Takeda’s unwavering commitment to establishing a strong foundation for technology and innovation. Through strategic placements, our ICCs optimize technology delivery and operations on a global scale.

Read MoreGrowing Globally with Takeda


How we apply the build-operate-transform-transfer model is a differentiating factor, particularly in the case of the ICC in India. This strategic approach has centered on facilitating the setup of operations, insourcing key roles and capabilities, transitioning activities from incumbent suppliers, maintaining operational efficiency and transforming technical operations through automation and AI.

We are also harnessing the potential of our existing ICCs in Bratislava and Mexico City. The three ICCs reflect our commitment to scaling future-ready capabilities. 

Looking ahead, I am excited to see how these three ICCs synergize to contribute to Takeda’s transformative journey. The collaboration between these centers will not only build future capabilities but also enhance efficiency and foster innovation — aligning seamlessly with our mission to deliver better health and a brighter future.


“The collaboration between these centers will not only build future capabilities but also enhance efficiency and foster innovation.”


What impact does working at Takeda have on someone’s career?

For those considering joining our ICS team, you’re embarking on an opportunity to be part of something truly extraordinary. Our employee value proposition revolves around crafting a career that is not only professionally enriching but also personally fulfilling.

Rooted in a purpose-driven journey, our culture binds every employee to a greater mission that transcends routine tasks — promoting better health for people and envisioning a brighter future for the world. Initiatives like the Patient Connections Program empower our team to directly engage with patients, gaining insight into their experiences with diseases. This connection to the patient experience is what makes our work profoundly impactful and emotionally rewarding.

Being a part of the DD&T ICS team means joining a global community that cherishes diversity, champions innovation and thrives on strategic partnerships. We actively encourage our employees to challenge the status quo, and our unwavering focus on digital transformation and next-generation capabilities ensures that our team is equipped with skills that are future-ready.

As we continue to evolve and grow, we welcome those who are eager to be part of a dynamic, innovative team that is making a real difference in the world. Joining Takeda is more than just a career move; it’s a step into a community where your work has meaning, your growth is supported, and your contributions are valued.

For those considering joining our team, I encourage you to embrace the opportunity to be part of our transformational journey, where each step we take is a step towards a healthier, brighter future for all.



Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Takeda.

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