Alum of the Month - November 2019

Michael Sahyoun

'LSE allowed me to prepare for a career in Life Sciences by supporting my interest and allowing me the flexibility to choose a topic for my independent research project that aligned with my aspirations'.
Michael Sahyoun


  • Programme studied: MSc Economics and Management
  • Year of Graduation: 2015
  • LinkedIn profile

Alum of the Month for November is Michael. A self-proclaimed stubborn optimist, energy-giver and creative strategist in the pharmaceutical sector.

What’s your current job?

I am a Global Strategy Manager at Sandoz International – a global leader in generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilar medicines, and a division of the Novartis Group. My role is to help ensure that we have the right capabilities and the right operating model to deliver on our ambition to be the world’s leading and most valued generic drug company. I work with a range of stakeholders across regions and functions to understand the world of tomorrow and consistently challenge our internal readiness to win in that uncertain and increasingly competitive environment. With that in mind, our team articulates and helps drive the execution of Sandoz’ long-term strategy - making sure that our patients get the right medicines at the right time, while operating in a sustainable and fully compliant manner.

Where have you worked previously?

Before switching to Divisional Strategy, I spent around two and a half years in the company’s Global Business & Competitive Intelligence function. In that role, I worked with data to offer evidence-based decision support to varying stakeholders in the organisation including the members of Sandoz’ Executive Committee. In doing so, our team successfully drove external focus throughout the company at a time of deep internal transformation, advising on a variety of business-critical topics from product portfolio definition through to product development and manufacturing networks’ composition. Prior to joining Sandoz, I worked at PA Consulting in London for about a year and a half. There, I developed an expertise in the identification and assessment of venture opportunities in the digital health space.

You were selected by Novartis to attend the One Young World Summit – both in 2018 and 2019; what does this involve?

The One Young World Summit gathers young individuals that are accelerating social impact in and out of their communities. Every year, over 2,000 delegates from corporate and philanthropic institutions meet with political, business and humanitarian leaders to discuss some of the world’s most pressing challenges including health equity, human rights and climate change. Novartis is one of the companies that is getting involved. They sent a delegation of 18 and 45 young associates from around the world in 2018 and 2019 respectively. I was fortunate enough to be selected in both cohorts.

For me, the event is so much more than just a traditional conference. It is about taking ownership of my leadership journey and having the courage to listen and learn about uncomfortable realities. It is a reminder that I have no excuse to be silent in the face of social injustice and have no excuse to lead a life that is not faithful to my convictions. It is a call for action, another reminder that I have a duty to give back to society in a consistent manner - and that I have the power to do so. We all do! Ultimately, together with the other Novartis delegates, we intend to take our learnings from this experience and build a community of game changers that will act as role models of integrity, courage and social change in the company. Building trust with society is one of Novartis’ five priorities that power our firm’s strategy and I am proud to be one of its catalysts!

How did your MSc in Economics and Management prepare you for your career in life sciences?

I always knew that I wanted to work in Life Sciences because I feel connected to the purpose that this industry serves: to improve, extend and save people’s lives. LSE has allowed me to prepare for a career in that sector by supporting my interest and allowing me the flexibility to choose a topic for my independent research project that was aligned with this aspiration. In that setting, I built an econometrics model to investigate the impact of generic drug entry on price and quantity competition in the pharmaceutical market. This enabled me to get acquainted with pharmaceutical data while learning about core industry dynamics. Ultimately, this essay might have also played a role in Sandoz’ decision to hire me!

How does your current role allow you to make an impact in society?

It is not so much about my role as a standalone contributor - but rather about the collective actions of Sandoz employees, which only together can serve our purpose as a company: to pioneer access to high quality medicines. I see my role as being only one part of a greater engine that is geared to fulfil our promise to patients - a part which impact would be nulled without all of my colleagues’ efforts (to be frank!). Beyond that collective impact which we have on society, I am also trying to make a difference as a Global Diversity and Inclusion Council member. In that setting, I have worked with a team to establish a partnership with an organisation called MyAbility in Germany. Through that alliance, we managed to offer work experience to eight talents with disabilities, thereby supporting many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals while fostering innovation in the company. It has truly been a humbling experience and I am so grateful for all the talents I met during this programme!

Do you have any hobbies or interests alongside work?

I like to paint and sculpt in my free time. It is my way of practicing mindfulness as I find my focus, clarity and peace whenever I take-up a brush. Beyond the act of creation, I enjoy going to art museums and galleries and love to rummage in antiquity flea markets. There is something thrilling about it – the possibility to find a beautiful treasure hiding behind a pile of junk...You never know! I started an art collection when I was undergoing my undergraduate degree at Imperial College. I keep on adding on to it as the years go by. I hope to someday be an art collector, worthy of that name! I would love to own an original painting from Franz Kline and Paul Delaroche... Beyond art, I enjoy doing anything that provides me with positive energy. This includes public speaking, moderating meaningful discussions (if you have any opportunities, please contact me!), meeting up with friends, connecting with strangers and eating a nice salsiccia picante pizza with extra gorgonzola!