Leading with purpose: Why Cecilia Coupland became an Orexo executive


News Release – Uppsala, Sweden, Mars 8, 2024

In this interview to mark International Women’s Day 2024, Cecilia Coupland, SVP and Head of Operations, shares her values-led approach to leadership, why she’s stayed with Orexo for 18 years and what motivates her each day.

Our people make it easy for me to be a leader
Since the first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911, gender equality has come a long way. It’s a privilege to work with the brilliant and competent people we have at Orexo, and I’m a leader here not because I’m a woman, but because I’m good at my job. I’m still here after 18 years because the company has grown, and I’ve been lucky enough to have lots of different roles. I’m now a manager of managers, and I enjoy supporting others to grow within a positive, sustainable, and values-led culture.

I joined Orexo because I’d heard of the company and was excited to work with people committed to developing improved medicines that make a difference to people and healthcare systems. My background is product development, and I joined from Astra Zeneca in 2006 to work in the lab. I never quite made it because we began commercializing a legacy product and I found myself sourcing the manufacturers and working with a partner to have it registered, first in Europe, then in the US and Japan.

"I’m now a manager of managers, and I enjoy supporting others to grow within a positive, sustainable, and values-led culture."


I handed over to myself when we began commercializing Zubsolv®
When we transitioned from being solely a research and development company, I started creating a supply chain for Zubsolv, which I’ve been leading since 2019. I’m responsible for everything you need to have for a pharmaceutical product on the market, from procurement to product maintenance and the quality of the supply chain. It’s a huge responsibility. If a problem occurs at any stage of the process, a patient could end up being hurt, either because they don’t receive the product at all, or there’s an issue with the quality. But I’m lucky to work with smart people who are motivated to do things right and take on responsibility for patients to make sure we give them the best quality products. Our products change lives, and there’s never been a quality issue because everyone’s committed to making sure it never happens.


"We’re here to make patients’ lives better. It’s why we go to work each day."


Sustainability can’t be an afterthought; it has to be top of our minds all the time
Orexo has been a member of the UN Global Compact since 2017, and we focus on all the different areas of sustainability, but mainly the social side.[i] The third Sustainable Development Goal is Good Health and Well-being, which underpins everything we do, and Target 3.5, which relates to the prevention and treatment of substance abuse and alcohol addiction, is our reason for being every day.[ii] It might sound far-fetched, but everyone here wants to make a real difference to people struggling with addictions. It’s a huge problem, with thousands and thousands of people dying every year, but there still aren’t many players trained to help in this area. We’re here to make patients’ lives better. It’s why we go to work each day.

Communicating what we’re doing in this area to help people is incredibly important, and we’ve been reporting on this even before it was a requirement. For example, our materiality assessment, which is how we came up with our current strategy for 2030. Everyone needs to work together to protect our planet, which is why sustainability is an integral part of our business. When we develop new products, for example, we keep sustainability at the forefront by considering how we can bake in energy efficiencies from the start.

My role is to make sure our supply chain is ready for wherever a product needs to go
Our bespoke supply chain is customized to manage Orexo’s unique AmorphOX® platform, which is the technology we’ve developed and we’re using in our new products. We have a robust manufacturing process for OX124 across Europe and Canada, and it’s scalable for both OX640 and OX125. Pending FDA approval for OX124 this year, means we can move straight on to qualifying OX640 and OX125, and get to the market quickly. There is a huge reliability demand for rescue products because we have to show that no faulty product will reach the market. It’s a lot of work and absolutely the right thing to do because the consequences of getting it wrong could be life-threatening. A big part of my role is navigating the requirements of different markets, and making sure that our high standards are always met.


"We have a robust manufacturing process for OX124 across Europe and Canada, and it’s scalable for both OX640 and OX125."


We work in partnership with our suppliers towards common quality and sustainability goals, and we assess them against our Code of Conduct.[iii] For example, we review waste management, so we know harmful chemicals are not going into the water supply, and we monitor energy use. A key consideration is minimizing the number of border crossings a product has to make, so that we keep our carbon footprint as low as possible.

Creating an environment where people succeed by helping each other
One of the things that’s really important to me as a leader is giving people the flexibility to make things work. We have a culture where it’s ok to have responsibilities at home, so people can pick up their kids from school, or collect a prescription for their elderly relative. As a leadership team, we focus on trust and being responsible for your own actions and taking care of each other.

Our most recent employee survey showed outstanding results. We asked whether individuals would recommend working at Orexo to a friend, and we had the highest results we’ve ever seen. There’s a really strong sense of ‘us’ being ‘we’. It’s good to sense this, but to see it so clearly in the data was wonderful.

Everyone has a different story. I try to be a good role model and give people the opportunity to show their commitment to work. As a leader, I always make sure everyone has the right environment to shine, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, or beliefs. I strongly believe that with the right competence, values and vision, there is always room for our people to develop and grow. I am the perfect example of this. I’ve received so much guidance and mentoring during my career at Orexo, which has allowed me to take on new roles and learn more skills. I feel privileged that I now have the opportunity to help others develop in the same way.

Written by Georgina Hoy


[i] https://unglobalcompact.org

[ii] https://www.who.int/data/gho/data/themes/topics/indicator-groups/indicator-group-details/GHO/sdg-target-3.5-substance-abuse

For further information please contact:
Lena Wange, IR & Communications Director
Tel: +46 (0)18 780 88 00
E-mail: ir@orexo.com

About Orexo
Orexo is a Swedish pharmaceutical company with over 25 years of experience developing improved pharmaceuticals based on proprietary formulation technologies that meet large medical needs. On the US market, Orexo provides innovative treatment solutions for patients suffering from opioid use disorder and adjacent diseases. Products targeting other therapeutic areas are developed and commercialized worldwide with leading partners. Total net sales in 2023 amounted to SEK 639 million, and the number of employees to 116. Orexo is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm's main list and is available as an ADR on OTCQX (ORXOY) in the US.

For more information about Orexo please visit www.orexo.com. You can also follow Orexo on X, LinkedIn, and YouTube.