Interview with: Peerapan Tungsuwan, Partner

Baker McKenzie | View firm profile

Peerapan Tungsuwan, Corporate M&A Partner and Head of Healthcare & Life Sciences at Baker McKenzie based in Bangkok, shared her insights and experience in building her industry-focused practice and helping major corporations in Healthcare and Life Sciences in particular navigating challenges in this highly regulated industry.

What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability?

I played a significant role in establishing Baker McKenzie’s healthcare-focused industry group and being a founding member of the Global Healthcare and Life Sciences industry group. It was relatively new for legal services business at the time to have industry experts providing legal services for a particular industry. I also was named a practice group leader of the year twice in a row. Later on Baker McKenzie’s Asia Pacific Healthcare and Life Sciences industry group was established and I was head of the group from 2007 – 2013. During that time I invested in building up and strengthening this industry group regionally and locally by leading a number of initiatives to bring together a core team of healthcare-focused lawyers around the region that collaborate to deliver industry sound advice and services to clients seamlessly as a one stop service. One such initiative is the AEC Healthcare Harmonization task force which involves  has led to a strong collaboration of the firm’s healthcare practitioners and growing recognition of the capabilities of the healthcare practice of Baker McKenzie in Asia Pacific as a go-to law firm in AEC harmonization. At the local level, I pioneered the establishment of an in-house  Regulatory Affairs Services to assist clients with FDA-related advice  to position clients at a comparative strategic advantage and enhance their opportunities to thrive in Thailand’s growing pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors. I would say this is a unique offering that differentiate us from other firms in Thailand.

What do you do differently from your peers in the industry?

Our goal is to be a trusted adviser to our clients. We invest time and efforts in building long term relationships with our clients. We don’t just give legal advice, we always balance our advice with commercial practicality and find solutions to them. We believe this is what our clients ultimately look for in a legal adviser – to be a problem solver.  We add value to our services, always keeping our clients  up to date on changes affecting their businesses and discuss with them ideas and solutions to help our clients proactively manage risks and exploit growth opportunities. We make sure we deliver advice that is strategic and commercial. Thanks also to our network of 77 offices around the world, we have the unique capability to provide our clients with counsel, when and where needed, as well as coordinating cross-border assistance in a timely and efficient manner, saving our clients much time and costs.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I believe you have to be true to yourself. I don’t let other people’s expectations define who I am. However, when you are starting out and young, it can be a tough thing to do. I just would remind my younger self to keep believing in yourself  and continue to be yourself. Perhaps also to strike a better work-life balance.

When I was a young associate,  I had to recognize and work on my weaknesses. The experience made me a fighter. I now teach our young associates to work on their weaknesses but not to lose their self-confidence. Work on your weaknesses and do not run away from problems. Appreciate your strengths because those are your wings.

I never give up on people.

Can you give me a practical example of how you helped a client add value to the business?

Not only for one specific client, but for all clients in the Healthcare industry, we always strive to give more than legal advice. Apart from ensuring our advice is always commercially sound, we add values by regularly organizing seminars and webinars discussing legal developments and industry trends. This represents a beneficial and value-added platform for exchanging insights among the industry experts. We have assisted many well established Thai companies with strategic expansion, drawing upon our network and keeping the clients up to date on changes affecting them in jurisdictions they operate to help the clients proactively manage risks and exploit growth opportunities. As one example of being a trusted advisor, during the major flooding crisis in Thailand, we successfully assisted one of our long terms clients with foreign shareholding restriction issue during the time of great difficulties for the client’s business, earning lasting trust from the client whom we still continue to assist many years after.

Within your sector, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for clients over the next 12 months?

As for macro trends, we will see pricing pressure continue to be one of the challenges of the healthcare industry, particularly the growth in generic and biosimilar markets. Digitalization of healthcare has seen new players in telemedicine and digital delivery of healthcare and strategic alliances with those outside the traditional healthcare sector. Tech companies entering healthcare space are leading traditional pharma and medical devices companies to collaborate and invest in technology to bring more innovations. With the explosion of innovations, regulations sometimes cannot keep up and the players need innovative advice.

 

Healthcare sector continues to be scrutinized by enforcement agencies so compliance will continue to be an important.