Ms. Garijo, the Germans are worried about the gas supply. They also?
We are moving in very turbulent times and have been for two years. It is an environment of uncertainty and volatility that poses challenges for a company like ours. Energy is one of those challenges.
First of all, our company is not particularly energy intensive, but we still have to ensure the long-term availability of the supply of critical products. We’ve been preparing for the times ahead for a long time, and our teams have been working on possible plans for how to proceed. Unlike many others, we saw the war in Ukraine as a possibility, even if we couldn’t imagine it, and of course we condemn it. But the key is to be prepared for anything.
So what would it mean for Merck if the gas suddenly went away?
We are very well prepared for this. We are prepared to then shift our production processes to oil, among other things. At the same time, we are reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. I’m pretty confident about the situation we’re in. But of course the government must give priority to the companies that make critical medicines and critical products.
So patients don’t have to worry about drug shipments getting stuck?
We are confident that we can continue to produce because we have stocked up on raw materials. We have also anticipated buying oil to be prepared for the worst case scenario. I am quite confident that we can continue to supply medicines. But at the same time it depends very much on the duration of the bottlenecks and how we manage to switch to alternative sources at the same time.
What would be the longest period they could last?
We are prepared for the worst case scenario, as I have already mentioned. But again, we can’t just look at gas supply. We need to make sure we have a holistic view of what the current macroeconomic environment means for an organization like ours, with all the implications of the war in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis. We took peace for granted.
You recently visited Poland.
There I spoke to our volunteers, to those who were at the front and also to some of the refugees there in Poland. It’s really heartbreaking to see what people went through, the lives lost. You have to put this in perspective of the economic consequences and the gas supply. All of this is, and it has already started with the pandemic, a real test for managers and their leadership.
Are managers having a particularly difficult time at the moment? You must make choices in a world more uncertain than ever.
Making decisions in uncertain times is part of our job, my job. Whenever we make critical decisions, such as capital allocation decisions or broader staffing decisions, there is always a component of uncertainty. And the only way to make decisions under uncertainty is to imagine what the worst case scenario is. To put it simply: hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. It’s entirely in my nature.