Alumni in focus: Monika Magnusson brings the pharmacist uniform to the top of Apotek Hjärtat
7 November 2022
“Many pharmacy customers need guidance towards a healthier lifestyle, and meeting these demands relies both on the frontline workers in the pharmacies and continued excellence from Sweden’s educational institutes to train the next generation”, states Monika Magnusson, new CEO at Apotek Hjärtat and committed alumnus of the Faculty of Pharmacy.
Does the pharmacist seem familiar the next time you pick up your prescription drug? Perhaps you studied at Uppsala University just before the turn of the millennium. Or have you simply followed the recent newsfeeds? In September, Monika Magnusson became the first pharmacist ever to take up a CEO position in a large Swedish pharmacy retail chain. An impressive career move, but not enough to keep her from interacting with customers.
“Absolutely not, working onsite in the pharmacy every now and then is extremely valuable and something I will continue to prioritize. It is a concrete reminder of the importance that drugs and our work have in many people's lives. It also provides up-to-date insights into the everyday lives of many of our employees. The next occasion is when we celebrate the Apotek Hjärtat of the Year at Trelleborg Hospital, which I am already looking forward to,” says Apotek Hjärtat CEO Monika Magnusson who qualified as a pharmacist through the Faculty of Pharmacy in 1997.
Monika Magnusson takes up her new position in a turbulent time for the Swedish pharmacy stores. Last year, the number of physical pharmacies decreased for the first time since the 2009 re-regulation of the market. On the other hand, e-commerce of prescription drugs is steadily increasing, but an unexpectedly low growth in sales via pharmacies recently prompted the Dental and Pharmaceutical Benefits Agency to declare 2022 a year of recovery.
“We are in the midst of exciting times and are identifying great opportunities. An obvious target is strengthening our cooperation with the institutes that educate our nation's future pharmacists. Several important initiatives are already off to a great start, which focus on improving communication and turning expertise into a customer benefit. Next, I would like to see an investment in proactive counseling for healthy lifestyles, as an extension of our support once the drugs are already a necessity. This is something that many of our customers request and which we pharmacists ought to be in a good position to meet.”
Although 30 years have passed since the first time Monika opened the doors to the Uppsala Biomedical Center, many vivid memories remain. The first meeting with a course mate – who also turned out to be a northerner in exile (Anja Sandström, today a Professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy and still a close friend), the lecturer who gave a detailed account on how if one needs to pee a second time in a short span of time it is best to be quick when locating a toilet ("never forget to!") and the slightly eccentric teacher who once fell asleep in the exam room ("no name mentioned”).
“I was part of the first group to study the five-year Master of Science Programme in Pharmacy and still have daily use for the knowledge I brought with me from Uppsala. After graduation, I have remained active in the Farmis Alumni Association as a member of the board and in October I gave a lecture at the 2022 Annual Meeting. In my world, an active alumni network is a fantastic asset for both academia, industry and us pharmacists, and I really wish that as many as possible take the opportunity to get involved.
Facts Monika Magnusson
- Education Qualified pharmacist at Uppsala University in 1997
- Occupation CEO, Apotek Hjärtat
- Currently The first pharmacist ever to hold a CEO position in a major Swedish pharmacy company