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Jennifer Young: International Government Affairs Advocate


Jennifer YoungJennifer Young ’05 is a woman on the move. As Director of International Public and Government Affairs at Novartis Corporation, she travels extensively across Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Working in international settings and across cultures is one of her favorite aspects of her work, and doing so requires flexibility.

“In my opinion, the most important skills for working in diverse environments and in different cultural settings are to be a good listener, and to be adaptable when developing strategies and approaches for local contexts,” Young said. “For example, although Novartis faces similar policy challenges globally, there are nuances to issues in specific markets. Thus, an approach that is effective in Europe may not resonate in Latin America. I try to apply a principled approach taking into account the needs of key stakeholders when responding to policy challenges based on corporate policy positions, and adapt approaches to reflect the political, legislative and business environment of the specific market in question.”

The Advocate

Young credits her legal background with helping her contribute a unique perspective when analyzing complex public policy issues and developing strategies to shape the global health care environment. “I regularly analyze trade policy, intellectual property, and regulatory issues, many of which are linked to international legal obligations such as Free Trade Agreements and World Trade Organization instruments. I enjoy advocating with both the U.S. and foreign governments to implement public policies consistent with rule of law principles.”

When a government announces its intention to implement policies to achieve savings in its health care sector by reducing biopharmaceutical expenditures, Young's job is to present evidence-based arguments demonstrating why such short-term measures to cut costs are not in the best interests of patients, health systems or for ensuring sustained research and development investment in their country. “In doing so, I not only coordinate closely within my company to develop policy positions emphasizing the importance of policy frameworks supportive of innovation and market access, but also advocate our position with external stakeholders including governments, policy makers, trade associations, think tanks, patient groups and others,” she said.

From Advocate to Negotiator

In addition to market access issues, Young also develops public affairs strategies related to trade policy issues. For example, now that the U.S. government is negotiating a multi-lateral trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, she has been involved in coordinating Novartis positions on intellectual property, transparency, and substandard medicine issues and communicating those positions with TPP negotiating partners including the U.S. government, New Zealand government and other potential parties such as the Canadian and Mexican governments.

“Novartis supports opportunities within global, bilateral and regional trade agreements to enhance and strengthen intellectual property rights protections and enforcement, and market access liberalization. I work closely with other industries and within trade associations to support trade negotiating principles that will bring the largest welfare gains for all parties involved and the broadest protection against discrimination, while ensuring compliance with obligations established in the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements,” she explained.

The Path to Novartis

Prior to joining Novartis, Young worked at Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), where she led advocacy efforts on issues facing the research-based biopharmaceutical industry related to government pricing and reimbursement policies, market access and other barriers to trade, and intellectual property issues.

Flexibility was also essential in her position at PhRMA where she regularly engaged with U.S. and foreign governments, as well as with multilateral institutions including the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Health Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to communicate and advocate on behalf of biopharmaceutical companies.

Young began her career in public policy and government affairs as an international trade specialist as part of a Presidential Management Fellowship at the U.S. Department of Commerce where she contributed to the Department’s effort to protect intellectual property for U.S. businesses, and to resolve market access issues in China and Northeast Asia.

“I served on the largest U.S. trade mission to Mumbai and Chennai, India; as part of the U.S. delegation to a World Trade Organization case between the U.S. and China on intellectual property issues; and was detailed to work with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China.”

While at the Department of Commerce, Young worked on a WTO dispute between the U.S. and China involving intellectual property issues, the first case of its kind between the two countries. “Due to the high profile and sensitive nature of the issues, I participated in many closed door strategy discussions with U.S. government agencies in Washington, Beijing, and Geneva,” Young said. “One of the most challenging aspects was developing coordinated U.S. government policy positions across government agencies since so many agencies cover intellectual property or related issues as they pertain to China. To facilitate coordination, I was designated as a lead for the Commerce Department for one of the panel hearings in the dispute and met frequently with a U.S. government inter-agency team to contribute agency knowledge and expertise.”

“The experience of contributing to analysis in the U.S. government’s briefs filed with the WTO, as well as participating in a case panel meeting at the WTO in Geneva, and briefing senior officials was intense, but rewarding. The most rewarding aspect was the ability to skillfully represent the Department of Commerce as part of an inter-agency U.S. government delegation in a major trade dispute. I gained unparalleled experience analyzing intellectual property issues with senior U.S. government officials in Washington, Geneva and Beijing, and was able to participate in a WTO case panel meeting, which is a rare and exciting experience.”

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