When and why did you join the HBA?
In 2017, I relocated to the Suisse Romande region. Too old to hang out with students and not yet a parent, I struggled to make friends outside of work. What’s more, I was career hungry, in a new industry and keen to make an impact. At a local sponsored event, I was immediately drawn to the welcoming HBA Suisse Romande president, Sharrin Joos, who explained the purpose of the HBA and that she was looking for volunteers. Honestly, it’s impossible to say no to Sharrin. So here I am and I’m very thankful for it.
What is your role in the HBA?
I have been the director of programming since January 2019. This means I lead the planning and organization of events for our chapter, which includes partnering with sponsors, recruiting speakers, technical setup, scheduling, moderating and much more. It’s not always easy. Life can quickly get in the way and teamwork is essential to have each other’s backs when different activities take priority. Thankfully, I have an excellent team of volunteers to collaborate with at Suisse Romande, Switzerland and Europe level.
How has being an HBA volunteer impacted your personal development?
Above all, the HBA has provided me with the exposure and network in Merck that I would not normally be able to access. I have had the absolute pleasure of working with general managers and senior leaders thanks to our shared passion to drive gender parity. What’s more, as the director at large, I have gained the experience of attracting, developing and managing a team. This has been a huge help when I’ve been trying to make the leap to a people manager role in my “day job”.
What is your superpower?
Whether it be in Merck, the HBA, or anywhere else, I would say I’m known as “the girl that gets it done.” My optimism, determination and authentic passion for what I’m working on are what drives me every day.
What’s something you would like to tell your younger self?
Throughout childhood to my early 20s, I was often told by teachers and coaches to tone down my enthusiasm and energy to leave space for others to speak up. It felt like an impossible task to cage in my overflowing confidence, but an important message to consider the perspective of others and not only the loudest in the room. I really struggled to tame this part of my personality and I was often left feeling very guilty for once again overpowering a conversation even though I was trying really hard not to. Then one day I was participating in a Future Leaders workshop at GSK where I was asked to share reflections on my personal performance, particularly about teamwork. I parroted back the same message I had always been told, “I need to refrain from talking so much”. To my surprise, the coach flipped the situation on its head and said that I should keep up my energy and use this to bring power and drive to a group. Never before had someone shown me the positive side to this character trait and it felt so liberating. I’d like my younger self to know that she shouldn’t snuff out this fire inside and to remember how to use it to make others feel included and comfortable enough to light up too.
What’s something you hope your older self has learned from today’s experiences?
You can be outstanding at your job and a nice person. The latter is not a weakness of the first. Plain and simple as that.
What do you hope the future of gender parity looks like?
My mum entered the workforce in the 80s and we often compare our experiences. I hope that when I compare my experience with my children’s, the contrast will be just as drastic. In particular, I want to see authentic leaders, I want to see diverse and inclusive teams that truly serve all facets of the patient journey and I want to see equal parental leave.