Benefit and Purpose: Inspiration from the Women at Roche

I am thrilled to present at the 2016 Emerging Women Live Conference sharing ideas and inspiration with a global network of leaders and change makers. I am passionate about bringing out the best in people, and this conference provides a unique opportunity to share pragmatic and honest insights. Together we have an opportunity to take ourselves even further than imagined.
For me, inspiration comes from many sources, but especially from other women leaders at Roche. I had a chance to touch base with colleagues who are attending the conference to find out what led them on the path they are on today and what they would tell other women aspiring toward work of true benefit and purpose.  It’s remarkable to see the shared passion that exists in the field of healthcare.

“Personalized healthcare is a way of care that uses a patient’s genetic and biologic profile to inform both the risk of developing disease as well as a patient’s potential response to certain types of treatment,” says Lin Wu, Vice President of Development. “It enables a targeted approach to understanding and treating diseases and allows doctors to design a treatment path that is as unique as each patient. This has enormous potential to transform healthcare. I am still inspired and look forward to coming to work every day.” Lin’s inspiration and motivation continue to grow with the meaningful impact she has on patients and their outcomes.

Laura Apitz in our Tissue Diagnostics Unit is a leader of people, a mother of two with a very supportive husband, and she looks forward to where her path will take her next. She has worked in healthcare for more than 23 years and continues to evolve.  “I would tell anyone who wants to work hard, is inspired by technology innovation, and understands the need for improved healthcare globally to pursue a career in this field,” Laura said.  She is inspired by the impact of her team’s work and has seen first-hand how it makes a positive difference in people’s lives.

Sushma Selvarajan knew early on what inspired her. “My mom is a mathematician and my dad a physicist, so I rebelled and went into biochemistry,” laughs Sushma who leads teams that design and commercialize novel diagnostic tests. “There are so many opportunities today to better understand human biology through new tools and approaches. It’s a great time to both learn and discover.”

We hear often about the importance of stepping outside one’s comfort zone.  But in the quest for growth, we need to allow ourselves to be a little scared.  I truly believe that people must constantly work to challenge themselves, acquire new skills, meet new people and say yes to new experiences. It’s important to take a step back and enjoy the journey as well as the destinations along the route.

When I asked Rebecca Ewald, who leads one of the cervical cancer diagnostic areas about stepping outside her comfort zone she said, “Identify what interests you and understand what motivates you, and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone – those are key elements that helped me find work of true purpose. Sometimes we need to break our own mold to help get to the next stage of our personal and professional life.”  She has been driven by her curiosity that has pushed these elements forward.

Take Narges Bani Asadi, Head of Bioinformatics. “I want to propel clinical decision making into the future,” she recently shared with me. “We need to push the boundaries of genomic science.”  Narges came to the US from Iran and attended Stanford University, where she was encouraged by her professors to pursue the field of medical technology.  What inspires me about Narges is that she fearlessly embraced her ambition and curiosity to indeed push these boundaries. She started a company called Bina Technologies with a clear vision of the value of genetic information as it pertains to making accurate diagnoses and treatment decisions.  Bina is now an integral part of the company’s Sequencing Unit.

Another colleague, who is a mother of four girls, started her career in Belgium.  Margaret Theeuwes, who manages many projects large and small, followed her strengths. “I say the same thing to men and women, do what you like and what you are good at. The great job you envisioned is out there, someone is most likely doing it now.  It is yours in the future if you understand the path to getting there and then pursue it relentlessly.”

I hope you will have a chance to meet these inspirational women and get to know them. I know they are looking forward to meeting you. In the meantime, I challenge you to give some thought as to what inspires you and how you can inspire others. I look forward to continuing our conversation.


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