Alison Muir speaks to us about her current role as General Manager of Roche Group, Ireland.
Alison will be speaking at our “Meet Our Partners & Board” webinar on Tuesday 27th January 2022 at 11am-12:00pm GMT.
Please tell us a little about yourself and your role as General Manager in Roche Group Ireland?
I grew up in Shropshire right on the welsh border and I am blessed to still have my parents there where we visit regularly. I met my husband at Sixth Form and we have been on our adventure through life together ever since. We have two sons who are students and an enthusiastic fox terrier called Carlo.
My role as General Manager today looks very different to the GM of the past. Today as an agile leader my primary focus is developing a mindset and culture across the affiliate that engages colleagues and enables us to bring our medicines and services to more patients faster, while working in partnership with the healthcare system toward long-term sustainability. Supporting decision making across the affiliate and increasing the diversity of thinking so that we can better reflect and serve patients here in Ireland. Which is why I am a strong advocate of diversity and inclusion in our community.
What’s a typical workday like for you?
No two days are the same in my role, I started in November 2020 in the midst of the pandemic so have worked from home for a significant amount of my time so far. It was only after nine months that I was even able to meet any of my colleagues in person. I know that this will be no different to many of our experiences during this time and indeed this more flexible way of working has been an opportunity to find a better balance between work and home, a lack of long commuting or extensive business travel has really freed up time. I have missed the community and creative collaboration with colleagues in person and this is something that we will look to spend time on again when we can safely.
My role is also externally facing with customers, policy makers, patient groups, academia, partners etc and this is where the opportunity is for me to bring the insights and opportunity back into our organisation.
How important is female leadership & diversity within Roche?
At Roche we are expanding and accelerating efforts to diversify our workforce and foster a culture of belonging within our company, advance inclusive research and health equity, and partner with communities to transform society.
We strive to be an organisation that mirrors the societies that we serve.
When it comes to female leadership, we continue to increase our targets for the share of women in executive positions on a yearly basis. According to the World Health Organisation, women hold 70 percent of jobs in health and social care, and 90 percent in nursing. Yet, they account for just 25 percent of leadership roles.
Severin Schwan, CEO, Roche and the Corporate Executive Committee have been intentional about the importance of women in leadership and has set very clear goals of us as a company. In 2022, we continue to focus on accelerating our progress to achieve our Ten-Year Ambition by committing to increase the number of women in executive positions by +2p% and the number of underrepresented nationalities in executive positions by +1p%.
These goals create intention throughout the organisation as we develop women early in their careers.
Today, women represent 49 percent of the total workforce in Roche, and 43.6 percent of managers are women.
Roche has been an early leader in providing necessary support for women at all levels in our organisation, including robust healthcare benefits that support both parents, flexible working hours and shifts, childcare support and most importantly, equal pay for equal roles.
Why are women so crucial to the continued growth of Roche as an organisation?
Gender equality is so important for the continued growth of not just Roche but across all levels of the healthcare system, globally. Women enrich health leadership with perspectives based on different life experiences. More female leaders will increase the number of female role models and mentors for men and women, breaking the stereotypes of men as ‘natural leaders’. Having women in health leadership will help us to expand the agenda, giving greater priority to issues such as sexual and reproductive health that apply to all but have the greatest impact on women and girls.
How important is it for Roche to support women entrepreneurs working in digital health and life science?
Women have been held back for way too long now, primarily because of lack of opportunities and support from family and workplace. My vision, and part of our role and responsibility as sponsors of the International Female Accelerator, is to increase women leaders in science and healthcare and to provide opportunities for women to develop their professional skills and provide a support system when it comes to childcare and work-life balance. In an ideal world, men don’t shy away from a dialogue about gender equality, they actively participate in making it happen. We need to continue to advocate for equal opportunities for ALL, that’s the basis for everything.
What advice would you give to women who want to pursue a career in Roche?
At Roche, we work together to create an environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging and where we can thrive equally; no matter what it is that makes us unique — age, beliefs, ability, how we identify, how we think, where we are from, or the languages we speak. Every day, we contribute to our shared purpose and success by working together and engaging with each other. My advice to women who might want to work at Roche would be to stay passionate, enthusiastic and motivated by their work and their goals. In my experience continuous learning and open communication with colleagues has significantly helped me in my career.
What involvement has Roche had with start-ups and how important do you feel start-ups are in the overall ecosystem?
The ever-expanding ecosystem of our industry requires a high level of coordination, ideation standardisation and analysis, all of which rely on effective collaboration between healthcare companies, big tech partners and start-ups.
At Roche we view partnerships as key to harnessing the potential of big healthcare and big tech. But we also see the potential in collaboration with healthtech start-ups, who can bring in new perspectives, mindsets and more agile approaches to innovation.
At Roche, we have been transforming our ways of working and shifting our mindset towards better collaboration. We are looking both inward by tapping into the deep and diverse constellation of capabilities, expertise, and experience across Roche Group – including Diagnostics, Pharma, Foundation Medicine and our independent affiliates such as Flatiron Health – and outward by partnering to catalyse, collaborate and co-create with traditional and non-traditional stakeholders across the healthcare ecosystem.
What is your thoughts on the Grit International Female Accelerator and why did Roche sponsor and become a partner?
We are so proud to be sponsoring and supporting the Grit International Female Accelerator. We recognise that there are specific areas of opportunity for women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) leadership in our industry but that the correct support might not always be there to enable female leaders with the confidence and skills required to launch and grow a business. We want to play a key role in addressing the needs of female entrepreneurs operating in our ecosystem by offering our experience, skillset and global reach to support the programme participants in any way that we can.
Social media: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alisonmuir