Meet Mae, Product Manager at Roche
What kind of job are you doing?
HER2 Product Manager, Oncology Business Unit, Roche Chile
Where are you from and in which countries did you work up to now?
I was born in Malaysia and my family migrated to Sao Paulo, Brazil when I was 7. I studied economics in the University of Sao Paulo and in 2005 began my internship in Roche Latin America (also located in Sao Paulo). After a year working with Regional Business Planning, I was offered another internship which would require a change in my professional focus: 6 months in Marketing, assisting Roche Brazil’s Herceptin Product Manager. Once I decided that Marketing was what I really wanted, I returned to the Regional Area in a position as Marketing Analyst for Avastin, where I would be for the next 2,5 years. In January 2009 my fiancée was offered a job in Chile and he asked me to follow him. As I was in constant contact with colleagues from that country, I told them about my interest in relocating. Fortunately, in May 2009 the Oncology Business Unit Manager from Roche Chile called me to inform that a Product Manager had just left the company and asked if I was interested in applying for the position. Things worked out very well and I migrated to Santiago in August 2009 as HER2 Product Manager, function I’ve been performing till today.
Do you have a family? If yes, how old are your kids and did they travel with you?
I’m married with no children yet.
What are your experiences living and working abroad? Can you describe a little bit of your everyday work and life?
Although I had migrated previously, it was a long time ago, when I was a child. Having my family and closest friends in another country was now quite tough but I decided to take my stay in Chile as an adventure and make the best of it. During the week, I live a life like any other Santiaguino: go to work, do household chores, study. During the weekends and holidays my husband and I like to explore the city, go to museums, restaurants and travel to different places in the country. The advantage of living in Santiago is that ski resorts and beaches are one hour away from the city. We were also lucky to form a nice group of friends (locals and foreigners), so there’s always something fun going on.
How did you prepare yourself? Were you well prepared?
I didn’t prepare myself for anything, I just decided to go with the flow and allow Chile to surprise me.
Did Roche support you?
Being the first foreign hire with local benefits in Roche Chile, my transition was quite messy in the beginning - I was very lucky to receive support from HR Latin America. Things are more orderly today, as many foreigners have arrived in the past few months.
What do you see as the biggest merits and challenge in intercultural teams?
Learning and living cultural differences are the most enriching experiences one can have.
What impressed you the most?
My first winter in Santiago! As I lived my whole life in tropical countries, having to dress up in layers and caring about central heating was a shock!
What are you lessons learned?
That I should respect the local culture but always be myself: instead of trying to mimic the local way of life, people appreciate when you show them your different points of view.
How did it influence your personality or your career?
I matured a lot learning to respect differences of opinion, living tough situations by myself and understanding the local culture.
What is your advice to other colleagues?
Just do it! It’s worth it!