Foreign deployment made easy for Roche employees, Part 2

Genentech, a biotech company in San Francisco, is a subsidiary of Roche USA. Ralf K. took advantage of the opportunity, switched from Europe to USA and is glad about the excellent supervision that Roche offers its employees during a foreign deployment. 

Dr. Ralf K. (52) studied biology and is working for Roche since 1994. At the moment he is working for Genentech in San Francisco.

Mr. K., what exactly are you doing in your current position at Genentech?

I am a lifecycle leader. That means that I am responsible for the whole supervision of a specific product. More precisely, I’m in charge of a medication for the treatment of idiopathic pulmanory fibrosis, a severe and life-threatening lung disease. Me and my team operate the whole product lifecycle which covers research, development, production, admission, marketing and reporting – a very broad range. And that is exactly what I like about my job: I can overlook and join all functions and separate operations concerning a certain product.

You are a graduated biologist. However, your responsibilities sound more like management.

In fact my job has a strong scientific base even though it is covering a lot of economic management tasks. But the medical aspect does not come off badly since I need to know the clinical data and scientific base extremely well.

How exactly did it come to your transition to the US?

At Roche Pharma in Grenzach I passed different career milestones. But at some point I also wanted to gain some experience abroad. For a while I had been working at the headquarters in Basel, where a lot of colleagues from all over the world are working together and where I especially liked the international atmosphere. Therefore I applied for the lifecycle leader position in the US.

From Grenzach to San Francisco – did you get a culture shock?

That depends on the personal attitude to a high degree; I have always been travelling a lot with my family and therefore I have always been very open towards foreign countries. That has not been a big issue. Still, there are lot of differences between Germany and the US though: My American colleagues, at least here in San Francisco, are less straight forward than my German colleagues. And they are more relaxed – even though they are working a lot. I feel like they are more focused during working hours, but also able to draw a line after eight or nine hours of work. I would call it high performance with a good work-life balance.

How did your employer help you with the organization of your stay abroad?

Roche planned and organized the whole relocation process: from tax issues to necessary paperwork and searching for a place to school registration of my kids. I really appreciated that!  I couldn’t have asked for a better supervision. My family had the chance to get familiar with the new environment and to look for the perfect place to stay. Roche offered us cultural preparation classes - which, however, were not really necessary for us. I found the all-round support really comfortable since I was able to stay focused on my main tasks from the beginning. Further, I also saw it as a great appreciation of my skills and accomplishments at Roche.

©Roche and

August 2015

Tags: Career Blog, Germany