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Meet Michaela, Life Cycle Project Leader Blood Gas & Electrolytes at Roche

Hi, my name is…

…Michaela, I am a chemist by training and I joined Roche in Penzberg after graduating from the Max Planck Institute in Munich. In the course of my career at Roche I have gained diverse experience in operations, project management and marketing. The different steps in my career path have taken me to other countries, including the United States in 2008/2009, and five years ago to Switzerland.

I have always been someone who constantly seeks new challenges – the more daunting and difficult, the better. My passion for life sciences and my personal ambition to find a real purpose in life were probably the reason that as a child, I dreamt of becoming an astronaut. Well, I have never flown to the moon, but sometimes the tasks I take on seem to be nearly as complex.

My typical day at work is…

…totally different from the day before because each day brings a new insight and/or challenge. In my role as a Life Cycle Project Leader I am responsible for launching new products according to timeline, quality, budget and product requirements. To achieve this objective, I work with a cross-functional team consisting of representatives from areas such as R&D, Operations, Regulatory Affairs, the Business Area, and many more. While I set ambitious team goals and ensure that best practice is followed to achieve them, I also take care to create a positive atmosphere and an environment that allows team members to perform at their best.

The location I am working at is…

…Rotkreuz in the beautiful environs of Lake Zug. I like the open structure of the Roche site and the fact that you just have to cross a small bridge to reach some fields if you want to take a walk over lunchtime. I work in one of the highest buildings in the area, which is also one of the first activity-based workplaces. As my husband is a teacher in the Zurich area, we live in the canton of Aargau so that we both have a convenient commute.

My work helps Roche to…

…bring new, reliable Point of Care solutions to the market, directly to the patient’s bedside, to enable health care professionals to make the right decision in critical and life-threatening situations when time matters most. For blood gases, that means Roche analysers provide a precise measurement of parameters such as oxygen, carbon dioxide levels and pH in the body. As imbalances may indicate certain medical conditions such as kidney or heart failure, uncontrolled diabetes and many others, incorrect or delayed treatment of patients can lead to temporary or permanent disorders and, in extreme cases, may endanger a patient’s life. My team and I are fully aware that our devices deliver the data that medical doctors depend on when determining treatment.

Roche as an employer…

…creates an environment in which people who have a strong focus on delivering results feel perfectly at home. Personal strengths are acknowledged and can be further developed. What is also important is that Roche enables you to maintain a healthy work/life balance. For example, I once had to reorganise my schedule so that I could take care of my sick husband. By working from home in a flexible way I was able to drive him to doctor’s appointments and ensure that he got the treatment he needed.

It is very important to me that I feel my management trusts me so that I can make decisions in a timely manner. Later on, some of the decisions may not turn out to be the best ones ever made – but we are willing to accept this as one step of the learning curve.

What's the best advice you ever received in your career, and whom did you get it from?

One of my line managers had a favourite quote: “It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change” (Darwin). During the time I reported to this manager we went through more than one organizational change process in order to form a set up that enables us to meet the needs of our customers in a better way. I learned how many opportunities and positive developments can emerge: Complicated processes turned into simple procedures, amazing career options became available. Based on that experience I feel well prepared to embrace change in the future.

What distinguishes the Roche culture from the culture at other companies you have worked for?

People-focused leaders and a culture based on integrity pave the way for close and effective cooperation among colleagues across borders, language barriers and cultural backgrounds. It is amazing when you visit a Roche site in a foreign country and you instantly feel at home because the local colleagues clearly share the same common values.

I like to describe the Roche way of operating by comparing it to the political culture of Switzerland: federalism that allows space for creativity and adaption while exploiting the advantages of a big and powerful organisation.

Tags: Switzerland, Career Blog, Research, Basel