Christopher Parker Managing Director Roche Diagnostics

From Biomedical Scientist to Managing Director. Is curiosity the secret to his success?

Tell us about how you started out in your career?

I have always had an interest in Science even as a child, as my father was an Analytical Chemist who was working for Oil Refining and Mining Organisations which meant during my childhood we moved throughout parts of Australia.  I believe this is where my curiosity first started and this lead to me deciding to focus my studies in the Biomedical Science field.

What were the opportunities that lead to your position now?

I first practiced as a Biomedical Scientist in Brisbane.  However an opportunity arose to move to Sydney and this was my first challenge! The move involved being in a new city, finding accommodation, learning a new role and building networks of colleagues and friends.  This was an exciting time where I took a risk and embraced changes and from this I gained great experiences.  I recall on one occasion in particular when a Sales person came into the hospital and I wondered how it would be to work sales!  This occasion ultimately led to me starting a commercial career.  Initially I worked for smaller start-up companies in Melbourne and Brisbane and used these roles as opportunities to constantly challenge my skills and development.  However right the way through my career I have always kept an open and curious mind-set and been willing to take risks when opportunities presented themselves.  I would say that this mind-set has been the most significant factor to influence the direction in my career.

My initial role as National Sales and Marketing Manager for Roche Diagnostics in Sydney came via having a broad network and great contacts in the Diagnostics industry, and since then I have had some fantastic career opportunities across the Roche world.  I have also had the great support of my wife who has been there and supported me for 30 years whilst I have held those commercial roles in Brisbane, Sydney, Singapore, Taiwan, India, Canada and the UK.  Primarily my advice would always be that you have to listen to that inner voice that is telling you that this could be a great opportunity and if you believe it’s right, then you should just go for it.  Sometimes it’s far harder to say yes to these opportunities than to say no but for me, ultimately every risk or opportunity has always paid off and I have learned so much from each role or assignment.

Did you always have a clear vision about your career and the path it would take?

Having seen many ways to achieve success, some people are very focused and have a step-by-step plan.  My career path has developed through my curiosity and the willingness to take risks, seeing an opportunity and being open to this change. I believe in firstly doing things well, in being passionate about what you do and then you can look forward to what is next.

What do you believe is the single greatest factor that has contributed to your success?  

Again its about having that curious disposition and risk taking.  Its not about jumping from one thing to the next.  Of course you want to achieve and accomplish what you set out to do in every role and do the role to the best of your ability and I challenge myself about what I do and how I do it every day.  However it is also about looking forward to the next opportunity and what this might bring to you.  In general if you say “yes” then doors start to open and then it is up to you to take a calculated risk.  The risks have to be calculated because they don’t just affect you, they affect your family too and there are impacts on your children and schools etc.

What is it like to be Managing Director of Roche Diagnostics in the UK?

I have never aspired to a particular job title, however I love the role as it gives me access to all sorts of people and challenges and I have the opportunity to make a difference.  Having had a career in Sales of course I enjoy the impact of winning new business however primarily it’s the people interactions and ultimately the interactions with our customers, the patients where I am privileged to understand the impact that Roche can make to patient lives.  I truly believe that at Roche we put our patients at the heart of everything we do and we are “doing now what patients need next”.

How do leaders at Roche contribute to our “Great Place to Work” initiative?

In my mind “Great Place to Work” is about allowing our employees the space to try new and different things.  In my career my natural curiosity has led me to so many different opportunities and I would like to feel that if we encourage that open-minded approach for our employees then they can achieve things they hadn’t planned or expected but that deliver so much benefit to themselves and the business.  If we as a Leadership Team trust our people to take calculated risks and devolve decision making where appropriate, we give them the confidence to push boundaries, be innovative and embrace challenge which is good for business.

If you had to sum up Roche’s culture in 3 words what would they be?

Inclusive, flexible and open

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

There have been many very notable and memorable occasions.  It is always extremely rewarding when a project is seen through to its conclusion and you have a certain amount of pride that it has been well executed and there have been benefits to the business and the patient.  It is always a highlight when I have the opportunity to address employees or customers at conferences and share their experiences and the value and benefit that Roche is bringing to patient lives and of course I have the daily experience of working with talented, inspirational and great people at Roche for which I feel very thankful…

Tags: Career Blog, UK