Because an international organization like Roche needs and values perspectives from all over the world, Roche’s 85,000 employees originate from over 150 countries. Many of those employees are now living and working at Roche locations halfway around the globe from their home nations. One of these employees is Maria Annabel Blanco. Annabel is originally from the Philippines, where she studied accountancy and gained her board certification and business experience. Today she is based in Basel where she works as a Senior Auditor at Roche.
Annabel had already worked in Switzerland when she was hired at Roche, so some of the culture shock was behind her when she started her current job. Still, she was relieved to have the company’s help in making the move. “When I moved to Roche everything was taken care of for me,” she says. “It was a smooth transition from moving out my belongings from the Philippines to finding an apartment in Basel.” She also found her new colleagues helpful and supportive. The “friendly, professional and open-minded individuals” in Annabel’s department helped ease a complex and potentially difficult transition.
Employees have a variety of reasons for leaving their home countries to work at Roche. “I joined Roche because I wanted to work for a company that enables me to have a full international career and a challenging and interesting job,” says Annabel. “I knew from experience that auditing in an international setting is a very good way to understand the different facets of the business.” Another Roche employee, Feifei Wei, is from Shanghai, China, and is now International Business Leader in Point of Care at Roche Diagnostics. She says of the Rotkreuz campus where she works, “The site is highly international. You can find more than 40 nationalities here. No matter where you are from, you will easily make friends with people who speak your mother tongue.” Having lived and worked in several countries over the last ten years, Feifei is proud to have found a home in a “multicultural environment” like Roche.
Annabel and Feifei understand first-hand the importance of working on a diverse team. “Cultural difference is necessary to create an innovative workplace,” says Annabel, who emphasizes the need for “cultural intelligence”: the ability to see beyond colleagues’ differences to find what everyone has in common. Feifei says that Roche has been a nurturing presence throughout her expatriate experience. “Despite being a company with 85,000 employees worldwide,” she says, “you still get a home-like feeling at Roche, because you are surrounded by so many great people with whom you connect at a personal level.” It takes a special balance of professionalism and personality to build a seamless team of so many diverse colleagues, but the international Roche family prides itself on supporting employees of all backgrounds and origins to do their best work together.
During my first few days at the company, everyone was always willing to help and give me more guidance than I expected. They made me feel at home instantly, supporting me both professionally and personally.