Meet Rebecca Casey, Global Head of Leadership and Employee Development at Roche

Tell us a bit about yourself

By 2002, I had worked in more jobs than I could count, searching for the right fit for me, both job-wise and company-wise. I found both of those when I started working for Roche in 2003. I worked as the National Learning and Development Manager in Australia for about 8 years, before moving into a global role.

With my low threshold for boredom, if you had told me 15 years ago that I would work for a company for 10 years and would want to stay with that company for the rest of my career, I would have laughed, become bored and found someone else to talk to. But it’s happened and there are a lot of strong reasons for that (and no, it’s not just because I am now more mature :) )

Before joining Roche, I worked as a communication specialist for about 12 years, dealing with everything from internal communication to media relations and marketing. I joined the pharmaceutical industry as a Corporate Affairs Manager. After 18 months, I had the chance to manage a sales training team. The HR department then restructured and I found myself with the opportunity to decide what I really wanted to do and where I wanted to work.

Where did you study?

I studied at the University of Canberra – Canberra is the capital city of Australia but most people think it’s Sydney (I could comment further on this but I don’t want to offend any Canberrans). I gained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication, a Graduate Diploma in Counselling and a second Graduate Diploma in Marketing. Not surprisingly, I use knowledge from all of these areas in my work now, as well as most of the skills I have gained in my various jobs over the years.

In which Roche location are you currently working?

I am currently working in Basel, Switzerland, in the Global Organisational and Effectiveness team. It’s a Centre of Excellence within Corporate HR where we develop strategy for, and support the implementation of, major organisational change, leadership and employee development, succession and high potential employee management etc etc.

What can you tell us about that location?

Basel is such an interesting place. About one third of the population are expatriates so as you walk around you will hear languages from everywhere. It is very easy to get around - the public transport is, not surprisingly, well-managed and on time. It’s incredibly safe, a mixture of old and new Europe and so well located that you are able to take very short flights directly from Basel to places like Greece, Croatia or the UK or you can simply drive to so many other countries. Sometimes we do our shopping in France or Germany, drive to visit our friends in Milan or relatives in Stuttgart for the weekend, or drive for an hour and go skiing for the day. For someone from a large island continent like Australia, this is still hard to believe.

Why did you decide to join Roche?

I was representing my former company at an Australian Medical Association meeting. We were talking about delivering HIV drugs into Papua New Guinea where HIV/AIDS is a huge problem. Most of the representatives were talking about how they could use this venture for positive publicity. The representative from Roche identified issues that no one else had even thought about and was so passionate about the patients – he didn’t even care about the publicity.

I then discovered that other people who worked for Roche were very similar. After the restructure in my old role and with time to think, it became very clear that my next company would have to be focused on the patient and stand out from the crowd. I saw an ad for the National L&D Manager role and discovered that I had never wanted a job as much as that one.

What is your current job?

I am currently the Global Head of Leadership and Employee Development.

What makes it such a great job?

Variety, variety, variety. Add to that the ability to have a large positive impact on a large number of people, the chance to work with exceptionally intelligent people, the chance to support culture change within the organisation and the chance to be part of a truly high performing team . . . and we have the recipe for a great job.

Can you pick at least three of the Roche attributes and explain in detail what they mean to you?

  • Passion – It’s one of our values and it can be an expression that is over-used. The way I see it manifest at Roche is that the vast majority of people want to do a really good job. They were passionate about their work and Roche when they joined the company and that passion remains. The focus on the patient is intensely positive and motivating.
  • Products – I recently received an email from a friend telling me that his mother was able to see her grandson’s first school play, thanks to one of our products increasing her longevity by 10 years (and counting).
    Our niche, specialised medicines provide so many people with the opportunity to improve the quality of their lives or extend their time here so they can experience birthdays, weddings, new babies and other major life events they would otherwise have missed . . . where else can you contribute to something so meaningful?
  • Collaborative work environment – we work together. We are team-based, even though so many of us work in global teams. We are a large number of small parts who work together for the same purpose. We gather ideas from others, celebrate different points of view, involve others in exploring issues and decision-making and focus on the future.

Please complete the following sentence:

Roche is a great place to work because... you are most likely to find that combination of satisfying work, a great team, good benefits, common purpose and career opportunities to keep you engaged for a very, very long time.

How would you describe the people working here?

Enthusiastic, unique, highly educated, highly intelligent, humorous, caring and accepting.

What would you advise job seekers who want to join us?

Talk to as many employees as possible. Be open to all possibilities at Roche. You never know what may come up if you focus on building a strong foundation in a number of areas rather than setting your sights on only one job.

I never anticipated that I would work in this industry or that I would end up living in Switzerland working on leadership development. If I hadn’t been open to opportunities, rather than focusing on one specific job, it would never have happened. But it is exactly the right place at the right time for me.

Tags: Career Blog, HR, Switzerland