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Leading a Team

I can't be an expert in every area – only in a team are we very strong.
Isabel Burckhardt, Franchise Lead HER2+ Roche Pharma AG in Grenzach

You have been working at Roche for a very long time and are Franchise Lead in Grenzach. Had this always been your dream?

I have a close, long-term bond to Roche. I had already financed my studies through my work at Roche. In 2001 I came to the Roche Headquarters in Basel, where I was active for ten years, amongst others as International Product Manager. Since 2011 I have been at Roche Germany in Grenzach, initially in office duty as a product manager. In 2013 I changed to the field staff and had my first leadership position as area manager. Then I became marketing manager and I have been Franchise Lead for two years.

Is a long-term binding the prerequisite for management personnel or do many managers also come from outside?

We often say: Once Roche, always Roche. We have many employees in leadership roles that have already been here for a long time. But there are also many examples where we bring in external people on the leadership level, as this brings a fresh breeze and new perspectives. For example three years ago my colleague from the area Medical Affairs was still a physician at a hospital.

What are your main tasks as manager?

My main task is to determine the long-term strategy in the area HER2+ (i.e. in the breast cancer area), to lead the Franchise Team and support my employees and promote their growth. In my Marketing or Commercial Team there are eleven employees, but above this I hold the responsibility for the areas Medical, Sales und Market Access for the area HER2+. With these pillars we cooperate closely and undertake relevant decisions. What I especially like with this is that we look on tasks and problems from different perspectives. In the team we are strong, in each individual pillar there is much expertise which I could not have on my own.
In the HER2+ area I am responsible throughout Germany for three products. My employees are also members in the International Business Team, which is involved in the development of the global strategy.

Apart from your tasks do you still have time for the employees?

The leadership work is in fact a large and very important task. Regular meetings in everyday working life, also about private matters, are of great importance. In the final instance I am responsible that the team is satisfied. We have a global employee survey with which the Commitment Score is measured, meaning: How connected does the employee feel with the company? In my team we last had a Commitment Score of 100 %, that is of course great.
But we still don't rest on our laurels with this result. There are other areas where we still see an optimisation potential. In the team we regularly discuss what we can still improve together.

Is there a joint leadership culture towards which managers can orient themselves?

I am in continuous exchange with the other Franchise Leads and am amongst others also part of the Operations Decisions Forum, which is involved with the priorities for the entire Grenzach location. As everything is becoming faster and more complex it is important that we structure ourselves well as organisation and accommodate ourselves to the future challenges.

Twice a year there is a management workshop where we work on a joint understanding of leadership. It is a very important point to enable the teams to be able to undertake decisions by themselves. More decision freedom in the team leads to greater responsibility with the individual employee, greater satisfaction and better results.

Managers promote employees, how does Roche promote managers?

Several years ago I participated in a leadership program in which one played through different simulations. Thereby one learns a lot about oneself, above all about the own strengths and weaknesses. It was a great experience that helped me professionally and personally. I feel it to be a great privilege that my colleagues and I are given the space for the own development. But one also needs to work on it oneself.

Tags: Germany, Career Blog, Marketing & Communications