It never occurred before I moved here that in Sweden, it's not just women who take care of their families. Paternity leave is equal between men, women – families of any shape. It is really inspiring.
I'm almost in my 20th year with Roche. I’ve had roles from market analytics and market planning and forecasting to sales, operations, franchise and operations lead and now General Manager of Sweden and a leadership role in our international transformation efforts.
Roche has some 97,000 people across the world. It’s humbling to think I might be part of shaping the broader landscape and bring more of those practices to enable more women to stay in the workforce globally.
It's a hard discussion to have at times – to put this issue of not just gender diversity, but also inclusion, at the forefront. How do we make sure we invest in people so they can contribute to the organization over the long term? Moving to Sweden from the U.S. was such an interesting experience. More than 70% of our organization is women. In most families here, the culture is set up to enable women to be successful, take time for their families, and come back to work.
Early in my career, there were challenges. I wanted to have a family. I wanted a career. I was almost 30 weeks pregnant for the first time before my boss acknowledged it. That was a really awkward time for me.
I transitioned to work for my direct manager, who said: “Take the time you need and invest that time with your son. It’s important, and your job will be here when you come back. And after that time, if you decide you want a different path, take that path.”
That conversation opened my eyes: this isn't a choice I have to make, it’s a conversation, dialogue and figuring out the path that makes the most sense for me and my family. I am forever grateful to her for unlocking that opportunity for me, mentally. My career has benefitted from having amazing managers and an organization that enables me to have that balance.
The pandemic brought key things into focus. I love being with my family. But it's hard to be in your apartment every day and not be able to sit down, look colleagues in the eyes and understand how they are dealing with the changes and struggles we're all facing.
I've been fortunate in Sweden; from a school perspective we've mostly stayed open. But for a couple of weeks, when my kids were home, it felt like I was delivering about 5%, and I know some people around the world have been dealing with that for over a year now!
It's so important to discuss and invest in creating balance and well-being in your life. For me, that’s time spent on things that bring me joy. A big part of that is professional – doing work that energizes me. In my personal time, it's making space for my family – having time dedicated to just my children and my husband, who is a great partner.
The last aspect is doing things you love and enjoy. I watch Netflix and just chill out and watch silly things that make me laugh. Or I go for a long walk. Like many during COVID-19, we adopted a dog, so that's been an adventure! But it's so important to have time for reflection and a commitment to things that bring you happiness.
I think part of my longevity with Roche is thanks to time spent reflecting. Is the work I'm doing making me happy and bringing me joy? Why am I here and why do I stay with the organization? Is the organization serving my purpose, and am I committing that purpose back to the organization? What really recharges me and my well-being is when I feel like I have an impact on patients. I encouraged people I coach or mentor to really get clear: What are your values and what matters to you? Because a big part of what creates that well-being is being in sync with those values in your personal and professional life.