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Along with many industries, we are facing an ever increasing complex and changing business environment.  Thus, we are looking at how we can be more responsive in our ways of working to enable us to more effectively respond to both predictable and unpredictable business challenges.

Introduce yourself and tell us about your organisation  

I have been Director of HR at Roche Products Limited UK since last August, moving from a global HR Programme Manager role at our headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.  I’ve worked for the Roche Group for 20 years, mostly in Genentech in California, in diverse roles and business areas: manufacturing, supply chain and technical development, finance, global procurement and regulatory.  I will give you a flavour of the fantastic employee experience enjoyed by all of us who work for our great company.

Founded in 1896, Roche continues to search for better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat diseases and make a sustainable contribution to society. We have one mission: to do now what patients need next. Roche is focused on bringing diagnostics, treatments and cures to patients where there is currently no remedy or where the current treatment is outdated or not offering effective care.

It always seems to surprise people when they find out about the influence and impact Roche has on the world. For instance, we are the 7th largest investor in Research & Development globally, not just healthcare, investing over £6 Billion pounds annually. Twenty nine medicines developed by Roche are included in the World Health Organisation Model Lists of Essential Medicines, among them life-saving antibiotics, anti-malarials and cancer medicines. We have almost 100,000 employees globally working in over 100 countries, and our philosophy is simple, if our employees love their work, with people they love working with, they will innovate and therefore bring new ground-breaking diagnostics and medicines to those that need them most. The health and strength of our product pipeline is testament to this continued philosophy.

What do you think defines an organisation as a top employer today?  

A top employer creates an employee experience that enables each and every employee to be, and continuously develop into, the best version of themselves at work each day.  We look at this holistically: the employee experience is a reflection of the environment created by the business organisation, as well as each person who enables the business to thrive.  While an organisation provides the conditions for the employee experience, each employee equally contributes by the attitude, mindset and behaviour they bring, and others experience at work each time they “walk through the doors of the building”.  Today’s top employer’s buildings are no longer just a physical building necessarily, it’s about what the individual experiences virtually, physically, mentally and emotionally – to the whole person.  Thus, in today’s environment, a top employer must truly embrace the whole person and this can only happen through choice.  An employee of a top employer chooses to be and develop into the best version of themselves and the business enables this to the fullest extent.

Tell us about a recent initiative that you have instigated within your organisation that you are most proud of?  

Over the last eighteen months, as part of our increasing attention to building a world class employee experience, we have introduced a 21st century view of what great people practices look like. We have called this the People Project, which may on the surface look like a simple concept, but what is different is our commitment to the philosophy and to making it a success. One element of the project is the simple idea of meaningful conversations – “check-ins” – between employees and their line managers and also leaders and their teams.  By meaningful, we mean that there is greater transparency in conversation, through regular feedback and covering topics that go beyond a task list.  With regular feedback cycles, very little should come as a surprise to an employee, line manager or leader because they are in constant “dialogue” with those whom they work closely with.  Regular meaningful conversations also ensure that there is awareness of the whole person, and things that may be happening both within and outside of the office. These conversations build connection and trust through transparency and interest in the individual.  The evolution to 21st century people practices takes a massive amount of commitment and engagement throughout the organisation, but is a virtuous circle whereby the effort and commitment put in, determines the outcomes experienced by the employee, team and organisation, as a whole, in the long run.

What is the next objective in your organisation's journey to keep improving the employee experience?  

Our company purpose – doing now what patients need next – inspires us every day.   And our culture is a key element to enabling our purpose.  We are currently working on ways to remove obstacles and barriers to work practices and processes that are slow and cumbersome through agile methodologies so that ultimately, our people can get important medicines to patients faster.  I know we will be successful at this due to the dedication and commitment of our employees to our purpose – this is our culture.  As we are evolving how we get work done in the workplace, we recognise that there is a need for us to balance our entire wellbeing, meaning a commitment to our purpose both inside and outside of the workplace. Thus, we have a strong focus on holistic well-being, whereby one can be brilliant and creative at work and also be able to switch off and recharge for long term sustainable well-being.

What is the biggest challenge facing your organisation today and how are you planning to overcome it?  

Along with many industries, we are facing an ever increasing complex and changing business environment.  Thus, we are looking at how we can be more responsive in our ways of working to enable us to more effectively respond to both predictable and unpredictable business challenges.  Mindset is a key factor in how each of us as individuals can contribute to an agile organisation, specifically growth mindset.  Our hypothesis is that if our employees have a positive employee experience whereby they are enabled to bring the best version of themselves to work, then we create an environment for everyone to thrive, to do their best, give their best and get their best.  So far, what we are finding is that through experimentation, prototyping and learning from our failures, we are beginning to evolve our mindsets across the organisation so that we can respond, in a sustainable manner, to the evolving business environment.

How will your organisation have to adapt to meet the changing future workplace?  

I believe that the work we are doing to further our employee experience, be it through improving work practices and processes, evolving our mindsets, and ultimately enabling our employees to bring their whole selves to work each day, creates the foundation for us to continue to adapt and meet the challenges we experience in the workplace today and tomorrow.  We are an organisation founded upon experimentation, research and innovation, and this sentiment is carried across through everything we do.  It is only through the dedicated and committed people whom we attract and develop who will ensure that we ultimately get medicines and outcomes to patients faster.


This interviewee was kindly introduced to us by ‘Top Employers Institute – the global authority on certifying excellence in employee conditions.’ Their organisation is certified as a Top Employer.

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