Maysoun Ramadan is the Head of Communications & Public Affairs at Roche Diagnostics Middle East. She has carved for herself a highly varied corporate career at Roche, having changed industry vertical, function, location, coverage and team. She is a passionate champion of diversity, a promoter of STEM education among young female Arabs and a vocal advocate on the need for early diagnosis of disease.
During our conversation, we discussed Maysoun’s attitude towards diversity, which includes looking well beyond gender, to age, expertise, ethnicity and also ability. I was keen to learn how she went about hiring a lady with a disability onto her team and what the impact on the organization was. We talked about the biggest challenge she faced in life, and how she overcame it. And we also discussed the many exciting people-facing jobs that exist for women who study science subjects.
I enjoyed listening to hearing Maysoun’s tips for women in the corporate world… Know your strengths and weaknesses; be courageous; accept or even seek change; network; self-promote; ask for what you want; own your trajectory; build a strong support system – among others. But my two favourites were these: when she gets manterrupted, she interrupts right back (politely)! And the ultimate life hack that I have found useful in my own career/ life: it is OK to not be OK… It is OK to not be perfect.
If you would like to follow up with Maysoun, you can find her on LinkedIn as @maysounramadan or through Roche Diagnostics.
Read the Transcript
Rana Nawas: [00:00]
Hello ladies and gents. My guest on today’s show is a purpose driven corporate leader and a passionate champion of STEM education among young female Arabs. Maysoun Ramadan is the head of communications and public affairs at Roche Diagnostics Middle East. She leads the corporate outreach across 16 regional markets and drives internal communications and employee engagement for over 450 team members. With over a decade of industry experience, Maysoun has been instrumental in driving effective campaigns on the need for early diagnosis of disease. During this episode, we discussed her attitude towards diversity, which includes looking well beyond gender to age, expertise, ethnicity, and also ability. I was keen to learn how she went about hiring a lady with a disability onto our team, how well it worked out, and what the impact on the organization was. We also talked about the biggest challenge you face in life and how she overcame it. We discussed how there are many exciting people facing jobs for women who study science subjects and Maysoun also offered to our corporate ladies out there some tips on how to get ahead. So let’s get into it. Maysoun, thank you so much for coming onto When Women Win. I’m really happy to have this time with you today.
Maysoun Ramadan: [01:17]
Likewise, I mean, good morning first and I would really appreciate and thank you for this beautiful opportunity.
Rana Nawas: [01:23]
So let’s start with you. You’re half Turkish, half Palestinian, a pharmacist by training, and a communications professional by day.
Maysoun Ramadan: [01:31]
Rana Nawas: [01:32]
Are you trilingual in Turkish, Arabic, and English?
Maysoun Ramadan: [01:35]
Okay. Let me first add one thing over there, I’m Jordanian/Palestinian/Turkish, and I’m so proud to have the three in my heart blood because that makes me who I am and indeed, yes. I mean, this diversity that I have in my background culture is something that I’m so excited and I try to kind of leverage that in the sense of the languages that I speak, right? Whatever it is and certainly the culture that I’m talking about, you just get to grab the good things from each one of them. Try to become as one the best out of all.
Rana Nawas: [02:09]
And how did your early life shape the person you are today?
Maysoun Ramadan: [02:12]
I believe, I mean, there’s a huge impact and influence that my parents actually had on me. I’m so grateful and I thank God for that everyday. When I was young, I remember how my mom and dad, they used to always push me and they’ve instilled that confidence in me. I’m talking about very simple things right now. I’ve been always in love with talking, speaking, holding that mic. I’ve been always in choirs from four or five years old and onwards. So I definitely recall how my mom used to like, kind of always encouraged me. Just go a hold of mic, sing, read a poem. A lot of people around us just clapping, approving and so forth. So that moment is a moment that I can never forget. That moment when I’m on stage looking at everybody’s eyes and I see that excitement and I can see myself there being heard. That is something I believe my early life helped me a lot in the sense of it was that what triggered my encouragement to always be there, speak, do what I like to do. The passion that I had, which my mom and dad always like kind of encouraged me to go on, that is something which is really important and I’m speaking about it as a mother. Like I can see how important it is to encourage your kids to do things that they like to do because that’s when they really would excel and they will do a lot of miracles out of it as well.
Rana Nawas: [03:27]
So let’s talk about that, why did you choose to study pharmacy?
Maysoun Ramadan: [03:30]
Maybe this is a very traditional Jordanian story, but my dad is a doctor. He’s a gynecologist.
Rana Nawas: [03:37]
My dad was a gynecologist, Allah yerhamu.
Maysoun Ramadan: [03:40]
Really, yeah. So my dad is a gynecologist and my sister, actually is my elder sister, she’s a pharmacist. So for me it was like the environment, it’s like a medical environment, which was one. The second thing which I really need to mention here, I mean, because your dad is a gynecologist I’m sure you’re going to relate, but I mean he used to wake up early in the morning, three, four, five, 1:00 AM for other women who are like having babies, so he had to wake up in the middle of the winter. I mean, just jump in his car and just go. You see, so you understand that commitment, responsibility has to do with something. It’s for the sake of a human being. He’s trying to help someone bring joy to this live, help a patient. These are things that I’ve been always raised on. It was part of the things we live every day in my house, in this sense. So I think this is another area that was almost into my values. I’ve seen there’s a good cause out of it. Of course, the fact that seeing my sister as an example was another aspect. I mean I’ve seen that she’s doing very well because they always get to tell you like medical, clinical, these kind of industries are like only one way. You just go to a clinic or a pharmacy or a hospital. Which was not true and I’ve seen that with my sister and she started her career in a multinational pharmaceutical organization and that showed me that you have different ways to do what you do. You don’t need to just do one particular job or a way of doing a job and that’s when I got interested because I’ve seen that she’s dealing with a lot of humans in the sense of she’s more like people centric trying to work in the sales/marketing aspects of the pharmaceuticals, which is an area that actually tempted me and, by the way, I studied or started my studies as an IT. That’s how I registered, in the sense that was my first step in the university and after the first year I did the move and I moved into pharmacy or to study like the — move of the faculty in the sense. So that was a good influence that my sister kind of achieved and because of her I started studying pharmacy.
Rana Nawas: [05:39]
And you’re very passionate about encouraging women to study in STEM fields.
Maysoun Ramadan: [05:43]
Rana Nawas: [05:43]
Because I think of what you just mentioned and that you can have people jobs, people related jobs. So you speak to women a lot about this, Arab woman?
Maysoun Ramadan: [05:53]
Rana Nawas: [05:53]
What’s your message?
Maysoun Ramadan: [05:53]
My message is when you’re working or in this field, STEM in general, you’re in the middle of innovation and innovation does not mean what you’re getting out as a product. It’s how you’re doing it as well and when you study these different topics, scientific topics let me call it, you can also apply that innovation, creativity in the way you do things and that’s how I see it. I mean, I am not in the lab. I’m not one of the lucky ones who is sitting in the lab to come up with a very amazing, beautiful molecule that would help a patient. But I’m on the other side where I’m trying to help those, I mean, colleagues whom are in the lab doing that by getting more creative ways of talking about it and making people aware and raising that knowledge about what innovations you have in these different fields that would help these people either in the health, wellness, knowledge, whatever topic it is. I would definitely encourage all women who are thinking about it right now, they’re just trying to decide what they’re going to study in the universe, think about it.
Rana Nawas: [06:52]
Science, technology, engineering, math, and I’m an engineer myself.
Maysoun Ramadan: [06:57]
Rana Nawas: [06:58]
And I’ve never actually worked as an engineer.
Maysoun Ramadan: [07:00]
That’s the point, see.
Rana Nawas: [07:01]
I have a 17 year corporate career and I’ve never worked in an lab.
Maysoun Ramadan: [07:07]
Quick changes, right?
Rana Nawas: [07:08]
The world is changed and, I mean, these are degrees that give you solid analytical foundations to do anything you want and as you say, you know, you can’t just have the hard science. The hard science needs, the soft, the creative, the innovative way of getting the word out.
Maysoun Ramadan: [07:25]
Rana Nawas: [07:26]
Yeah and touching people.
Maysoun Ramadan: [07:26]
Rana Nawas: [07:26]
And I would say, I mean, do you credit actually your background in science as helping you in your communications role?
Maysoun Ramadan: [07:33]
Yeah, I mean, here comes the point of the, I would say the switch. Let me take it this way. You change because things happen in your life that would basically require you to change or push you to do that change and I would say in my life, yeah, I’ve been through different experiences where I thought of not doing the things the way it should be done. Let’s look at the way of doing it innovatively and change. Certainly my background as a pharmacist helped me a lot because you understand what you’re talking about in the sense, you have that scientific background which also helps you in the ways of how I’m going to take this topic and make it simplified and kind of more of tangible to share. The other thing is that because I’ve started in the field of marketing and I would say sales, I’ve seen that there’s a part which is not the clinician because when you’re working in marketing and sales in pharmaceutical industries, we tend to talk to a certain segment in the sense of clinicians, whoever is working in healthcare industry. So for me it was like, I just want to expand, I want to reach out more to people due to my, actually, career because I used to work with cancer patients, survivors, organizations and that showed me that there’s a lot of opportunity there. That’s how I was like, you know what, if I look into the communications and public affairs, if I get the chance to have that strong positioning of what Roche is doing as an organization to help people, to help patients, still also to showcase that you need a lot of communications and I believe in communications. It’s an art. It would make people get better, which should happen, they would learn more. They would take care of themselves in the healthcare segment I would say. So that’s how I looked into changing my, I would say career, from marketing and sales when I started into the communications department. Given that English is not even my first or second language, my third language. So that was maybe the challenge. I’m like, am I going to do it well? And I’m like, you know what? I will learn, what is in it for me? I just have to sit and learn and that’s when I started reading, fortifying what I have as a foundation. I even attended like media schools in the sense of I’m now a certified Arabic TV presenter and I’ve done a lot of editing in that perspective. Still I tell you, I like the mic, right? That also gives you an idea like this is something I love. So from that perspective I looked into how do I academically, professionally also develop myself in order to utilize all this, I would say, group of things innovatively to serve a good purpose, at least in my case at Roche, my purpose is what we have as an organization. It’s doing now what patients need next and this is how innovation comes in in the function of communications. How can we really reach out to maximum number of people? If you help one person, believe me, this is a very interesting, I would say tip. You might share one statement, one sentence, it might really change one person’s life, but with that one person you have a family, you have a bigger circle, so never say it’s not needed. Never say it’s not necessarily.
Rana Nawas: [10:31]
It’s not worth it.
Maysoun Ramadan: [10:32]
Never say it’s not worth it, it’s going to be worth it at least for one person, so just do it, and that would be probably the reason why I did the change. The second thing is my passion. Like I love it. I don’t consider this as a career or as a job. I just enjoy what I’m doing because I’ll do it for fun, like I have fun when I do it and that will be my second tip. Do things that make you really feel happy. If you enjoy anything, you’re really gonna do much better than you would expect. Then you would achieve a lot of nice, I would say, goals that you want to achieve by yourself and you actually certainly put for yourself as a strategy. This is what I would say.
Rana Nawas: [11:11]
And I think you got there over time, your first job was not that. So you’ve worked your way through Roche the way many corporate women today are trying to do too. So let’s talk about your first job.
Maysoun Ramadan: [11:23]
Yeah. So I started, that’s the nice, interesting part, I started, I mean, in a pharmaceutical company. It was 2005/6. Then I moved into Roche in Jordan in 2000 and, I would say 6 as a sales specialist. So I was hired to do sales for a transplant organ transplantation, relevant medications. What does that mean? It’s just a pill that you take if you have any organ transplantation, like kidneys or liver, and this pill will allow your body to accept this new organ so you don’t have rejections, which is a normal body reaction in the sense. Believe me, when I just moved into Roche that day, which I absolutely remember now, I was like, what is this? I mean, why do I want to work in transplant? Was even the topic was so interesting for me in Jordan, like it’s not something you really talk about. It was not very common. Let me say that one was not very common really because it’s a very specialized life, yet it was very interesting for me because when you see the eyes of that patient who just received a donation from a relative and you see that they can now live because they’ve got that organ and they’re taking a pill that’s allowing them to do in addition to the tests that also Roche is providing for them to check, whether there’s going to be any rejection. To me this was beautiful innovation, like you’re having a beautiful thing there that would help one person and his family to stay together. So this is how I started my career. Then I moved into still marketing in Rosh in different, I would say, aspects of the role, but still in Jordan I moved into cancer relevant and I would say diseases and that’s when you see the mixture of passion versus hope versus patients versus time. It’s so complex. You see lots of different aspects in life that people have to go through and you feel that weakness that I really want to help. It sometimes makes you feel so weak and that’s why you want to even do more. You feel like I would do one more thing that would help that patient and that’s when I really felt like, you know what, while I’m doing the marketing and sales, we need you to go for a lot of, we used to go for a lot of interactions with patient groups, hospitals that are running a lot of workshops, awareness campaigns for breast cancer, colon cancer, etc. So I was really very strongly part of it and that’s when I realized that, you know what, I don’t want to do, right now at least at that time, I did not want to do any more marketing and sales. I really want to be more connected to people and I’m a person like, cause I’m a people’s person. It’s something that’s in me as well. It’s good to know yourself as well. Be aware and conscious about what’s your strength and what’s your weakness in the sense and that’s somehow something I knew that it’s my strength. So I really actually approached my line manager. So this is my tip, try to approach your managers, ask them and yeah, my line manager was an absolutely amazing person who listened to me. I said this and this is an area that I really enjoy doing and it’s going to definitely help a lot of aspects, whether it’s going to help our patients, the society, business as well because at the end I’m working in a corporate organization. I need to give back in the sense and that’s how it started. I started my comms very junior role after I would say three to four years in marketing and sales in Roche Jordan and that was, I would say the first step. So my tip is discuss with your managers, be open about change and yourself, be open about change. Because for me it was very new like from marketing and sales to communications, it’s not something that is very, I would say traditional in the sense, but you really need to take that stuff. It’s very different. A lot of people were like, are you sure, what are you going to do in communications? I mean, are you gonna just ending up like writing and editing? And I’m like, no, it’s gonna be part of the job because writing and editing is how you communicate, but there’s much more into it and it’s just how to put the idea, the thought, how to put a strategy, how you involve people. It’s really much more than that. So that’s my tip. Be courageous.
Rana Nawas: [15:16]
And I think one thing, a tip you had earlier than that was know thyself because when you were doing your sales and marketing, I think what I understood you say is that you saw the value of impacting lives and that really mattered to you and then that’s the path that you wanted to kind of really go full force in and then you talk to your manager because you recognized that.
Maysoun Ramadan: [15:38]
Rana Nawas: [15:38]
Maysoun Ramadan: [15:38]
I mean, and the second thing, of course, I mean, I always considered myself lucky because I’m in an environment that allows and they really have that open dialogue and transparency. They like to listen to employees and this is for me a blessing, I would say. Now going back to that aspect of moving and the need of moment of courage in your life to do that, I mean, it’s a shift because it’s not easy. So you need to take new challenges, ideas. Still I was in my baby steps because I had to change first the role and I was in Jordan, then I moved to United Arab Emirates and I was actually based now in Dubai, responsible for United Arab Emirates. But I still continued with the job of marketIng and sales. So here was another shift for me, back again to working in sales. Looking after other disease areas. It was like hematology is one of them, different, I would say, solid tumors still in the oncology area, but I still was a lot of involved in campaigns that have to do with patients, how to put ideas to make sure that we reach out and so forth. Was it easy? No, it was not because taking the responsibility and the commitment to change roles, jobs, countries, is something that you need to do in order to enhance your career because that would give you a lot of perspectives, angles that you will learn. I mean, along with every switch and move you do in your career.
Rana Nawas: [16:58]
May I just ask, your husband followed you here?
Maysoun Ramadan: [17:01]
Actually no, my husband was here before I come in, so he was living in UAE and I ended up actually following him, which is good to share as well. See, I did that for him. I just moved here. I mean, but luckily as well, my career allowed me to make this move softer because I still did what I wanted to do. I did not have to stop working for this because I don’t see myself someone who would be able not to work and this is absolutely a personal choice. This is how I see it. There’s no right and wrong for it. Just to clarify that part, then I just did that move. However, I mean here comes the most important part, I would say, of my life, which really changed everything in me. So as I always say, what happens, happens for a reason. In 2000, between 10 and 11 I would say, my mom was diagnosed with hepatitis, a very severe one and usually severe hepatitis cases actually end up with liver cancer. So look at this, I mean, coincidence. So my mom actually required a liver transplantation, so who would have imagined that I started my career in Roche for that disease area, which for me was like, what is this?
Rana Nawas: [18:13]
How can ever be relevant to me?
Maysoun Ramadan: [18:15]
And I ended up actually being a person who needs that particular knowledge, innovation. Yeah. I mean, that was one of the interesting turn, I would say, points in my life because my mom actually ended up requiring a transplant and my beautiful sister is the one who donated part of her liver to my mom and, yeah, she got that surgery very successfully in Jordan and after, I would say six months, that cancer was a beast. I mean, it was kind of recurrent. So she had it in the new liver and unfortunately she could not make it, although she was a very healthy, beautiful woman, a very strong one. She’s, you can feel that she wanted to live, but life is not always as good as you want it to be, right? And this is one of the cases where you become very weak because it’s really out of your control and I think that was my turning point in my life because that’s the time when I felt that I really need to do something because her death did not only impact me, the entire family. Like we’d been devastated like it was, I can’t even explain it, I mean, it’s been like since 2011 now until today we feel it everyday. Having said that, that was one of the strong purposes why I said, you know what? I’m going to do something that should change everybody’s life. I don’t know what it’s going to be, even if I’m going to make one person happier one day, it’s good for me.
Rana Nawas: [19:31]
Because that family can be your family.
Maysoun Ramadan: [19:33]
Absolutely, we’ve been through it. I’ve been through it myself, my sister who was actually almost to become a bride, she’s been through that surgery. So I’ve seen the courage she had to do that step, I mean, you’re talking about a 16th hour surgery and it’s not easy, she was going to become a mother. So a lot of things that she was so beautiful and she’s the queen of our hearts anyway in the family, what she did was impossible. So that whole experience taught me a lot of beautiful values and I would say that was, again, the reason why I said, okay, I’m going to do this, I’m going to go for it and luckily I’ve got the chance to have a switch now from pharma, which is the pharmaceutical part of Roche, into diagnostics and diagnostics division is where we actually focus on tests that we have and we kind of innovate for patients to use either a blood test, urine test, IT solutions in the labs, IT devices that would allow all healthcare professionals to get appropriate, precise and accurate tests and tiny test for their patients and to me it was so much relevant after going through that because not forgetting the fact that why I had that particular, I would say challenging period after my mom passed away, I had my first child after one year of my mom’s death, so the same date I had my mom pass away was the same date that I had to have Denise, which I asked my gynecologist, please make it either one day before or one day after I don’t want it on that date, it’s not very beautiful day for me and that is something which was also going on at the same time, yeah. So I just moved from the pharmaceuticals to diagnostics and I’m so happy that I’ve got the privilege to experience all these different aspects of Roche because it’s so diverse, it’s so beautiful. It teaches you everyday how a lot of people putting a lot of effort to help others in this world under one roof is like amazing. Being in diagnostics, I would say it was not easy because that’s when I started to step into a regional role responsible for the middle east, 16 countries. A big organization, you’re talking about 400 plus and certainly talking about the move towards a leadership role, meaning I had to be strong, I had to understand I’m going to face a lot of challenges, I need to know how to promote myself because that is really key if you want to get in there and finally still I want to be passionate about what I’m going to do because I just don’t want to do it just for the sake of I have to do it.
Rana Nawas: [21:57]
So is that what got you through, I mean, there’s your mom’s death, there’s, your getting pregnant very soon after that, your moving countries, moving jobs, expanding your role. How did you navigate that?
Maysoun Ramadan: [22:13]
I am not going to be able to tell you how because I still don’t know how I did it, to be honest. I just, I mean, I think it’s about being conscious that certain things should not be and should not go in the best way. It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay not to be perfect. Really. I mean, this is something I realized and most importantly just be with a strong support system. In my early years, my family, dad, mom was basically my support system. Then my sister is the reason, like why I was guided into this career. My brother was there, my support, I would say, younger brother. He is like the joy of my life. I mean he used to make me happy in the sense, even that matters. Then moving into my life with a strong, beautiful, amazing partner who has been always there for me. I mean, if I did not have my husband, I don’t think I would have achieved what I’ve right now because I have an understanding man, a beautiful dad, who takes care and supports me in everything as much as I’m supporting the family. So this is key, for sure. So in that, I would say, particular chaos, number one, he was there for me for sure. He used to support me. Do this, do that. I used to sit and rehearse with him, my presentations. He used to really do that, he used to read what I write in order to make sure that I’m aligned before I go. So these are simple things, but they really matter in the sense. That’s one thing. I don’t forget even the travels because I used to travel a lot, but there was one time where I had to travel for the long trip and here I need to just kind of between quotations to put one more important support system, which is my nanny, Ramona. Ramona has been with me for almost now six years and a half. She going to get into her seventh year with me. She was there before I even bring Denise in this world in the sense. Ramona is it beautiful person. She taught me motherhood, because I mean, I had nobody around me. In addition to my mother in law who used to come in and stay with me for a while, this lady was always there as well. My nanny, she’s Beautiful and she’s supporting her family. So for me and empowering her and, yes she’s been with me supporting me, and it was vice versa, she’s being able to support her two kids to get a good education. So this is a tip that I’d like to give all the women, when you have support system around you with these different, I would say female supporters coming from different countries, be generous, help them because they need that help and they can really support your back and that will be a point for me that helped me also in my success in my career. So moving back to my husband, I remember one trip that I had to travel for one week to Switzerland. Ramona was in Phillipines, she’s like back to see her family. So Ahmed’s like here you go, here’s Denise I’m traveling habibi, bye and it was like a couple of days where he had to deal with a newborn child by himself alone. I mean, for me maybe it’s a norm. Maybe a lot of people do that. I also agree to that, but in my case it was a very interesting, inspiring, I would say, phase incidents and that showed me how partnership is important in the success of both sides careers, because he’s a career person as well, and I can’t say no, you’re not going to do it, I want to do it. We have to be very much aligned and understanding each other in order to achieve our objectives. Just to conclude, when you asked me how did you manage, again, a good schedule was always important for me. One, two, three, four. I mean, to do list is really very useful and this is something that I always do.
Rana Nawas: [25:35]
Maysoun Ramadan: [25:36]
Absolutely, prioritize. That’s very, really kind of key. The second thing is just accept not to have it perfectly done. It’s fine. Sometimes it’s okay. It’s just a phase and you can just get back on track. So that would be, I would say the few things I would share about that particular chaotic phase of my life.
Rana Nawas: [25:54]
And did Roche help you in any way during this time?
Maysoun Ramadan: [25:57]
Rana Nawas: [25:58]
Maysoun Ramadan: [25:58]
Several ways. Number one is the empowerment that they give you as a woman. Number one, as a mother, a new mother, you get to have a long maternity, so before even the laws that have been changing in the UAE, let’s say, we’ve had up to six months maternity.
Rana Nawas: [26:13]
Maysoun Ramadan: [26:14]
Not full pay. You just, you get three months, I mean, the regular law and you have up to six months if you wish in the sense of, I mean, unpaid, but the point for me is not honestly the pay, to be very frank with you, it’s about understanding your biology and the needs and that you might require that kind of time. This is one thing. The second thing in my case is that I’ve got also working from home, a kind of support. So I’ve been in alignment with my organization and my HR and my very, I would say generous boss who actually also have kind of has given me the chance to work from home in order to achieve the needs of my second baby, which was the time when I got that, working from home. These are support systems and support formats that I really would kindly ask every company, every organization to consider it because it really helps you get more motivated to give back because I’m being valued for being a woman and these are biological needs. It’s not that they’re giving me an extra because they want me to go and get tanned on the beach, it’s something I need. My body needs it and they’ve been helping me throughout. This is one thing. The second thing is certainly the nursery and the sense of, I mean, we have also as an organization or Roche in diagnostics Middle East we support nursery so they actually cover the nursery pays and the financials of a nursery, which to me is also a beautiful thing.
Rana Nawas: [27:36]
From what age?
Maysoun Ramadan: [27:36]
Rana Nawas: [27:38]
From newborn they cover nursery, wow.
Maysoun Ramadan: [27:40]
So this is another way to showcase how a company can really support mothers and not forgetting the fact that Roche has been anyway awarded diagnostics globally as supporting platform for mothers, but Roche Diagnostics in the Middle East as well has been always there in different platforms where we’ve been recognized for the support that we offer and the empowerment of women that we have. This is another aspect. You asked me, how did Roche help you? The third thing is the openness, the encouragement. I mean, I’ve never seen a beautiful encouragement in my life really so far as much as they had in the recent, I would say years, and why you are saying? Because when I first moved in, they gave me the chance to be creative, just do it the way you want and we’re going to have you there. They actually made sure that I’m happy, I can give back. I’m still having my own passion and most importantly, this is a very important point to mention it, it’s the values. So for me, what makes me up is certain values. I mean, I am Maysoun for who I am is certain values that I have and at Roche we also have also certain values. The company is built on passion, courage and integrity. These things which are definitely in me as a human being and when you have that alignment, it makes you even even kind of more relevant and more like committed and you really want to give back because that’s the place you were to where you want to be. So that’s how they really supported me as well by making sure that we’re aligned in our values and we are so much in the same direction. Last part I would say is the way that they helped me get there on a leadership role. All the support of the learnings that I have from trainings to I would say advice, to changing, I would say line managers or bosses yet still keeping the same momentum of you get what you want, just do it. The encouragement, I mean, giving me the chance always to speak up, giving me the chance to lead with certain clear leadership commitments that we have and they basically make sure that we’re all in line as a team together. Also, with these clear goals and objectives and keeping also, again, the same values and the commitments. So to me this is important.
Rana Nawas: [29:57]
I definitely want to come back to the leadership angle, but let’s go back to the values for a second and talk about diversity because that’s a very personal value of yours and sounds like it’s something that Roche values too and I love the way you and Roche look at diversity beyond gender.
Maysoun Ramadan: [30:15]
Rana Nawas: [30:16]
So can you tell us a bit about that?
Maysoun Ramadan: [30:17]
Okay. Let me share one point here, so the values were speak about are the three ones which is courage, passion, and integrity. Yet, when we speak about the culture, that’s when we bring in the diversity aspect, now environment. So speaking of the culture that we have as an organization, we’re talking about Roche worldwide. 90 to 94,000 people, plus even more and everywhere across the globe, no different than what we have in the middle east. So for us as an important, in the sense of, team member for this whole organization, we need to reinforce what we have globally wherever we are, and that’s why we are here in the Middle East to reinforce as well a beautiful culture that we have in our environment. Diversity for us is key because it’s how you bring an innovation. If you have different minds getting together to do one thing differently, you get to have beautiful ways of doing things. So this is one of the core reasons why we really so much into this environment of diversity.
Rana Nawas: [31:13]
You can’t have innovation without diversity.
Maysoun Ramadan: [31:17]
Absolutely. If you sit together in a lab and you come up to discuss who did come up with this important molecule or this important device and diagnostic, you’ll find different people, different mentalities, different everything. And when I speak diversity, by the way, it’s not only gender. We’re talking about age diversity. So, I mean, just to give you a glimpse, nationality in our office only, we have more than 43 nationalities, only in Roche Diagnostics Management Center office which is in Dubai, here in the UAE. So imagine, if I’m going to mention the others. Speaking of the gender diversity, which is also an important aspect. Backgrounds, and here comes the aspect of how you can be in the STEM field yet doing other things. You don’t need to be only a scientist in the lab or to be a doctor in a clinic. You can do many other things with different backgrounds that you have, a little bit of different of expertise will allow you to do different things in a different way. So that’s one aspect, but when we speak of the part of inclusion, which you would ask me, what does that mean? Putting people together is beautiful, but including them in the sense of making them all work together is the key part of the diversity. That’s when you complete the whole cycle and that’s when we looked into new ways of promoting diversity by putting in the inclusion part and looking at individuals with disabilities and that was another step that we’ve achieved actually in 2017 where we looked into adding or including an individual, a lady with disability, I would say intellectual disability. She had down syndrome, into our organization and that’s when we’ve seen the possibilities of including different aspects and coming up with very beautiful results, encouraging people to experience new things that they’ve never experienced before because when we had her in the office, I remember a lot of colleagues coming and asking us whether they can just go say hello and talk to her. So we are not, I would say, still prepared or we’re not used to it, I would say, at the workplace. I’m sure a lot of people would agree, not everyone is still prepared to experience such a new inclusion in their offices and for us it was a beautiful experience, not only for the individual but for ourselves as well. It was stunning for me to see how passionate she was, how beautifully she delivered, and she made me really believe that if you have the passion and you’re so into what you do, regardless of your capability levels, you can really achieve. So it comes back to the competency and the capability aspect and the passion that anyone would have.
Rana Nawas: [33:55]
And so this young lady with down syndrome delivered on her job.
Maysoun Ramadan: [33:59]
Rana Nawas: [34:00]
Maysoun Ramadan: [34:00]
She was part of the communications department. We had a lot of activities upcoming. We acquired a lot of support in our editing and in enewsletters kind of relevant projects. She did it beautifully and she is not even, she did not only do that. She took part even like asking people if she would like to give them zumba classes because she was a zumba trainer as well.
Rana Nawas: [34:22]
Maysoun Ramadan: [34:22]
She was full of life, I would say. She was absolutely a very beautiful example for us to see that regardless of how different you are, regardless of your race, gender, background, capabilities, if you have that passion, because that was what we’ve noticed in her. She was so passionate about what she’s doing.
Maysoun Ramadan: [34:42]
She would do anything to make it happen, you know, that day when she got the recognition letter from Roche, last day over her, I would say, duty. You had to see the happiness in her eyes. It was a big milestone in her, I would say, career because this is how she stepped in the career. It’s a program where the intellectual disability, I mean individuals with disabilities, they go into assignment in different companies and this is somehow a way for them to be prepared for a proper job.
Rana Nawas: [35:11]
Maysoun Ramadan: [35:12]
Yeah. So and this is, there’s plenty of such associations everywhere across the globe and in the UAE we have one and we’ve actually managed to reach out to them and ask for their help and it really worked very successfully.
Rana Nawas: [35:23]
I really hope other corporations into Dubai will learn from that and incorporate people. Include, the word is inclusion here.
Maysoun Ramadan: [35:31]
In the UAE it’s always mentioned, important to mention, they’re like leaders in all different aspects. They always innovate and even in this particular, I would say, particular, I would say topic, they’ve even, I would say, announced or launched the slogan. So they don’t even call them individuals with disabilities. They call them, they call them determined youth or determined individuals and this is how they even call them right now and, I mean, for me.
Rana Nawas: [35:56]
They’re rebranding, they’re not people with disabilities, they’re people who are determined.
Maysoun Ramadan: [36:00]
Yes and this is a beautiful way to see it and I think that this exercise that we had was a starting point and then we’re looking for more upcoming, I would say, assignments in our organization at Roche Diagnostics Middle East in different roles, different departments. Still, the concept is let’s include those young talents because they really want to achieve and it’s really beautiful if you’re one of the reasons why they’re reaching their goal somehow.
Rana Nawas: [36:25]
Amazing. So let’s go back to a subject you mentioned earlier, which is leadership and how Roche encouraged you and put you, I think you’re the youngest member of the leadership team, which is wonderful and there are a few other women on the leadership team. Now, what tips do you have for women in the corporate world on handling manterruptions and mansplanning? Let’s start with manterruptions.
Maysoun Ramadan: [36:47]
So when they interrupt me, I interrupt them back. Probably in a much more polite aspect in the sense of I would say, excuse me, I’m trying to say something here. Excuse me. I’m trying to talk. Would you mind please to give me the chance to talk? I just make sure I just keep saying that, even if it would take me to raise my pitch a little bit, but not yet. Just raise the pitch to make sure that you are there. This is one thing. The second thing would be just make sure that they believe in what you’re doing. That would make everybody around you really step back and listen. Yet this will require a bit of time. It’s not something that would happen in one meeting. You need to build up that trust. People should believe in what you’re doing. That’s when they will definitely step back, sit, and try to listen to what you’re saying. So this takes me to the tip of promote yourself. The way you promote yourself is to show what you are capable of doing and how you do it. Make them believe in what you believe in and let them see the power and the value of what you can achieve. That’s when people will start respecting what you’re doing and they will start really stepping back and listening and again, you have to be very patient throughout that process. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Rana Nawas: [37:58]
This is building credibility you’re talking about.
Maysoun Ramadan: [38:01]
Absolutely. It’s just, it needs a lot of, I would say, effort from your side and it’s a neutral, I would say, effort because you need the second party to listen, right? And there’s one more thing, I think emotional intelligence is also very important. You need to understand who you’re talking to, what would interest whoever you’re talking to, what would be that hook where, you know, if you talk about it, they would just sit and listen. Then you get to what you want to say in the sense. Again, my last tip, which is at a repitition is please promote yourself. Women do not talk much. As much as everybody says women like to talk, it’s something that I enjoy doing and we’re talking a lot, but they talk about everything and when it comes to promoting themselves or promoting what they’re doing, what they’re achieving, what they can do, they just don’t do that.
Rana Nawas: [38:43]
So they just don’t talk about their accomplishments, they’re achievements.
Maysoun Ramadan: [38:47]
No, they should. I mean, advertise about what you do. It’s something which gets you a lot of success. I mean, we tend to be very much behind the scenes. No, be courageous, just talk about it.
Rana Nawas: [38:57]
And what other tips would you have for women on building their brand and navigating the corporate world other than self promotion?
Maysoun Ramadan: [39:05]
I mean, I said about promotion which requires a lot of networking, I would say.
Rana Nawas: [39:09]
Maysoun Ramadan: [39:10]
Never stop learning. Always ask questions. I mean, even if it’s really not even relevant to your career industry, whatever it is, try to explore new things and the third thing would be, be courageous. I mean, don’t say no and try to take changes in your life and accept those changes and it should come from you, by the way. Nobody would come and offer you to do a change all the time. There are some cases where a company might ask someone to, especially speaking of corporate because that’s my only background, I would say, they would come and say, oh, we have this role. You take that initiative? Just go say, listen, I have this and that role, do you think I would fit in one of the, what do I need to do in order to get there? So have these open conversations with your line managers, HR departments, and always take the lead. Don’t wait. Take the initiative and ask. So you need to be very courageous to accept change, to go for change by yourself. That would be the last kind of aspect of the change. When I speak about about and the last thing I would say prioritize, because for me, when you prioritize, you know when you where you’re heading and prioritization is not something you do on in your career, but it is kind of, it’s going to expand in your work life balance as well.
Rana Nawas: [40:20]
Self promote, network.
Maysoun Ramadan: [40:22]
Rana Nawas: [40:23]
Be courageous. Own your trajectory. Don’t just wait, be proactive about your choices. Have those conversations. Prioritize ruthlessly.
Maysoun Ramadan: [40:30]
Rana Nawas: [40:32]
That’s fantastic. Maysoun, I’ve really enjoyed this. I’m going to wrap it up with a question about how listeners can find you because they might want to learn more about all these things we’re talking about, the awesomeness of Roche Diagnostics or just your own experiences at the system that you guys have put in place. The tips, you gave a lot of tips to corporate women. How can people get in touch with you?
Maysoun Ramadan: [40:51]
I mean, I have my linkedin account, I would say that’s my professional platform, where I’m recognized as a Roche member and everybody can actually reach me out through my linkedin page, and certainly through you as well. I’m now connected to you, so if they want to ask anything, just let them show it to you and I’ll get in touch with you. We’ll take it from there as well.
Rana Nawas: [41:10]
Lovely. We’ll have your linkedin handle in the show notes.
Maysoun Ramadan: [41:12]
Rana Nawas: [41:13]
Thank you so much for your time, this was really enjoyable.
Maysoun Ramadan: [41:16]
Same here, likewise.
Rana Nawas: [41:18]
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. You can check out show notes and more episodes at rananawas.com/win or search When Women Win on Itunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. I’d also love to hear your feedback and ideas for who I should bring on the show. You can find me on instagram @rananawas. Thanks and have a great day.