Happily working

By Polina Zaichkina

Did you know that we spend, on average, 30% of our lives at work? So it’s no wonder that work plays an integral part in a person’s emotional and physical wellbeing, making happiness and satisfaction levels at work all the more important. For me, many things contribute to having a smile on my face when I come through the doors in the morning.


When I joined GSK through the Future Leaders Programme (FLP), I kept asking everyone I met the same question: “What are the people like?”. I’d never worked in an office, or in the UK, before and frankly, I was intimidated. The answer was always “everyone is nice and very helpful”, but I never realised how true it was until I started working myself.

After spending some time shadowing, the time came to submit my preference for which area of the business I wanted to join. I spent hours considering the decision and rationalising my choice to myself – and then indicated a preference for a completely opposite area. The change of heart happened after I spent time with each of the team members, got to know their personalities, approach to work and their sense of humour.

I have made my career choice based on the people I would work with – and have not regretted it. The team even celebrates each others’ birthdays, and I can truly say these people have become my family away from home.

I am on the IT FLP, working in a functional associate role in Global ERP, a GSK-wide programme implementing an enterprise resource planning system called SAP across GSK markets and manufacturing sites. When I joined my extended functional team, I knew very little about SAP and nothing about GSK ways of working. Everyone was older and more experienced (in some cases my colleagues had more years of experience than my age!). First, I spent time making introductions, and then ventured out to ask for help and guidance. I was pleasantly surprised when everyone I approached agreed to give me their time, whether it was for a friendly chat or a system demonstration.

One of my colleagues sat with me for hours over several weeks to make sure I understood every single setting in our build. Now, my stock answer to all the new joiners is: don’t worry – GSK is a caring environment and people are supportive, kind and helpful. We take care of our own.

A separate blog post is required to tell you about my fellow Global ERP future leaders. I am pleased to be on the programme with so many talented, driven, supportive, ambitious people and could not have asked for a better group to develop alongside. They are a friendly bunch too – reach out and you will find out for yourself.


Working in such a large organisation, I’ve become a part of many teams and circles. We spend lots of time together; approving, discussing, reflecting, designing, presenting, building side-by-side, configuring and documenting. They’re committed to supporting my development and extending my technical knowledge.

We bond on a personal level as well. I know about their hobbies, families, backgrounds, even food allergies (sometimes I bake for the team, so it’s not as strange as it sounds), and I am fortunate to say that I truly like everyone I work with. Even if I have to be at a meeting at 8am, I know there will be jokes, coffee and helpful advice – and it makes even the most complex aspects of the job simpler. 


You might find it strange when I say GSK House contributes to my cheerful mood at work, but it is true. I keep taking photos of the building, especially on sunny days, because the sky reflects gorgeously in the mirrored glass. There’s also a canal and a beautiful park behind it, which makes for a great lounging place over lunchtime in the summer - and a nice break for your eyes, switching from a laptop screen to grass and sunshine.

I love my job, but working in IT means my 9 to 5 consists of being glued to a computer, and the park is a welcome change. It’s also home to numerous bunnies, which come very close to the building and roam freely on GSK grounds. Being closer to nature than I would have been in central London is a great, if unexpected, benefit of GSK’s location.


For me, happiness also comes with on-the-job learning and it’s two-fold. First, with in-depth technical knowledge comes confidence and I feel more comfortable in my role by the day. There are few things more gratifying than receiving a complex question from the market and being able to provide a comprehensive answer that resolves their concerns. I walk away thinking, “I got this”.

Secondly, learning leads to understanding which means I have the ability to get involved and participate more and, in the end, contribute. The more I contribute the happier I am, because I can clearly see that what I do daily helps GSK live its mission and support the interests of those we are helping. Even working in IT, I know that I am helping others do more, live longer and feel better.

Simply walking down the Street (the atrium area in the building) in the middle of the workday, saying hi to people I have the privilege to work with, then coming back to my desk, supporting my team and our common goal, and learning something new – it’s enough to lift my spirits and brighten my day. If I do spend 43 hours at the office, they are hours of positive thinking, professional development and personal connections, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.