GSK careers: One future leader’s aspirations to make a difference

By Rebecca Ward

Imagine your name is in the paper, written on a website, spoken about among friends or colleagues over lunch or dinner. Have you ever thought about what you would want people to say? As a graduate I often get asked to look to the future: Where do I want to go? What job do I want? What is my career development plan? But this is the ‘what’. I rarely get asked to consider the ‘how’, and that’s the part people will really remember you for.

I think this is where people truly make a difference to society, a difference that goes beyond yourself and simply doing your job well. The healthcare sector has a huge opportunity to impact the lives of people in a positive way and I hope that is the type of leader I can be someday. I only have to look at the leaders within GSK to feel inspired to make a difference.

Workplace diversity

As a woman in the early stages of my career, I have been incredibly lucky to already cross paths with many inspirational female colleagues in the workplace. In fact, I have been actively encouraged to aim high and have confidence in my own ability. I really hope I continue to feel like this throughout my career! I know there are many women at other companies who don’t have this support or feel like they can’t ‘have it all’ in terms of a successful career and a family. I am a firm believer in the idea that female leaders have an obligation to advocate for equality and support other women to believe in themselves and achieve their potential. I want to be remembered as a leader who played an active role in supporting gender, cultural and ethnic diversity where all talent is nurtured in an environment where flexible working allows everyone to make the choices that are right for them. Easier said than done, I am sure!

Access to healthcare

Starting my career as a graduate in the healthcare industry for one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world has allowed me to get much closer to global healthcare issues and understanding the complexities around the issue of access. I firmly believe that access to healthcare is a basic human right and I am inspired by the approach GSK has taken with regards to balancing access with shareholder delivery. In my opinion, we have begun to change the shape of the industry and I believe this has only been possible through focusing on the patient. I hope to be remembered for continuing this focus and advocating for access through strong connections with charities and NGO’s. This is something I can and intend to start now.

As Uncle Ben once said to Peter Parker, “with great power comes great responsibility” and I believe this is true of business leaders, not just superheroes.