Tracey Huddy on life at pharma giant Bayer

Women of Pharma

Bayer’s Head of Strategic Marketing in TA Pulmonology, Tracey Huddy, is thriving in Germany as she embraces new opportunities, curious cultural phenomena and a language she is determined to speak fluently.

In a special series of exclusive PharmaTalent interviews we shine a light on the women leading, inspiring and blazing a trail within industry.

Pf’s Political Correspondent, Claudia Rubin, wrote recently about how pharma has a long way to go in offering equal career opportunities to women, citing the fact that among the top 20 pharmaceutical companies, as ranked by sales in 2016, senior female executives represented just 17% of the management team. ‘Pharma knows it must find a way to encourage more women to rise through its ranks’, Claudia wrote.

According to the Pf People 2017 Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey Report, the pharma industry is represented by more females than males, at 58% to 42%. Women in pharma also appear to have greater longevity, with the survey finding that more than 15% of female respondents have been working in the pharmaceutical industry between 11 and 20 years.

Women’s roles are evolving, and pharma is one industry where they can rise through the ranks, as the success stories of the inspirational women featured in our new series show.

How has 2018 been for you so far, Tracey?

Even though we are only two months into 2018, it is proving to be a very exciting year for me both personally and professionally. Quite apart from the excitement here at Bayer, in Germany, I am watching from afar as my three daughters start out with new chapters of their own lives, back in the UK.

What projects are you most excited about in the year ahead?

I am particularly energised by looking at how we will embrace new technologies and different ways of working, as the company looks to shape the business of the future.

In the current Brexit ‘no man’s land’ pharma seems to be thriving, while other industries are complaining – why do you think that is?

Pharmaceuticals is a global business and a relatively stable industry. It is hard to see how the evolving situation with Brexit will affect us, until actual decisions are made about the ongoing relationships with the EU. What we do know is that pharma is more than just commerce – all players will work together to ensure patients with medical requirements are able to get treatments they need. That sets us apart, and helps to provide a bit more stability in our industry compared to some others.

At last the gender balance debate is front page news, how do you think our industry is addressing it?

The Marketing Leadership Team I belong to is 50% female, so in many ways we are already on track. I have always believed that our society depends on diversity. Although gender is one aspect of this, we must ensure that we build teams and companies that draw on all parts of society. It is this very richness that is the key to success.

In pharma, do you think you have always had equal opportunities?

Yes, I have always been fortunate enough to work for equal opportunity employers. I have also worked with truly inspirational people who recognise passion and skills over anything else.

You’ve had a really successful career – tell me about what it’s been like to move up in pharma.

Over my career, I have been lucky enough to work on some remarkable medicines, with several fantastic teams. It is that experience, from success and failures, which has given me a degree of insight into pharmaceuticals. This, in turn, has led to opportunities to share those insights in larger and more complex roles. I cannot say I have had a true career plan, but simply have grasped opportunities when they arose.

Why is Bayer a great place to work?

The Bayer culture is exceptionally positive and always open to trying out new, innovative ideas. In addition, I believe all colleagues share the same passion to use ‘science for a better life’ while genuinely making a difference to people’s lives with our products.

I’m really interested to know whether there is a distinction between German and British culture in pharma?

Culturally, the move to Bayer has been relatively easy as the business is so multicultural. The people have been exceptionally welcoming and the ‘onboarding’ was well planned. I have found, however, that some things here in Germany are a little different, and I am slowly adapting to life in Berlin. I have really enjoyed meeting so many new colleagues and love the German system of arranging ‘lunch dates’ to improve communication and networking.

That sounds like quite a challenge for a British person.

When I first arrived, it was a little surprising to see colleagues waiting for me by the entrance to their dining room. In the UK the usual working practice is either to eat a sandwich at your desk or go to lunch in large groups. These interactions are really positive and make a big difference in moving the business forward, although your diary does become congested very quickly!

How would you promote industry to a young person thinking about a career in pharma?

Pharma offers a fabulous combination of being in a worthwhile industry and making a difference to people’s lives all over the world. Furthermore, we are leading the way in cutting edge science and taking on fabulous business challenges. Health will always remain a priority topic.

You’ve done so much already, Tracey, but what ambitions remain on the horizon for you?

I remain excited about how we will shape the industry of the future, embracing technologies and improving the overall health of individuals on a daily basis. I also have the ambition to be fluent in German, but progress is slow!

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