Growing female leadership in China’s life sciences sector

Senior leaders from leading life sciences companies came together to discuss developing the next generation of female business leaders.

Raising industry standards and driving diverse leadership will be key to achieving gender parity in STEM industries such as the healthcare sector.

This was a recurring theme at a recent leadership forum held in Shanghai, China, The Journey to the Top: Women in Leadership in Healthcare Forum 2018. 

The event, which was organised by Heidrick & Struggles, brought together more than 140 participants -- including country heads and senior HR leaders from leading life sciences companies such as AstraZeneca China, Bayer Greater China, Baxter International, Eli Lilly and Company, GSK, Johnson & Johnson China, Roche Pharma China, and Novartis Pharmaceuticals, China.

With the aim of providing up-and-coming professionals with invaluable advice from experts in business, government and academia, MBA students from the China Europe International Business School, and more than 80 high-potential employees selected by the attending companies, were also invited.

Some of the insights shared during the event include:

  • The ability to collaborate and build consensus, compassion, a sense of purpose and principles, and the habits of a lifelong learner are some of the key qualities that women -- and all senior executives -- need for a successful career in the top echelons of the life sciences sector.
  • Life sciences companies increasingly recognise the need for flexibility to attract and retain female managers. For example, some will encourage women executives to join meetings by video conference in lieu of travel to meetings and have created special programs for working mothers.
  • Mentors and positive influences are everywhere. They aren’t just at the top of the organisation, but among peers and throughout the team.
  • Experience managing complex, world-leading global organisations – and working across different cultures – is invaluable for female leaders in China’s life sciences sector, especially as the industry in China further consolidates and becomes more international. Equally, in-country experience will be a great asset for aspiring female leaders at the sector’s top global players.

“Over the years, female professionals have played a major role in improving healthcare standards in China, and bringing in women’s voices at the senior-most levels of organizations will only help to drive better decisions, and more innovation and progress in the sector,” said Jonathan Zhu, the forum organizer and Partner, Life Science and Government Affairs Practice, Heidrick & Struggles.




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