Katharine, Marketing and communications, Singapore
Katharine works in our commercial business, leading our Respiratory franchise for the Asia-Pacific region. She explains how working in several different countries and roles have helped share her knowledge, experience and leadership style.
Hi Katharine. What does your role entail?
My current role is the Franchise Market Leader for our Respiratory business for the Asia-Pacific region which is really a combination of commercial strategy and operational execution for our respiratory business.
From a leadership perspective, my role involves a lot of listening, reflecting on experience and learnings and then appropriate measures of support and challenge. I also believe in authenticity so I think those I work see me as I really am (warts and all!).
Can you describe your career journey that has led you to this role?
My passion for medicines started as a pharmacist, and what drives me is improving healthcare and quality of life. Making a difference is important to me. At GSK, I started as a research scientist, working on clinical research studies for some great medicines that I have since seen commercialised for HIV to urological and respiratory conditions. I love the science and pharmacology that underpins great medicines but that alone is not enough to reach those patients who can really benefit. The medicine has to be commercialised well.
I came to this realisation as a research scientist. While working, I completed an MBA and was fortunate enough to then be considered for commercial roles, initially in divestments and acquisitions and then other roles in marketing and sales in Australia. Since then I have had the privilege of working in Spain and the UK and now in Singapore in different above country roles working with Europe and Emerging Markets all of which have built on my experience but also stretched and challenged me. This has given me a broad view of different healthcare systems, challenges and opportunities and wonderfully rich cultures.
I love the science and pharmacology that underpins great medicines but that alone is not enough to reach those patients who can really benefit. The medicine has to be commercialised well.
You must have worked with some interesting people during your time at GSK. Are there any particular people who have helped you along the way?
There are a number of people both in and outside the business who have inspired me. Deborah Waterhouse, the head of our ViiV business was the General Manager in Australia when I worked there, and was a great mentor. Her balance of business acumen and ability to connect, engage and inspire people was, and continues to be, a great example and inspires me. The resilience and adaptability my children and husband have shown in adjusting multiple times to new environments, as well my parents who nurtured eight children despite numerous challenges are a huge inspiration to me.
The resilience and adaptability my children and husband have shown in adjusting multiple times to new environments, as well my parents who nurtured eight children despite numerous challenges are a huge inspiration to me.
Is there a specific moment that helped shape your leadership style?
I think this is really my childhood. My parents instilled in me a strong sense of personal accountability, but in tandem with this a responsibility to my community and valuing people in all of their diversity - often especially the ones you don’t really warm to. I believe this has helped me seek out and listen to diverse views and try to make or influence decisions that benefit many rather than a few.
How do you balance a demanding job with your family life?
Being clear what is important and making decisions aligned with this is key. This means managing my calendar to allow for events important to the family. Also when I am with my family and friends I try to be fully with them and not on my phone, for example.
What do you do to relax outside of work?
I love to exercise and play squash around three times a week as well of course having quality time with my family. I also really love learning so am looking forward to starting some new studies in the next few months (but don’t tell my husband!).
And finally, what is one thing that people may not know about you?
I probably have the world’s worst sense of direction but despite this embarked on acquiring my private pilot’s licence (not yet and maybe never to be completed).
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