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Cecilia, Pharmaceuticals, Hong Kong

Cecilia in the office

Hong Kong

60-minute mentors: How to lead by example

Our new 60-minute mentors monthly series gives colleagues the chance to interview one of their senior leaders, over the course of an hour, to discover more about their career journey.
Rex, an Esprit Associate in our Consumer Healthcare team, interviewed Cecilia, General Manager, Pharmaceuticals, Hong Kong and Macau, on her breadth of experience in our industry.

60 minute mentors, Cecilia Qi, episode 1: Meet Cecilia

Cecilia Qi, GM, Pharmaceuticals, Hong Kong and Macau, tells us why her training as a doctor didn’t take her down the traditional career path and how she views herself as a business leader.

Rex: Can you tell us a bit about your career journey?

Cecilia: I always wanted to work in healthcare. I’ve been in the pharmaceutical industry for 25 years – 14 of those at GSK. I first trained as a doctor, then had the opportunity to work in a commercial role – I started out as a rep, then I studied for an MBA and have since worked in many roles in the industry. I have a wide range of experience, although my goal has always been the same: to help people.

Rex: You now work as a General Manager – how is your work different?

Cecilia: When you move into a team leader role, you care less about your personal progress. It’s more about how good your team members are and how you can bring out the best in them. As a senior leader, I find I spend a lot of time with my team considering how we make GSK the best it can be. We really care about how people feel about the company. And that goes for everyone; patients, consumers, healthcare professionals, external stakeholders and, importantly, our employees. I want all of our people to feel proud to come to work each day.

60 minute mentors, Cecilia Qi, episode 2: From Physician to Commercial Leader

Cecilia Qi, GM, Pharmaceuticals, Hong Kong and Macau, talks to us about the challenge of being a GM, how she approaches the role and the advice she would give to others in order to continue their development.

Rex: How would you describe yourself in one sentence?

Cecilia: I’m passionate and really care about the impact and purpose of my role – as a business leader and mum.

Rex: What is your leadership style like?

Cecilia: I talk fast, and I always want to drive things to move faster. I want to be my authentic self, and show the same respect to everyone, whether it’s to my peers or as a leader. I try to keep an open dialogue, with my team and the wider organisation.

Rex: How is GSK different to other companies you have worked in?

Cecilia: The pharma industry talks a lot about putting patients first, but I really feel that here at GSK we walk the walk. It’s about making sure everything we do benefits patients. I think everyone lives with the same set of values – the culture here is very open. 

Rex: What tip would you give to young talent?

Cecilia: Build a solid foundation of knowledge, particularly at the early stages of your career. You really need to learn the ropes – whether you’re striving to be the best marketer, IT specialist or sales manager.


60 minute mentors, Cecilia Qi, episode 3: The importance of breadth in your career

Cecilia Qi, GM, Pharmaceuticals, Hong Kong and Macau, explains the importance of experiencing different business functions and cultures and the dynamic changes this gives to your career.

Rex: What would you say to someone with ambitious career goals?

Cecilia: Don’t be shy about sharing your ambitions. Let your manager know what you would like to do, so you can work on your goals together. However, don’t just focus on getting promoted – you might find that a sideways step could really help enrich your career. I have learned so much in each role I’ve had – and the organisation benefits from the diversity of my experience. Always stay true to your purpose. I still get to help patients all around the world through what we do here at GSK.

Always stay true to your purpose.

Rex: How important is it to you to be a positive role model?

Cecilia: I want to have a positive effect – on my organisation and my family. I aim to lead by example. As I progress in my career, my children learn from me, too. My daughter has had feedback from her teacher that she is one of the most well-organised and independent kids in her class!

Rex: Tell us one thing about yourself that people may not know?

Cecilia: A lot of people might not know that I’m actually quite introverted. I used to be shy and nervous about public speaking. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone to speak out more.

Challenge yourself and take advantage of opportunities to learn.

Rex: That’s clearly not the case now! How did you overcome that?

Cecilia: Practice! Challenge yourself and take advantage of opportunities to learn. I found occasions to present to colleagues, which gradually built my confidence. Communication skills are so important at all stages in your career. I need to be able to articulate our strategy to make sure our people understand what we are all trying to achieve.