"UK life sciences needs a blend of expertise — from everywhere”
Industrial Strategy What is it really like to be working at the sharp end of the UK's fast-moving life sciences industry?
"I am responsible for a broad portfolio spanning patient engagement, policy, communications and social responsibility."
"It is so critical that we include more women around the table when important decisions about the toughest problems are being made.”
Dr Julie Gerberding has worked in various arenas: at the bedside, in academia, then government and now the private sector. “But at my core,” she says, “I am simply a physician.”
Gerberding, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and now MSD’s chief patient officer, is an infectious disease and public health expert who has led emergency responses to more than 40 high-profile health crises, including SARS, bird flu, food-borne outbreaks and natural disasters. She also served as an advisor to governments and world leaders on combating public health concerns, including HIV/AIDS.
In her current role, she leads the charge to ensure that everything MSD does centres on improving patient health and well-being.
Gerberding insists that the complex, far-reaching health challenges we face today like cancer, antibiotic resistance, HPV and Ebola will only be solved through coordinated contributions across different disciplines, sectors, and different parts of the world. “This requires building a robust network of people who bring a diverse range of experiences and perspectives to the table, and playing to their collective strengths,” she says. “And most of all, it requires leaders who are equipped to manage this kind of horizontal network, which is very different from managing a vertical hierarchy.”
This type of leadership requires collaboration, negotiation and complex multi-tasking. “It also requires emotional intelligence and shared values – more learning and less knowing,” says Gerberding. “Plus, it requires recognising that a 'winner-take-all' outcome may not be the winning outcome. Collectively, these attributes are hard to find in any one leader. But in my experience, when I do find such a leader, more often than not that leader is a woman. That's why it is so critical that we include more women around the table when important decisions about the toughest problems are being made.”
Job code: GB-NON-00344
Date of prep: November 2018