Q&A with Novartis' Erica Cassin
For those that don't know; who are Novartis?
We focus on innovative medicines, generics, biosimilars and eye care products in diseases where there is significant unmet need for patients and societies worldwide. We have a strong presence in the UK, employing around 1,500 people who work to manufacture and bring our medicines to patients. We’re particularly proud of our manufacturing site in Grimsby, where we are one of the town’s largest employers. At an exciting but challenging time for healthcare, we are reimagining how we fight disease, how we deliver treatments and how we run our business.
What does being a Top Employer mean to you?
Being a Top Employer – both in the UK and throughout Europe – is a great honour and attests to the exceptional employee conditions we pride ourselves on every day. Novartis is driven by diverse, talented and dedicated people, and we feel that it’s important to meet the needs of these employees as well as the patients that we serve. We offer numerous employment opportunities including an exciting talent programme and apprenticeships. Within a culture that is hugely passionate and supportive, our leaders are committed to developing our people through a range of coaching and mentoring initiatives. We offer people the freedom to follow the careers that they want and show flexibility in developing a path that is just right for each individual. These opportunities really set us apart and I’m delighted that we join an elite group of companies that have been certified as Top Employers for 2018.
What makes Novartis a Top Employer?
We believe that our commitment to personal and professional development and giving people flexible options in forging a career path, amongst other initiatives, truly set us apart as a company. To list a few of our programmes:
- We invest in future talent – we offer a vast range of opportunities for people at various stages of education, from apprenticeships to MBAs. With roles in technical, business and science, our goal is to meet and employ talented people from all different backgrounds
- We develop our employees across the organisation – we want to see our people grow. Our mentoring initiative allows employees to uncover their strengths, unlock their potential and try new things. What’s more, we have comprehensive training schemes and personal development programmes that enable our employees to move between roles and across divisions to maximise their exposure to a broad range of learning opportunities
- We embrace inclusion and diversity – we aspire to embrace each other’s differences. Diversity in our people enhances our ability to see the world through the eyes of our patients and customers, and enables us to deliver insight-driven, creative solutions to meet their needs. We are committed to moving beyond stereotypes, assumptions and bias, and bringing our talent and differences together to reimagine healthcare and improve outcomes for all
- Finally, fun is important to us. We realise the serious nature of our industry, but we also understand that our people need to enjoy their work. Our employee social committee, ‘Our Social’, hosts regular activities, including Christmas bingo and festivities, summer barbeques and even impromptu ice-cream vans!
Which recent initiatives are the HR team most proud of?
Understanding the views and needs of our employees is of paramount importance to us. That’s why last year we conducted a survey of all our UK staff to learn from them what we were doing well and where improvements could be made. We’re incredibly pleased that 93% of UK employees feel proud to work for Novartis. It’s also great to see that 94% of UK workers can see a clear link between the work that they do on a daily basis and how it aligns to the wider company’s goals and objectives. Further results from the survey showed that our people feel energised by their jobs, would recommend Novartis as a great place to work and are very confident in the future success of the company – a great achievement and testament to our HR initiatives!
We are happy that we were the first company in the UK pharmaceutical sector to publish data on pay by gender. Providing equal pay for equal work is in line with our values and we are extremely proud that the data for Novartis in the UK show we do not have an overall gap in pay by gender. Across all of our UK sites combined, women on average earn more than men. We have a number of initiatives in place to support both career development and Life Work Integration for all our people regardless of gender, which we hope will continue to influence the structure of our workforce.
What’s next for HR in Novartis?
Our Community Partnership Day, held each year, encourages all Novartis employees to support their local communities, social institutions and non-profit organisations. It’s a very special day in the Novartis calendar, and we’re currently in the final stages of planning the UK’s participation in this global initiative for 2018. Last year, over 200 UK employees participated in the 2017 Community Partnership Day, partaking in tasks varying from sorting charity donations, gardening and decorating schools to helping at local community centres. Taking the time to give something back and make a difference to the community for so many good causes is the perfect example of Novartis employees living our core values and behaviours.
What do you see in the future of HR?
It’s a growing trend that employees and future candidates have access to more data than ever before. Platforms such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor also contribute and enable feedback in real-time. We saw from last year’s UK employee survey that Novartis is a great place to work; it’s now important that we continue to listen to the feedback from our people as well as talent in the wider market to ensure we continue to develop and enhance what we offer as an employer. This will ensure that we’re building our talent pipeline and continuing to attract the right people to our organisation, as well as retaining the exceptional talent base that we already have.
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