Starting in the pharma industry some twenty years ago in Egypt, I have been fortunate enough to gain a significant amount of experience over my career. My journey has seen me cover multiple therapeutic areas, including oncology, immuno-oncology, haematology and inflammation to name but a few. I’ve also worked in various functions covering sales, marketing and quality assurance, covering everything from biotech to medical devices, consumer healthcare as well as quality manufacturing. The diversity of both the roles and all medical fields I have covered has given me an in-depth insight into the sector and positioned me well for my current role at Takeda as Head of Portfolio Management for the ICMEA region.
Today at Takeda, I oversee six business pillars as part of the ICMEA portfolio, including India, CIS, the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. That means we serve more than 3.3 billion people in the areas we cover – which is no small undertaking and a considerable responsibility. In my day-to-day function, I oversee Takeda’s marketing function for the entire region, helping the team bring our innovative treatments to patients in need.
It is fair to say that I have been lucky enough throughout my career to find supportive role models and mentors, both male and female, who have helped me succeed in my different roles. At the start of my career, I was primarily surrounded by male leaders who inspired me to develop my leadership skills. Thankfully, those around me supported my learning and development and believed in my abilities and capabilities, irrespective of my gender. Later, I was blessed to be surrounded by numerous female leaders who taught me new skills. Inspiring me day in and day out, I learned the importance of empathy, resilience, focused vision, the power of communication and most importantly, how to become an effective and influential leader.
Reasons why gender equality is essential in Biopharma
Gender equality, is of course, important across all industries. From government institutions to businesses, ensuring diverse representation in the workforce within benchmarks, including gender, ability, race, nationality, and age, is key to inclusion. This is important for many reasons. In the first instance, greater diversity helps us solve problems better. The more layers of perspective we gain, the better our solutions are because greater diversity is directly linked to innovation. Sometimes the most unconventional amongst us are the ones who bring out-of-the-box solutions to the table to solve the most pressing challenges.
With that being said, gender parity is critical to ensure the progress of the biopharma industry. With current generations more in tune than ever with the need for gender diversity and inclusion, we have come to understand the importance of STEM education among girls over the last decade or so. The fields of math and science have long been considered the forte of men, with fewer women than men entering the medical field. This has had a negative impact on scientific research regarding medical conditions impacting women; their health issues often remain under-researched and ignored. Many medical conditions and diseases disproportionately affect women more than men beyond just physiological aspects, but also due to lack of access, outdated societal norms, and expectations.
Getting more women into the medical field, including within decision-making roles, is, therefore, critical. With more women in pharma and medicine and other STEM-related areas where female representation is often lacking, there would be more role models for younger women, a vital source of inspiration for younger generations. In the long term, more female representation means being able to address medical conditions more holistically, leading to all-round healthier and happier patients for generations to come.
Gender equality at Takeda
At Takeda, we foster an inclusive environment to ensure all employees are welcomed, empowered and inspired to use their unique voices and capabilities. Regardless of our individual differences and personal choices, which make us all unique, we want our employees to have the optimum environment to thrive, develop and grow, based on merit and merit alone. This enables us to find innovative approaches when serving our patients, customers and communities, to reach our greatest potential, both individually and as a modern organization.
As part of our company-wide approach to empowering our colleagues, we have established specific initiatives to ensure gender equality in the workplace. This approach includes diversity and inclusion training initiatives through the form of seminars, workshops and other projects designed to invoke the same values we use when engaging with our colleagues and stakeholders. To ensure our female workforce has the same opportunities, we also guarantee flexible working arrangements and specially-designed development programs.
However, at Takeda, we also understand that there is no one fixed policy to ensure workplace equity. Instead, it is a constant process that requires two-way conversations with our employees. To that end, we engage with newcomers and leavers through regular company-wide surveys to ensure we are on track towards empowering our employees. This is a critical part of a constant learning process leading to a continuous journey of improvement.
With a workforce spanning 80 countries, at Takeda, we know that without ensuring an inclusive environment where people feel safe to express themselves, we would be unable to leverage the rich mix of experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives our employees bring to their roles. We know that this is one of our core strengths, helping us serve our patients and communities better. Recognized twice by the Top Employers Institute, awarded in both 2018 and 2019, we remain steadfast in our priority to ensure all employees remain valued, irrespective of gender or otherwise.
How gender equality supports current employees & talent acquisition
At Takeda, we understand that our employees are at the heart of what we do to realize our objectives as a patient-centric and customer-centric organization. Without them, we would not be able to ensure access or support for communities. As such, we strive to attract the best and brightest talent and have several specially designed initiatives to enable each employee to achieve their potential – irrespective of gender. It perhaps comes as no surprise then that 38% of our leadership team globally is made up of women. As far as our workforce’s overall make-up in ICMEA is concerned, 58% are women and 42% men. Our diverse team is the cornerstone of our sustainable growth across our core therapeutic areas alongside our industry-leading pipeline and product portfolio.
As part of our talent development initiatives, we focus on a “quality conversations” approach, whereby employees are encouraged to engage in a two-way conversation with their managers. Designed to support our workforce in providing and receiving feedback, the process includes setting goals, identifying strengths, developing areas, and building capabilities. This helps our entire workforce develop and grow while also enabling the leadership team to respond to our talent pool’s needs, identifying necessary resources to achieve our long-term goals. This process is fundamentally underlined by Takeda’s focus on core values and our commitment to providing all employees equitable access to the same opportunities while considering their individual circumstances.
Takeda is built on the fundamentals of what we have come to call Takeda-ism, including integrity, fairness, honesty and perseverance, focusing on Patient, Trust, Reputation and Business. This philosophy and framework is deeply ingrained within each of us as a team and guides our daily decisions, behaviours and interactions.
To achieve our goals, we consistently aim to create an inclusive workplace – this means also supporting the development of our female workforce at all levels. With a culture with an ongoing focus on diversity, our female workforce can expect equal treatment in the workplace, with specially designed development programs designed to support their leadership skills. Our fundamental objective is to ensure a safe, inclusive, and empowering environment for all, and that of course, includes women. Only such a team can deliver the passion required for providing innovative medicines that make a real difference to patients’ health across the globe. Our lead in the discovery, development, and delivery of high-quality products is achieved only through empowering our people, enabling them through collaboration, inclusion and trust – even amid challenging and trying times such as the ongoing pandemic.
Dina El Salmy is the Head of Portfolio Management, Growth & Emerging Markets Business Unit at Takeda Pharmaceuticals in the ICMEA region, which includes India, CIS, the Middle East, Turkey and Africa. She builds on more than 20 years of experience and extensive operational expertise in sales, marketing, digital marketing, and quality assurance/control from Shire, Amgen, Pfizer, Wyeth, Novartis Consumer Health and Bristol Myers Squibb.
El Salmy is a performance-driven professional with a strong track record in different therapeutic areas, including oncology, immuno-oncology, hematology, nephrology, cardiovascular disease, antibiotics, antifungals, rare diseases, genetic diseases, neuroscience, inflammation, immunology, ophthalmology, vaccines, dermatology, rheumatology, biosimilars, diagnostics, medical nutrition, women’s health, and
In her current capacity, El Salmy leads the marketing department across all franchises in the region. With a background in pharmacy, marketing and senior strategic leadership, El Salmy’s expertise in the pharmaceutical industry, along with her ability to lead teams to exceed business objectives reflects her strategic insight and passion.