What it Means to be Inspired, Curious and Unbossed at Sandoz

When people ask me about my joining experience at Sandoz, I often describe myself as a “COVID hire”. After all, I started with Sandoz on May 1, 2020, right in the middle of the first wave of the pandemic in Europe.

In all my 20+ years of working, this was a first on many levels. Consider the interview process which involved not actually meeting any of my interviewers in person. It wasn’t until about three months after I joined that I physically went into the office. And six months into the job, I have met my manager a grand total of two times in person.

I would never have imagined starting a new role and joining a new company under such strange circumstances but what is stranger still, is that save the complications of not being able to travel for a role as international as mine, is that the entire onboarding process has been just as easy and if not smoother, than if I had started under more “traditional” circumstances. And I would attribute a significant portion of that to the Inspired, Curious and Unbossed culture at Novartis and Sandoz.

Inspired really means that the company wants its people to see just how and where their work contributes to. To know, understand and be inspired by our purpose, and to offer an environment that empowers them to achieve both personal and professional goals. In other words, it’s a reason to Be.

To be the best versions of ourselves, we need to constantly stay curious and never stop having that desire to learn and discover new and better ways of doing things. Over at Sandoz, it has been refreshing to see senior leaders, some with 30+ years in the company, not just actively seeking feedback but also acting on them and being open to trying new ways of learning such as reverse mentoring with associates probably young enough to be their children! When we stop learning is when we start stagnating, and we’re focused on a culture that celebrates curiosity and creates opportunities for our associates to learn.

Finally, unbossed is a more recent, innovative concept. The idea behind this is that people are most creative and productive when they are empowered to shape their work environment and pursue their ideas. I would argue that the basic tenet of unbossed is trust. Here, leaders need to trust that they have the right people in place and that their teams will make the right decisions. They need to provide sufficient air cover so that teams can experiment, try (and fail!) in a safe environment, and be comfortable asking themselves “Do I need to approve/review this?” As our CEO Richard Saynor shared in a recent article, the pandemic has meant that many of us now lead from afar and “have to rely more than ever on trust, judgment and the so-called “soft skills”…This forces all of us to deliver on our aspiration to create a truly “unbossed” organization, even if it sometimes takes us out of our comfort zone.”

It is very easy for me to state the different elements to our culture but what has made me a firm believer of our culture transformation journey is that one underlying concept is taken very seriously: Feedback.

Feedback as a tool to ensure continuous improvement versus the status quo. Feedback as a vehicle for listening to allow for a quick resolution. Feedback that is acted on forms a foundation to a successful culture journey as people recognise that their opinions, expertise and ideas matter.

And when people feel they matter, that’s when the real change happens.

About the author

Emilio Rubio, Ph.D.

Emilio Rubio, Ph.D.

Sandoz, Head ERC, SIR|Ethics|Risk|Compliance

Emilio Rubio is currently Head, Ethics, Risk & Compliance for Sandoz International Region. In this role, he partners with the business, advising and helping them to scale up their capabilities so that they are better able to identify, prevent and/or handle risks in a manner that allows the business to operate and navigate successfully with the right controls in place. Outside of his day job, Emilio indulges in Spanish red wine, watches Formula 1, and rocks out to heavy metal music. He is an energetic father to three children who have inherited his love for heavy metal music, much to his wife’s dismay. A Spanish national, Emilio holds a PhD from the University of Zaragoza in Corporate Governance, a Masters in International Management, and a Bachelor degree in Business Administration. He possesses over 20 years’ experience in Corporate Governance, predominantly in the areas of Internal Audit, Risk Management or Compliance, across a variety of industries from Automotive, ChemPharm, AgroChem, Trading, Transport and Logistics and Pharma.

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