Michaela Hrdličková: Mentoring and Leadership at Biogen Czech Republic

I have been involved in the pharmaceutical industry since 1995. Between 2010–2017, I was Country Director of Biogen, Czech Republic. Since 2011 I have held position the of Vice President of the Association of Innovative Pharmaceutical Industry. In 2017-2019, I led the international team responsible for a specific therapeutic area in Central/Eastern Europe. Currently, I am Director of Patient Advocacy for Canada/Europe/Partner Markets in Spinal muscular atrophy, a member of Biogen’s Global Corporate Affairs team.

In my career in the pharmaceutical industry, I have built and led several successful teams, launched new drugs, and initiated some projects that have a broader social impact.

In my spare time, I am engaged in mentoring. Among my topics belong collaboration and equal opportunities in the sense of effectively connecting talents from different groups, equal opportunities for women and men, and older and younger generations.

I would never allow myself to advise anyone, I only share my experience when someone asks me to, at work and outside. I’m happy when my experience helps someone, saves them time, puts them in the right direction, where the person will be satisfied and successful. Finding a way and making mistakes are however very important processes by which one learns the most. Ideally, the leader or mentor directs and creates sideboards between which the mentee can find their way. But we do not always have enough time to do so or the right supporting learning environment.

According to Wikipedia, a mentor is usually a more experienced or older person who takes care of a younger and less experienced persons (mentee), is their support and adviser, helping them to get to know themself, their potential and their abilities better. I would add from my own experience that the role can be intertwined for the benefit of both. When I mentor, I also really learn a lot from my mentees. I agree that the mentor should be an observer, a model, a feedback provider, an equal partner.

I work from the Czech Republic, but I have been in an international position for more than a year. Therefore, I focus not only on the environment of the Czech biotechnology industry as in the past. Currently, I mentor more in my free time within projects such as Equilibrium, organized by the British Chamber of Commerce, or Equal Pay Day, a project organized by Business & Professional Women Czech Republic, of which I am a member. It’s my “social responsibility” project. I most often mentor women (but not only women) of various professions and ages, beginner entrepreneurs, young women looking for their way after graduation, managers from corporations, including pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Several themes often resonate. For example, how to combine work and caring for the family in an environment that still sees women in the traditional role of a housewife. How to find time for self-education, how to find one’s WHY. How to assert oneself as a woman in a male world. It is not common everywhere for women and men to be given the same opportunities, for talent, experience and motivation at work and not gender to decide. According to surveys, women in the Czech Republic often face pay inequalities. They get a lower salary than men for the same work.

I have been lucky that I have always worked in corporations for which equal opportunities and remuneration according to performance and experience are a matter of course. I am grateful for that, and I try to help women who have not been given such an opportunity as I have had.

You can find the whole article here: Biopharma Careers