Harriet Lewis, Chiesi, Head of Public Affairs

Why the interest in public affairs in the healthcare landscape?

I didn’t set out to focus on public affairs. My interest in medicines policies developed during my role at Trafford Primary Care Trust in 2005 with the service development opportunities that came with changes to non- medical prescribing and community pharmacy service development. This was about the same time as the start of the Electronic Prescription Service, so a great deal of national and local influencing and advocacy skills were needed. Since then, I have worked to further strengthen my ability to bring about change by focusing on developing strategy, building relationships and delivering on the plan.

How do you feel you have made a significant contribution to your field?

I have worked hard to advocate the value pharmacists can bring to less obvious roles outside of traditional patient-facing ones, particularly within pharma. I’ve also used my own career experiences, working with colleagues from the Industrial Pharmacy Forum (IPF) of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the European Industrial Pharmacists Group, to provide ‘thought leadership’ and detailed insights to develop a competency framework for pharmacists considering roles in industry, beyond the traditional research and development.

What do you hope to achieve next in your role at Chiesi?

Much of my role in Chiesi involves building and reinforcing Chiesi’s commitments to patients and our environment. The company has made a number of sustainability pledges and I hope to be part of bringing these commitments to life whilst continuing to put patients at the heart of our thinking and planning. I plan to build on the success of our recent B Corp2 accreditation, working with government departments, the NHS and patients, using our business as a force for good to achieve shared sustainability and environmental goals.

How do you ensure that equality remains a focus within your team?

Equality and diversity are essential components of Chiesi values. I strive to ensure that every member of the team is given the same opportunities for both personal and professional development, whilst also ensuring fair and consistent pay and reward regardless of gender or background. Having been a working mum for so many years I completely understand some of the internal conflicts and external challenges that may hold a woman back in the workplace and therefore I actively support the team to find the right balance. Outside of my role in Chiesi, I also act as a mentor to other women looking to join the industry.

What advice would you give to graduates on how to best succeed professionally?Following one’s heart is always going to be top of my advice list to anyone. Do what you love, and you will love what you do. But specifically, to graduates, it is worth remembering that your dream job is unlikely to be your first job, so don’t fret if you feel you haven’t yet found it. Your dream job is out there but perhaps not where you were expecting it to be...So keep looking, you’ll know when you’ve found it!