Sarah Scanlon, Janssen, Business Unit Director: Oncology, Haematology, Cardiopulmonary and Digital

What inspired your move from the retail sector into the pharmaceutical industry?

After 15 years of working in the retail industry it was time for a change. I had reached a point where a career with real purpose was becoming increasingly important, so when a friend working in pharma suggested this as my next step, I thought it would be a great balance for my business experience and personal interests. I applied for a role as an account manager at Janssen in 2005, and can honestly say I’ve never looked back! The purpose of Janssen’s work completely resonated with me – making a difference to the lives of patients and their families.

What skill has been most valuable to you over the course of your career?

I’ve found the most valuable skills to be self-awareness and emotional intelligence, which have given me a willingness to continue to learn, adapt and evolve. The ability to reflect on myself and my work really pushes me to better myself and those around me. As a leader, these skills also help me to identify how my actions and management style can impact the individuals in my team, meaning that we grow stronger together.

Which successes are you particularly proud of?

Professionally, I’m very proud of the new products I have launched at Janssen. The scale of unmet need is so vast in oncology and haematology that being able to provide new treatment options to people in need is something I am immensely proud of. If our contribution helps make life a little bit better for someone – that’s the best feeling. From a personal perspective, it’s completing my MBA! It has required lots of hard work and has been an amazing learning experience. I’m very grateful to Janssen for supporting me through the process.

What has been your greatest challenge and how did you overcome it?

In my last role as haematology commercial lead, it was my responsibility to build an almost entirely new team. It was a challenging experience, and one that taught me a lot about the importance of effective change management and the power of diversity. Through that process I grew to understand that I couldn’t just lead through results. The ‘how’ became crucial and by drawing upon the diverse perspectives and talents of the team, we were able to shape a high-performing, collaborative culture that I am still very proud of.

How do you drive progress in your team?

It is absolutely critical to identify your purpose and make sure your team are with you. We all need to understand the company vision, and then anchor the ambition we have as a team to this vision. I trust my team completely and I believe this empowers them to do their best. Ultimately, it’s not me as a leader that drives us all. It’s our desire to help the patient, and knowing that we have the ability to make a positive difference. It’s what motivates us to work our hardest every single day to achieve better health outcomes for all.