Madeline Donnelly, ADVANZ PHARMA, Commercial Director UK & Ireland

What drives your passion for your role?

I love the breadth of my role, which ranges from managing the day-to-day Commercial responsibilities for Ireland and contributing to the leadership of our UK business channels, to driving the function that supports our UK generics and hospital divisions. Being part of an organisation committed to improving the lives of patients by enhancing the critical medicines they depend on is a huge motivation.

What is your greatest professional achievement to date?

After secondary level education, I moved to the UK for 12 years, during which time I worked in the pharmaceutical industry before switching to publishing for four years. Having the courage to move back to Ireland to restart my pharma career is probably my greatest achievement. This was an extremely tough, and at the time, brave decision as it meant going back to almost the beginning of my career journey and involved considerable personal and financial sacrifice.

What inspired your involvement in the ADVANZ Women’s Network?

Diversity, equality and inclusion are at the heart of the most successful organisations. Throughout my career as a woman in management or leadership roles, I have been in the minority of decision makers, which fuelled my curiosity in why this is the case. At ADVANZ PHARMA, we work hard to promote a diverse and inclusive workplace but we want to do more. That is why I chose to become Chair of the ADVANZ Women’s Network; I want to ensure we embed a culture of equitable opportunities where every woman has access to a level playing field, so that we can all make the most of opportunities and reach our potential.

How is the Network having an impact?

The Network is still evolving, and most of the work undertaken in the past year has focused on understanding the challenges our female employees face and potential root causes. From there, we have been able to create a supportive ‘safe space’ for women to openly discuss challenges, such as work/home life-balance, career advancement, or self-belief. We run initiatives designed to equip women with the resources to help them develop their careers through mutual guidance, mentoring, coaching and professional development programmes, so that they are equipped with the skills, knowledge and confidence to achieve their goals, whatever they may be. We led our first personal development workshops in 2020, and have since seen promotions into first line management positions, as well as women putting themselves forward to lead projects and take up roles outside of their comfort zone. This will benefit our organisation’s growth plan as we support future leaders from within the business.

What are your hopes for the future?

I hope to continue to influence and support the development of future business leaders and to see more women in senior roles within the pharmaceutical industry. We have made enormous strides in recent years but there is still work to be done to reduce the leadership gap for women. I look forward to seeing this come to fruition.