Inspirational Woman: Sandy Lindsey | Head of Women’s Health – UK, Northern Europe & Israel, Organon

Sandy LindseyTell us a bit about yourself, background, and your current role

I come from a working class background and was brought up in a South Yorkshire town (Rotherham) with 2 older brothers. After gaining a BScN in Chemistry, Drug Design & Toxicology at Hull University, I took my first steps into the pharmaceutical industry as a Key Account Manager. From there I worked within different commercial roles in a number of Pharmaceutical companies and constantly challenged myself to progress my skills and capabilities by taking on roles with a wider scope of responsibility in different therapeutic areas. I currently lead the Women’s Health Business Unit for Organon across the UK, Northern Europe and Israel and this new role enables me to stretch my development even more by gaining understanding of other global markets outside of the UK.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

If I’m honest, I have never been the one to plan my next 4/5 year career path as some people do, even when I was approaching the end of my degree I had no idea what career path I should take and kind of ‘fell into’ the pharmaceutical industry. I always know roughly what I want my next role to include but I don’t label the role as all industries are forever changing so the actual role itself may no longer exist as you progress. One thing I focus on is understanding what motivates and demotivates me, which skills I need to gain or develop more to advance my career and then focus on gaining these by getting involved in extra projects and increasing my visibility to advance my career.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

I wouldn’t say I have faced any major challenges along the way as I feel if you approach your career and work with a positive open mind then things progress much more smoothly and small challenges are overcome. I would say the key challenge, being a person that is always looking for the next role to be a stretch, is not having the experience required to step straight into a role according to the job requirements and adverts. This never stopped me applying though and on a few occasions I have secured roles that required experience by performing in the interview to show that I have the mindset and drive to gain skills and capabilities quickly to deliver within the role.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I am quite a driven person however I don’t really see any achievement as the biggest to date. I have had so many small achievements in life looking back and each one was a huge achievement within that moment. A few examples of these are completing my degree whilst working numerous part time jobs to help financially, each time I secured that next new role I was striving for by putting all my energy into each and every interview, and also flying down a hill successfully on a snowboard 18 months after a really bad leg break in a snowboarding accident. As far as my career is concerned, being able to pursue interesting, high quality work that has a positive impact on people’s health and lifestyle is an ongoing achievement.

Do you have any advice for anyone going through the menopause?

Not being of an age to have experienced the menopause in any way then I can’t offer advice from personal experience, however from a professional perspective I can. Being from within the pharmaceutical industry I am aware of the amount of support and help that is available, which unfortunately doesn’t tend to be proactively given on a regular basis. My advice would be to really research what the menopause is, what it means to you and what type of help and support is available from both a healthcare perspective and also from others going through the same situation. 100 percent speak with your local Dr or nurse for advice from a professional and understand all of the options open to you…. as there are so many duff facts and myths out there which need to be dispelled.

How do you think workplaces and employers can support its employees through the menopause?

I think workplaces can support employees by ensuring they make information available to all around the menopause whether they are experiencing it or not, so the general awareness and understanding is raised. Employers also need to consider the impact the menopause can have on a woman’s day to day life and to be sensitive to this. There should be no stigma or shame attached to menopause and more companies need to come out and say, ’Okay, I understand. Now, how can we help? Employers could also provide training to employees to understand and recognise the physical and psychological effects of the menopause which will also help to normalise this as part of a woman’s life.

Why do you think speaking about the menopause is so taboo? What can we do to change that?

I think speaking about the menopause is taboo as women can feel embarrassed and ashamed themselves to talk about it. Also, one of the effects of the menopause is that it can impact a person’s confidence and self-belief which then forms a vicious circle with them not being confident to share what they are experiencing or talking about how it is impacting them both at home and at work. The menopause needs to be recognised as a normal part of a woman’s life and this will help break the taboo.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

There are probably many pieces of advice I would give myself both personally and professionally, however if it was to be one piece of professional advice it would be not to doubt yourself and to remember that you are capable of more than you imagine. Challenges are there to be overcome and one of those challenges is pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone as this is the best way for you to develop.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Right now my next challenge is to be successful within my role in Organon and as one of the organisations ‘Founders’, to be integral in the success of Organon as an organisation. We will drive for a better and healthier everyday for every woman to make Organon become a world leading Women’s Health focussed pharmaceutical company. To do this we need to have the right people, culture and skills within the company and it is my challenge to build all of these with all of the people I work with, as well as being personally successful within my role.

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