Sandra Marinković, External Affairs Lead, Merck Sharp & Dohme

Women Are Born Leaders

In 2020, Bloomberg estimated that according to the Global Gender Equality Index, MSD is above the global threshold in four key areas: statistics (share of employees by gender), company policies, community engagement, and products and services.

The pharmaceutical industry provides a good example of affirmative action based on education, talent, experience and commitment, which has resulted in a significant reduction in gender inequality in leadership positions – explains Ms Marković, whose personal example shows that things are changing.

How are you coping with the pandemic in the pharmaceutical industry and at your company MSD?

At the very beginning of the pandemic, MSD responded quickly to the challenges, first by increasing production and continuously supplying all medicines needed in both intensive care units and for chronic patients.

We provided assistance of almost 100,000 euros to the state and the non-governmental sector, volunteered to create a medical database, and quickly adapted to digital communication channels. The biggest support from MSD came in recent weeks when the first results and the first regulatory approvals for the early use of the first oral antiviral drug, which is expected to significantly contribute to the global end of the pandemic, were published. What is especially important for us is that Serbia is one of the first countries in Europe and the world to provide sufficient quantities of the drug Molnupiravir.

Women in health care are more and more numerous, and the opportunities for promotion are increasing. Does this have an encouraging effect on girls of all ages?

The number of women entering the medical and health workforce around the world has increased in the last few decades. They are receiving recognition for their contribution, but this comes at a price. So in the future we will have to find a way to prevent the negative effects of long working hours, increased stress and burnout on mental health, and to achieve a balance of private and work life that is particularly important in the female population.

Both men and women are involved in the activities of the MSD Women’s Network with the aim of empowering members to realize their potential

Today, women run many pharmaceutical companies. Is this the same here in the Balkans?

Only ten years ago, the number of women in leading positions was insignificant, whereas today women lead many of the world’s top pharmaceutical companies, both globally and in the Balkans. A 2016 study shows that women outperform men in 11 of the 12 key competencies of emotional intelligence, which may be one of the competitive advantages for women at work.

These competencies include emotional self-awareness, empathy, conflict management, adaptability and teamwork – all necessary skills for effective leadership in the workplace.

MSD shows that it cares about women. Are you proud of that?

I believe that all the staff of MSD Serbia are very proud of our corporate culture, which is characterized by innovation, support for the staff in work and development, and socially responsible awareness to positively influence the society in which we live. For the last two years I have been leading our Balkan Women’s Network, a business group in MSD that has been dealing with the topic of gender equality and women’s development in the business world for almost 30 years. Both men and women are involved in the activities of the MSD Women’s Network with the aim of empowering members to realize their potential in an environment that provides support and mentoring.


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