Interview With Mara Guzzetti
Mara Guzzetti is currently serving as the General Manager of CARBOGEN AMCIS Switzerland, a leading contract development and manufacturing organization in the pharmaceutical industry. With over 25 years of experience, Mrs. Guzzetti has established herself as a highly accomplished professional in the field.
She holds a PhD in Foreign Literature from the University of Milan, Italy.
Mrs. Guzzetti has an extensive international track record of business experience within the chemical industry. She has worked for a range of different companies including Bayer, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, BASF, Intertek and Valsynthese, providing her with a strong foundation in both scientific and managerial aspects.
After an experience in Abu Dhabi as Interim Program Manager, she returned to Europe (Switzerland) in 2013 as Senior EVP Fine Chemicals and Member of SSE Management Directors Group for Valsynthese AG, before joining CARBOGEN AMCIS in 2022.
Is there any specific training/education that you found helpful in your career development?
- Being a non-chemist within an environment of scientists for the entirety of my career, I learned to take advantage of my background, rather than looking at it as a disadvantage. I am a humanist by background and I think this is exactly what has helped me in my career development (i.e. being able to tackle problems with a 360-degree point of view. I am able to leverage colleagues’ strengths in the work environment, beyond their scientific background). People are a company’s greatest asset and human dynamics underpin every employee. Understanding that has helped me to develop on a personal level, as well as helped me to develop my colleagues over the years.
What do you wish that you knew early in your career that would have been helpful?
- I started my career more than 20 years ago and at that time there was still very little coaching for a young woman in business. I wished somebody had spent some time outlining the benefits and possible drawbacks of engaging in an international career. There was also a lack of coaching, and unfortunately, there still is related to how to balance private life and an extensive traveling career. In this respect, women were, and are still, having more difficulties combining long absences from home versus family duties compared to men. Dedicated coaching from the beginning of the career would be very beneficial to avoid being confronted with hard choices between developing in a working environment and a good presence with the family. To be effective, the same coaching should be spread among the whole organization to provide an understanding of the struggles and find new ways of organizing the workload.
How have opportunities for women in the Pharma Industry changed over time?
- The world has changed since many years ago. Compared to the past, I see more women present in not only support functions like Finance, Purchasing, or HR, but also in operational departments. It must be said, however, that I never felt that a door was closed to me because I was a woman, not even 20 years ago, although I was in a male-dominated industry. I personally think that the presence of women should always be linked to the will and the skills of a specific woman to engage in a specific role, not to a number or a percentage that a company must achieve at any cost. Applying this approach is the best way to avoid misleading opinions about women that are unfortunately still present in many environments. However, the reality is that the situation has developed in a kind of patchwork. We see many women in the pharma industry in analytical laboratories or in purchasing; nevertheless, the total number of women is still low, particularly in production and management positions. This drives me to the conclusion that, as mentioned above, women’s skills are recognized but our society still only offers certain types of positions which can offer a good balance between work and family. It has not yet considered a change in how we could re-organize our way of thinking about our jobs.
What role has mentoring played in your career, either as a mentor, mentee, or both?
- I strongly believe in mentoring and being mentored. This is first a pleasure and a duty of every good manager. If you happen to play that role or are lucky to work with a mentor, it can be a career game changer. Mentoring means being able to extract the best skills of a person and accompanying him or her not only on a career path but also on a life path. This is a unique privilege that requires a broad set of skills and strong engagement. In my case, mentoring brought me the opportunity to develop a career path early on, with a clear plan and steps to support me in developing the knowledge needed to reach a specific position. Mentoring also helped me in times of difficulty when I was not yet sure if some of my decisions were the right ones, finding a neutral sparring partner with whom I could discuss openly. Last but not least mentoring brought me the ability to keep the focus on what I wanted to achieve.
What is the one piece of advice that you would give to women in the Pharma Industry that will help them become better leaders
- My one piece of advice is to use your ability to see things from a different angle in order to enrich and complete the perspective of your team. Try to use your emotional intelligence to address problems in a different way and contribute to building a new perspective of organizing work amongst your male colleagues by making them aware of the struggles you encounter. Only in this way can we really change something for future generations.