Isabel Cabruja, Grit Ambassador and Senior Director Commercial Operations / International Markets at Thermo Fisher Scientific, Milan, Italy
Please tell us a little about yourself and your role as Senior Director at Thermo Fisher Scientific?
Fully passionate about what I do and extremely goal driven. My motto is if a plan does not work, be ready with a plan B, C…. (alphabet has many letters). “Honesty, clarity, attention to details, full blown preparation and a well-done plan will take me anywhere”. Regardless of what the scope would be: whether it is an important business negotiation or managing my family and our expectations.
As Senior Director, I lead the International commercial operations’ region (China, Asia, Pacific and Japan, Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa, plus Latin America) which equals to around 18 countries and 2 different languages for the Clinical Diagnostic Division and a great example of diversity and how things are seen differently while having the same goal.
Another important aspect is making sure that our team’s members are well mentored and suited to deliver the best possible customer’s experience. We do this by supporting and improving patient diagnostics and therapies or increasing productivity in their laboratories.
Working at Thermo Fisher is just great, we are always empowered to do better as we feel we are an important part of the bigger group. Diversity and inclusion is part of company DNA.
What does diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you and why is it so important?
Diversity to me is bringing ideas and concepts that will contribute to the whole. Equity is to have a proper share (equal to others) by the absolute right to belong (inclusion), therefore:
- I am diverse as I am unique.
- I deserve my fair share.
- I have the right to be part because I know it.
It is super important, and I will quote Thermo Fisher statement that englobes it perfectly: creating an environment where differences are truly valued, authenticity is a state-of-being, and everyone feels they belong and can do their best work.
What are the benefits to having women in leadership roles?
Today’s women have developed a refined style when managing situations so having us in leadership positions brings encouragement and positivity. We can mentor by example and can strengthen a group identity.
We lead by demonstrating that it can be done as we have stepped up and taken our space with knowledge, ability, and willingness to take a risk (I am going say fearless).
Describe your leadership style and how you “lead” others?
I lead by example: copy the positives and learn from the drawbacks. I also invite people to try, share ideas, think out of the box and come-up with opinions: a team that feels comfortable to speak up will be a winning team, as everyone has good ideas (there are no dumb ideas).
Must be ready also for the no’s and accept them if well explained. I think I encourage and invite them to define a plan + check-in point as improvisation never works: if we know where we want to arrive, we need to plan it well, otherwise detouring will be a waste of time and will make you arrive late to the set objective.
What are the most important decisions you make as a leader?
- Decide to be always coherent, honest and fair.
- Matters need to be well explained.
- Understand that people will follow you but you can’t always please everyone.
- One size will not fit all but decisions must be leveraged on teams needs at the end.
- Clear understanding that decisions will impact team’s future and that is it is very important.
- Understand team’s development, empower them and work on successions plans for all.
- Finally, I have always decided that I can do it and if I don’t know how, I have asked or tried until I get what I was looking for.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned?
- Being “an expert matter” is key as comfort zones are dangerous.
- I will take my personal decisions that suit me best as it’s my life. There will be people that might not want me to succeed, but I go on “persistently” and without worrying much about what other think. As I read previously: once you start your journey, the right people will show up. Stick to your path. Remember, it’s your life. This is the best lesson for life.
- Keep trying until you succeed with what is right for you, might not be to others so stick to your plan, point.
- Choose your path, choose your career and if possible, choose and settle to work where you can express yourself best by always looking upwards/never downwards.
Any final thoughts?
My main intention is to be able to share what I have learned throughout my professional career and be used by others.
If I can positively influence even just one woman and share/gift what I know, I will consider myself a successful professional.