Niven Al-Khoury, Combines Science and Diversity
Niven Al-Khoury, General Manager General Medicines KSA & Gulf MCO for Sanofi, attended a conference in Brazil, along with 300 other experts from all over Latin America. Named CEO for the Canadian unity of the pharmaceutical giant in the year 2015, this executive’s career includes periods employed at several countries, by several companies, including Johnson & Johnson. Niven was featured in an article by Forbes Brazil to discuss the same.
Having studied Montréal University in Canada, Niven claims to have chosen her undergraduate degree because of her passion for science and how she is able to impact on peoples’ lives. Her main drive today still is to look for solutions for those in greater need, a goal combining a constant concern on both social and cultural diversity.
With over two decades experience in sales, marketing, governmental issues, public relations and corporate communication strategies, she had her first material experience in an emerging market upon moving to Egypt in 1996. The move awakened several skills in Niven, including the tracing of possible innovations within the Pharmaceutical industry.
“Stepping out of my comfort zone made me find my leadership potential, adapt to a new culture and, more importantly, gave my career a new direction. I worked as a pharmacist, but then I discovered industry and research and thus discovered myself also in the process”, said Niven in an interview to Forbes Brazil.
During the so-called Egyptian Revolution — a series of mass demonstrations, riots and civil disobedience acts took place in the country in the year 2011. Niven not only went on to become the General Head at Sanofi, but also kickstarted the company’s presence and influence in the Arab world.
As a woman, the barriers were even higher. In a strongly chauvinistic society, Niven, as a leader and head to a large company, had a legacy to leave in the land of Pharaohs. The realization that one’s gender does not influence one’s career drove her to do better. “There are no male or female leaders, there are leaders, period. A true leader, who is credible and respectable, is to be treated as a master, not as a man or woman. People must realize your actual value, irrespective of your gender.”
In spite of all of her experiences and beliefs, Niven does not see herself as feminist, but as a woman who believes in inclusion and the power of diversity.
“It is really important to provide people with skills, confidence, courage and support, not just for women, but for everybody.”
Gender balance is a personal goal for the current Canadian Sanofi President. According to her, there are several reasons why corporate equality between men and women is important.
“About 80% of all decisions could be made by women. A woman can be a mother, daughter, wife, friend or fellow worker. In a company we cannot ignore women’s opinions. If we want to talk about innovation, we must talk about gender equality.”
Practical action follows suit to the speech. “We (women) must help and support each other”, she says. Frequently invited to give lectures about her career around the world, Niven regards word of mouth among women an important part of the process to transform society. The CEO advises other women to follow their dreams and incentivizes them to define and balance their personal and work lives. “This balance is a treasure.”
Believing in herself, being in control of situations and stepping out of her comfort zone helped her get to the position she is in today. “Take the front seat in the car, but do it knowing that it is the driver’s seat; you must know where you are going. You are not all by yourself, neither in the car nor on the road. So be careful.”
Regarding her performance in her area, Niven says anybody, regardless of social class, skin color or sex, may be strongly affected by diabetes, either type 1 or 2.
“Lack of diagnosis is still commonplace, particularly within less developed countries. Even diagnosed diseases are not always controlled the way they ought to be”, she says. That is why she claims to prioritize the search for innovation and solutions for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. According to her, education is an important ally for the therapy process.
“Raising awareness for the general public refers to the whole world in such cases”. Niven has participated in many information campaigns targeting both patients and caretakers around the world.
“I advise diabetic patients to treat their illness as a friend , not a foe. Keep it close and pay attention to it. Ignoring the same may result in loosing sight of the problem and having it become worse. The last thing you want is to be controlled by your disease.”
Read the original article here.
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