Episode 7: Leading a healthcare company during a health crisis

In this episode the General Manager of Roche Norway, Rajji Mehdwan, talks about what it’s like to lead a health care company during a health crisis, and how the government in Norway has handled the situation with the coronavirus so far. She thinks that one of the inspiring things that has come out of this challenging situation is that while keeping our distance physically, we have been forced to find different ways to stay close.

- These are challenging times. Thankfully in Norway, we have been reasonably protected compared to other countries where we see very high number of people dying and healthcare systems that don’t have the capacity to help everyone that needs it. This situation has also put a lot of businesses under pressure and people are losing their jobs. Despite of all that I think it has been really inspiring to see how everyone is coming together. People and companies are putting their egos aside to help our systems and our people in need. That has been really nice to see, says Mehdwan.

She is impressed with how the Norwegian government has handled the corona situation this far.

- I think the way the government and the public actors have responded has been really well done. They took action early. You can argue that all of us in Europe and the United Stated were perhaps a little bit late looking back and that we should have taken action even sooner. That being said, I think the Norwegian government took action by locking down society in a way that hasn’t been done since the second world war. I also think the way the measures were communicated was very good. People understood the seriousness of the situation and my impression is that the vast majority has listened to the authorities’ recommendations and advice, says Mehdwan.

For Roche as a company one of the results of this crisis will be less travelling.

- We had already agreed that in the spirit of doing our bit for sustainability and the environment we would try to travel less and less. I think this situation has shown people that you can accomplish a lot of work cross boarders without travel, and still maintain some really good connection with your colleagues through different virtual technologies, says Mehdwan.

She hopes that after the situation with COVID-19 things do change, but for the better.

- My hope is that this will change some things. We see now all over the world that private companies and public stakeholders are coming together and collaborating in new ways. My hope is that we can continue this. We have seen what can happen when everyone is truly working together towards the same goals. Things that usually take years, have been done in just weeks or in some situations in days. My hope is that that part will continue once the crisis is over, says Mehdwan. 

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