Interview with Marissa Poole

Thursday, September 30, 2021
by Evelyn K.

An insightful conversation with Marissa Poole, the US General Manager at Sanofi Genzyme

Author - Evelyn K.
Marissa Poole is a pharmaceutical expert, an experienced traveller, and a compassionate leader. While her background is in science and research, she shared incredible insights that are relevant to my role as an accounting student which has inspired my career outlook. During the interview with Marissa, I learned that inclusion and diversity should be at the forefront of my actions, every challenge comes with new opportunities, and that I should pursue a career path that aligns with my passions.

One of my greatest takeaways from the interview is the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the world today, both within the workplace and in our communities. As the Co-Lead of Sanofi Canada’s Inclusion & Diversity Council, Marissa shared how the company intertwines EDI in its hiring and promotion processes, marketing materials, and employee resource groups to create supportive communities for different demographics. As I have read numerous recent news articles regarding racial and gender discrimination, I appreciated hearing Marissa’s perspectives on Sanofi’s initiatives and what are the most pressing improvements needed across workplaces over the next few years. She encouraged me to actively consider EDI factors when making decisions and to contribute to a supportive team culture. One key message that resonated with me is to have compassion and recognize that each person is different and therefore there is no perfect blanket approach that works for everyone. Throughout school and my career, I need to reflect upon how my actions may affect others and what steps I can take to support EDI. To truly appreciate diversity, promote equity, and foster inclusion, it is important for me to listen to each person’s story to provide them with a voice and sense of belonging.

Sanofi’s adapted corporate strategy and new partnerships highlight that opportunities can be found in any challenge, including the COVID-19 pandemic. While Sanofi was challenged with interacting and engaging with patients in new ways, the company experienced many new opportunities related to expansion, innovation, and finding efficiencies. As a result of the pandemic, Sanofi partnered with the Canadian government to build a new modular vaccine manufacturing facility. The pace of innovation was also accelerated, driving new digital health solutions and artificial intelligence applications to measure the efficacy of drugs more accurately. Additionally, Sanofi found cost efficiencies and greater flexibilities by transitioning employees to digital remote-based roles. While the COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges to many industries and companies, Sanofi demonstrates the importance of being able to adapt to unexpected events and capitalize on new opportunities as they are presented. During my career, I will have a growth mindset to find opportunities from challenges and to learn from my failures.

Finally, the idea that resonated most with me is to follow my passions even if it involves travelling down a pathway that differs from my original plan. While Marissa was initially set on pursuing a career in law, she found a greater purpose in supporting the healthcare of patients with rare diseases. When asked about her most valuable projects and patient stories, it was evident that Marissa had a true passion for her work. I am inspired to expand my network and pursue new opportunities that will enable me to learn and find the role that is best suited to my interests. My goal is to follow a career path that allows me to apply my accounting knowledge to create a positive social impact. My current vision is to either work for a non-profit organization or to work for a socially responsible firm while additionally serving on a non-profit Board of Directors committee.

Overall, Marissa’s thoughtful insights have influenced my career mindset and direction going forward. It was great to learn more about her experiences as the key takeaways are relevant to any business professional. The interview has inspired me to actively promote diversity and inclusion in my communities, seize the opportunities from any challenges, and pursue a career path that best aligns with my passions and interests.