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Top Expat CEOs 2023 - Raffaella Claudia Bondi

Interview

Raffaella Claudia Bondi is a pharmaceutical executive and a coach with more than 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Italian-born, she started her career fresh from a degree in marketing in consultancy, enthusiastically embracing the opportunities that marketing applied to science can offer to improve health conditions for people all around the globe.

She joined the Roche Group in 2002 and held various positions along the healthcare solutions development lifecycle, working in local and global roles to understand and connect the different perspectives to improve ways of working and our impact on patients and society.

While familiar with Budapest as a fascinating and vibrant city, Bondi was sincerely pleased to experience it as a lively and pleasant “home.” She and her partner are passionate about music, and you can often spot her at the Opera House, Müpa, or one of the many high-quality music venues in Budapest.

Why did you want to become a CEO?

My purpose in life is connecting people to opportunities, and my role at Roche offers me excellent opportunities to do so. Here in Hungary, I have the privilege of leading a group of people working tirelessly to connect Hungarian citizens with better healthcare outcomes. Every day, I can put my international experience and network at the service of these passionate professionals, fostering collaboration with other parts of the organization and identifying career opportunities for those interested in having a global impact.

The past three years have seen a pandemic, war, and inflation. Are resilience and disruption the “new normal?”

As human beings, we tend to downplay the struggles we have been through in the past and overemphasize those we are living in the present (the “good old times” theme is common across countries and generations). I cannot say whether our future will be more or less disruptive; what I like to focus on are the learnings we gain from each situation and the opportunities to get better at addressing, even anticipating, new challenges.

Inspired by our commitment to patients, we at Roche found ourselves able to develop diagnostics and treatment options in record time during the pandemic and make them available to a large number of patients, despite disruptions along the supply chain. Some of the learnings from this acute phase have been translated into permanent changes in our processes, which will benefit other patients suffering from different diseases.

Resilience is a muscle that can be trained. How? By focusing on building agility in the organization, sensing and responding to the environment instead of rigidly implementing a plan, creating conditions for employees to focus on the most important work to be done, and fostering an atmosphere of trust, engagement, and a positive mindset which can amplify the inner resources each of us naturally has. We have already faced many obstacles, and by doing so, we have become a better organization and a stronger community.

How do you balance the challenges of the energy crisis with your net-zero commitments in Hungary?

Roche has a long-standing commitment to sustainability. In 2021, it was ranked as one of the top three most sustainable healthcare companies for the 13th year running, according to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Roche has the ambitious goal of achieving actual zero carbon emissions by 2050 without the use of offsets. To some extent, the energy crisis is fostering our commitment to these goals by increasing the sense of urgency in making more energy-conscious decisions.

We don’t have manufacturing facilities in Hungary; therefore, we focus on making our offices and operations more environmentally friendly, from choosing buildings with a better energy class to adopting concrete behaviors that can save energy (for example, by reducing travel-related costs). Constantly monitoring emissions and including those considerations in any decision allows us to be good corporate citizens and contribute to the energy goals important to Hungary as much as they are for our company worldwide.

What has most surprised you about the expat CEO community in Hungary?

I’m impressed by the diversity of the CEO community in Hungary in terms of nationalities, gender and experiences. This variety to me is a great asset: only by opening up to different ideas and backgrounds can we progress as a society and successfully address the challenges we mentioned before. A diverse, well-integrated society is also a more attractive location to seek employment (I’m thinking of the highly qualified Hungarian talents) or to launch new businesses: it’s a flywheel that the expat CEO community can further foster.

This article was first published in Top Expat CEOs 2023 on March 24, 2023.

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