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Building My Career by Learning from Challenges

February 28, 2017

A conversation with Ramona Sequeira, President of Takeda’s U.S. BU

Growing Through Challenges

Ramona Sequeira joined Takeda in 2015 as the President of the U.S. BU after working at Eli Lilly for twenty years. Despite the significant responsibility she has as Takeda’s U.S. leader, she radiates positive energy: "I welcome new challenges, and make the most of them. I'm certainly grateful for such opportunities."

One such challenge last year was when she led the U.S. market release of an inflammatory enteritis drug and antidepressant. "Using the resources from old products we created two new products to maximize the benefit of patents, which have so far produced great results."

Also, one of her most important responsibilities is reallocating financial resources depending on the changing market. Ramona believes strongly in talent development. "My leadership team is quite diverse, with a fifty-fifty ratio of women to men. And my current focus is to find promising young employees at an earlier stage and encourage them to be great leaders."

Learning from doing

Following her BS degree in molecular genetics and molecular biology from the University of Toronto, Ramona obtained an MBA at McMaster University. "Science was my passion, but I was more interested in the connection between people and businesses. When I thought about combining these two, a pharmaceutical company was the perfect place for me to work."

She joined the sales team of a pharmaceutical company and after having her second child she experienced a game-changing moment. Her boss approached her saying, "I would like you to consider becoming the general manager." She answered she couldn’t as she had already been giving 100 percent to her job and also had a family. Her boss replied, "What I need is wisdom, not energy. With your abilities, you’ll make a great general manager, and you’ll still be able to take care of your family."

He became her mentor and after she returned to work full-time her career as a manager began.

Several years later when her children started middle school, there was another general manager opportunity that required her to relocate to the UK. "Getting to live abroad and know different cultures was a great opportunity for the children too."

In the end, it was a good career decision. "I was able to learn about new markets and my responsibilities included strategic planning, building team trust, and mobilizing the organization, which I found extremely challenging."

After working as general manager in the U.K., Ramona moved to the US and continued working as a business leader.

Leadership through diversity

Speaking about her earlier role, Ramona remarked: "I didn’t know how to act like a leader because there were no female role models around me." She tried to copy the way her mentor managed problems by confronting his team in a firm tone: "This isn't going well, change the plan." But when Ramona acted the same way, her team responded saying she was overreacting and she wasn't able to get through to them. She learned over time that "this method may be effective for some leaders, but not for me. I had no choice but to lead my team my way. When I don’t agree with something, I start by explaining why I think their proposal would not work and then suggest alternatives."

Ramona wanted to share the following message to potential female executives who are still deciding on their career: "Let’s stop worrying about the small things and move forward. One of the biggest privileges of being an executive is to be able to assist our employees in achieving their potential. And, once you become an executive, you’ll never want to go back to a position that doesn’t involve decision-making!"


By, Ramona Sequeira, President of Takeda’s U.S. BU