“I am passionate about being involved in the healthcare industry at a national level to address barriers that make access to innovative medicines a challenge for both the state and private sector.”
As Women’s Month comes to a close, Malebo reflects on the challenges that she has faced as a woman in the pharmaceutical sector. “I would say there are challenges experienced by women in leadership positions in any sector. These include gender bias, lack of women role models and difficulty in achieving work-life balance.”
Research by the World Economic Forum found that women make up less than 30% of leadership roles in the pharmaceutical sector. “In an effort to embrace the culture of diversity and inclusion, organisations need to accept that the gender gap is a problem that requires intervention. Companies should commit to building a pipeline for women to access key growth positions. This can be achieved by providing equal opportunities for women to gain the skills, experience, and mentorship needed to encourage them to take on leadership roles.”
“We have always heard the saying that representation matters. And representation in the pharma industry is important, not only because the sector contributes to the research and development that creates innovative medicines to treat serious diseases, but also because when the industry is truly represented, this has the power to shape our own perceptions and can influence the attitude and behaviours of the new generation of pharmaceutical leaders.”
“Creating an awareness about the career opportunities that exist in the pharmaceutical industry at a tertiary level is crucial in empowering young women to take up careers in this field and work towards closing the gender gap,” Malebo said. “Many students who are interested in life sciences are not aware of the career opportunities in pharma, and this is an area where we can work together to ensure continued growth of the industry - especially by encouraging more women to enter the sector.”
Malebo advises the younger generation of women in pharma to be committed the moment they enter the world of work and to identify other women who are excelling in the industry and create a connection with them as early as possible. This will result in mentorship programs which are beneficial for both the mentee and mentor. For the mentee, it provides an opportunity to learn from someone who has the knowledge and experience in their field. For the mentor, it is an opportunity to give back to their profession by sharing their knowledge and expertise with someone who is just starting out.
Malebo holds a BSC in Dietetics degree and has a career spanning 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry, having worked in different innovative pharma companies. Her experience includes working with pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca where she took on commercial roles involving mainly sales and marketing.